General Jeremiah T. Boyle

Historical Marker #1218 commemorates the establishment of Boyle County. It was named after Judge John Boyle, a state representative, congressman, and prominent judge. Boyle's son--Jeremiah Tilford Boyle--became Union military commander of Kentucky for much of the Civil War.

Born outside of Danville in 1818, after a broad education Jeremiah Boyle practiced law. When the Civil War erupted, Boyle, a slave owner, joined the Union army. In April 1862, he earned acclaim while leading a brigade at the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee. The next month he was appointed Union military commander of Kentucky. Although he was an attorney with no military training, the Lincoln administration believed that his knowledge of Kentucky and Kentuckians would help guide the commonwealth during the Civil War. In Boyle, they found that political generals were often ineffective.

Boyle led Kentucky through trying times. In addition to defending the state against guerrillas and repeated Confederate cavalry raids, in the summer of 1862, he had to defend Kentucky from multiple Southern armies. The Confederates eventually withdrew after the Battle of Perryville, and Boyle cracked down on suspected Southern sympathizers, arresting many. He also faced the ire of Kentuckians when the Lincoln administration instituted unpopular policies, including the Emancipation Proclamation, which did not affect Kentucky because it remained a loyal state. Boyle also contended with Kentuckians' opposition to the enlistment of African American soldiers.

Boyle interfered with elections, impressed enslaved men for railroad construction, and levied large fines against Confederate sympathizers who lived in proximity to guerrilla depredations. When he was relieved of command in January 1864, he resigned from the US Army.

After the war, Boyle became wealthy from the railroad business. He died in 1871 and was buried in Danville.

The historical marker was installed on February 26, 1969. It reads:

For Judge John Boyle, 1774-1834.
State representative, 1800; U.S>
Congress, 1803-9; Kentucky Court
of Appeals, Chief Justice, 1810-1826;
U.S. District Judge for Kentucky,
1826-34. The Judge "lived for his
country," setting many important
legal precedents for the new state.
The 94th county, formed from
parts of Mercer and Lincoln, with
Danville named the county seat.