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FIRST FIFTY YEARS OF BRITISH RULE 115

 

roads from Montreal to the scene of active operations on Lakes Champlain and George and the Upper Hudson.

Thanks to the military posts at Crown Point, Oswego, Niagara, and Detroit, and to the fresh-water fleets which maintained British supremacy on Lakes Champlain and Ontario during the last years of the Revolutionary War, Canada, after 1777, was spared from invasion by the Continentals. In the revolting colonies thousands of Loyalists had adhered to the royal cause. These had their property confiscated, and were themselves proscribed and compelled to seek protection under the British flag in England, the West Indies, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. As the object of the Revolutionists was to destroy the unity of the British Empire, so the object of the Loyalists was to preserve it. Hence they took the name of United Empire Loyalists. During the war of the Revolution, they were by no means passive spectators of the course of events. Stung by the persecutions of their "rebel countrymen," they sought protection within the British lines. Here many of them enlisted in one or other of the Loyalist corps, commonly known as the British-American regiments. At least fifty different Loyalist corps were organized in the old colonies, many of which served with marked distinction and won laurels on hard-fought fields. In addition, there were about ten military organizations of Loyalists under General Haldimand in Canada at the close of the war. The fifty corps that served in the old colonies comprised about 300 companies, including forty-seven troops of cavalry. At the time of their maximum enrolment, the British-American regiments numbered over 15,000 men—all ranks included. This, however, by no means represents the total number of Loyalists in arms during the war, for the personnel of the various regiments kept changing as the war progressed. The 20,000 or so United Empire Loyalists who came to Canada during the war and at its close in 1783 formed an important addition to the loyal population and to the military strength of the country.


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