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Any Revolutionary War Experts?


Duncan

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So, I am doing family history and lo and behold we came across a line of folks that were, born and raised in get this, Connecticut. I can't tell the neighbours we have the red, white and blue in our veins but regardless it appears our one relative was a loyalist. I know next to nothing about the Revolutionary War, what I know I learned from Mel Gibson's movie, "The Patriot". This relative of ours, was given land in Canada for his service. So, I get that Loyalists were loyal to the British Crown, but how did they fight against the Americans? did they have their own all loyalist American army thing or did they fight along with British soldiers? This is all new to me and I don't have "The Patriot" to help sort this out for me . What is also curious is this man didn't move to Canada until sometime after the war, he moved to Plattsburgh, NY first then in 1790 he or they moved to Canada when they got free land for his service. I though the free land thing came earlier. I would have thought that he would have gotten out of the US much earlier than 1790, I can't imagine loyalists were popular people and the whole free land deal.

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In brief, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the rest of the rebels, were traitors to King and Country -- the British Empire, then the most powerful force in the world.  There were many loyalists.  For example, even though he was born in the American colonies, the Rev William Edmiston became an Anglican priest and preached and wrote against the rebellion.  Local people in Maryland, where he had his church, were so upset with him that he and his wife and child had to flee to England until after the war.  His land was taken from him by the Maryland legislature, but was returned to his family a few years later.  Edmiston himself never returned to America.

My own ancestors were Scots Presbyterians who already had been mistreated in Northern Ireland by the British.  For example, they were forced to pay taxes to the Anglican Church, and were not allowed to build their own Presbyterian churches.  Most of them left and went to Pennsylvania.  When it came time to kill Redcoats, they were only too willing to march against the British -- every man jack of them.

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10 hours ago, Duncan said:

So, I am doing family history and lo and behold we came across a line of folks that were, born and raised in get this, Connecticut. I can't tell the neighbours we have the red, white and blue in our veins but regardless it appears our one relative was a loyalist. I know next to nothing about the Revolutionary War, what I know I learned from Mel Gibson's movie, "The Patriot". This relative of ours, was given land in Canada for his service. So, I get that Loyalists were loyal to the British Crown, but how did they fight against the Americans? did they have their own all loyalist American army thing or did they fight along with British soldiers? This is all new to me and I don't have "The Patriot" to help sort this out for me . What is also curious is this man didn't move to Canada until sometime after the war, he moved to Plattsburgh, NY first then in 1790 he or they moved to Canada when they got free land for his service. I though the free land thing came earlier. I would have thought that he would have gotten out of the US much earlier than 1790, I can't imagine loyalists were popular people and the whole free land deal.

About 20% of the total US population at the time were Loyalists (aka Tories, King’s Men), and only about 19,000 Loyalists fought for the Crown over the duration of the war. That’s compared to the approximately 150;000 who served in the patriot army. The low numbers of Loyalists who were willing to fill the ranks of the Loyalist regiments that fought alongside the British army was a great disappointment to the Crown government because they were counting on the enlistments of many thousands more to help bring a speedy victory. The low numbers of enlisted Loyalists were a contributory factor to the British defeat.

Many Loyalists were persuaded to fight on the side of the British not because they had much love for King George and his government, but because they feared the rebels were going to create economic instability and anarchy. Their attitude was that it was better to stick with the devil they knew than with the devil they didn’t know.

After the war many or the northern Loyalists moved to Canada, and many of the southern Loyalists moved to Florida, and did so in order to escape the fearful wrath of the victors. But in reality, a majority of the Loyalists remained in the states and soon fully integrated back into society, becoming US citizens.

After successfully uncovering much of my family history, I discovered many of my ancestors fought on the side of the patriots, and I’ve yet to find a single Loyalist in my very large family tree.

At least two of my direct-line ancestors died in the war. Major Isaac Emmons of Middlesex County, New Jersey died of neglect as a prisoner of war in the infamous Old Sugar House Prison that once stood in lower Manhattan, New York. My 5th great grandfather, Colonel Jonathan Pettibone, died at the Battle of Rye in New York. Interestingly, the three-cornered hat he was wearing when he died is on permanent display at the American History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. It’s placed near the Star Spangled Banner. And Colonel Pettibone’s sword is on permanent display at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s said that the soldiers from Simsbury, Connecticut who served under Colonel Pettibone’s command loved and respected him fervently. In fact, they refused enlist in the fight unless he stood at their command. He was in his mid-50s when he died, which was pretty old at the time. I love my brave, freedom loving ancestors. You can see a short news video about the famous sword here: 

 

 

Edited by teddyaware
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The British expected to be able to raise Loyalist troops to win the war but the Patriots had a numerical advantage in most areas and the fear of reprisals kept most from enlisting. Most were also just not that passionate. The major exception were the African communities when the British offered freedom to anyone who would enlist. The Patriots tried that tactic too with weaker results. Both sides failed to live up entirely to that promise though the Loyalists did a better job and several communities were set up in Canada.

