The Kentuckians reached the Licking River on the morning of August 19, near a spring and salt lick known as the Lower Blue Licks. On the other side of the river, a few Indian scouts could be seen. Behind the Indians was a hill around which the river made a loop. Colonel Todd called a council and asked Boone, the most experienced woodsman, for his opinion. Boone, who had been growing increasingly suspicious about the overly obvious trail the Indians had been leaving, advised his fellow officers that the Indians were trying to draw them into an ambush.
Major McGary, apparently eager to prove that he was not a coward as Todd's earlier criticism had suggested, urged an immediate attack. He mounted his horse and rode across the ford in the river, shouting, "Them that ain't cowards, follow me." Men began to follow, as did the officers, who hoped to at least make an orderly attack. "We are all slaughtered men," said Boone as he crossed the river.
On the other side of the river, most of the men dismounted and formed into a battle line of three or four divisions. They advanced up the hill, Todd and McGary in the center, Trigg on the right, Boone on the left. As Boone had suspected, Caldwell's force was waiting on the other side of the hill, concealed in ravines. As the Kentuckians reached the summit, the Indians opened fire with devastating effect. After only five minutes, the center and right of the Kentucky line gave way; only Boone's men on the left managed to push forward. Todd and Trigg, easy targets on horseback, were quickly shot down.
The Kentuckians began to flee wildly back down the hill, fighting hand-to-hand with the Indians who had flanked them. McGary rode up to Boone's company and told him that everyone was retreating and that Boone was now surrounded. Boone gathered his men for a withdrawal. He grabbed a riderless horse and ordered his son, Israel Boone, to mount and make an escape. Israel refused to leave his father, however, and was shot through...