By far the most significant contribution of the Loyalists during the American Revolution was on the battlefield. Loyalists, in one form or another, served in virtually every engagement of the war.
At the outbreak of the war the British Army was like many in Europe at the time: small, but very professional. During times of war it was expected to expand with the raising of new regiments, both at home and in the colonies. The American Revolution was no different.
At first the British were slow to raise Loyalist troops, but this was mostly due to being penned up in Boston. With the capture of New York, Loyalists by the thousands flocked to the British and enlisted in the nearly two dozen battalions then being raised by prominent gentlemen of the country.
Further corps were raised when the army moved to Rhode Island and then Philadelphia. With the shift of the war south in 1779, thousands more flocked to the Royal standard, serving in both Provincial and Militia corps.
All told, perhaps 50,000 served at one time or another, on the land or on the sea. While the army and land war is our main focus on this site, one should not forget the thousands who served the British as sailors, either on board privateers, transports, Civil Branch vessels or in the Royal Navy.
Many who volunteered for service never saw the end of the war. Troops died, sometimes by the score, due to disease, fatigue and unsanitary conditions. Small Pox could debilitate an entire regiment in a matter of days.
The rigors of military life, or the boredom often attendant with it, drove hundreds, and perhaps thousands, to desert. Some had a change of heart, others went on to more lucrative ventures such as privateers, more went home to be with their families.
The war left a lasting mark on hundreds of the veterans, the survivors of the battles who lost an arm or leg. So many, in fact, that the British formed an entire regiment of them from the wounded, infirm and worn out of the British & Loyalist corps.
Corps were raised in every theater in which the British served, and we have tried to provide as wide a representation as possible. This has been a rather ambitious undertaking, and we still have many regiments to add into our regimental history section, so if you don't see documents there yet for the unit you are seeking, please check back soon.
We hope you enjoy this section and perhaps learn something new. Click on any of the buttons to the left to explore that section of our site. Here is a brief explanation of what you can expect to find in each section...
List of Regiments
A complete list of all known Loyalist regiments that served during the American Revolution, along with their dates of service, plus a discussion of the different types of regiments and charts depicting the typical organizational structure of various units.
Articles, plus period accounts and records relating to various Loyalist regiments. We will be adding material to this section as we grow the site, so please check back often!
An explanation of how and why muster rolls were created, plus information on where existing rolls can be located and a rotating sampling of the actual rolls. This is another section that you may want to visit frequently, as it will be changing over time.
Extracts from several of the few surviving Loyalist orderly books.
An in depth explanation of the process of holding an 18th Century military court, along with information on where to find the records and an interesting sampling of actual cases.
Documents related to Loyalists serving in the British Army or Royal Navy.
Information on the branches of the British army, recruited largely from local Loyalists, that provided support activities such as the transportation of provisions and issuance of ammunition. Includes several of the extant lists of members of these branches.
Spies & Intelligence
Period documents illustrating the use of Loyalists for the British secret service.
Period documents and articles concerning the involvement of people of color as Loyalists.
Clothing & Supplies
Articles, photographs and period documents related to regimental clothing and equipment.
Claims & Memorials
Transcriptions of claims filed with the British by the Loyalists for support or in recompense of the losses they suffered.
Other Facts & Records
All the material having to do with the Loyalist military that doesn't seem to fit neatly into any of the categories above!
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