Toryism in New England and New York
The British authorities expected to obtain little support in New England, especially among the Calvinist Protestants, but entertained somewhat more optimistic concerning New York. Some Boston merchants, high art tradesmen and Anglican clergy supported the home government, while other loyalists from all over New England gathered in Boston under the protection of the occupying army. When the patriots forced the English army out of Boston, nearly all active loyalists accompanied them, most emigrating to Canada. In New York, Anglicans and aristocratic English emigrants had prospered from the time that the Duke of York had captured the city. The loyalist population was sufficiently large to support a newspaper, the Royal Gazette, at least as long as the British troops occupied that urban enclave. Probably more loyalist militia were recruited in and around New York City than anywhere north of the Carolinas. Still greater promise for royal support appeared among the Iroquois of New York.
In early 1776 an American tory correspondent wrote to a London newspaper, claiming optimistically that "we have 60,000 [men] now in pay; besides twice as many militia."cccxxv Another American wrote to his friend in London that "5000 men are constantly at work" in New York and were in a "war-like posture." In addition, "there is also 15 or 20,000 men ready to go to their assistance." These were in addition to 5000 to 6000 men in Quebec and 2000 in Boston.cccxxvi In 1777 the Tory newspaper of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Ledger, boasted that the New York counties of Albany, Westchester and Dutchess had supplied 6000 loyalist militiamen.cccxxvii In December 1777 both Rivington's New York tory newspaper, The Royal Gazette and the Philadelphia tory Pennsylvania Ledger urged loyalists to join the tory militia and fight for what was rightfully theirs and to defend their homes, families and property. They urged Tories to join, claiming that they constituted a majority in urban New York, as well as in other urban centers, and that a small show of force would convince many faint-hearted loyalists to join their militia.cccxxviii In November 1777 Clinton received information that there were "thousands" of loyalists within the territory which the British occupied. "They should be immediately armed," Theophilus Bache wrote, each company should be consist of 50 privates." In Queens alone there were already 1500 loyalist militiamen and this was only a tiny portion of those who might be enlisted.cccxxix Clinton agreed that there were many potential loyalist militiamen, but he thought they would be useful in case of extreme emergency, such as invasion by Washington's army because they were merchants and tradesmen who had businesses to attend to.cccxxx Clinton failed in large to follow up on the ideas and suggestions to improve the New York loyalist militias. By October 1782 there were far fewer militiamen than loyalist had planned, with only 2958 names still active on the rolls. Colonel Walton claimed 651 and Colonel Leake had 514, but most other lists were sorely depleted.cccxxxi The tory newspapers served as recruiting agents for loyalist units. As late as August 1782 William Brant was seeking men for loyalist units in Rivington's New York newspaper.cccxxxii
In the last decades before the war for independence New York politics was dominated by up-state manor-lords living a semi-feudal life along the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. Two political parties vied for control of the colony. The established church and tory interests were represented by the DeLancey faction, while the Presbyterian and whig faction was headed by the Livingston family. When an anti-rent revolt of impoverished farmers broke out in 1766 the two factions joined to suppress it with a vengeance. Both parties opposed British policy after the Seven Years War to some degree, although power remained with moderate conservatives. New York City politics was controlled by wealthy merchants, many of whom profited from the Indian trade, and upper level tradesmen, tavern-keepers, free professionals and clergy of the Church of England. Later, when war came, both the New York City and the up-state Livingston and Delancey factions generally became tories.cccxxxiii New York City remained the tory strong-hold as the British army occupied it, giving haven to loyalists from all the former colonies throughout the war.
