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Thread: Colonial ranger units.

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default Colonial ranger units.

    I wrote a short piece about Robert Rogers and colonial ranger units that went up online yesterday. [LINK] It’s an Internet piece so it doesn’t pretend to be comprehensive. Any and all comments and corrections from members of the forum are welcomed.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default

    Neat article and with a nod to Ken White too.

    On a very quick thought have a look at the Trucial Oman Scouts, it had a short history and has disappeared. On Google there are numerous hits to veteran memories and of course this:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trucial_Oman_Scouts

    Their role appears to be a very light defence capability, in (a then) inhospitable terrain and hard climate. More a gendarmerie?

    A host of British Imperial era formations were called scouts etc, it was only in WW2 that their recce and raiding capability was developed in a few places, such as Burma.

    There is a good deal of nostalgia about these formations, principally on the North-West Frontier and the once famous (Jordanian) Arab Legion.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    On a very quick thought have a look at the Trucial Oman Scouts, it had a short history and has disappeared. On Google there are numerous hits to veteran memories and of course this:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trucial_Oman_Scouts

    Their role appears to be a very light defence capability, in (a then) inhospitable terrain and hard climate. More a gendarmerie?
    Thanks for the heads up on them, I will have to read up. Perhaps they are somewhat in the tradition of the Pakistani Rangers? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan_Rangers#History

    I have been keeping notes about the etymology of the term ‘ranger,’ and the initial uses seem to be in reference to positions analogous to contemporary U.S. National Park Service Rangers. (Having grown up on the boundary of a National Park, I know this to be a fairly dangerous vocation.) As far as I can tell, the use of the term in reference to (para)military units seems to first take place in 17th century North America. I could be wrong about that, of course.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Default Matt:

    I've no corrections; and 2 comments:

    1. The article is succinct, clear and balanced.

    2. The article is appropriate for its venue.

    The last point, I think, is important. It fits Snowshoe Magazine; and is not intended for the Exalted Symposium of the Battle on Snowshoes Scholars (a 400 page thesis with 85 pages of footnotes and bibliography). The latter could also be "Internet". The latter could also be filled with rubbish.

    The following is not for Matt (cuz he already knows it), but for others. There were two battles on snowshoes; both with Rogers, but with different TdM composite units on the other side: Battle on Snowshoes (1757); and Battle on Snowshoes (1758). Matt has written well and accurately of the 1757 battle.

    Matt's post also caused me to download (from archive.org), Journals of Major Robert Rogers (1883 ed.); and to buy two books by Bob Bearor (used through Amazon), The Battle On Snowshoes and French and Indian War Battlesites: A Controversy. The first Bearor book caught some vitriol; I concluded not to "invest" in them at full new price.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    I'll have to pass this around, as he is reputed by (admittedly fallible) family lore to be a direct ancestor...

    Re this:

    My thanks to Ken White for answering my queries regarding the defining characteristics of ranger units. Any errors in interpretation are, of course, my own.
    The latter, of course, we already knew...Ken White does not err. Speaking of which, has anyone had news of him?
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 12-17-2013 at 02:21 AM.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    ganulv:

    I just finished this book.

    http://www.amazon.com/Rustic-Warrior...ustic+warriors

    You probably already know of it but if you didn't I found it very good. It covers units that could be called rangers, though they may not have been called that.

    I have a question. During those days was the undergrowth in the forests less dense than it is now? I know in the UP the windfall and undergrowth is so dense it is very difficult to move around sometimes unless the snow if really deep. I also remember reading that the Indians used to intentionally burn off the undergrowth. So was it easier to move around the forests back then?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I have a question. During those days was the undergrowth in the forests less dense than it is now? I know in the UP the windfall and undergrowth is so dense it is very difficult to move around sometimes unless the snow if really deep. I also remember reading that the Indians used to intentionally burn off the undergrowth. So was it easier to move around the forests back then?
    I think it was common to fire the woods in the fall, yes. My understanding is that the primary purpose was to make it easier to get at that year’s mast crop. It must have made for quieter hunting, too. As an aside, a couple of years after North Carolina made it illegal to fire the woods, the chestnut blight hit the reservation where I grew up. I am almost certain it would have happened regardless, but old Indians in my hometown still shake their heads about that!

    I’ve been to three or four small chunks of old growth, a couple in Western North Carolina and one outside of Syracuse. They definitely weren’t “the bush” in the literal sense. Compared to the kind of second growth that is almost all of the forest in the eastern U.S., they felt kind of like being in a cathedral—big ceiling, lots of light, and really open. Those areas would definitely have been easier to move around in than most of the woods are today. But there is a caveat about whether moving around in general would have been easier in the eighteenth century and before. Water tables were higher and most wetlands hadn’t been drained, so there was a lot more swamp to move around or through. That was especially true in areas where beavers hadn’t been trapped out yet.

