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HISTORY OF KENTUCKY, by Lewis Collins, and J.A. & U.P. James, published 1847. Reprinted by Henry Clay Press, Lexington, Ky., 1968, pp.171-173. [Shelby county].
CAPTAIN BLAND BALLARD, in honor of whom this county is named, was born near Fredericksburg, Virginia, on the 16th of October, 1761, and is now in his 87th year. He came to Kentucky in 1779, and joined the regular militia which was kept up for the defence [sic] of the country; and after serving on Bowman's campaign in 1779, accompanied the expedition led by Gen. Clark against the Pickaway towns in Ohio in 1781, on which occasion he received a severe wound in the hip, from the effects of which he is suffering at this day. In 1786 he was a spy for General Clark in the expedition to the Wabash, rendered abortive by the mutiny of the soldiers. In the summer of 1791, he served as a guide under Generals Scott and Wilkinson, and was present under General Wayne at the decisive battle on the 20th of August, 1794. When not engaged in regular campaign, he served as hunter and spy for General Clark, who was stationed at Louisville, and in this service he continued for two years and a half. During this time he had several rencounters [sic] with the Indians. One of these occurred just below Louisville. He had been sent in his character of spy to explore the Ohio from the mouth of Salt river to the falls, and from thence up to what is now the town of Westport. On his way down the river, when six or eight miles below the falls, he heard, early one morning, a noise on the Indiana shore. He immediately concealed himself in the bushes, and when the fog had scattered sufficiently to permit him to see, he discovered a canoe filled with three Indians, approaching the Kentucky shore. When they had approached within range, he fired and killed one. The others jumped overboard, and endeavored to get their canoe into deep water, but before they succeeded, he killed a second, and finally a third. Upon reporting his morning's work to General Clark, a detachment was sent down, who found the three dead Indians and buried them. For this service General Clark gave him a linen shirt, and some other small presents. This shirt, however, was the only one he had for several years, except those made of leather; of this shirt the pioneer hero was doubtless justly proud. While on a scout to the Saline Licks on one occasion, Ballard, with one companion, came suddenly upon a large body of Indians, just as they were in the act of encamping. They immediately charged, firing their guns and raising the yell. This induced the Indians, as they had anticipated, to disperse for the moment, until the strength of the assailing party could be ascertained. During this period of alarm, Ballard and his companion mounted two of the best horses they could find, and retreated for two days and nights, until they reached the Ohio, which they crossed upon a raft, making their horses swim. As they ascended the Kentucky bank, the Indians reached the opposite shore. At the time of the defeat on Long Run, he was living at Lynn's station on Beargrass, and came up to assist some families in moving from Squire Boon's station, near the present town of Shelbyville. The people of this station had become alarmed on account of the numerous Indian signs in the country, and had determined to move to the stronger stations on the Beargrass. They proceeded safely until they arrived near Long Run, when they were attacked front and rear by the Indians, who fired their rifles and then rushed on them with their tomahawks. Some few of the men ran at the first fire, of the others, some succeeded in saving part of their families, or died with them after a brave resistance. The subject of this sketch, after assisting severeal of the women on horseback who had been thrown at the first onset, during which he had one or two single handed combats with the Indians, and seeing the party about to be defeated, he succeeded in getting outside of the Indian line, when he used his rifle with some effect, until he saw they were totally defeated. He then started for the station, pursued by the Indians, and on stopping at Floyd's Fork, in the bushes, on the bank, he saw an Indian on horseback pursuing the fugitives ride into the creek, and as he ascended the bank near to where Ballard stood, he shot the Indian, caught the horse and made good his escape to the station. Many were killed, the number not recollected, some taken prisoners, and some escaped to the station. They afterwards learned from the prisoners taken on this occasion, that the Indians who attacked them were marching to attack the station the whites had deserted, but learning from their spies that they were moving, the Indians turned from the head of Bullskin and marched in the direction of Long Run. The news of this defeat induced Colonel Floyd to raise a party of thirty-seven men, with the intention of chastising the Indians. Floyd commanded one division and captain Holden the other, Ballard being with the latter. They proceeded with great caution, but did not discover the Indians until they received