Frontier Loyalists Downstate
A hidden facet of American history is the fact that many
colonists chose to take up arms to defend their rightful ruler, King
George III. The exact number of loyalists who bore arms will probably
never be fully determined.
Some units' lifespans were
fleeting, dependent upon British military occupation in their area; the
loyalist troops of Boston are a prime example. Other organizations, such
as the Queen's Rangers, gained reputations as soldiers to contend with.
These men believed as passionately in their cause as the patriots. The
stakes were the same: their rights as property owners and citizens of the
land. As in any war, there are winners and losers. The loyalists lost, and
soon found there was no place for them in their native land. America's
loss was great; Canada, however, grew due to the talents and strengths of
Loyalist Troops in the Mohawk
This unit pretty much
defined partisan or irregular warfare on the frontier. Had Colonel John
Butler opted to side with the rebels, his name might show up in the same
sentence with 'Swamp Fox" Francis Marion. Butler and his son Walter kept
the New York/Pennsylvania border dwellers living in fear from 1777
(when the corps was raised after the success of Oriskany) to
war's end. Whether second hand accounts are accurate or not, both Butlers
have black marks attached to their names: John, for the
"Wyoming Valley Massacre"; and Walter, for his part in the "Cherry Valley
Massacre". Their hit and run style of warfare drew off Continental
troops and supplies that were desperately needed elsewhere. The
Sullivan/Clinton Expedition of 1779 was really an effort to put an end to
the activities of the Butlers, Johnson, and Brant and his Iroquois
warriors. The unit operated until 1784; many members settled on the
Niagara frontier and founded towns like St. Catharines, Ontario.
For an accurate and complete account of the history of Butler's
see Major Alan Woolley's
The King's Royal Regiment of
Also known as Johnson's Greens(amongst other
names), this regiment was raised by Sir John Johnson in June of 1776 after
his flight from the Mohawk Valley. The rank and file were also refugees
from the Mohawk and Schoharie valleys. Johnson, like the Butlers,
understood the value of psychological warfare, and raided his former
homeland throughout the war. The Royal Yorkers had their baptism under
fire at Oriskany. They,
like Butler's Rangers, gained a reputation for savagery; a reputation that
was promoted by their enemies-their former neighbors.
See The King's
Royal Yorker Page for an excellent regimental history.
Brant (Thayendanegea) had close ties to the Johnson Dynasty; he acted as
an intrepeter for Sir William Johnson, and his sister Molly was Sir
William's mistress. Brant led various Mohawk raiding parties in the Valley
and beyond throughout the war. This force was a true irregular force of
whites and native americans, starting sometime in the year 1777. Brant
initially paid, equipped, and fed the Volunteers from his own pocket;
eventually Sir Frederick Haldimond authorized the provisioning of the
Volunteers. Since it was not a recognized unit (and therefore not on the
British Army payrolls), many members transferred to the Rangers or the
Greens over time. For further background, see this detailed biography of Joseph
Visit the recreated Brant's
Volunteers home page
The Royal Highland Emigrants(the 84th Regt. Of
Shortly before the war, Sir William Johnson
encouraged Scottish and Irish émigrés to settle on his lands. This was an
attempt to balance the scales against his neighbors (predominately
rebellion inclined Palatinates). The 84th recruited from these men, and
others like them in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Carolinas. Many
were veterans of the 42nd, 77th,and 78th regiments. Colonel Allan Maclean
was authorized to raise a regiment of loyal Scots in 1775. When McLean
arrived in America, he found Major John Small had already been at work
raising a similar regiment - the Young Royal Highlanders. Small's command
was incorporated into the Royal Highland as the second battalion.
The First Battalion primarily consisted on men recruited in the
interior of America, and served in Canada. The First Battalion served in
the defense of Fort St. Johns, and at Quebec. The First was active
throughout the war in the Northern theater; they manned posts from Quebec
to Mackinac, and participated in several of the raids on the valleys of
The Second Battalion was
made up of men from the maritimes, and was initially garrisoned in Nova
Scotia. They performed duty as marines aboard ship there, operating in the
Maritimes and the Maine coastal region. Elements of the Second were
present at Newport, RI in 1776, and were part of the assault on
Charleston, SC They saw further action, in Georgia, at the battle of Eutaw
Springs, SC, and some did duty in Jamaica.
