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Rogers' Rangers was an independent company of rangers attached to the British Army during the French and Indian War. The unit was informally trained by Major Robert Rogers as a rapidly deployable light infantry force tasked with reconnaissance and conducting special operations against distant targets. Their military tactics were so bold and effective that the unit became the chief scouting unit of British Crown forces in the late 1750s. The British valued them highly for gathering intelligence about the enemy. Later, several members of Rogers' Rangers became influential leaders in the American Revolutionary War and a large number of ex-rangers were present as patriot militiamen at the Battle of Concord Bridgemarker.

Three military formations now claim descent from Rogers' Rangers:


French and Indian War

Rogers' Rangers were a colonial militia that fought for the Kingdom of Great Britainmarker during the French and Indian War. Commanded by Major Robert Rogers, they operated primarily in the Lake Georgemarker and Lake Champlainmarker regions of New Yorkmarker. The unit was formed during the severe winter of 1755 by provincial forces entrenched at Fort William Henrymarker. The Rangers frequently undertook winter raids against Frenchmarker towns and military emplacements, travelling on crude snowshoes and across frozen rivers.

Never fully respected by the British regulars, Rogers' Rangers were one of the few non-Indian forces able to operate in the inhospitable region due to the harsh winter conditions and mountainous terrain.

On January 21, 1757, at the First Battle on Snowshoes, Rogers' force of 74 rangers ambushed and captured seven Frenchmen near Fort Carillonmarker but then encountered about a hundred French and Canadien (French Canadian) militia and Ottawa Indians from the Ohio Country. After taking casualties, Rogers' force retreated. In their reports, the French noted that they were at a tactical disadvantage, being without snowshoes and 'floundering in snow up to their knees,' and Rogers' Rangers were fortunate in being able to maintain positions on the high ground and behind large trees. According to Francis Parkman, Ranger casualties were 14 killed and 6 captured, with 48 returning unharmed and 6 returning wounded. The French--consisting of 89 Regulars and 90 Canadians and Indians--had 37 killed and wounded. and possibly one additional casualty (one wounded and captured Ranger, who was later exchanged, claimed to have killed one of the captured Frenchmen after the Rangers were ambushed; it is unclear if this was the fate of the other captured ones as well).

After British forces surrendered Fort William Henrymarker in August 1757, the Rangers were stationed on Rogers Island near Fort Edwardmarker. This allowed the Rangers 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, in turn, were ambushed 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, at 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; however, the French listed casualties as total of ten Indians killed, seventeen wounded and three Canadians wounded.

Robert Rogers himself was originally reported by the French to have been killed in the second battle. This report stemmed from the manner of Rogers’ escape during which he discarded some of his belongings, including his regimental coat, which contained his military commission. This episode also gave rise to the famous legend about Robert Rogers’ sliding 400 feet down the side of a mountain to the frozen surface of Lake George. While there is no proof of this event, the rockface he supposedly went down has become known as 'Rogers' Slide' or 'Rogers Rock.'

On July 7-8, 1758 Rogers Rangers took part in Battle of Carillonmarker.

On July 27, 1758 between Fort Edwards and Half-Way Brook 300 Indians and 200 French/Canadians under Captain St. Luc ambushed a convoy in which the English lost 116 killed (including 16 Rangers) and 60 captured.

On August 8, 1758 near Crown Point, New Yorkmarker an English 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. Francis Parkman reports that the English fatalities were 49 and that the enemy killed were "..more than a hundred..". Likewise Rogers claimed English losses were 33 and that the enemy had losses of 199. However another source reports that the French casualties were 4 Indians and 6 Canadians killed and 4 Indians and 6 Canadians {including an officer and a cadet} wounded.

