Gilman Garrison House, New Hampshire

Seventeenth and eighteenth century settlements in frontier New England were often anchored by garrison houses, fortified homes in which residents could take shelter in the event of an Indian raid. These homes were usually constructed of massive logs. Their doors were reinforced by iron grates lowered by pulleys (called portcullis). Gilman Garrison constructed his garrison house in the late seventeenth century in Exeter, New Hampshire on a site from which he could defend his sawmill. The house was substantially remodeled in the eighteenth century by his descendant, Peter Gilman, a militia general and veteran of the French and Indian Wars, by adding a Georgian-style wing. The house is now preserved by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities.

Gilman Garrison House is located at 12 Water Street, in Exeter, New Hampshire 03833. Take I-95 to New Hampshire Exit 2. Follow Route 101 west 3.5 miles to Route 108 south. Continue one mile to Exeter. Turn right onto High Street. The Gilman Garrison House is three blocks ahead, just after a small bridge.

Blue Licks Battlefield State Park, Kentucky

I first read the story of the Battle of Blue Licks as a kid growing up in nearby southern Ohio. It struck me then, and it strikes me now, as one of the sadder stories of its kind from the frontier period. The salt springs at the site had attracted animals for millennia and formed a center of Indian life. Early settler frequented the place to obtain badly needed salt supplies. Indians captured Daniel Boone here while he was making salt for his settlement. (He later made a daring and famous escape.) But the sad part of the story came in 1782. Blue Licks is most renowned as the site of the last battle of the Revolutionary War in Kentucky. In 1782, Kentucky militia pursued a raiding party of Indians and British soldiers to the vicinity of Blue Licks. Ignoring the warnings of Daniel Boone and others, the militia commander ordered an attack right into a perfect ambush spot. The merits of the location had not escaped the Indians and British, and the Kentuckians suffered great losses, including Boone’s son, Israel. During the nineteenth century, the mineral springs made Blue Licks a popular health resort. Today the park has recreational facilities, a lodge, nature trails, and a museum of frontier and Native American life.

The park is located 48 miles northeast of Lexington on US 68.

Tippecanoe Battlefield Grounds and Museum, Indiana

The Battle of Tippecanoe made William Henry Harrison president almost 30 years later (“Tippecanoe and Tyler too”). At the time of the battle in 1811, Harrison was governor of the Indiana Territory. The battle was his showdown with the Native American followers of the Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, and his brother, Tenskwatawa, also known as the Prophet. Tecumseh and the Prophet proclaimed an alliance across all the Native American tribes to renew their way of life and to drive the Europeans from their lands. In May 1808, the brothers settled at the junction of the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers, founding a village that became known as “Prophet’s Town.” From there they hoped to organize their Indian confederacy. As the following of Tecumseh and the Prophet grew, Harrison organized a small army to march on the village. He had the good fortune of being able to force the confrontation while Tecumseh was away recruiting new supporters and thus unable to curb his brother’s rashness. When Harrison’s army camped near the town, the Prophet ordered an attack at dawn. Harrison, however, had posted sentinels to give the alert, and the Indian attack was broken. The prophet was discredited, and Tecumseh drifted into an alliance with the British against the Americans in the War of 1812. He was killed in 1813 at the Battle of the Thames in Ontario, where Harrison again commanded the America forces. The Tippecanoe County Historical Association maintains the battlefield grounds and museum today.

Location and Directions

Links: Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum

Fort Robinson State Park, Nebraska

Fort Robinson was established in 1874 to guard the Red Cloud Agency, where Sioux Indians under the leadership of Chief Red Cloud had settled under treaty with the U.S. government. The fort was the site of several dramatic incidents in the last years of the Plains Indians wars. In May 1877, Oglala Sioux chief Crazy Horse and 900 followers surrendered at Fort Robinson, and settled on the reservation. Just a few months later, Crazy Horse was arrested and brought into the fort, where he was stabbed in a scuffle and died several hours later. In 1879, Cheyenne chief Dull Knife and his tribe left their reservation in the Indian Territory and sought to take refuge with Red Cloud on his reservation. They were intercepted by troops from Fort Robinson and detained there. After several days, the Indians broke out with the use of weapons they had hidden, and 64 of the 149 Indians who fled the fort were killed in fighting over the next two weeks. (This incident is depicted in John Ford’s great film, “Cheyenne Autumn.”) The fort was in operation until 1948. Fort Robinson State Park now includes a museum housed in the fort’s former headquarters, with displays of both Indian and U.S. army artifacts. Other fort buildings have been restored and furnished with period pieces, including the adobe officers’ quarters, the guardhouse, blacksmith shop, and adjutant’s office (where Crazy Horse died).

Location Information and Directions

Links: Fort Robinson State Park