After the war, members of the First Battalion settled in Upper Canada
(Ontario), while members of the Second populated Nova Scotia.
Visit the official homepage of the recreated 1st Co.,2nd Battalion of the
84th Royal Highland Emigrants.
A tip of the bonnet toColonel Kim
Stacey for sharing his research report
on the 84th, which is excerpted here.
The Northern Indian Department
Indian department was created to oversee diplomatic relations with the
numerous Indian nations in British North America. The department was
divided into Northern and Southern departments, the north supervised by
Sir William Johnson. On Johnson's death in 1774, his nephew and
departmental secretary Guy Johnson assumed the role. During this time, Guy
also supervised the Six Nations department, while his brother in law
Daniel Claus watched over the Seven Nations of Canada that comprised the
Quebec Department. Alexander McKee was stationed at Pittsburgh to deal
with the Great Lakes Indians.
During peacetime the department employed interpreters for diplomatic
tasks and blacksmiths for more practical matters. As tensions escalated,
Guy Johnson made appointments in the department to prepare for war. John
Butler was appointed a deputy agent; Gilbert Tice, Captain; the Johnston
brothers, Lieutenants; and between five and ten men as rangers. This
initial cadre was soon supplimented by loyalist refugees who fled across
New York to Fort Niagara, where they found employment as rangers in the
Indian Department. The men at Niagara were under John Butler's command,
and participated in the Battle of Oriskany with Butler and Johnson's Royal
Yorkers. Some rangers chose to transfer to Butler's or Johnson's corps,
while others such as Gilbert Tice stayed on serving as liasons to various
Indian war parties. Aside from the Niagara detachment, there were officers
and rangers who worked with the Seven Nations of Canada. Some were under
Guy's direct command; others reported to Colonel John
Campbell, Deputy Superintendant of Canadian Indians.
for the department ca.1777.
of Select Marksmen and the Indian Department for details of Col.
The Loyal Foresters
military company under the command of Guy Johnson in the Indian
Department; returns signed by Guy in the period 1783-84 show at maximum 20
men listed as "forresters", with additional personnel as officers and
sargeants, artificers and musicians.
Citations of returns provided courtesy of Gavin Watt.
Loyalist Units of the Burgoyne Campaign
The Queen's Loyal
Not to be confused with the Rogers/Simcoe led
Queen's Rangers, this group was raised by John Peters of Connecticut and
accompanied the Burgoyne expedition. Lieutenant David Jones, better known
as the fiancee of Jane McCrea, was a member of this unit. In November 1781
the surviving members of the Queen's Loyal Rangers were amalgamated with
the remnants of Jessup's King's Loyal Americans and McAlpin's Corps into a
new battalion called the Loyal Rangers.
See the recreation of Captain Sherwood's
company for more information.
The King's Loyal Americans
Commanded by Ebeneezer Jessup, and raised in 1776. The Jessups were a
wealthy merchant family from the Grand Falls area, 45 miles north of
Albany; other family members involved in the corps were Edward and Joseph.
Jessup's Corps took part in the ill-fated Burgoyne Campaign in 1777; the
survivors were condensed with McAlpin's Corps and Peters' Queens Loyal
Rangers in 1781 at St. John's, Quebec. The unit was disbanded in 1784,
with members settling in Grenville County, Ontario.
information extracted from R. Garret cited on the Canadian-Roots-L mailing
McAlpin's Corps of American
Authorized by Sir William Howe, and raised
by McAlpin for the Burgoyne expedition of 1777. Recruited and raised in
the Albany region. Survivors of the Burgoyne campaign were stationed in
Quebec, and were eventually amalgamated with the remnants of Peters' and
Jessups' corps as the Loyal Rangers in 1781.
View a muster roll
from 1777 - external link