    Rogers doesn’t mention the 1756/57 winter as being a particularly big snow year nor a particularly snow dry year, either, so I don’t think it applies to that case. But as you say, in a normal snow year you can walk on top of the scrub, and in really big snow years you can walk on top of the trees. You will hit an air pocket now and again… I’ll never forget the first time I did that.
    Last edited by ganulv; 12-17-2013 at 05:19 AM.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default They Had A Little Trouble In WW2 Also

    During WW2 the Rangers also performed as Shock Troops Point De Hook, Anzio, etc. which would lead to there eventual demise after WW2. But they eventually made a come back as Airborne Rangers which just confirms the brilliant military concept that Paratroopers are the best fighting force to have.

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    Default UP Virgin Forest (and Almost Virgin Forest)

    from Carl

    During those days was the undergrowth in the forests less dense than it is now? I know in the UP the windfall and undergrowth is so dense it is very difficult to move around sometimes unless the snow if really deep.
    Based on my dad's teaching - it depended on when and how the forests were logged. For example, in the area between Houghton and Ontonagon, the white pine was pretty much clear cut in the later 1800s, but hemlock, cedar and the northern hardwoods were left in many large areas. They were not clear cut until the 1920s-1940s. So, when my dad (born in 1912) went deer hunting there in the mid-1920s, 100-300 yards shots were possible (not necessarily common). My mom also used the word "cathedral" to describe those forests.

    30 years later in the mid-1950s (I was born in 1942), a 100 yard clearing was a rarity and dense second (or third) growth was the rule. At that time, there were clear logging roads and railroad grades - with dense undergrowth beside them (unless recently logged). By 1980, the roads and grades had grown in (unless maintained), but the second growth along side them had grown up to the point where it was easier to walk in the bush, rather than on the grown in roads.

    And, yes, full agreement with Matt that swamps (cedar swamps in the area I described) are a bitch; and carrying out 20-30 foot cedar stringers (for bridges and camps) by pure manpower is more so.

    Move down the roads to the Baraga Plains and I'd not be surprised to see a different pattern.

    A forester (or a timber cruiser) could give a more informed explanation for the areas he's worked.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 12-17-2013 at 05:23 AM.

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    During WW2 the Rangers also performed as Shock Troops Point De Hook, Anzio, etc. which would lead to there eventual demise after WW2. But they eventually made a come back as Airborne Rangers which just confirms the brilliant military concept that Paratroopers are the best fighting force to have.
    That’s in keeping with the raiding function, too. I’ve read that there is a Tier 1 reconnaissance unit within the Ranger Regiment, but I suppose that anyone who would know for sure wouldn’t talk about it.

    Out of curiosity, where does the non-SOCOM reconnaissance capability of the Army lie?

    which just confirms the brilliant military concept that Paratroopers are the best fighting force to have.
    Here is a link to a study you might enjoy that a friend passed along to me this very day: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC300808/
    Last edited by ganulv; 12-17-2013 at 05:51 AM.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Matt's post also caused me to download (from archive.org), Journals of Major Robert Rogers (1883 ed.); and to buy two books by Bob Bearor (used through Amazon), The Battle On Snowshoes and French and Indian War Battlesites: A Controversy. The first Bearor book caught some vitriol; I concluded not to "invest" in them at full new price.
    I would be interested in hearing how the Battlesites volume situates its subjects in relation to the Revolutionary War. The couple of times I have made day trips into the Champlain Corridor it was interesting to see how the heritage tourism literature at rest areas and visitor centers tended frame the French and Indian War primarily as a rehearsal for the Revolution. I then recalled it being taught to me that way in elementary and middle school. A decent way to hook a bored ten year old’s or casual tourist’s attention, I suppose, but it doesn’t seem to me to fully do justice to the conflict in and of itself.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I'll have to pass this around, as he is reputed by (admittedly fallible) family lore to be a direct ancestor...
    Undoubtably fallible, but also undoubtably colorful!
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Council Member 82redleg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    That’s in keeping with the raiding function, too. I’ve read that there is a Tier 1 reconnaissance unit within the Ranger Regiment, but I suppose that anyone who would know for sure wouldn’t talk about it.
    75th Ranger Special Troops Battalion has a Reconnaissance Company

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regimen...ssance_Company

    http://www.goarmy.com/ranger/heritag...battalion.html

    Out of curiosity, where does the non-SOCOM reconnaissance capability of the Army lie?
    BCTs have a Cavalry Squadron (Armed Recon Squadron in the ABCTs, RSTA Squadrons in the SBCTs and Recon Squadrons in the IBCTs)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconna...(United_States)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigade_combat_team

    There are also Battlefield Surveillance BDEs, that are mostly MI but have a squadron with 2 mounted troops and a LRS Company

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlef...llance_Brigade

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconna...lance_Squadron

    The MCOE is also developing a system to designate certain BCTs as Recon & Security BCTs

    http://www.benning.army.mil/mcoe/man...nitiatives.pdf

    http://defenseinnovationmarketplace....020_Charts.pdf

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    Default Will do

    The Snowshoes book has already shipped; no order confirmation on Battlesites yet (the bookseller was listing only 1 in stock). If not, then Plan B, since I now know why "Controversy" is in the title.

    I found a few refs to keep you occupied in the meantime; esp. the last one.

