NY Frontier Loyalists Downstate Loyalists Other Loyalists
Once the British forced Washington off Manhattan in 1776, the area of New York City and Long Island became a magnet for displaced loyalists. Prominent citizens such as the DeLanceys and Robinsons quickly raised substantial regiments. Many historians cite this as an example of New York's ambivalence, if not outright opposition, to the Revolution. It is important to note that these recruits were refugees who came from the modern tri-states area, the mid-atlantic, and even the south (e.g. the North Carolinians who joined the Royal Highland Emigrants). Whatever their origin, they made for a mighty presence in the New York area.
The King's American Regiment of Foot:
Raised by Edmund Fanning in December of 1776 as "The Associated Refugees". Fanning already had a reputation from being in the middle of the Regulators dispute in North Carolina in 1771. He followed his patron Governor Tryon from Carolina to New York, where he eventually assumed a noncombatant role as Surveyor-General of New York in 1782.
The regiment was made up of recruits drawn chiefly from Long Island, New York City, and the counties along the Hudson river. The regiment's initial duty in the New York City area was garrison duty at Huntington, Long Isnad, and Kingsbridge in the summer of 1777. They were with Sir Henry Clinton in the attack on Forts Clinton and Montgomery. In 1778, they moved to Rhode Island in anticipation of the French attack on Newport. Their first real combat action ocurred here at the battle of Quaker Hill. They served as seaborne raiders in 1779, launcing attacks on Bedford and New Haven,CT, and Falmouth,MA. After that it was back to garrison duty on the Hudson and at Lloyd's Neck, Long Island. was sent south to participate in campaigns in Virginia, Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and the east Floridas. After the siege of Savannah in 1781, elements of the regiment were sent into garrison at New York and Charleston, where they remained until war's end. Renumbered in May 1779 as the 4th American Regiment. Additional information can be found at the Harriet Irving Library of the University of New Brunswick.
Information drawn from the Company of Military Historians and Todd Braisted's notes on the AOL Loyalist forum.
The Loyal American Regiment
The Loyal American Regiment was raised by Colonel Beverley Robinson Sr. in the Spring of 1777, primarily from Loyalists in Westchester and lower Dutchess County, New York. The regiment garrisoned Morrisania and Kingsbridge, NY that year until they took part in the Hudson Highlands Expedition of October 1777 under Lt. Genl. Sir Henry Clinton. They received great credit in helping to storm Forts Clinton and Montgomery. While the corps stayed there over the next few weeks, they received scores of new recruits, which led to the promotion of Captains Beverley Robinson, Jr. and Thomas Barclay to lieutenant colonel and major respectively. The regiment continued garrison duty on the lines at Kingsbridge or on Long Island until the Spring of 1779 when they took part in yet another expedition up the Hudson, this time garrisoning the posts of Verplank and Stony Point. When the latter was stormed in July of 1779 the corps lost 60 men of all ranks prisoners. These posts were evacuated in October of 1779 and the corps (between 200-250 men) returned again to the lines of Kingsbridge. In April of 1780 50 men of the corps assisted in the surprise attack on the Pennsylvania Line in Paramus, New Jersey. The regiment once remained in garrison until December of 1780 when it was ordered to embark for Virginia under the command of newly appointed Brig. Genl. Benedict Arnold. The regiment suffered very severely throughout January of 1781 and thereafter until they returned to New York in early June of that year. Receiving little rest, they took part in an unsuccessful raid to Pleasant Valley, New Jersey under Brig. Genl. Cortlandt Skinner of the New Jersey Volunteers. Their last major action would take place in September of 1781 when they were once again requested by Benedict Arnold to be a part of his New London, CT expedition where they experienced some heavy fighting. The regiment returned to Long Island where they remained in garrison until embarking for Nova Scotia in September of 1783.
Several detachments of men from the corps served with distinction and should be noted here. Captain Joshua Barnes led a number of men from the LAR into a new corps of marksmen commanded by Captain (and later Lt. Col.) Andreas Emmerich in August of 1777. Known as Emmerich's Chasseurs, this corps expanded into a legion of cavalry, riflemen, light infantry and chasseurs and served constantly on the lines of Kingsbridge. Unfortunately, the corps was very ill-disciplined, particularly amongst the officers, which directly led to it's disbanding in August of 1779. Elements of the Chasseurs were drafted into the British Legion in 1780.
The American Volunteers
The second draft made from the regiment came in December of 1779 when Captain Patrick Ferguson of the 70th Regiment of Foot recruited about 175 volunteers from amongst the Provincial Corps at New York to serve as riflemen and rangers on the up-coming expedition to take Charleston, South Carolina. Known as the American Volunteers, this corps landed in Georgia in the beginning of February, 1780 and made it's way to the Siege of Charleston, taking part in the destruction and dispersal of the Continental Cavalry at Monk's Corner, SC. After the city fell in May of 1780, this corps was supposed to return to their parent regiments in New York, but Ferguson successfully lobbied to have them remain with him in South Carolina. They served as a detached corps from the army and assisted in the training of Loyalist militia regiments. Their luck ran out with the defeat of Ferguson at King's Mountain on October 7, 1780. Captain Abraham DePeyster(recruited from the King's American Regiment) surrendered what was left of the command. The survivors either returned to their corps over time or sat out the war in prison.
