In the Spring of 1777, the American Rebels in New York State were rapidly forming new militia companies as well as signing up for service in the "regular" army under General Washington.
The British were also recruiting. They gave incentives to not-so-rebellious Americans to form loyalist companies or to defect to the British army in New York City. Wannabe captains of loyalist companies were actively pursuing young loyalists in Ulster county and beyond.
Early in the week of April 27, 1777, a band of Tory recruits was marching through Hanover (the site of the farm of Joel Campbell's late father, Samuel) on their way to join the British in New York. They moved quietly through this unfriendly territory. The band included about ten young men, their leader, Captain Rose, and several recruiters.
Tired from their night’s travels and eager to conceal themselves during the day, they sought shelter at two nearby farms. They happened to be the farms of Alexander Campbell and Arthur McKinny. It is likely that these farms were in the area of the 1760 farm of Samuel Campbell and where at least two of Joel's brothers were living in 1777.
Arthur McKinny's name is listed in this area on early maps and censuses. In the 1779 Property assessment of Hanover McKinny is listed with 160 acres in close proximity to Levi and Nathan Campbell (brothers of Joel), as well as the Haines, Woods, and Perrys (the latter two properties being adjacent to the Campbell farm).
According to testimony, Alexander Campbell led the party of Tories to a brush fence where they lay safe for a day. His wife brought them rum at two different times and "a pail of Butter Milch Popp. [i]" Unfortunately for Alexander, the Tories had been spotted. Before evening the militia of New Windsor had arrested all of them. The prisoners were loaded on a sloop and taken down the Hudson River to Fort Montgomery.
On this day, Wednesday, April 30, 1777, a court martial was held at the Fort presided over by General George Clinton. The charge for most of the recruiters was "levying War against the State of New York with being adherent to the King of Great Britain & with being an enlisted Soldier in the Service of the King of Great Britain when owing Allegiance to the State of New York." Alexander was charged with "holding Correspondence with the Enemies of the American States giving them Intelligence & adhering to and giving them Aid & Comfort & Secreting them." Fourteen including Alexander and his neighbor, Arthur McKinney, were sentenced to death.[ii]