Rogers Rangers

Robert Rogers (b. Nov. 7, 1731, Methuen, Mass.--d. May 18, 1795)

Robert Rogers was a colonial farmer recruited from New Hampshire in 1755 by the British for service in the French and Indian War (1754-63).

He created a unit called Rogers' Rangers in 1756 (the first Rangers), and by 1758 the British placed him in charge of all colonial Ranger companies. The Rangers wore distinctive green outfits and developed tactics called "Rogers' Ranging Rules", which the British considered unconventional. These tactics are still in use by Rangers today, including the Green Berets.

Rogers' Rangers were most famous for their engagement with the Abenaki St Francis Indians, who lived midway between Montreal and Quebec. These Abenaki were credited with the deaths of over 600 colonists during the duration of the war. After the Indians attacked a retreating British unit under a flag of truce, Rogers led a hand-picked force of 200 Rangers to destroy the Indian's village.

Rogers' Rangers took part in General James Wolfe's expedition against Quebec and in the Montreal campaign of 1760. The Rangers were later sent by General Jeffrey Amherst to take possession of the northwestern posts, including Detroit. In 1763 the Rangers were in the West again, during Pontiac's War (1763-64), and they participated in the Battle of Bloody Bridge

After the war, Rogers went to England to write of his accounts. In 1766 he asked King George III to fund an expedition from the Mississippi River to the Pacific. The King refused, but granted him command of the northwest post called Michilimackinac. From there, Rogers conducted his own expedition anyways. His ambition caused him to be sent to England on the charges of treason, but he was acquitted.

Historians believe the spark of the American Revolution may have begun in the ranks of Rogers' Rangers. One of America's best officers during the Revolution was John Stark, who had been Rogers' Lieutenant. The British had treated the Rangers poorly during the French and Indian War. In 1775 former members of Rogers' Rangers fired upon the British at Concord and Lexington.

Rogers returned to America to join the Revolution when it started. George Washington refused his offer of help, because he feared that Rogers might be a loyalist spy. Outraged by this, Rogers openly joined the British and organized and commanded the Queen's Rangers, which saw service in areas around New York City, and later created the King's Rangers.


Related Links:

The Lake Champlain and Lake George Historical Site