Butler, John, 1728–96, Loyalist commander in the American Revolution, b. New London, Conn. He served in the French and Indian Wars and distinguished himself especially by leading the Native Americans in the successful British attack (1759) under Sir William Johnson against Niagara. Electing the British side after the Revolution broke out, he became a deputy to Guy Johnson at Niagara and worked to keep Native Americans friendly to the British. In the Saratoga campaign (1777) he and indigenous troops accompanied Gen. Barry St. Leger in the unsuccessful expedition down the Mohawk valley. Later he organized a Loyalist troop called Butler's Rangers, and with them he and his son, Walter Butler, attacked the frontier settlements. John Butler in 1778 raided the Wyoming Valley, defeated Zebulon Butler, took Forty Fort, and then was unable to keep his Native American allies from perpetrating the Wyoming Valley massacre. Later that year Walter Butler and Joseph Brant led a similar raid on Cherry Valley, and this also ended in a massacre. The name of Butler was thereafter anathema to the patriots. John Butler was defeated (1779) by the expedition of Gen. John Sullivan at Newtown near the present Elmira, N.Y.; later in the war Butler joined with Sir John Johnson in frontier raids.
See H. Swiggett, War out of Niagara (1933, repr. 1963).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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