After the war, when loyalist claims were submitted to the British government, there were 1106 claimants from New York out of a total population of 203,747 in 1776. This figure made New York seventh of the thirteen colonies in population. New York thus had the highest percentage of loyalist claims of any colony, suggesting a large loyalist population. The state supplied approximately 23,500 men for loyalist militias and the British army, the largest number by far of all the colonies.cccxxxiv
The most famous of all tories was Benedict Arnold (1741-1801), a hero of early Whig campaigns. As early as May 1779 Arnold, recipient of much patriot criticism for his administration as military commander in the Philadelphia area, had begun to correspond with the British authorities. General Clinton in New York sensed the opportunity to demoralize the patriots by recruiting one of their most able and popular commanders, personally supervised the negotiations. It is certain that on 23 May, Arnold sent Clinton information on Washington's troop movements and deployment. In late July, Clinton denied Arnold's request for a bounty of £10,000. On 26 January 1780 a court martial found Arnold guilty of mismanagement in Philadelphia and on 6 April, General Washington officially reprimanded Arnold. On 15 June he informed Clinton that he expected to be placed in command of West Point, a vital fortress commanding the Hudson River. On 12 July he wrote Major André, Clinton's adjutant, that he was prepared, upon receiving command, to surrender West Point to Clinton. On 5 August, Arnold officially took command of West Point and on 21 September, he met with André. On 23 September, André was captured in civilian clothes (against Clinton's specific orders) along with incriminating papers. At this point Arnold was not under suspicion and the New York militiamen who had captured André sent word of André's plot to Arnold. Arnold fled to the British man o' war, Vulture. André was tried as a spy and executed on 30 September. Arnold received £6315 in cash, an annual pension of £500 for his wife, the former Peggy Shippen, army commissions for his three sons by a previous marriage and annual pensions of £100 for Peggy's five children.
Arnold led raids in Virginia between December 1780 and April 1781; and against New London, Connecticut, on 6 September 1781. Thomas Menzies of New York (1733-1831) had commanded a loyalist regiment, the American Legion,cccxxxv but yielded command to Arnold after the latter's defection.
Some New York loyalist militia units raided into New England, especially into the coastal towns of Connecticut, during the most of the war, and in 1780-81, into the Carolinas.cccxxxvi Between December 1776 and October 1779 tory militia from Kingsbridge and Flushing Fly served as troops of occupation in Rhode Island. Tory militia served with Lord Percy at Newport. In March 1778 Captain Michael Martin of Massachusetts formed a tory militia in Rhode Island under British protection and sponsorship. One of the more interesting tory militia units of the Revolution was Whitmore's Greencoats. The first important authority on the loyalists described this unit as being comprised of 127 "deserters and refugees from the Whigs." It was reported to be an occupation force in Rhode Island, but any other service is unknown.cccxxxvii
Montefort Browne, former lieutenant-governor of West Florida, was commissioned a brigadier-general and given the charge in July 1776 to raise a militia regiment which he named Prince of Wales American Volunteers. Aided by Stephen Hoit of Norwalk, Connecticut, within a few months Browne had over 300 men. On 25 April 1777 Browne's militia joined Major-General William Tryon's expedition against Danbury, Connecticut. They lost 20 killed, 90 wounded and 20 captured, while destroying some patriot supplies. Tories joined Browne's force in large numbers during the summer of 1777 so that its strength was then recorded at 466 men. One group of wealthy gentlemen even declined pay. In August 1778 General Clinton arrived in Newport to relieve a patriot siege. He found that the patriots had left the day before he arrived, but he left a fresh tory militia, the Prince of Wales American Volunteers, in occupation of Newport. In the autumn of 1779 Colonel Thomas Pattinson became the new commander. At that time there were 459 militiamen in the unit. Pattinson attacked patriot forces at Flushing Fly, Long Island, and then departed in April 1780 to assist loyalists in the Carolinas.
A loyalist reporter presented the tory position early in the conflict, immediately following the events of Lexington and Concord. The correspondent's hero extolled the virtues of his hero, General Timothy Ruggles (1711-1795).cccxxxviii Ruggles had been a mandamus councillor who initially had taken refuge in Boston. He was Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas and a veteran of the Seven Years War. Ruggles had proposed creating associations of Royalists throughout the country with constitutions binding the signers to oppose at risk of life the acts of all unconstitutional assemblies, such as committees and congresses.cccxxxix Nothing came of his plan. Now a brigadier-general, Ruggles had fought with Sir William Johnson, joined John Johnson's sons' band of tories. Ruggles also attempted to recruit loyalist militia in Boston and fled the city when the British army left. He formed a loyalist militia of 300 men in Nova Scotia, although the unit saw little action in the war.cccxl General Howe, while in Boston in 1775, raised the Royal American Associators under General Ruggles and the Loyal Irish Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Forest. These tory militia did guard duty in the city.
