Rogers' Rangers was initially a provincial company from the colony of New Hampshire, attached to the British Army during the Seven Years' War (French and Indian War). The unit was quickly adopted into the British army as an independent ranger company. Major Robert Rogers trained the rapidly deployed light infantry force tasked mainly with reconnaissance as well as conducting special operations against distant targets. Their tactics were built on earlier colonial precedents and were codified for the first time by Rogers. The tactics proved remarkably effective, so much so that the initial company was expanded into a ranging corps of more than a dozen companies (containing as many as 1,200–1,400 men at its peak). The ranger corps became the chief scouting arm of British Crown forces by the late 1750s. The British valued Rogers' Rangers for their ability to gather intelligence about the enemy. They were disbanded in 1761.
Rogers' Rangers in their green, wool uniforms, during the French and Indian War, from the U.S. Army painting, "To Range the Woods, New York, 1760"
|Branch||British provincial unit|
|Type||army rangers, (auxiliary troops)|
|Role||special operations, maneuver warfare, guerrilla warfare, light infantry|
|Size||nine companies (regiment)|
|Garrison/HQ||Fort William Henry (1755–1757)|
Rogers Island (1757–1763)
|Engagements||French and Indian War
|Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rogers|
Lieutenant Colonel James Rogers
Captain William Stark
Lieutenant John Stark
Later, the company was revived as a Loyalist force during the American Revolutionary War. Nonetheless, a number of former ranger officers defected to fight against the British Army as Rebel (Patriot) commanders. Some ex-rangers participated as Rebel (Patriot) militiamen at the Battle of Concord Bridge.
French and Indian WarEdit
Rogers' Rangers began in 1755 as a company in the provincial forces of the colony of New Hampshire in British North America. It was the latest in a long line of New England ranger companies dating back to the 1670s. The immediate precursor and model for the unit was Gorham's Rangers, formed in 1744. Both were initially organized by William Shirley. Gorham's Rangers are always depicted as precursors of Rogers' Rangers; however, they were also active throughout the French and Indian War, which makes them contemporaries of Rogers' Rangers. In fact, the Nova Scotia ranger corps that Gorham's company belonged to operated in cooperation with units of Rogers' corps on several occasions, most notably when Moses Hazen's company joined Rogers' Rangers at the Siege of Louisburg in 1758 and the Siege of Quebec in 1759. Rogers' company was formed to fight in the French and Indian War (the Seven Years' War in Canada, Britain, and Europe) in the borderlands of the colonial Northeast. They were commanded by Captain (later Major) Robert Rogers and operated primarily in the Lake George and Lake Champlain regions of New York. The unit was formed during the winter of 1755 from forces stationed at Fort William Henry. The Rangers sometimes undertook raids against French towns and military emplacements, traveling on foot, in whaleboats, and even on snowshoes during winter. Israel Putnam (who would go on to later fame in the Revolutionary War) fought as a Connecticut militia captain in conjunction with Rogers, and at one point saved his life.
The usefulness of Rogers' company during 1756 and 1757 prompted the British to form a second ranger company, which was soon followed by more. By early 1758, the rangers had been expanded to a corps of fourteen companies composed of between 1,200 and 1,400 men. This included three all-Indian units, two of Stockbridge Mahicans and one of Indians from Connecticut (mainly Mohegan and Pequot). Rogers was then promoted to major and served as commandant of the Ranger Corps.
On January 21, 1757, during the First Battle on Snowshoes, Rogers led 74 rangers to ambush the French, capturing seven prisoners near Fort Carillon at the south end of Lake Champlain. They then were attacked by about 100 French and Canadien (French Canadian) militia and their Ottawa allies from the Ohio Country. Rogers' men suffered casualties and retreated without further losses, since the French lacked snowshoes and were "floundering in snow up to their knees." Rogers' Rangers had maintained positions on the high ground and behind large trees. According to Francis Parkman, Ranger casualties were 14 killed, 6 captured, and 6 wounded, the wounded returning with 48 men who were unharmed. The French consisted of 89 Regulars and 90 Canadians and Indians; they had 37 killed and wounded. The French and Indian casualties may have included one of the captured prisoners. One wounded and captured Ranger who was later exchanged claimed to have killed one of the captured Frenchmen by striking him on the head with a tomahawk after the Rangers were ambushed. It is unclear if this was the fate of the other captured French, as well.
