Richard Scott Blackburn was born around 1760 in Prince William, Virginia, to Thomas Blackburn and Christina Scott Blackburn. He was married to Judith Ball in 1781. As captain of the 1st Regiment of Artillery and Engineers, he left Winchester, Virginia, on March 26th, 1789, to join General James Wilkinson on his second trip to New Orleans. The goal of the trip was to gain the favor of Governor Esteban Miro, and solidify the trading monopoly Wilkinson had won two years previously. Traveling by way of the Youghiogheny and Ohio Rivers, Blackburn met with Wilkinson in Lexington, Kentucky, on April 21st, and from there proceeded to New Orleans.
From 1799 through June 1801, Blackburn was posted at Dumfries, Virginia, but in June 1801, was transferred to the border outpost at Fort Washington, Georgia, on the St. Mary's River, which formed the border with Spanish Florida. There, Blackburn had to contend with unusual discipline problems posed by an overabundance of rum and an international border that proved tempting to soldiers wishing to desert in order to avoid punishment. To make matters worse, Fort Washington was also, according to Blackburn, underprovisioned: "Troops of Frontier stations remote from the Seat of Government, will always be made to suffer, in order to fill the Pockets of those Blood Hounds [contractors]." Blackburn was promoted to major in April 1803, and died the following November.