The American correspondent of a London newspaper expressed his view that General Gage had been too lenient with the patriots and that had he given them a whiff of gunpowder early on, the whole rebellion might have been prevented.
Brigadier General Ruggles of the Massachusetts, Colonel Babcock of Rhode Island and Colonel Fetch of Connecticut, are staunch to government; the first, you know commanded and was the senior officer in the provincial service with us under Sir Jeffery Amherst; the other Gentlemen are at the head of the provincials. Most of their officers that served last war are ready to serve under their old Colonels. I make no doubt things will wear a new face here, especially when your sentiments of the Ministry's firmness are authenticated. . . . Men of property, whom Most sensible people here, I should suppose, [are] interested as much as any in the matter, [and] are of this opinion, and say that one master is better than a thousand, and that they would rather be oppressed by a King than by a rascally mob. 'Tis not only reducing everybody to a level, but it is entirely reversing the matter, and making the mob their masters. . . . in America, the distinction between Whigs and Tories prevail as much at present as ever it did in England. Every man who will not drink destruction to his King, is a Tory, and liable to tar and feathers. In the east and southern provinces they are in actual rebellion, raising troops, and seizing ammunition in the most daring manner; the common people are mad, they only hear one side of the question, and believe they are oppressed because they are told so, which is all they know of the matter. As the fever is very high, a little bleeding is absolutely necessary. General Gage is by far too lenient in his measures, and had a few been killed at first, the rest would have been quiet; now multitudes must unavoidably suffer. Was the royal standard hoisted, thousands would flock to it, that are as yet afraid to declare their sentiments. It is expected in a little time, and should it happen before we quit the continent, I would not be the last to repair to it. If I must light a match, it shall be for King George. I do not wish it but I think I would not shun it.cccxli
New England may have been a hotbed of patriot agitation for independence, and the site of the first clash between English troops and patriot militiamen, but it also had its loyalists. Some of these Tories assisted New York loyalists in conducting raids against the smaller coastal towns of New England.cccxlii
The first loyalist militia raised in the colonies was raised in the fall of 1774 by Colonel Thomas Gilbert in Bristol County, Massachusetts, at the request of General Thomas Gage who had replaced Thomas Hutchinson as governor of the province. Gilbert was a veteran of the French and Indian War and a member of the provincial assembly. He was best known for his strong opposition to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, and introduced resolutions in the assembly condemning this as an act of treason and rebellion.cccxliii In the autumn of 1774 he asked for and received 300 stands of arms from Gage for his militia which was stationed at Freetown. In March 1775 Gilbert wrote a letter to James Wallace, commander of the royal ship Rose, stating that he expected to be attacked at any moment by "thousands" of patriot militiamen, and asking for help when that attack came. Gage promised to send 300 men if needed. The letter to the Rose was intercepted and read in April before the Congress of Massachusetts which condemned Gilbert as an enemy of the province. Patriot militia attacked his house and took his militiamen prisoner. Gilbert escaped to the Rose. He then fled to Boston.cccxliv The English press reported,
One Colonel Gilbert, a high Prerogative man in Boston Government, . . . with 60 or 70 of his neighbors, armed himself; they agreed to defend themselves from the insults of the Sons of Liberty; but some Militia men, zealous in their cause, went in chase of them. The colonel took refuge on board a man of war in the harbor. The others, except 20, made their escape; these 20 are now confined in Providence Gaol, where they were conducted yesterday evening. What will be the event, time must discover.cccxlv
Shortly after the clash between British troops and American militia men at Lexington, loyalists flocked to Boston and joined there to create four militia organizations, Loyal Irish Volunteers, Loyal Associated Volunteers, Loyal North British Volunteers and Loyal American Associators, which cooperated closely with one another. Two of the leaders were Sir William Pepperrellcccxlvi and Colonel Abijah Willard of Worcester County. Pepperrell, a Harvard graduate and lawyer, fled to Boston and by late 1775 to England.cccxlvii
