December 19, 2017

“The Infamous Dakota War Trials of 1862”
– John Haymond

December 19, 2017

The military commission trials of the Dakota War have been extensively studied, but a thorough understanding of 19th century military law has been lacking in the history of this war. The Infamous Dakota War Trials of 1862: Revenge, Military Law and the Judgment of History, is the first examination of the trials by a historian with expertise in both military law and conflict history. In this presentation, John A. Haymond discusses the legal controversies that still surround the military commission trials, considers the role of Native American culture as it relates to definitions of lawful warfare, examines the trials within the broader context of military law during the Civil War, and discusses how this subject has been portrayed in published histories. This presentation engages with some of the lingering questions from the war, such as: was the military commission a legal court; did the lack of defense counsel make the trials invalid; was there any evidence to support the claims of widespread atrocities; and did Henry H. Sibley personally violate the law in the course of the trials?

John Haymond is a conflict historian who researches the impact of war upon society. He has written two books, contributed to peer-reviewed academic journals and the “Laws of War” department in Military History Quarterly, and is a published poet. A former paratrooper and infantryman, he retired from the U.S. Army in 2009 after a 21-year military career. He has a BA in History and English Literature from the University of Minnesota and an MSc in History from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.