THE COMPANIES OF THE 1ST BATTALION, KRR NY

Compiled by Gavin K. Watt

In the following charts, the companies are organized by seniority

BURGOYNE'S AND ST. LEGER'S 1777 CAMPAIGN

During this campaign, the 1st Battalion fielded seven companies:

Light Infantry

55 Capt Stephen Watts commanding

Major James Gray's

30 Ensign + 15 men with Burgoyne with the Regtl baggage.

Angus McDonell's

26

Patrick Daly's

47

Richard Duncan's

20 formed in Jun77

Alexander McDonell's

32 formed in Jun77

Colonel's

56 Capt-Lt John McDonell Scotus Jr. commanding

Regarding those companies:

 

Lights

Stephen Watts served as Captain and continued to muster as such even after losing his leg at Oriskany. First Lieut Kenneth McKenzie led the company until Samuel Anderson transferred in, replacing Watts in mid 1778.

Major's

James Gray served the campaign as Major & Captain of the company and maintained that position throughout the war. Gray was the primary officer responsible for developing the regiment's efficiency and professionalism which led Governor Frederick Haldimand to state that the Royal Yorkers were amongst 'the flower of our little army."

Angus McD's

Angus was held as a dangerous prisoner by the rebels till 1778 and was unable to join the regiment until Jul79. His company was led by Lieutenant James McDonell Scotus during the 1777 campaign. James was one of the excellent young officers who was promoted to captain and transferred to the 2Bn on its formation. Apart from a platoon, which was sent on the 1780 fall raid under James McDonell's command, this company saw no other active campaigning after 1777. It was very likely utilized as a training and garrison formation.

Daly's

Patrick had been a personal friend of Sir William Johnson. He maintained command of the Coy till disbandment in Dec83. This was another company that was not employed in active combat after 1777.

Duncan's

Richard had been under open arrest in Albany during the Stanwix phase of the campaign and the company was led by Lieutenant Richard Wilkinson and Ensign Edward Wall while at Stanwix. Both of these men resigned from the regiment at the end of the 77 campaign and entered the Six Nations' Indian Dept. In 1778, Lieutenant Thomas Gummersall replaced Wilkinson, but he was soon promoted to Captain-Lieutenant and left to command the Col's Coy and Ensign Austin Piety was promoted to replace him. During the latter stages of the 1777 campaign, Duncan was able to evade rebel scrutiny and join Burgoyne. He left Burgoyne's army just before the surrender and made his way to Ticonderoga with a few recruits where he joined the KRR NY. Thereafter, he commanded the company until disbandment.

Alex McD's

Alexander was on the 1777 campaign to Stanwix. He was an older officer, having served Prince Charles Stuart in 1746 as an ADC. Of interest, his service in the Prince's army did not give him preference over those with Hanoverian experience as he was only 7th senior captain on disbandment. He maintained command of the company throughout the war. Other than in 1777, his company appears to have been a training and garrison formation.

Colonel's

Captain-Lieutenant John McDonell Scotus Jr. was the company’s commander. He was killed at Oriskany in hand to hand combat. McDonell he was replaced by Joseph Anderson, brother of Samuel, who had been serving as the 1st Lieut in the Major's Coy.

An analysis of casualty statistics for the 1777 campaign indicates that the Colonel's, Watts' and Daly's were engaged in the fighting at Oriskany, very likely with squads from other companies. The Major's Coy also had considerable casualties, although no way has been found of determining whether these occurred under Burgoyne's or St. Leger's command. Also, there were a large number of men who were recruited between muster rolls and their company assignments for the campaign are unknown. A number of these were casuals (dead, discharged, resigned, prisoners) for that year.

By the end of the 1777 campaign, three new companies had been formed. These were John McDonell's, Samuel Anderson's and John Munro's. Under orders from Sir John, McDonell had raised his company in southern Tryon County and led it in an attempt to seize control of the Schoharie Valley in Aug77. When support failed to arrive, the uprising failed and McDonell marched his men overland to Oswego to join the regiment. His company went to Ticonderoga with the battalion. It is unknown when his company was designated as Grenadiers, but not likely till near the end of 1778. It is quite probable that the company's complement was considerably altered at that time by weeding out the older and less fit and transferring in those who were more suitable.

Samuel Anderson had been held prisoner by the rebels and was unable to join the KRR before St. Leger set off for the Mohawk. When he managed to escape, he made his way to Burgoyne and was assigned to LtCol Van Pfister's Loyal Volunteers as a captain. Anderson brought a few men from the Loyal Volunteers when he joined the KRR at Ticonderoga. He commanded his own company in early 1778 before being transferred to command Watts' Light Coy. It is likely that Joseph Anderson was promoted to captain and assigned his brother's company so that the latter could take command of the Lights.

