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Daniel Boone Court-Martial: 1778

Boone Tried By Military Officers

Shortly after the siege, two militia officers, Richard Callaway and Benjamin Logan, charged Boone with treason. Callaway had earlier objected to Boone's plan to attack Paint Creek, and he saw treasonous designs in Boone's behavior. The charge consisted of four particulars: That Boone had voluntarily surrendered the salt lick expedition; that he had consorted with the British at Detroit, engaging with them to capture Boonesborough's population; that he had weakened Boonesborough's defenses by staging the raid on Paint Creek; and that he had taken Boonesborough leaders beyond range of the settlement's guns when negotiating with Chief Blackfish.

The trial took place at a fort named Logan's Station, and large numbers of people attended. Kentucky militia officers served as his judges and jurors, taking testimony from Callaway, some of the escaped captives, and Boone himself. "Boone was in favor of the British government," declared Callaway. "All of his conduct proved it.… He ought to be broak of his commission." In response Boone told the story he had told all along: outmanned and outgunned, he had decided to "use some stratagem" and deceive the Shawnee and the British, telling them "tales to fool them," and trying to stop the Shawnee from attacking a weakened Boonesborough. To his wife, Rebecca, Boone spoke more bluntly. "God damn them," he said of the British. "They had set the Indians on us."

The court-martial quickly acquitted Boone, and it even promoted him from captain to major to show its approval of him. Nevertheless, the accusations crushed Boone and clouded his reputation. The trial details are sketchy, since the Boone family rarely talked of it; the official records of the court-martial vanished; and the public chose to overlook the blemish on Boone's career.

Buckner F. Melton, Jr.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Bakeless, John. Daniel Boone. Master of the Wilderness. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1939.

Eckert, Allan W. That Dark and Bloody River. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.

Faragher, John Mack. Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1992.

Lofaro, Michael A. The Life and Adventures of Daniel Boone. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky,


Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1637 to 1832Daniel Boone Court-Martial: 1778 - Neither Patriot Nor Loyalist, Boone "adopted" By The Shawnee, Boone's Return Met With Suspicion