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.
therefore Hereby Constitute and Appoint you the said Robert Rogers to be
Captain of an Independent Company of Rangers to be forthwith raised and
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.
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
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
"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.
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.
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."