Shawnee Run! Pioneer Spy Mission History – Kentucky History

With all of their senses alert, they sneaked through the forest and silently waded through Shawnee Run, looking for footprints, a speck of moss missing from the rocks in the creek, a broken branch, or any other sign left by those who wanted to destroy them. Those left back at Post Harrod were frantically relying on them.

Just try to picture how panicked the frontier had become. British Captain Henry Byrd left Fort Detroit in the early summer of 1780 with 150 soldiers and six cannons to attack and destroy the Patriot frontier settlements in the Kentucky Country. About a thousand Native Americans joined the British expedition along the way, including Bluejacket and the well-known rebel Simon Girty. Ruddell’s Station on the Licking River, which divides Harrison and Bourbon Counties today, was their first settlement. The fort was given to Captain Ruddell with one condition: that no one would be hurt. The gates were opened after Captain Byrd agreed. The hellish scene that followed surprised no one in attendance. Men, women, and children were murdered indiscriminately when the Native Warriors stormed into the fort. As they all prepared to be the next victims of the British and Native forces, the infant settlements in the area experienced panic.

Post Harrod was the first and quite possibly of the biggest settlement nearby and a large number from more modest stations headed out to the security of its walls. A select group of spies was given the task of searching the area for any indications that an attack was imminent. They patrolled along Shawnee Run’s important and well-traveled waterways, which had been part of animal migrations and Native American travel routes since the beginning of time. We were fortunate enough to accompany a group of historic reenactors from the winter encampment at Old Fort Harrod State Park on their mission to retrace some of the steps.

We all returned safely and soundly! What do you think of this mission after watching the video? Did you even know that these kinds of activities take place all over the place at all times of the year? You gain a new sense of comprehension and appreciation for the historical narratives that you read about when you participate in activities like these. People who are passionate about reenacting are blessed with an experience that, according to some, is spiritual. Contact the historical society or location in your area for additional information. Also, let us know about your event, and we might be able to help you record it.

Visit our website at to learn more.


They crept through the forest and waded silently through Shawnee Run with all of their senses on full alert, looking for footprints, a bit of moss missing from the rocks in the creek, a broken branch, or any sign at all left by those who wished to destroy them.

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