History runs deep at battleground

It was the largest Revolutionary War battle west of the Allegheny Mountains.

And it was fought just a few miles west of Springfield, in the area of what is now George Rogers Clark Park.

Some 30 people gathered last Wednesday evening at the nearby Davidson Interpretative Center to hear a presentation about the Battle of Piqua (or Peckuwe) from Barb Lehman, who primarily related the Native American and British perspective.

Lehman is tribal historian for the Peckuwe Sept of the Shawnee Indians, and local historian Bill Smith introduced her as the foremost expert on the battle.

The fighting happened on Aug. 8, 1780, and is well chronicled at the Davidson Interpretive Center, at George Rogers Clark Park, in a variety of books and on various websites.

But Lehman presented a variety of other facts, including the history leading up to the battle and something that is frequently overlooked — it was also the site of of a significant American Indian town. The area near what would become the site of the former Ohio Edison power plant on the Mad River was an important French trading post.

Later, the Shawnee Indians allowed the British to settle in this area and they gave “Piqua” special attention because it afforded great protection from invaders.

She also dispelled the notion that Tecumseh led the American Indians there, pointing out he was only 12 years old and watched the battle from a tree. She later stressed that Tecumseh was never given the title of chief.

Taking questions from the audience, Lehman was asked if Daniel Boone was present at the battle.

She answered some say yes, others no, but there is evidence to indicate he was there.

While the site draws a great deal of interest from those interested in history, Lehman points out “this is kind of a magic place (to the Indian ancestors who are now alive). I know there are natural burials here (on the battle site).”

However, she said the burial site of Clark’s men killed in the battle is unknown.

For additional information on the American Indians and the battle, Lehman recommends books such as “Simon Girty: Turncoat Hero” by Phillip Hoffman and “Tomahawks and Treaties” by Rex Calloway. They can be ordered from American History Press, 921 Leigh Valley Drive, Franklin TN 37069, by calling 888-521-1789 or online at www.americanhistorypress.com.

The Davidson Interpretive Center, which is operated by the Clark County Park District, also contains displays and exhibits about the Shawnee villages.

Contact this writer at Darryl.Bauer@cmgohio.com or 937-328-0341.

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