I’d originally intended to make Samuel Hartley, the hero of To Taste Temptation a ranger. Unfortunately, this part of his back story proved rather difficult to include—and dare I say it—boring. But you may read here all the lovely unused research I did into Roger’s Rangers.
Rogers’ Rangers: The First Special Ops Force
Colonial America rangers were forces that were skilled at
fighting in the woods and backcountry. Companies of rangers
were usually recruited from frontiersmen—men who already
knew how to trap and hunt and move through a forest without
detection. Rangers wore uniforms irregularly and when they
did, they didn’t wear the bright scarlet coats of the
British army. Instead they wore forest colors—green
or brown coats, waistcoats, and breeches. Their hats were
berets or a round billed cap instead of the tall métier
caps worn by most British infantry at this time.
Not surprisingly, the regular British army commanders were a bit resentful of these undisciplined American forces, but they soon realized that in woodland fighting they needed the rangers. Rangers could make swift raids, scout, move through marshes thought to be impenetrable, spy on enemy positions, and generally harass the enemy. In 1758, Captain Robert Rogers, himself a frontiersman, was charged with commanding the ranger companies. Rogers laid out rules and instructions on such things as training new rangers, making camp, conducting raids, etc. By the end of the French and Indian War he’d published his ideas in a book, Roger’s Rules of Ranging.
Unfortunately, Robert Rogers later fell out
with the American forces and fought on the British side during
the Revolutionary War, but that’s a topic for a different
article. And on the bright side, ranger is still the term
used by the U.S. army for their special operations force.
• Empires Collide edited by Ruth Sheppard, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 2006