A company of the rangers led by Noah Johnson was stationed at Fort William Henry in 1757 during the siege. The siege ended with the surrender of the British forces and a massacre in August. After this, the Rangers were stationed on Rogers Island near Fort Edward. This allowed them to train and operate with more freedom than the regular forces.
On March 13, 1758 at the Second Battle on Snowshoes, Rogers' Rangers ambushed a French-Indian column and were then ambushed in turn by enemy forces. The Rangers lost 125 men in this encounter, as well as eight men wounded, with 52 surviving. One reference reports casualties of the Regulars, who had volunteered to accompany the Rangers, as 2 captured and 5 killed. Of Rogers' Rangers, 78 were captured and 47 killed and missing (of whom 19 were captured). Rogers estimated 100 killed and nearly 100 wounded of the French-Indian forces. The French, however, reported their casualties as just 10 Indians killed and 17 wounded, and three Canadians wounded.
The French originally reported killing Rogers in the second battle. This was based on their finding some of his belongings, including his regimental coat containing his military commission; however, he had escaped. This episode gave rise to the legend of Rogers' sliding 400 feet (120 m) down the side of a mountain to the frozen surface of Lake George. There is no conclusive proof this actually happened, but the rock face is still known as "Rogers' Slide" or "Rogers Rock".
Four companies of Rogers Rangers (500 rangers) arrived on the provincial vessel King George and were at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia from April 8 until May 28, awaiting the Siege of Louisbourg (1758). While there, they scoured the woods to stop raids on the capital. During the Siege, the rangers were the first to go ashore at Freshwater Cover and encountered 100 Mi'kmaq and French soldiers. James Wolfe and Scott followed up the rangers. The Rangers killed and scalped the Chief Mi'kmaq. In their retreat, the rangers captured 70 defenders and killed more than 50. Historian Burt Loescher describes this as "one of the most admirable feats ever performed by a detachment of the Corps." 
On July 7–8, 1758, Rogers' Rangers took part in the Battle of Carillon. On July 27, 1758, between Fort Edwards and Half-Way Brook, 300 Indians and 200 French/Canadians under Captain St. Luc ambushed a British convoy. The British lost 116 killed (including 16 Rangers) and 60 captured.
On August 8, 1758, near Crown Point, New York, a British force of Rangers, light infantry, and provincials was ambushed by a French-Canadian-Indian force of 450 under Captain Marin. In this action, Major Israel Putnam was captured. He was reportedly saved from burning at the stake by the Abenaki through the intervention of a French officer and a providential thunderstorm. Francis Parkman reported 49 British fatalities and "more than a hundred" killed of the enemy. Rogers claimed the British losses were 33 and that those of the enemy as 199. Another source reports that the French casualties were four Indians and six Canadians killed, and four Indians and six Canadians wounded, including an officer and a cadet.
During 1759, the Rangers were involved in one of their most famous operations, the St. Francis Raid. They had been ordered to destroy the Abenaki settlement of Saint-Francis in Quebec. It was the base of the raids and attacks on British settlements. Rogers led a force of 200 Rangers from Crown Point deep into French territory. Following the October 3, 1759 attack and successful destruction of Saint-Francis, Rogers' force ran out of food on their retreat through the wilderness of northern New England. They reached a safe location along the Connecticut River at the abandoned Fort Wentworth, where Rogers left them encamped. He returned a few days later with food and relief forces from Fort at Number 4 (now Charlestown, New Hampshire), the nearest British outpost.
In the raid on Saint-Francis, Rogers claimed 200 enemies had been killed, leaving 20 women and children to be taken prisoner; he took five children as captives and released the rest. The French recorded 30 deaths, including 20 women and children. According to Francis Parkman, Ranger casualties in the attack were one killed and six wounded; in the retreat, five were captured from one band of Rangers, and nearly all in another party of about 20 Rangers were killed or captured. One source alleges that only about 100 returned of about 204 Rangers, allies, and observers.
