NY Frontier Loyalists
New York was not the only state to raise armed bodies of Loyalists. Typically, loyal
Americans flocked to the king's standard when the British Army was present in force. The
warfare in the South almost mirrored the northern frontier: savage guerilla warfare waged
by both patriot and loyalist.
The Queen's Rangers
The regiment was originally raised on August 16, 1776 by Robert Rogers of French and
Indian War fame. Command passed from Roberts to Lt. Col. Christopher French in 1777,
followed by Major James Wemyss of the 40th Regiment of Foot, who was wounded at
Germantown. The Queen's Rangers achieved its greatest fame(or notoriety, depending on your
viewpoint) under the leadership of John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant-
Governor of Upper Canada. Simcoe took command of the Rangers on October 15, 1777.
Initial recruitment was from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Virginia. Later
recruits came from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South Carolina. The infantry included line
(or "hat")companies, light infantry and grenadier companies, and a highland
company (raised from Mohawk Valley Scots). The Rangers eventually became a mixed or
legionary force with the addition of Diemar's Hussars and Sandford's Bucks County Light
Dragoons. The unit was later placed on the Regular British rolls as part of the
"American Establishment in May 1779 and renumbered as the First American Regiment.
Queen's Rangers were stationed in New York until sent to Charlestown in April 1780,
returning to New York in June. The Rangers returned to south in December as part of
Arnold's expedition to Virginia. After this they became part of Cornwallis' army,
eventually surrendering at Yorktown.
Aside from Simcoe and Rogers, the unit also was home to the notable Benjamin Thompson.
Thompson commanded a troop of dragoons during the Rangers' occupation of Long Island. He
ordered the building of Fort Golgotha on Huntington church grounds. Thompson accheived
postwar fame as an inventor in Europe, and received the honory title of Count Rumford.
Read more about Simcoe and the
Queen's York Rangers history. You can also visit the recreated Queen's
The King's Rangers
Robert Rogers' second attempt at raising a loyalist force, which, like the Queen's
Rangers, fared better when command was handed over to others. Rogers' brother James
commanded the 2nd Battalion, while Captain
Samuel Hayden was senior officer of the 1st.
company , Captain
Pritchard's company, and Captain Breakenridge's Company of the 2nd
Battalion operated in the Lake Champlain/Lake George corridor of New York.
Hayden's company was recruited largely in New Jersey, and operated in
that state. Many thanks to
M. Christopher New for clarifying Rogers'
involvement with the King's Rangers.
Muster Rolls for Hayden's
company, 1784 on The Island Register web site.
The Roman Catholic Volunteers
Late in 1777, the Roman Catholic Volunteers, under Lt. Col. Alfred Clifton, were formed in
British-occupied Philadelphia. The unit, burdened with frequent desertions and
court-martials, was disbanded by the end of 1778. The Catholics in the unit were allowed
to transfer to the Volunteers of Ireland which also freely accepted Catholics. Other
members were transfered to the British Legion.
The British Legion
Organized in 1778 by Lord Cathcart from loyalists in New York, Pennsylvania,
and New Jersey. Many existing units were amalgamated into the Legion:
Ritzema's Royal American Reformees; the Caledonian Volunteers; the West
Jersey Volunteers; and some members of the Roman Catholic Volunteers made
up the infantry. Captain Kinloch's independent troop of dragoons from
New York, the First and Second Troops of the Philadelphia Light Dragoons,
Emmerick's Chasseurs, the Prince of Wales' American Volunteers, and the
16th Light Dragoons contributed drafts to the cavalry. The Legion operated
in the New York area as two separate units(Tarleton's cavalry and Cathcart's
infantry) until 1779 when they were sent to the South. Their commander,
acquired a reputation as somebody you wouldn't want to meet on the battlefield.
"Bloody Tarleton" and "Tarleton's Quarters" refer
to his actions at Waxhaws , Catawba, and elsewhere in the South. While
on the Southern campaign the Legion added three more troops of cavalry
in 1780 from Emmerich's Chasseurs, the Bucks County Light Dragoons, and
the Prince of Wales' American Volunteers. Tarleton's troops banged heads
with "the Old Wagoner" Dan Morgan several times, most notably
at the Cowpens, where the Legion was badly cut up. Tarleton reraised the
Legion after this, but Cornwallis suffered a vital loss of scouts and
screening forces due to the loss at the Cowpens. The Legion surrendered
to the French at Gloucester during the Yorktown Campaign. The Legion cavalry
was placed on the regular British Establishment as of December 25th 1782,
while the infantry became the 5th American Regiment of the American Establishment.
Loyal American Association
Royal North British Volunteers
Loyal Irish Volunteers
These three units were raised from loyalist refugees in Boston in the fall of 1775. They
lasted as long as the British occupation, and disbanded after Gage's withdrawal from the
The Royal Fencible Americans
Raised by Joseph Gorham in Nova Scotia.
The Loyal Nova Scotia Volunteers
Raised by Nova Scotia Governor Francis Legge.
The New Jersey Volunteers
Also known as the New Jersey Loyalists, Cortlandt Skinner raised six battalions.
A selection of the muster
rolls of the 4th Battalion has been transcribed by Donna Ristenbatt.
More information can be found on Todd
Braisted's Royal Provincials site.
The Loyal Associated Refugees
Organized by George Leonard, a Massachusetts loyalist and refugee from Boston, this was
sea raiding force of loyalist sailors and soldiers. The land portion of the command was
organized by Edmund Fanning and Edward Winslow. This irregular group was not a provincial
regiment, but did receive arms from the Crown. Among their operations, they raided Bedford
(now New Bedford)CT in the spring of 1779.
Information drawn from Todd Braisted's notes on the AOL Loyalist forum.
The First Battalion of Maryland Loyalists
Raised by Lt. Colonel James Chalmers, the Marlyand Loyalists served first on Long Island,
and were then transferred to garrison in British West Florida. Survivors settled in New
Brunswick after the war.
The recreated First
Battalion has a more complete history online.
M. Christopher New has also authored a book
on Maryland Loyalists in the American Revolution.
King's American Dragoons
Commanded by Benjamin Thompson (later Count Rumford)starting in 1781.
They were in South Carolina; went into winter quarters at Huntington,
Long Island, in the fall of 1782. They were evacuated from New York and
St. John, New Brunswick, where they were disbanded in 1783.
The South Carolina Royalists
Alexander Innis was appointed colonel of this regiment on 30 May 1778; James Robinson was
Lt. Colonel, and Evan McLoretel, Major.
Fanning's North Carolina Loyalist Militia
Loyalist David Fanning raised several companies of militia which operated
in the southern theater, 1775 - 1782. The recreated
Loyalist Militia of Chatham County represent one element of Fanning's
The Georgia Loyalists
Absorbed into the King's Carolina Rangers in February 1782. Evacuated from Savannah with
the King's American Regiment in July 1782.
The Black Pioneers
Apparently recruited in the south from slaves, they performed public sanitation duties in
British occupied Philadelphia in 1778. They were initaly commanded by Lt. George Martin of
the Marines, followed by Captain Allan Stewart of North Carolina. At war's end the
pioneers were emanicipated and many settled in Birchtown, Nova Scotia.
Drawn from Todd Braisted's notes on Revlist 11 Jan 1999.