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Butler's Rangers
Butler's Rangers
Many Loyalists fled the Colonies with a price on their heads.
Loyalist guerilla armies like Butler's Rangers became the most effective weapon against the Revolution.
Loyalist guerilla armies like Butler's Rangers became the most effective weapon against the Revolution.
These refugees formed guerilla armies that were Britain's most effective weapon against the Revolution; the Royal Yorkers, Jessup's Loyal Americans, and the most notorious of them all, Butler's Rangers.

Butler's Rangers were created by John Butler a wealthy landowner from the Mohawk Valley, in what is now central New York state, who had dealt with Indians since childhood and spoke several Indian languages. Butler had served in the French and Indian Wars and had led native Americans in the successful British siege of Fort Niagara under Sir William Johnson in 1759.

After the American Revolution erupted, Butler remained on the side of the British. He became a deputy to Guy Johnson at Niagara and recruited Loyalists and Indians from the Six Nations to fight the Americans.
Like other Loyalist units, Butler's Rangers launched guerrilla raids in the Thirteen Colonies from bases in Canada. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
Like other Loyalist units, Butler's Rangers launched guerrilla raids in the Thirteen Colonies from bases in Canada. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
Butler, his son Walter, and the Rangers harassed and scalped Americans from the Hudson Valley to Kentucky. They disrupted supply lines, engaged in guerilla skirmishes and disheartened settlers.

Thirteen-year-old Peter Bowman and his nine-year-old brother were just two of Butler's Rangers. They joined the group in 1778, Peter as a soldier, his brother as a fifer. Their father, Jacob Bowman, and their eldest brother had been arrested as Loyalists in the fall of 1775 and, until joining the Rangers, the two younger sons were living with their mother in a refugee camp at Machiche, Quebec.

That summer, the brothers returned to the Mohawk Valley where the Bowman and Butler families had farmed.
They burned the valley and destroyed their own farms. Of the 850 homes in the valley at the beginning of the war, only 15 were left at the end of the revolution.

The Loyalists could never return, regardless of the war's outcome. Butler said that his people "would rather go to Japan than go back among the Americans."

For their services to Britain, Butler's Rangers received land on the west bank of the Niagara River. Butler settled there as did Peter Bowman, who had survived the brutal skirmishing.

"My father settled on his land near the fort," Elizabeth Bowman wrote, "he drew an axe and a hoe from the Government. My mother had a cow, a bed, six plates and three knives... men, women and children all went to work clearing the land.
There were none to make improvements in (Upper) Canada then but the U.E. Loyalists and they... planted the germ of its future greatness."

John Butler died in Niagara in 1796. At his Indian funeral ceremony, the Mohawk chief Joseph Brant said, "Our loss is the greater, as there are none remaining who understand our manners and customs as well as he did."


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