When the Revolutionary War in America first broke out were the British loyalists rounded up and arrested, or summarily executed as traitors, or allowed to leave for Canada and other countries in relative peace? And what happened to loyalists that decided, for whatever reason, to stay and not flee?
Here is a good place to start. It is Wikipedia but this article is pretty extensively cited.
Pretty much throughout the war, the colonies were divided: about 1/3 of the people were in active rebellion, 1/3 remained loyal to the crown, and 1/3 didn’t choose a side. The revolutionaries couldn’t possibly have rounded up all the loyalists, even if they had wanted to.
The revolutionaries didn’t consider the loyalists “traitors,” any more than they considered themselves to be. They considered themselves to have been forced to take the road of declaring independence when they were continually denied what they saw as the rights of British subjects; they resented being treated as second-class citizens. Therefore, they didn’t want to antagonize or drive away the loyalists, given that they considered them to be their social and political equals, albeit with different allegiances.
Wasn’t there some kind of conscription at the time? What happened if a male of fighting age refused to join the continental army? That would certainly ferret out any loyalists men you were ‘laying low’.
Ther was no conscription by the insurgents. The first conscription in the US happened during the Civil War.
In researching my family tree, I found evidence of several possible relations who served on one side or the other.
One was a captain of patriot militia. He’s mentioned in pension applications of soldiers who served under him.
Two others deserted the patriot militia.
Another was a loyalist who had his property in Georgia confiscated by the Revolutionary Committee. He later appealed this decision. I don’t know the outcome.
Last, I found one who served as a captain of loyalist militia. He was captured by patriots in SC & lynched on the spot. To make it more amusing, they left his hands & feet unbound so he could struggle longer.
Somewhere near Hartford, Conn. I recall visiting a mine that had been used in revolutionary times to imprison ‘Tories’ (something that has a different meaning here). Planes from Bradley Field were taking off overhead most of the time.