The Provincial Light Infantry
The last detachment was that of their light infantry company. Formed under Captain Morris Robinson in August of 1780, this company set sail for Virginia in October of 1780 under Major General Leslie. After some minor forays there, the expedition was ordered to make haste to Charleston, SC to reinforce the British there. The Light Company served with 5 others raised from other Provincial corps at New York and were collectively known as the Provincial Light Infantry. This corps was commanded by Lt. Col. John W. Watson, a regular officer from the Brigade of Foot Guards. This unit operated in the High Hills of Santee, mostly engaged in operations against the rebel partisan Thomas Sumpter. After many skirmishes and casualties, the corps fought at the bloody battle of Eutaw Springs, SC in September of 1781. Suffering many casualties, the companies were returned to their parent units at New York in the Spring of 1782.
Donna Speer Ritenbatt has several muster rolls for the Loyal American Regiment available online.
The recreated Light Infantry company of the LAR is now online with further information.
This material was authored by Todd W. Braisted, and appears here with his kind permission.
Also known as DeLancey's Brigade, this regiment was probably the largest organization raised in New York, composed of three battalions raised by Oliver DeLancey. DeLancey was a wealthy New York merchant who resided in the Morrisania section of the Bronx (the Bronx was part of Westchester County during the 18th century). Oliver's brother, James, was a chief justice for the colony of New York and at one time was lieutenant governor for the colony. I believe it was James DeLancey who presided over the Zenger trial which was a major case involving freedom of the press. James died before the war. His son, James "Jr." was sheriff of Westchester county prior to the war and knew it like "the back of his hand". James formed a separate unit know as the Westchester Refugees. His unit was not on the regular British army payroll and raised money by selling raided cattle to the British army! Hence their nickname "the Cowboys". James' unit was responsible for the raid on the Davenport house near Pines Bridge where the rebel commander, Christopher Greene, was killed. Historians and researchers sometimes get the two DeLancey units mixed up. DeLancey's Brigade gets blamed for the actions of DeLancey's Westchester Refugees.
Just as an interesting aside, it was Oliver's father, Entien, who immigrated from France to New York where he built a townhouse in lower Manhattan (New York City at the time). He raised his family here. This house was sold at his death as part of the estate settlement. It was then used as a tavern which was again sold, moved to a new location, and faced with brick. This building stands today and is know as Fraunces Tavern which is where Washington said farewell to his officers at the end of the war.
DeLancey's Brigade was comprised of three battalions of 500 men each. They were raised from New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Fairfield Counties. I've heard that some of the men in 3rd Bttn. were captured rebels at the Battle of Long Island and given a choice, serve for the British or rot in a prison hulk in New York harbor. Some choice! DeLancey's Brigade began service as a police force in NYC. Later they garrisoned forts at Kings Bridge, Morrisania, and on Long Island's north shore where they were protecting the Loyal Americans who had fled to British controlled territory. Two battalions were later sent with Cornwallis to fight in the Southern Campaign. They fought at Eutaw Springs and Fort Ninety-Six (where they successfully withstood one of the longest sieges of the war).
After the war they settled in what is now New Brunswick, Canada along the banks of the St. John River. Gabriel Ludlow, one of the Battalion commanders, was the first mayor of the City of St. John. Oliver took his family to England where he died shortly after the war. His sons were given commissions in the British army. Oliver's grandson, William, was Wellington's quartermaster general at the Battle of Waterloo. Sadly, William died of wounds shortly after the battle having recently married a Belgian girl prior to the battle. Quartermasters at the time were responsible not only for supply but moving the army from one place to another. You might say that William DeLancey was largely responsible for Wellington winning the Battle of Waterloo because he had the troops exactly where and when they were needed.
Read more about DeLancey's at the recreated 2nd Battalion, Capt. Allison's Company page and the 1st Battalion, Brigadier General Delancey's page. . Donna Speer Ristenbatt has several muster rolls for the New York Volunteers available online.
This narrative of DeLancey's Brigade was written by Jack Sherry,
a member of the recreated DeLancey's Brigade.
Raised by Lt. Col. George Turnbull in January 1776. Renumbered in May 1779 as the 3rd American Regiment. The NYV saw extensive service in the south, including Charleston SC. A detachment was stationed at >Rocky Mount,
South Carolina in early June 1780, commanded by Lt. Col. George Turnbull, and remained there until early August 1780, after which they were withdrawn to Camden.
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.
Captain Francis Lord Rawdon of the 63rd regiment of foot was authorized to raise the Volunters and act as their colonel in May 1778. Additionals officers were Lt. Colonel Daily(a captain from the 55th)and Major Despard (captain from the 7th). Like the Roman Catholic Volunteers, the V of I was intended to be a loyalist organization for Catholics. Initial recruits came from Continental Army deserters and the entire Roman Catholic Volunteers regiment (which was drafted into the V of I). The Volunteers were renumbered in May 1779 as the 2nd American Regiment.
The regiment saw extensive service in the south at the seige of Charleston, Camden, and Hobkirk's Hill. In October of 1782 the surviving rank and file were drafted into other Provincial regiments. The officers, sergeants and drummers then returned to Ireland where the regiment was reraised as the 105th Regiment of Foot. This later iteration was disbanded in 1784.
Drawn from Todd Braisted's notes on Revlist 31 May 1999.
The King's Orange Rangers
send any comments to Greg Ketcham