Patrick and James McMaster was merchants of Boston and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In the five years prior to the Revolution they imported goods from Britain valued in excess of £15,000. They pledged a significant portion of their wealth to the Loyal North British Volunteers. The scheme failed and they departed, never to return to the colonies. In March 1776 Patrick left with the British troops to go to Halifax, Nova Scotia. James resettled in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, with a number of other merchants and professionals.cccxlviii Another leader of the Loyal North British Volunteers was William McAlpine, a printer and bookbinder who operated a large stationary store in Boston. Realizing that patriot spies had reported him and that he would be arrested after the British left, he accompanied them to Halifax and the moved to Scotland, leaving behind property valued at £1800.cccxlix
James Forrest, a wealthy Boston merchant, not only recruited the loyalist company known as the Loyal Irish Volunteers, he financed it. He chose a white cockade worn in the hat as the militia company's distinguishing mark. Eventually it numbered 97 men who were assigned to evening and night guard duties in Boston. In 1776, while on a return voyage from the West Indies with military supplies, a patriot privateer captured Forrest who was imprisoned in Philadelphia.cccl
The Loyal New England Militia consisted, at peak strength, of 112 men, divided into three companies and included a small group of tory militiamen from New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island.cccli It was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Wightman and was usually noted as in training on Long Island. On their first attempt to attack Bedford their boat was blown off course and ended up at Falmouth instead. They bombarded the town, but did little damage. Their second attack was likewise unproductive, so on 19 June they withdrew to New York city.ccclii At the end of March 1779 the Loyal Associated Refugees and other provincial loyalist militia under the command of Edward Winslow, and acting under general orders from British General Richard Prescott, prepared an attack on Bedford, Long Island. Additional loyalists militia deployed included Wentworth's Volunteers and the Loyal New England Militia [or Loyal New Englanders.
Elisha Jones was the colonel of the Middlesex County militia and in 1774 he commanded a troop of militia which opposed the patriots who were becoming active in his county. After Lexington he moved to Boston and worked with the loyalist militia. He left Boston with the British troops and was active in the New York loyalist militia. Most of his recruits were educated men, several being Harvard graduates. He helped train four companies of New York loyalist militia.cccliii
Crean Brush of Cumberland County, New Hampshire Grants, in January 1776 approached Sir William Howe in Boston. Brush claimed that he could enlist at least 300 men in a tory militia and asked for arms, supplies and official authorization to do so. Howe agreed and on 10 March Howe instructed him to proceed with the confiscation of property of certain designated rebels. Brush and his militia carried their plunder onto Howe's ships in Boston harbor. Seeing Brush plundering in the name of the British government, other lawless elements joined in, not from conviction, but from the sheer delight of securing stolen merchandise. Quite a few warehouses, many not on Howe's list, were sacked in the final days of the siege of Boston harbor. Patriots captured one ship filled with plunder to the value of £100,000, the Elizabeth, and Brush himself. Brush was confined in jail for 19 months, ending the threat from his Tories.cccliv
In January 1775 Captain Nesbitt Balfour in Boston received word that a tory militia some 200 strong had formed in Marshfield. They were under threat of attack from patriots, so they requested arms and supplies from Balfour. On 23 January Balfour and 100 British troops marched to their relief. A few days after Lexington the militia and Balfour returned to Boston. Several thousand patriots pursued them, but the Tories and the British troops embarked on ships and, after the evacuation of Boston, went to Halifax.ccclv
In the spring of 1775 Lieutenant-Colonel Allen MacLead raised the Royal Highland Emigrants, a regiment of Scotch and old British soldiers, which operated from Canada. Governor Tryon of New York, in 1776, recently promoted to provisional major general, raised a force of 1300 men and a troop of light horse. His lieutenant-governor, Philip S. Kene ( -1810), a surveyor by profession, and militia commander and hero of Crown Point in the Seven Years War, raised a loyal regiment of militia in the Philadelphia area.ccclvi Henry Thomas (1746-1828) recruited and commanded another troop of loyalist militia.ccclvii A former judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Elijah Miles (1752-1831), served as a tory militia colonel, working with DeLancey's Third Battalion.ccclviii Lieutenant-colonel John Turnbull commanded the New York Volunteers, also called the Third American Loyal Regiment. He and his militia distinguished themselves at the Siege of Savannah in 1779 and in 1780 at Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and Ninety-Six, North Carolina.ccclix