The Loyalists were often referred to as Tories. The term refers to outlaws and goes back to the English civil wars. When Cromwell was in power the monarchists were outlaws and fugitives. Like many pejoratives in history they took it as a badge of honor and kept the name when the monarchy was solidified. It was also originally strongly tied to the Anglican Church and mostly anti-Catholic. This was true in the Revolutionary War too and the enmity of the Tories and the assistance of Catholic France to the revolutionaries cut down some of the anti-Catholic feeling in the new nation though they had a long way to go on that front.

The flight of many of the loyalists also toppled a lot of the economic elite which helped to foster a more egalitarian ethos in the post-war nation.

A lot of the Tories were not die-hard loyalists. They just did not mind the status quo. Some even believed the colonies would be independent one day but this conflict rushing the process was see as too destabilizing and abrupt. After the war many fled to Europe or to Canada and Florida. Oddly those who went to Canada we’re pretty much right. About 90 years later Canada became largely independent without conflict.

Edit: I forgot last night in the US that the term “Tory” came to mean almost anti-independence. In the Texas war of independence loyalists to the Mexican government were pejoratively called “Tories” even though it is hard to see how 1830’s Mexico fits into that paradigm.

Edited by The Nehor
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4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

The British expected to be able to raise Loyalist troops to win the war but the Patriots had a numerical advantage in most areas and the fear of reprisals kept most from enlisting. Most were also just not that passionate. The major exception were the African communities when the British offered freedom to anyone who would enlist. The Patriots tried that tactic too with weaker results. Both sides failed to live up entirely to that promise though the Loyalists did a better job and several communities were set up in Canada.

The Loyalists were often referred to as Tories. The term refers to outlaws and goes back to the English civil wars. When Cromwell was in power the monarchists were outlaws and fugitives. Like many pejoratives in history they took it as a badge of honor and kept the name when the monarchy was solidified. It was also originally strongly tied to the Anglican Church and mostly anti-Catholic. This was true in the Revolutionary War too and the enmity of the Tories and the assistance of Catholic France to the revolutionaries cut down some of the anti-Catholic feeling in the new nation though they had a long way to go on that front.

The flight of many of the loyalists also toppled a lot of the economic elite which helped to foster a more egalitarian ethos in the post-war nation.

A lot of the Tories were not die-hard loyalists. They just did not mind the status quo. Some even believed the colonies would be independent one day but this conflict rushing the process was see as too destabilizing and abrupt. After the war many fled to Europe or to Canada and Florida. Oddly those who went to Canada we’re pretty much right. About 90 years later Canada became largely independent without conflict. 

I think that without the Revolutionary War, England would never have let Canada gain independence without a fight.

We have to remember that the Colonies didn’t start out wanting independence, they basically wanted the deal Canada got years later. But England was arrogant with the colonies and believed there was no reason to compromise. 

Losing the revolutionary war taught them a lesson that Canada eventually benefited from. 

Edited by bluebell
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Reading the biography of John Adams.  When Adams first sailed to France it was his first time on a ship.  He was appalled at the lack of discipline on the ship including the lack of attention to cleanliness and hygiene.  The author noted parenthetically that for every British sailor who died in the Revolutionary War as a result of combat, there were 17 that died from disease or illness.

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18 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I think that without the Revolutionary War, England would never have let Canada gain independence without a fight.

We have to remember that the Colonies didn’t start out wanting independence, they basically wanted what Canada got years later. But England was arrogant with the colonies and believed there was no reason to compromise. 

Losing the revolutionary war taught them a lesson that Canada eventually benefited from. 

Possibly but I suspect the colonial model was going to collapse either way. A study of the finances of colonial empires supports the conclusion that the only way they could be cost effective is if the mother country keeps a monopoly over most trade with the colony. If there is free trade the mother country loses out due to the costs of administration, military control, and defending the colony and the mother country is left at a financial disadvantage. In essence it required pretty strict mercantilism and mercantilism was dying throughout the 1700s.

One thing the Revolutionary War did do for the US was unify it. There was a real risk with a gradual breakup that the colonies would have fractured into individual states or smaller coalitions. Welding them together in the conflict kept them united. While a good thing in general the endless pandering to the Southern States and their slave economies to keep them on board led to the Civil War. Many of the oddities in the US Constitution that are still controversial today came from those provisions.

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

Possibly but I suspect the colonial model was going to collapse either way. A study of the finances of colonial empires supports the conclusion that the only way they could be cost effective is if the mother country keeps a monopoly over most trade with the colony. If there is free trade the mother country loses out due to the costs of administration, military control, and defending the colony and the mother country is left at a financial disadvantage. In essence it required pretty strict mercantilism and mercantilism was dying throughout the 1700s.

