The Moore Defeat

According to Laurel County historian Russell Dyche, as well as several other sources, the Moore Defeat took place on the night of October 3, 1784, exactly two years before the McNitt Defeat.

The Moore Defeat took place near Raccoon Creek in what would later become Laurel County, Kentucky, but which at the time was still part of Virginia.

Because of the similarity in dates, and because the written report of the escape of a woman and her youngest child by hiding in a hollow tree at the Moore Defeat is almost identical with legends of the McNitt Defeat, the two events have at times been confused and some of the details of one may have been attributed to the other.

Two notable contemporary reports do exist, and they give details which seem to be the most reliable.

General James Taylor told of the experience of Mrs. Taylor as she came to Kentucky through the Wilderness with another group in the company of her stepfather, Captain J. R. Farrar, in the fall of 1784.

Taylor’s statement, made in October, 1838, at Newport, Kentucky, follows:

About the middle of the Wilderness they were overtaken by a party of 12 or 15 persons after they had taken up camp. This party appeared to be determined to go on further to encamp. They were advised to encamp with the large party on account of safety. They, however, pushed on and encamped about one mile in advance. The Indians that night rushed them, killed and scalped the greater part of the party. There was a man and wife who had two children. The woman came to the camp they had passed in the course of the night with an infant in her arms. The other child was killed. The husband took that end of the road leading to Kentucky, and each thought the other and children were killed. The wife with the infant came with the party and found her husband. Mrs. T. was horror-struck the next day when they came up to the massacred camp. The dead were buried as well as they could under the circumstances of the case.”

General Taylor also stated that Mrs. Taylor was then with her former husband, Major David Leitch, and that they were of a large party including the Reverend Augustine Eastin, who had married her elder sister, and that the massacred party “had retired to rest without stationing a single sentinel to guard their camp, or warn them of the approach of an enemy.”

Colonel William Whitley, of near Crab Orchard, known as “the guardian of the Wilderness,” told of his part in hunting down those responsible for the murders in his narrative recorded in the Draper Manuscripts [spelling, punctuation and capitalization are his]:

[He begins by saying that ten days after the McClure Defeat in 1784] “Moores Defeat came on about 2 miles on the other side of Raccoon Creek in the Wilderness. They killed nine persons. Word came I raised 30 men & persude after them attackers & got a head of them before I ever look for there trail knowing the course they would go (as I did the other times). We Examined the War paths & found I was before them.

We met them on the last Warpath Early in the day. We came Within Ten steps of them before they discovered us in the Cane Breake. We discovered each other about the same time. they were all on horse back drest in whites clothes. I judged they would be so drest and on horseback. There was 20 Indians and on horses of the best Quality. I had ordered my men for 10 to flank on the right & 10 on the left & those who had the most Indifferent horses to lite & fight on foot. I flanked to the left. Nathan McClure & Andrew Kenneady commanded the foot. Nathan Farris commanded the right wing. after I had got out a piece I saw two Indians & ran the about 200 paces. I lit from my horse within 20 yards shot at them. they both fell. One recovered & ran to the cane. I did not get him but learned from the Indians he died of the wound.

These were Cherokees going to the Shawness. This party was commanded by Fool Warrior. The Indian had Killd some persons and we got 8 scalpts, 28 horses, 50 dollars cash, a great many goods. This was a very wealthy Company.

Thomas Kennady & Nathan Farris Cought one of the Indians & Tomahawked him to death without a shot With his own Tomahawk.”

There you have it. The Moore Defeat. Next week I will give you the particulars of the McClure Defeat, mentioned above by William Whitley, which took place in September of 1784.

Thanks for stopping by!

Danna Estridge, Guest Blogger

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