NY Frontier Loyalists Downstate Loyalists 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
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. The Greens eventually formed two
battalions, and were instrumental in building posts at Carleton (Buck) Island and Oswego.
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. Besides participating in numerous raids, elements of
the two battalions were instrumental in building posts at Carleton (Buck) Island and
See The King's Royal
Yorker Page for an excellent regimental history.
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 Haldimand 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
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 84th Royal
A tip of the bonnet to Colonel 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 to be supervised by Sir William Johnson. On Johnson's death in
1774, his nephew and departmental secretary Guy Johnson assumed the role of
superintendant. 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.
See The 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
Citations of returns provided courtesy of Gavin
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
See the recreation of Captain
Sherwood's company for more information on this unit's history. A return of the Officers' Corps is also available.
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
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
Jessup's corps as the Loyal Rangers in 1781.
View a muster roll from