This article was originally published at Robinia Press
We know the name, but do we know the man? Below are four things you probably never knew about Daniel Boone.
1. Boone Was Not Afraid to Retreat
Although most often painted as a heroic fighter and Indian killer, Daniel retreated from nearly every battle he ever fought in. For instance, during the French and Indian War, Daniel worked as a teamster in General Braddock’s campaign. At the Battle of the Monongahela, where Braddock’s forces were entirely defeated and one out of three English soldiers died, Daniel survived because he ran … fast!
An interesting connection can be drawn here in the relation between the warfare tactics of most Native American tribes and the European notions of retreat. Battles of pitted armies that work against each other for hours, days, or months was virtually unheard-of in the Americas prior to European civilization.
Today’s artillery tactics of “Shoot and scoot” mimic the native guerilla warfare that depended on pressure, movement, and retreat. Regardless, Daniel Boone never shied away from the retreat portion of those tactics.
2. Boone was the “Last of the Mohicans.”
Or, rather, The Last of the Mohicans was really Daniel Boone.
American author James Fennimore Cooper, who wrote Pathfinder, The Pioneers, The Deerslayer, Prairie, and The Last of the Mohicans, later admitted that many of his frontier characters and narratives were derived from the many legends of Daniel Boone.
In his books, Cooper utilizes the figures of Leatherstocking, Natty Bumppo, and Trapper as the personification of strength and courage that Daniel Boone enduringly embodied in American history.
One example – the rescue of Cora in the Last of the Mohicans is a near perfect replica of a story from Boone’s life, wherein he rescues his daughter and others from a band of Cherokee and Shawnee warriors in 1776.
3. Boone was a Politician
Imagine a rough and bearded man clad in nothing but buckskin clothes and a coonskin fur hat and then forget that image altogether. No, Boone would not have appeared in History’s show, Mountain Men.
In fact, one traveler observed after running into Boone in the wilderness that he had his hair plaited and clubbed up, a hairstyle exceptionally popular in Europe at this time.
During his life, Boone served as a Deputy Surveyor, Sheriff, Lieutenant Colonel, Local Justice (judge), and was a three-time representative in the Virginia General Assembly—serving beside Thomas Jefferson. He was friend with George Washington and his Uncle was General Daniel Morgan, a hero in the Revolutionary War.
4. No One Knows where He is Buried
As it is with all great giants, Boone’s final resting place is entirely up for debate.
Daniel Boone died in Missouri on September 26th, 1820. Although his family supposedly buried their great elder next to the grave of his dear wife, Rebecca, this now deeply questioned.
In 1845, the State of Kentucky exhumed their “founders” body and brought his remains to Kentucky’s capital city of Frankfort, laying a great monolith over the grave. In 1983, however, questions arose and answers were needed.
The forensic anthropologist Dr. David Wolf exhumed the body and ultimately concluded that the man buried in Frankfort was not Daniel Boone but a young man of African descent. “We say the remains are here,” affirms the record keeper at the cemetery, “but who can say what lies beneath the Boone monument in Frankfort?”
If you are interested in further study, take a look at Boone: An Unfinished Portrait.