From 1754 to 1763 Europe and the Americas were caught up in a conflict between England, under King George II, and France, under King Louis XV. In Europe this period was known as the Seven Years' War; in North America it came to be called the French and Indian War. It was a conflict over trade and land.
The British sent Crown forces from England to fortify the colonies and fight the French and Indian invaders, but it was also necessary to recruit soldiers from the colonial population. The British army found that fighting an enemy in the near-wilderness of North America was too much for their massed regiments. The dense forests and mountainous terrain required fighting men who knew the habits of the enemy and could serve effectively as scouts and skirmishers.
"…I do therefore Hereby Constitute and Appoint you the said Robert Rogers to be Captain of an Independent Company of Rangers to be forthwith raised and Employ'd…"
Men from local communities and nearby states were recruited to join ranger companies in the Hudson Valley campaign. The New Hampshireman Robert Rogers formed the most notable of these ranger companies.
"On the 23d, I waited on the General, and met with a very friendly reception; he soon intimated his design of giving me the command of an independent company of rangers, and the very next morning I received the commission, with a set of instructions."
Rogers grew up in southern New Hampshire, in an area which had known years of murderous Indian raids. He had the knowledge and the spirit to make a good ranger commander, and both he and his brother James joined the war in the King's service as rangers. Soon his own company, Rogers' Rangers, was in service in the upper Hudson River area where they became known for their successful but unorthodox tactics.
"my men lay concealed in a thicket of willows, while I crept something nearer, to a large pine-log, where I concealed myself, by holding bushes in my hand."
The Rangers wore distinctive green outfits and practiced tactics called "Rogers' Rules of Ranging," which the British considered unconventional. Rogers hired men solely on merit and shocked regular commanders with his use of Indians and freed slaves.
"According to the General's orders, my company was to consist of sixty private, at 3s. New York currency per day, three searjents at 4s. an Ensign at 5s. a lieutenant at 7s. and my own pay was fixed at 10s. per day. Ten Spainish dollars were allowed each man towards providing cloaths, arms, and blankets."
He trained his men in military arts such as small unit tactics and musket target practice (which the regular Crown command considered a waste of ammunition). His military tactics were so bold and effective that his unit became the Crown forces' chief scouting unit in the late 1750's.
"from time to time, to use my best endeavours to distress the French and their allies, by sacking, burning, and destroying their houses, barns, barracks, canoes, battoes, &c. and by killing their cattle of every kind; and at all times to endeavor to way-lay, attack and destroy their convoys of provisions by land and water, in any part of the country where I could find them."
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Rogers' Rangers is a non-profit educational organization with headquarters in Connecticut.
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