Friday, November 27, 2015
Defending the Boones Lick Country Part II
In yesterday's post I mentioned how the settlers of the Boone's Lick region refused to flee despite the constant pressure of raids by several frontier Indian tribes. Now here is an example of how they situated and set up their mutual defenses in and around the main settlement of Arrow Rock.
In 1812 they built five forts. Cooper's Fort, Kencaid's Fort, Fort Hempstead, Fort Head and Fort Cole. These forts ringed around the settlement with Cole's Fort actually being located on the opposite side of the Missouri River from the other four. Each fort would contain the household of the principal occupant and family while some contained multiple families. Usually the house doubled as the block house and formed one or more corners of the fort.
Inside the ring of forts the settlement's farm land would be located and cultivated in common, with each fort defending from one or more vantage points and entrance ways. Sentinels would be placed in the outlying areas armed and hidden with horns. They would keep watch while the families went about their business and tended the fields. When a raid or incursion was detected the alarm would be sounded and the people of the settlement would enter the forts and prepare to defend them.
This is not some cluster of closely huddled houses. This is an example of how a farming community although small by today's standards, could be spread out enough for production farming and still be able to defend itself against forces 20 or more times it's own size. The defenders were no better armed than the attackers but had the advantage of defending a somewhat prepared position. Which made all of the difference.
There is a lesson to be learned from these early settlers. Many lessons to be frank. The one that sticks out most to me however is how much easier it is to defend than attack and how much an individual or family can increase their chances of survival in hostile territory by working with their neighbors. Another important factor in this example is that even if a fort were to fall to raiders the victors would be in no position to enjoy their spoils for long as it would be in easy harassment range of one of the other forts. There would be no time for the raiders to rest, regroup or pick through their loot before suffering a counter attack of some kind.
Just a little food for thought about homestead and community defense.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!