Has the definition of treason changed?

My grandfather from the Revoluionary War era Shadrach Claywell, probably like many Colonists, volunteered and fought against the British in the American Revolutionary War.

He served three tours of duty starting his first tour at the age of 20. His final tour was cut short at the battle of Guilford CourtHouse when he was captured by the British. As a POW he was taken up into Canada before being released at the end of the War at which point he made his way back home to Bedford County, Va. (Side note: Contrary to Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in The Patriot, the British actually won — although at a high cost)

For me, Shadrach’s story became more intriguing later in life when his name surfaced in an investigation concerning another person receiving a Revolutionary War pension. In the investigation, it was alleged that Shadrach had colluded with the enemy. Due to the nature of the accusation, Shadrach’s pension was suspended and an investigation ensued.

In the investigation, the facts of his alleged collusion was presented as such: Shortly after his capture by the British, Shadrach contracted chicken pox. He was imprisoned in what sounds like an outbuilding away from the Brits (probably due to his disease) — and at some point the British offered him better treatment if he would help them — which apparently he did.

But the body investigating Shadrach’s pension seemed to have no qualms with it, noting that Shadrach did what he had to do to save his life — something, they said, anyone would be expected to do.

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