At the end of the war, the Rangers were given the task of taking command of Fort Detroit from the French forces. After the war, most of the Rangers returned to civilian life. In 1763, Rogers recruited several volunteers for the reinforcement of Detroit commanded by James Dalyell of the 1st Royal Regiment and formerly of the 80th Regiment of Light Armed Foot (Gage's Light Infantry). Upon arrival at Detroit, Dalyell talked post Commandant Henry Gladwin into allowing Dalyell to take his reinforcements to attack an Indian village near Parent's Creek. The force of 250-300 soldiers of the 55th and 60th regiments, Rogers' volunteers, and the Queen's Royal American Rangers under the command of Captain Joseph Hopkins was ambushed, as the advanced guard made up of men from the 55th regiment crossed the bridge at Parent's Creek. Rogers' men were responsible for effectively covering the retreat of the force back to Fort Detroit.
American War of IndependenceEdit
When the American Revolution began in 1775, Robert Rogers offered his services to General George Washington. However, Washington turned him down, fearing he might be a spy, since Rogers had just returned from a long stay in England. Infuriated by the rejection, Rogers offered his services to the British, who accepted. He formed the Queen's Rangers (1776) and later the King's Rangers. Several of his former rangers served under General Benedict Arnold in the revolutionary forces around Lake Champlain.
Rogers' Rules of RangingEdit
The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) of the Canadian Army claim to be descended from Rogers' Rangers. Also claiming descent from Rogers' Rangers are the 1st Battalion 119th Field Artillery of Michigan and the U.S. Army Rangers.
After what the British describe as the Revolutionary War, Rogers Rangers were granted tracts of land for farming in what is now Pownal, Prince Edward Island, Canada. The Rangers were reactivated during the War of 1812 and a large training camp was built there, complete with barracks, a field hospital and musket range (of which the butts can still be seen).
In popular cultureEdit
- Kenneth Roberts' historical novel Northwest Passage (1937) portrays the events of Rogers' Rangers' raid on the Abenaki town of St. Francis. The first half of the novel was adapted as the film Northwest Passage (1940).
- During the Second World War, the U.S. Army was interested in the tactics of the British Commando units. Recalling the colonial unit, they took the name "Rangers" as the official title; these units consider Rogers their founding father and distribute copies of Rogers' Rangers Standing Orders to all aspiring Ranger students.
- The Methuen High School in Massachusetts uses the nickname "Rangers". The town was the birthplace of Robert Rogers.
- AMC's 2014 TV series Turn: Washington's Spies portrays Rogers' Rangers as a Loyalist militia that uses intelligence gathered from an unidentified spy inside the Continental Army to ambush its patrols. Robert Rogers remarks early in the first episode that he offered his services first to George Washington, but Washington was unwilling to pay what Rogers demanded.
- In the video game, Assassin's Creed: Rogue (2014), a Rogers' Rangers outfit dubbed the "raider outfit", complete with their signature green uniforms and a black beret with the initials "RR", is available to be unlocked by the player.
- Brian D. Carroll, "'Savages' in the Service of Empire: Native American Soldiers in Gorham's Rangers," New England Quarterly 85, no. 3 (Sept. 2012): 383-429.
- Hubbard, Robert Ernest. Major General Israel Putnam: Hero of the American Revolution, pp. 77-8, McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, 2017. ISBN 978-1-4766-6453-8.
- Louis Antoine de Bougainville, Adventures in the Wilderness; Edward P. Hamilton, ed. and trans. (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964)
- Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, Vol. 1, Little Brown & Co., 1922, pp. 458-459, available on Googlebooks
- Mary Cochrane Rogers, "Battle of the Snowshoes" Archived 2006-05-04 at the Wayback Machine
- New York State, "The Battle on Snowshoes", March 1758
- Lake George Historical Association - Roger's Slide
- Loescher, Burt Garfield (1969). The History of Rogers' Rangers: The First Green Berets. San Mateo, California. pp. 29–31.
- Indiana archives Archived 2007-09-18 at the Wayback Machine
- Indiana Archives, p. 122 Archived 2007-09-18 at the Wayback Machine
- "Francis Parkman".pp.266
- Roger's Raid according to the research of Gordon Day
- "Francis Parkman".pp.266-267
- Spring Camporee 2005 Archived 2008-02-14 at the Wayback Machine
- Randall, Willard Sterne (1990). Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor. ISBN 1-55710-034-9
- "Methuen High School Athletics". merrimackvalleyconference.org.