When General John Burgoyne invaded New York he brought with him Jessup's Corps of Loyal Militia which operated from Canada into New York. Peter's Loyalists' Corps took part in the Battle of Bennington. Barry St. Leger, in his advance on Albany, brought with him Johnson's Royal Greens.ccclx
In mid-July 1776 a British naval officer, Captain John Bowater, aboard H. M. S. Centurion reported that "Governor Tryon landed and has summoned the Militia who has sent their arms to him on Board [H.M.S. Duchess of Gordon] lest they should fall into the hands of the Rebels." Nonetheless, Bowater thought the Tory militia "now emboldened and in high spirits." The patriots "are said to have 40,000 Men in Arms, but I don't give them credit for half that number." Many of the first rebels "desert to us hourly and what is better still, they bring their arms with them." The reason was simple. "General Howe has let them know that he will give a £10 Reward for Rifle guns."ccclxi In the winter of 1776 another naval officer, Lieutenant William Fielding, recorded that in November 1776 "two light companies of militia under Major Batt, Royal F Americans, sailed out at 5 o'clock in the morning [from Halifax] and surprised the Banditti Rebels and Indians in their Camp" on Long Island.ccclxii
Benjamin Thompson organized on Long Island and commanded the King's American Dragoons in 1780. Later, he raised the Loyal American Regiment which he took to Charleston where he attempted to neutralize Francis Marion's partisans. Colonel Edmund Fanning formed on Long Island a provisional regiment of 460 men called the Associated Refugees which operated around Huntington.ccclxiii
One of the most distinguished Loyalists corps was the Queen's Rangers, originally raised in New York and Connecticut by the old frontier ranger of the Seven Years War, Major Robert Rogers. Rogers made several attempts to secure a commission from the patriots, although the exact details are unknown. In early 1776 Rogers offered to raise a loyal regiment to be called the Queen's Rangers. Rogers, following established colonial policy, offered commissions to any man who could recruit a specified number of men. Regular army commanders objected, arguing that there was no proof that any of Rogers' officers were qualified to command men in battle. The unit first mustered on Staten Island, New York, in August 1776. It drew heavily on loyalists from New York, New Hampshire and Connecticut.ccclxiv Rogers' fame helped him recruit over 400 men. Under extreme pressure from British command, he was eventually forced to resign and 23 of his officers were relieved of duties. Rogers went into retirement in England. His militia, under Major John Graves Simcoe, joined Howe in Philadelphia. It was part of Howe's force at the Battle of Germantown.ccclxv The Queen's Rangers was later commanded by colonels French and Wemyss.ccclxvi
Lieutenant-Colonel John Graves Simcoe succeeded Rogers as the commandant of the Queen's Rangers. This corps claimed the exclusive privilege of recruiting in addition to Americans, the "old countrymen" as Europeans were then called, and many American deserters were found in its ranks. First it was an infantry Organization but Simcoe formed a troop of hussars. The foot were distinguished by their green coats and white breeches; the hussars were entirely in green, armed with swords, pistols and daggers. This corps while operating around Philadelphia in 1777 had 270 foot and 30 horse and they also had an Amusette, a piece of artillery already described. They were with the Charleston expedition and were with Benedict Arnold in Virginia; surrendering at Yorktown with a strength of 39 officers and 273 men.ccclxvii
To neutralize the power of the loyalists, several New York patriot organizations ordered seizure of arms owned by suspected tories. These arms were issued to patriot militias, although the committees at least initially intended to pay for the arms. At this point their purpose was more the disarmament of the tories than the confiscation of their property.ccclxviii In the autumn of 1776 Brigadier-General Timothy Ruggles of Halifax began training tory militia on Long Island and Staten Island. He claimed to have between three and four hundred recruits. Two tory militia regiments, recruited in large in New York, were sent to the West Indies in 1777. They were especially successful under Banastre Tarleton's leadership in the Carolinas. Three large tory militia detachments served in the autumn of 1778 in Georgia. By early 1779 four additional Tory militia regiments had gathered in British Florida and then joined the tory militia already stationed in Georgia.