One thing the Revolutionary War did do for the US was unify it. There was a real risk with a gradual breakup that the colonies would have fractured into individual states or smaller coalitions. Welding them together in the conflict kept them united. While a good thing in general the endless pandering to the Southern States and their slave economies to keep them on board led to the Civil War. Many of the oddities in the US Constitution that are still controversial today came from those provisions.

Oh I agree the colonial mode was never sustainable. But I think that England’s experience with a colonial uprising taught them to fear/respect colonial power in a way they didn’t before. 

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1 hour ago, rpn said:

Don't forget that the war wasn't fully over until the end of the War of 1812 when the US won against Britain again.

well, that isn't technically true, Britain burned downed the White House and the war was over when the treaty of Ghent was signed but a month later the US won at the Battle of New Orleans because they hadn't heard the war was over yet

 

edit to add. In looking at this man's family tree it would appear his Great Grandfather came to Connecticut from England and so no one was even born in England for at least some generations back from our guy and so he must have been super loyal to England if only his Great Grandfather was born there. Yet, weird enough after the war he moved to Plattsburgh, NY and then in 1790 moved to Quebec and later to Ontario, I wonder why if someone was super loyal wouldn't have just moved to Canada right after war, unless the free land deal wasn't offered until then? 1790

Edited by Duncan
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1 hour ago, Duncan said:

Britain burned downed the White House and the war was over...

Ah, the War of American Imperialism, started when America invaded Canada and ended when Britain took out Washington.   One of the more interesting differences in education of myself and my kids with their Canadian upbringing.   

https://www.pbs.org/wned/war-of-1812/essays/canadian/

Edited by Calm
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2 hours ago, Duncan said:

well, that isn't technically true, Britain burned downed the White House and the war was over when the treaty of Ghent was signed but a month later the US won at the Battle of New Orleans because they hadn't heard the war was over yet

 

edit to add. In looking at this man's family tree it would appear his Great Grandfather came to Connecticut from England and so no one was even born in England for at least some generations back from our guy and so he must have been super loyal to England if only his Great Grandfather was born there. Yet, weird enough after the war he moved to Plattsburgh, NY and then in 1790 moved to Quebec and later to Ontario, I wonder why if someone was super loyal wouldn't have just moved to Canada right after war, unless the free land deal wasn't offered until then? 1790

I found a page on familysearch that talks about the Loyalist Canadian immigration - https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Canada_Immigration,_United_Empire_Loyalists_(National_Institute).  It has a line that says:

Quote

Those who arrived between 1791 and 1815 were known as “Late Loyalists” and generally left the United States for economic rather than political reasons.

Looks like your ancestor was a "Late Loyalist".

You could also apply to be a member of United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada.

Quote

The United Empire Loyalists were generally those who had been settled in the thirteen colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution, who remained loyal to and took up the Royal Standard, and who settled in what is now Canada at the end of the war.

 

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56 minutes ago, webbles said:

I found a page on familysearch that talks about the Loyalist Canadian immigration - https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Canada_Immigration,_United_Empire_Loyalists_(National_Institute).  It has a line that says:

Looks like your ancestor was a "Late Loyalist".

You could also apply to be a member of United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada.

 

oh awesome!!! This is great!!!!

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5 minutes ago, strappinglad said:

Well Duncan, this clarifies a lot. There was always something that I couldn't quite put my finger on...  😜

:hi:The more I dig into this man the more confused I get, it seemed the man he fought for was a Patriot but yet our guy was given free land in Quebec for loyalty to the Crown, how does that work?! Was he a loyalist in US uniform? at some point he would have had to make his true intentions known and believed to get a bunch of free land

Edited by Duncan
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About a third were rebels, a third were loyalists, and a third didn't feel strongly either way (or were torn in both directions). 

Support for the revolution was by no means universal. 

I feel bad for Basque separatists, Kurdish separatists, etc. today. The U.N. won't allow you to break away (and the U.S. would concur today). If the U.N. had existed back then, we would have had peacekeepers, but basically the status quo with British occupation ad infinitum. 

I've shared this before, but a high-up Kurdish political leader was baptized in my last city (the sisters didn't understand where he was from). I'm glad he was baptized, because he was realy converted, and he spoke German, which made it possible to integrate and participate. I used to tease him that, try as I might, I just couldn't find Kurdistan on any maps. :) That really bothered him, but no one recognizes it, and Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran all want it because of oil. The Kurds are a special people, and they have the resources and drive to be their own country. I also believe Abraham was a Kurd, not a southern Iraqi, a la Nibley . . . ;)  He cites authorities regarding a consonant shift of l - r ; thus, Ur of the Kurdees instead of Chaldees. There was a northern Ur, per the Ebla tablets. 

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