(1750–1826) Revolutionary War army officer and state governor. Son of Evan Shelby, Isaac Shelby was born in Maryland. He served as a first lieutenant in Lord Dunmore's War (1774). Patrick Henry, governor of Virginia, named him commissary agent of the Continental army to provision the frontier outposts; he also fought against British forces in western North Carolina. Warned by the British to desist, he and others nonetheless planned a series of raids in 1780 and repeatedly defeated the opposing forces. The British learned of a planned attack instigated by Shelby; the Americans met a reinforced British unit at Cowpens in 1781 but by sheer brilliance managed a victory that delayed the British advance in North Carolina. Shelby became a local hero and was elected to the North Carolina legislature and reelected in 1782. After the war Shelby attended the Kentucky statehood convention in 1784 and became Kentucky's first governor (1792). Shelby left the governorship in 1796. He reluctantly ran again for the state house in 1812, as concern about the impending war mounted. Winning a landslide election, he strengthened the militia and organized what became a major victory against the British at the Battle of the Thames (1813), in which the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, fighting with the Americans, was killed.
From The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Warfare and Defence.