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Hardin, William

Posted by ceddleman 
Hardin, William
March 07, 2007 08:45PM
HISTORY OF KENTUCKY, by Lewis Collins, and J.A. & U.P. James, published
1847. Reprinted by Henry Clay Press, Lexington, Ky., 1968, pp. 212-213
[Breckinridge county].

One of the earliest settlers in that portion of Kentucky which now forms
the county of Breckinridge, was Capt. WILLIAM HARDIN, a noted hunter and
Indian fighter - a man of dauntless courage and resolution - cool, calm,
and self-possessed in the midst of most appalling dangers, and perfectly
skilled in all the wiles and arats of border warfare. Soon after Capt.
Hardin had erected a station in what is now the county of Breckinridge,
intelligence was received that the Indians were building a town on
Saline creek, in the present state of Illinois. Hardin, not well
pleased that the savages should establish themselves in such close
vicinity of his litle settlement, determined to dislodge them. He soon
had collected around him a force of eighty select men; the hardiest and
boldest of those noted hunters whose lives were passed in a continual
round of perilous adventure.
When this force reached the vicinity of the lick, they discovered
Indian signs, and approaching the town cautiously, they found it in the
possession of three warriors who had been left to guard the camp.
Hardin ordered his men to fire on them, which they did, killing two.
The third attempted to make his escape, but he was shot down as he ran.
He succeeded, however, in regaining his feet, and ran fifty yards,
leaped up a perpendicular bank, six feet high, and fell dead.
In the mean time, Hardin, correctly supposing that the main body
of the Indians were out on a hunting expedition, and would shortly
return, made immediate preparation for battle. He accordingly selected
a place where a few acres of timbered land were surrounded on all sides
by the prairie. Here he posted his men with orders to conceal
themselves behind the trees, and reserve their fire until the Indians
should approach within twenty-five yards. Soon after the little band
had taken their position, they discovered the Indians rapidly
approaching on their trail, and numbering apparently between eighty and
one hundred men. When the savages had arrived within one hundred yards
of the position of the Kentuckians, one of the men, in his impatience to
begin the battle, forgot the order of the captain, and fired his gun.
Immediately the Indians charged, and the fight commenced in earnest.
At the first fire, Captain Hardin was shot through the thighs.
Without, however, resigning his command, or yielding to the pain of his
wound, he sat down on a large log, and during the whole action,
continued to encourage his men and give forth his orders, with as much
coolness, promptitude, and self-possession, as if engaged in the most
ordinary avocation. This more than Spartan firmness and resolution, was
not, however, anything very remarkable in the early history of Kentucky.
Every battle field furnished many examples of similar heroism. The iron
men of those times, seem, indeed, to have been born insensible to fear,
and impregnable to pain. The coolness, courage, and unyielding
determination of Hardin, in this trying situation, no doubt contributed
greatly to the success of the day; and after a severe contest, in which
some thirty of the savages fell, they were finally repulsed. The loss
of the whites, in killed and wounded, was very considerable. During the
action the parties were frequently engaged hand to hand.
This battle was never reported to the government, and it seems to
have escaped the notice of the historians of early times in Kentucky;
though it was, unquestionably, one of the most fiercely contested
battles ever fought in the west.
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