John Munro's story was similar to Samuel Anderson's and Duncan's. He was held in close confinement as a political prisoner at Esopus on the lower Hudson and was unable to escape until late 1777. When he met with Sir John at Ticonderoga, the baronet persuaded him to enter the Royal Yorkers as a captain and overlook his prior commission in the Royal Highland Emigrants as their Captain-Lieutenant. This move proved very advantageous for Munro as he ranked as 2nd senior captain at disbandment, an accomplishment which would not likely have been attained in the RHE.


THE 1778 CAMPAIGN

Other than scouting missions, the only action conducted in this year was a daring raid to Johnstown to recover Sir John's papers, which had been buried at Johnson Hall prior to his flight over the Adirondacks. The force dispatched included a detachment of the Light Infantry Coy. led by Lieutenant William Byrne and a contingent of Kanehsatake (Oka) Indians managed by the Royal Yorker lieutenant, William Redford Crawford, who had been seconded to the Quebec Indian Department.


THE 1779 CAMPAIGN

By 1779, the final structure of the battalion was in place, although some companies were under strength and did not reach their full complement until a great number of recruits were brought to Canada after the May80 raid to Johnstown.

Sir John was given overall command of his first mixed Regular, Provincial and native expedition in the late fall, when he was sent to Indian Territory to assist the Six Nations in resisting the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition. Sir John's expedition proved abortive, as it had left too late in the season to march overland into the Iroquois Country. This delay had been prompted by a threatened invasion of Quebec Province by French naval and military units. When Sir John returned to Montreal, he left fifty select Royal Yorker marksmen at Carleton Island. The following companies of the KRR had participated in this venture.

Samuel Anderson's Lights

47

John Munro's

20

Richard Duncan's

42

Colonel's

42 Capt-Lt Thos Gummersall commanding


THE 1780 "BURNING OF THE VALLEYS" CAMPAIGN

For the May 1780 Raid to Johnstown, the companies assigned were:

Jon McDonell's Grenadiers

29

Samuel Anderson's Lights

48

Richard Duncan's

45

Colonel's

39 Capt-Lt Thos Gummersall commanding

This highly successful expedition yielded 150 recruits, which brought the 1st Battalion to full strength. The excess gave Sir John an excellent start on building his 2nd Battalion.

For the fall 1780 Schoharie & Mohawk Valleys Raid

Jon McDonell's Grenadiers

36

Samuel Anderson's Lights

49

Major Gray's

39

Angus McDonell's

26

Richard Duncan's

42

The simultaneous raid to Ballstown

John Munro's

48

Joseph Anderson's

38

The regiment was heavily deployed in that fall of 1780. Seven companies out of ten were on campaign on the frontiers. The Col's Coy, which had campaigned in 1777, 78, 79 & May 80 had earned a well-deserved rest and was sent to garrison the forwarding depot and rebel prison at Coteau-du-Lac.


THE 1781 AND 82 CAMPAIGNS

The Royal Yorkers' active combat role shifted to the newly formed 2nd Battalion for these two campaigns. Several active officers were promoted and transferred into the 2nd along with a cadre of seasoned NCO's, Drummers and Privates. Even so, 1st Battalion parties continued to be dispatched on dangerous scouting, intelligence gathering and recruiting parties until the end of hostilities in Jul '82.


DISBANDMENT

In accordance with instructions from the British Administration, the 1st Battalion was disbanded on 24 Dec '83. The troops were allowed to remain in barracks in Montreal over the winter while preparations were made to settle the men and their families in the upper country of western Quebec Province. The wives and children of many of the men were already in Canada sheltering from rebel persecution. They had been lodged in barracks at Yamachiche, east of Montreal, and in private homes in Sorel, Chambly and Montreal. By Jun '84, bateaux brigades departed Lachine and Coteau-du-Lac for the long, arduous voyage up the rapids of the St. Lawrence to the new townships. Frederick Haldimand, the Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of Canada had decided upon creating a military settlement from which bodies of troops could be raised in short order should the United States decide to flex its muscle and attack Quebec. The actual settlement pattern was not exact and many veterans of the 2nd Battalion and other loyalist corps settled amongst the 1st Battalion Yorkers; however, in the main, the new townships were occupied by the following companies.

 

Royal Township

Companies

No.1 (Charlottenburgh)

Captains Angus and Alexander McDonell

No.2 (Cornwall)

Captains Patrick Daly and Samuel Anderson

No.3 (Osnabruk)

Captains John McDonell and Archibald McDonell†

No.4 (Williamsburgh)

Major James Gray and Captain Richard Duncan

No.5 (Matilda)

Captain John Munro and Captain-Lieutenant Allan McDonell

† Archibald McDonell, who had been the 1st Lieut of Joseph Anderson's Company, replaced the latter when he resigned his commission on 25 Dec 82.