Siege of Boonesborough
Gunfire was exchanged over the next several days.
After the initial flurry of shooting, Boone—who reemerged as the natural leader even though as a captain he was outranked by Major Smith and Colonel Richard Callaway—urged the Kentuckians to conserve their gunpowder. At night, Native Americans ran up to the walls and attempted to throw burning torches onto the roofs of the houses within. This was ineffective, however, because the warriors made easy targets for the Kentucky marksmen.
On September 11, Antoine Dagneaux de Quindre, in command of the Detroit militia, convinced the Indians to begin digging a tunnel from the bank of the river towards the fort. Known as mining, the goal was to place barrels of gunpowder in the tunnel under a section of the fort's walls. When these barrels were exploded, the wall would collapse, leaving a place for the attackers to rush in. When the defenders inside the fort heard the digging, they began to dig a counter-mine, hoping to collapse the attackers' tunnel prematurely. The diggers on both sides began to yell taunts at each other. Heavy rains caused the Indians' tunnel to collapse before it reached the fort.
Boone's brother Squire Boone was known as an inventor. He fashioned a makeshift wooden cannon, reinforced with iron bands, which was fired once or twice at groups of Indians before it cracked. Squire Boone also made squirt guns out of old musket barrels, which were used to put out fires on the roofs.
The Shawnees launched their final assault on September 17, again trying to set fire to the fort. They were beaten back, and a heavy rain helped to put out the fires. The Shawnees lost more men killed in this attack than on all previous days. The next day, they gradually broke off the siege. They separated into scattered war parties and raided other settlements, inflicting far more damage in their traditional mode of warfare than they had done during the siege.
Unable to dislodge the Kentuckians from their fortified settlements, the Indians destroyed crops and killed cattle, hoping that food shortages would compel the Kentucky settlers to leave. With the food supply at Boonesborough running low, the settlers needed salt to preserve what meat they had. In January 1778, Daniel Boone led a party of thirty men to the salt springs on the Licking River. On 7 February 1778, when Boone was out hunting meat for the expedition, he was surprised and captured by warriors led by Blackfish. Because Boone's party was greatly outnumbered, he convinced his men to surrender rather than put up a fight.
Blackfish wanted to continue to Boonesborough and capture it since it was now poorly defended, but Boone convinced him that the women and children were not hardy enough to survive a winter trek as prisoners. Instead, Boone promised that Boonesborough would surrender willingly to the Shawnees the following spring. Boone was improvising, saying anything to keep the Shawnees from attacking Boonesborough. He did not have an opportunity to tell his men what he was doing, however, and many of them concluded that he had switched his loyalty to the British.
Boone and his men were taken as prisoners to Blackfish's town of Chillicothe. Per Shawnee custom, some of the prisoners were adopted into the tribe to replace fallen warriors. The remainder were taken to Detroit, where Indians received a bounty from Governor Hamilton for each prisoner (or scalp) taken. Boone was adopted into a Shawnee family at Chillicothe, perhaps into the family of Chief Blackfish himself. Like most of the other adoptees, Boone was watched closely, but he eventually escaped. On 16 June 1778, when he learned that Blackfish was preparing to return to Boonesborough with a large force, Boone eluded his captors and raced home, covering the 160 miles to Boonesborough in five days.
Upon his return, some of the men expressed doubts about Boone's loyalty, since after surrendering the salt making party he had apparently lived quite happily among the Shawnees for months. Boone responded by leading a preemptive raid against the Shawnee village of Paint Lick Town on the other side of the Ohio River. This accomplished little, and the raiding party hurried back to Boonesborough when they discovered that Blackfish had marched south.
Fort Boonesborough - Living History