blank spacer

NY Frontier Loyalists Blank spacer Downstate Loyalists Blank spacer Other Loyalists

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 these men.

Loyalist Troops in the Mohawk Valley space
Butler's Rangers
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 Rangers,
see Major Alan Woolley's page
The King's Royal Regiment of New York
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's Volunteers
Joseph 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 Brant.
Visit the recreated Brant's Volunteers home page
The Royal Highland Emigrants(the 84th Regt. Of Foot)
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 New York.

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
The 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.

View payrolls for the department ca.1777.

SeeThe Company of Select Marksmen and the Indian Department for details of Col. Campbell's operations.
The Loyal Foresters
Apparently a 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 Rangers
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. 
Additional information extracted from R. Garret cited on the Canadian-Roots-L mailing list.

McAlpin's Corps of American Volunteers
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


spacer send any comments to the scribe.
All Material©1997,1998 Gregory F. Ketcham unless otherwise noted. Contributing authors retain all rights. This site may be linked to but not duplicated in any manner without my written consent.