Border Forays and Adventures


Inscribed at the base of George Rogers Clark’s statue are the words, “If a country is not worth protecting it is not worthy claiming.” Clark, an early American hero, aged twenty-six years, leading his expedition, in 1778, to conquer the Illinois territory along the Mississippi River, told his troops shortly before his first engagement: “Soldiers! We are near the enemy who have so long annoyed us, and whom we have been for years endeavoring to reach and punish. We are not fighting alone for liberty and independence but for the defense of our own frontiers from the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the Indians. We are virtually defending the lives of our women and children, although a long distance from them. These British garrisons furnish the Indians with powder and lead to desolate the frontiers: and they pay gold for human scalps. We must take and destroy these garrisons. The fort before us is one of them, and it must be taken. We cannot retreat. We have no provisions, and must conquer or starve. This is the Fourth of July. We must act to honor it. Let it not be said, in after times, that Virginians were defeated on that memorable day. The fort and town, I repeat, must be taken at all hazards.” Those words, spoken over two hundred and twenty-five years ago, tell the story of this book—the price that our ancestors (man, woman, and child) paid for our American independence—your heritage, my heritage. That speech to his troops, given on our national holiday, however, only touches the surface of the horror suffered in gaining that independence. From the files of Lyman Copeland Draper, who corresponded with relatives of participants and who wrote of those early days in American history, this book is written. Much is not pleasant to read, but only reinforces what George Rogers Clark said and meant. His troops conquered and they honored that memorable day—the Fourth of July.


Robert B. Puryear III


(2006), 2007, 5½x8½, paper, 454 pp.

ISBN: 9780788444890