During 1759, the Rangers were involved in one of their most famous operations: They were ordered to destroy the Indian settlement of Saint-Francismarker in Quebecmarker from which attacks on British settlements were frequently being launched. Rogers led a force of two-hundred rangers from Crown Point, New Yorkmarker, deep into French territory. Following the October 3, 1759 attack and successful destruction of Saint-Francis, Rogers' force ran out of food during their retreat back through the rugged wilderness of northern Vermontmarker. Once the Rangers reached a safe location along the Connecticut River at the abandoned Fort Wentworthmarker, Rogers left them encamped, and returned a few days later with food, and relief forces from Fort at Number 4marker now Charlestown, New Hampshiremarker the nearest English town. In the raid on Saint-Francis, Rogers claimed 200 enemies were killed, leaving 20 women and children to be taken prisoners, of whom he took 5 children prisoners; however, the French record that only 30 were killed including 20 women and children.. According to Francis Parkman Ranger casualties in the attack were 1 killed and 6 wounded; however in the retreat, 5 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 of about 204 Rangers, allies and observers, only about 100 returned.

Pontiac's Rebellion and American War of Independence

At the end of the war, the Rangers were given the task of taking command of Detroitmarker from the French forces on behalf of the British crown. After the war most of the Rangers returned to civilian life. In 1763 a unit of the Rogers' Rangers who were formed into the 80th Regiment of Light-Armed Foot (1758-1764) were ambushed at the Devil's Hole Massacre during Pontiac's Rebellion.

At the outbreak of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concordmarker, former Rangers were among the Minutemen firing at the British. After these events, Robert Rogers offered his help to the commander of the Colonial Army, George Washington. Washington refused, fearing that Rogers was a spy because Rogers had just returned from a long stay in England. Rogers was infuriated by this and did indeed join the British—forming the Queen's Rangers (1776) and later the King's Rangers.

The Queen's York Rangers of the Canadian Army claim to be descended from Rogers' Rangers. Also claiming descent from Rogers' Rangers is the 1st Battalion 119th Field Artillery of Michigan and the U.S. Army Rangers.

In popular culture

The historical novel Northwest Passage (1937), by American author Kenneth Roberts, gave great verisimilitude to the events of Rogers' Rangers' raid on the Abenaki town of St. Francis. The first half of the novel was later adapted to film called Northwest Passage (1940).

During the Second World War, the U.S. Army was interested in the tactics of the British Commando units, which by then had a couple of years of experience, and wanted similar special operations forces of their own. Recalling this 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.

In 1942, American novelist Howard Fast wrote a book titled The Unvanquished about George Washington's struggles commanding the army during its stay in New York in the early days of the Revolution. In several places, Fast mentions Rogers in the book, with accounts of Roger's darker side after he joined the British.

A more recent book, White Devil - A True Story of War, Savagery, and Vengeance in Colonial America, by Steven Brumwell (ISBN 0-306-81389-0, Da Capo Books, 2005), contains an historical analysis of the St. François raid and ensuing controversy.

In 2002, Mind Lab Films produced a Documentary about Robert Rogers and his Rangers entitled "The Battle On Snowshoes." The film is available through Heritage Books.

Rogers' Rangers were depicted in the 2005 video game Age of Empires 3, from Ensemble Studios, in which they are a type of light infantry mercenary.

In Methuen, Massachusetts, birthplace of Robert Rogers, the town's high school uses "Rangers" as their nickname. Their mascot is made to resemble the frontier fighters.

In the 2009 video game, Empire: Total War, from SEGA and The Creative Assembly, Rogers' Rangers is an available unit featured in the Special Forces Edition. They are available as a specialized, tactical skirmisher unit in North America.

Notable members

See also


  1. Louis Antoine de Bougainville, Adventures in the Wilderness; Edward P. Hamilton, ed. and trans. (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964)
  2. Francis Parkman
  3. Mary Cochrane Rogers, Battle of the Snowshoes, [1]
  4. New York State, The Battle on Snowshoes, March 1758
  5. Lake George Historical Association - Roger's Slide
  6. Indiana archives
  7. Indiana archives page 122
  8. Roger's Raid according to the research of Gordon Day
  9. Spring Camporee 2005 –

External links

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