their fire, which killed or mortally wounded sixteen of their men. Notwithstanding the loss, the party under Floyd maintained their ground, and fought bravely until overpowered by three times their number, who appealed to the tomahawk. The retreat, however, was completed without much further loss. This occasion has been rendered memorable by the magnanimous gallantry of young Wells (afterwards the Colonel Wells of Tippecanoe), who saved the life of Floyd, his personal enemy, by the timely offer of his horse at a moment when the Indians were near to Floyd, who was retreating on foot and nearly exhausted. In 1788, the Indians attacked the little Fort on Tick creek (a few miles east of Shelbyville), where his father resided. It happened that his father had removed a short distance out of the fort, for the purpose of being convenient to the sugar camp. The first intimation they had of the Indians, was early in the morning, when his brother Benjamin went out to get wood to make a fire. They shot him and then assailed the house. The inmates barred the door and prepared for defence. [sic] His father was the only man in the house, and no man in the fort, except the subject of this sketch and one old man. As soon as he heard the guns he repaired to within shooting distance of his father's house, but dared not venture nearer. Here he commenced using his rifle with good effect. In the meantime the Indians broke open the house and killed his father, not before, however, he had killed one or two of their number. The Indians, also, killed one full sister, one half sister, his step-mother, and tomahawked the youngest sister, a child, who recovered. When the Indians broke into the house, his step-mother endeavored to effect her escape by the back door, but an Indian pursued her and as he raised his tomahawk to strike her, the subject of this sketch fired at the Indian, not, however, in time to prevent the fatal blow, and they both fell and expired together. The Indians were supposed to number about fifteen, and before they completed their work of death, they sustained a loss of six or seven. During the period he was a spy for General Clark, he was taken prisoner by five Indians on the other side of the Ohio, a few miles above Louisville, and conducted to an encampment twenty-five miles from the river. The Indians treated him comparatively well, for though they kept him with a guard they did not tie him. On the next day after his arrival at the encampment, the Indians were engaged in horse racing. In the evening two very old warriors were to have a race, which attracted the attention of all the Indians, and his guard left him a few steps to see how the race would terminate. Near him stood a fine black horse, which the Indians had stolen recently from Beargrass, and while the attention of the Indians was attracted in a different direction, Ballard mounted this horse and had a race indeed. They pursued him nearly to the river, but he escaped, though the horse died soon after he reached the station. This was the only instance, with the exception of that at the river Raisin, that he was a prisoner. He was in a skirmish with the Indians near the Saline Licks, Colonel Hardin being the commander; the Colonel Hardin who fought gallantry under Morgan at the capture of Burgoyne, and who fell a sacrifice to Indian perfidy in the northwest; the father of General M. D. Hardin, and grand-father of Col. Hardin of Illinois, whose heroic death at Buena Vista was worthy of is unsullied life. In after life Major Ballard repeatedly represented the people of Shelby county in the legislature, and commanded a company in Colonel Allen's regiment under General Harrison in the campaign of 1812-13. He led the advantage of the detachment, which fought the first battle of the river Raisin - was wounded slightly on that day, and severely by a spent ball on the 22d January. This wound, also, continues to annoy his old age. On this disastrous occasion he was taken prisoner, and suffered severely by the march through snow and ice, from Malden to Fort George. As an evidence of the difficulties which surrounded the early pioneer in this country, it may be proper to notice an occasion in which Major Ballard was disturbed by the Indians at the spot where he now resides. They stole his only horse at night. He heard them when they took the horse from the door to which he was tied. His energy and sagacity was such, that he got in advance of the Indians before they reached the Ohio, waylaid them, three in number, shot the one riding his horse, and succeeded not only in escaping, but in catching the horse and riding back in safety. The generation now on the sphere of action, and the millions who are to succeed them in the great valley, will have but an imperfect idea of the character and services of the bold patriotic men, who rescued Kentucky from the forest and the savages. The subject of this sketch, however, is a fine specimen of that noble race of men, and when his gray hairs shall descend to an honorable grave, this short biography may serve, in some degree, to stimulate the rising generation to emulate his heroid patriotism.