John Johnson, son of Sir William Johnson, raised in Canada the King's Royal American Regiment of two battalions, each consisting of 500 men.ccclxix New York contained many Loyalists. Thomas Millidge (1735-1816), former surveyor-general of New Jersey, served as a major in loyalist militia.ccclxx The King's Royal American Regiment had recruited a number of Mohawk Indians. The impact, brutality and fury of their raids compelled Washington to send General John Sullivan into the Indian country to neutralize them.
General Burgoyne invaded New York in the late spring 1777 from Canada, planning to descend the St. Lawrence River, cross Lake Ontario and advance through the Mohawk Valley on Albany. "Gentleman Johnny's" army of 3700 men included over 300 loyalist and Canadian militiamen and a large group of Amerindians. One of the primary reason for Burgoyne's defeat was his failure to make connections with Barry St. Ledger's tory militia, and to utilize properly other loyalist militia. St. Ledger commanded a force of about 1800, primarily loyalists and Amerindians, who were advancing from Oswego on Lake Ontario westward. On 3 August St. Ledger's force surrounded Fort Stanwix where Colonel Peter Gansevoort (1749-1812) commanded a force of 750 militia and regulars. General Nicholas Herkimer (1728-1777) led a relief force of 800 militiamen toward Fort Stanwix, but on 6 August at Oriskany it was ambushed by a mixed force of loyalists and Amerindians led by Mohawk sachem Joseph Brant (1742-1807). In this, Brant was aided by a Dutchman, Barent Frey, who was influential with the Mohawks.ccclxxi Herkimer was wounded almost immediately, but took the high ground and fought effectively. The battle attracted Gansevoort's attention and he made a sortie from the fort. The Amerindians retreated and Herkimer withdrew, with his force reduced by half. Benedict Arnold raised a force of 1000 volunteers and soon after St. Ledger called off the attack at Fort Stanwix, retreating to Oswego on 22 August. On 17 October 1778 Burgoyne surrendered his remaining force of 5700 men. Among those of Brant's recruits killed was Charles Smith, a notorious renegade. Smith was scalped and the trophy was sent to General John Stark.ccclxxii
There were, in fact, numerous loyalist militiamen awaiting orders in the upper Connecticut Valley.ccclxxiii Loyalist militia had conducted raids in the backwoods of Vermont and New Hampshire.ccclxxiv There were many Tories in the Upper Connecticut River Valley, in or near Claremont and Haverhill.ccclxxv There the Church of England was established in opposition to calvinistic teachings found elsewhere in New England. Among the leaders of loyalism were Samuel Cole and Ranna Cossit, both Episcopal priests. By November 1775 the Provincial Congress at Exeter had heard of the tory activities and had ordered the Committee of Safety of Claremont to "Examine sundry Persons who were suspected of being inimical to the Liberties of America." The local committee sought and received help from the neighboring towns of Hanover, Cornish and Lebanon. The Committee interrogated 26 suspected tory leaders and they agreed to surrender their firearms and ammunition. The initial intimidation of potential tory leadership did much to prevent significant tory action and recruitment of tory militiamen.ccclxxvi
As the home government had suggested to Canadian Governor Guy Carleton, it would be highly desirable to create a diversion on the frontier, to bring great pressures on the national government of the rebellious colonies and to squeeze the already hyper-extended resources of the Continental Army. Amerindian and tory raids on the vast frontier offered a most desirable and relatively inexpensive way to implement this policy decision. English presents and offers of virtually unlimited supplies and firearms enticed the Six Nations. Colonel Guy Johnson returned from England, bringing the arms, gunpowder and other gifts and supplies as promised. Colonel John Butler and Sir John Johnson had spun their web well and the Indians chose to take the war path. Butler, meanwhile, had been equally active among the Tories, talking with and enlisting both those still in the new nation and those who had already fled to Canada. With the armament of the mixed tory and Amerindian completed, Butler sortied out in late 1777, staging at first only sporadic raids in New York and Pennsylvania. With increasing intensity these raids would continue for five years and had the desired effect.
In March 1777 Butler received the long-awaited permission of Governor Carleton to form the Tory militia. He recruited its membership primarily from among the loyalist refugees. Recruitment was bolstered by Carleton's offer of a bounty to all who enlisted, including 200 acres of land. In September Butler added six companies of Tory rangers to his marauding Amerindian band.ccclxxvii By September 1781 Butler had recruited no less than ten companies of Tory rangers.ccclxxviii
Butler surmised that his greatest chance of success lay in moving into the two areas known to harbor the largest number of loyalists and to recruit among these people to augment his strength. Moreover, loyalists in these areas would be likely to provide supplies. In the Wyoming Valley in northeast Pennsylvania there had been a bloody and bitter confrontation between Connecticut and Pennsylvania authorities over ownership of the land. Tories in this area usually identified with Pennsylvania's claims over the ardent Connecticut patriots. In the southwestern corner the dispute over land title involved Pennsylvania and Virginia. Those who had identified with Virginia often refused to sign the oath of allegiance to Pennsylvania and thus were marked as Tories. The disputes had been settled but there was still much disaffection among those who lost land titles and who otherwise suffered from the settlements.ccclxxix Butler received support from Colonel William Plunkett, an Irish robber who had found safety in America about 1750. His base of activity was Sunbury, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.ccclxxx
In the summer of 1778 Butler and the Johnsons felt sufficiently confident in their force to begin to wage real war. Between 3 July and 11 November 1778 Sir John Butler and Sir John Johnson led a mixed force of Indians and tory militia against the white settlers of New York and Pennsylvania. The attack originated on the New York frontier, and quickly turned south into Pennsylvania. In a major sweep through the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, Butler's men killed hundreds of settlers and their families. On 3 July the Battle of Wyoming, known better to patriots as the Wyoming Massacre, took place with a resultant heavy loss of life among the patriot settlers.ccclxxxi On 11 November the Johnson's force, which included Joseph Brant's Indians of the Six Nations, destroyed settlements in the Cherry Valley, New York, massacring 40 persons after they had surrendered. The war was so intense that Congress diverted badly needed troops from the main war effort to come to the rescue of the beleaguered settlers. It dispatched General John Sullivan in the summer of 1779 to contain the Tory militias and their Amerindian allies. On 26 August 1779 Sullivan met the enemy forces near present day Elmira, New York, and defeated them soundly. He also burned forty Indian villages and destroyed an estimated 160,000 bushels of corn.ccclxxxii
In New York city a considerable number of loyalists served as militiamen, primarily deployed in garrison duty in and around the city in forts, redoubts and checkpoints. Some were Tories who had fled Boston with Howe's army and now operated in and around New York city. In March 1777 Lord Howe commissioned Colonel George Wightman of Rhode Island to raise a regiment of Loyal New England Militia in New York. Edward Winslow raised a tory militia in Rhode Island in March 1779 in association with James Clarke of Rhode Island and George Leonard of Massachusetts. It was called the Loyal Associated Refugees. Clarke was secretary for the Association of Loyal Refugees, formed at Newport, Rhode Island, in March 1779 to "retaliate upon and make reprisal against the inhabitants of the several Provinces in America in actual rebellion against their Sovereign." He worked with the British commander in Rhode Island, issuing commissions in the militia.ccclxxxiii Winslow formed a loyalist naval militia late in the war. During the summer and autumn of 1779 it was responsible for capturing 18 vessels, 10 of which were loaded with supplies the patriots sorely needed. They also reported having seized 3000 heads of livestock and captured 35 patriots. They sold their plunder for £23,400.ccclxxxiv