    French and Indian War Battlesites: A Controversy. The book involves two sites and is presented as a field study:

    Bob Bearor discovered what is believed to be the long-lost sites of Rogers' Rangers' winter battle of January 1757, and the fatal ambush of Lord Howe in the summer of 1758. First, the battles are recounted in picturesque detail. Then comes an explanation of the methods used in the discovery, exploration and verification of the sites. The coup de grace is a description of the treasure trove of artifacts found at the site. The book is enhanced with photographs of artifacts, along with maps and illustrations.
    French & Indian War Reenactment:

    What makes this year's big event so unique is that a skirmish just prior to the big battle will also be reenacted. This skirmish took place on July 6, 1758, and during that encounter the much beloved Lord Viscount Howe was killed. That may have turned the tide of the big battle to come, as Howe was an excellent military tactician and the British hope for success against Montcalm and his much smaller French force.

    Bob Bearor, history buff and a reenactor himself, was asked to organize this large endeavor. (He is also the author of two books on the subject: "Battle on Snowshoes", and "French and Indian War Battlesites".) It was Bearor, a resident of Newcomb, N.Y., who discovered the actual site of that skirmish, which had long been the subject of debate among historians. Unfortunately, this event is a one-time deal. The land on which the skirmish took place is privately owned. By this time next year, Bearor says that the owners will have constructed a trailer park on the property. Sadly this is what happens to historical sites all too often...
    Battle for Carillion: Lord Howe dies again in Ticonderoga. News story on the re-enactment, where the effect on the American Revolution is mentioned.

    Right Rangers, Wrong Fight (Tim Abbott, 2007). The sign controversy is in your balliwick (Snowshoe 1 instead of Snowshoe 2; did they change the signs ?)



    I was more interested in this snip:

    The first Battle on Snowshoes was fought on January 21, 1757 between Captain Rogers with 74 rangers and French forces from Fort Carillon that included about 90 soldiers from 4 French different regiments and nearly 90 Chippewa and Ottawa warriors under the remarkable Ensign Charles-Michel Mouet de Langlade who was in every way Rogers' equal in woodcraft.
    So, I had a cousin at Snowshoe 1; perhaps two, since Langlade's older brother was an engage-interpreter for the Colonial Troops at Mackinac. Langlade and his Ojibwe-Ottawa were pretty good at killing British officers (as they proved at Braddock's Last Run).

    Fortunately for SWC, their aim wasn't quite as deadly at Snowshoe 1. Otherwise, Dayuhan (aka Rogers) might not be with us (depending on when Rogers had kids).

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 12-18-2013 at 02:06 AM.

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Right Rangers, Wrong Fight (Tim Abbott, 2007). The sign controversy is in your balliwick (Snowshoe 1 instead of Snowshoe 2; did they change the signs ?)

    I couldn’t quite tell from the blog post where the sign is located. From Rogers’ description, the 1757 BoS took place before the English had gotten to Lake George. The 1758 BoS took place before the English had gotten to Lake Champlain. Given where Rogers Rock and Rogers Slide are located, perhaps the 1758 BoS took place in the valley drained by Trout Brook?
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Default 1758 Snowshoes Location

    Based on this reconstruction, Frigid Fury: The Battle on Snowshoes, March 1758, Rogers drove the F-C advance guard from C to D; the F-C main body drove him back to C, then southeast to E; from whence, Rogers split his command with retreats to F and G (with success).

    Your map with added markings.

    Now, where was the 1757 Snowshoes Location ?

    I tried to contact Langlade, but no answer - his Quija board's in his outhouse and must be snowed-in. I'll try later.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default 1757 Snowshoes Location

    Rogers writes (p.67 of 1883 ed.):

    The 21st we marched east, till we came to the lake, about mid-way between Crown Point and Ticonderoga, and immediately discovered a sled going from the latter to the former. I ordered Lieutenant Stark, with twenty men, to head the sled, while I, with a party, marched the other way to prevent its retreating back again, leaving Captain Spikeman in the center .with the remainder. I soon discovered eight or ten sleds more following down the lake, and endeavored to give Mr. Stark intelligence of it before he sallied on the lake and discovered himself to them, but could not. They all hastily returned towards Ticonderoga. We pursued them, and took seven prisoners, three sleds and six horses; the remainder made their escape.
    Based on this 1777 map, the sleds were roughly at what is Halfway Brook, north of Ft. Carillon (Ticonderoga), near modern Crown Point. The Crown Point point of land (Ft. Frederic) is further north.

    According to the note at p.70 1883 ed.,

    This engagement is located by Mr. Watson in his history of Essex Co., (p. 64,) as near the residence of M. B. Townsend, in the town of Crown Point.
    I guess we'll have to wait and see Bearor's books.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Shortly after that (I am working from a different edition, so I don’t know what page number would correspond with yours) he writes that the ambush took place “when passing a valley of about fifteen rods in breadth.” Fifteen rods is about 80 yards. Looking at the topo map, there are a couple of “valleys” that match that description in the vicinity of (the hamlet of) Crown Point.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Default My W.A.G.

    Rogers was trying to backtrack to his camp of the previous day (roughly 3 miles west of the lake). So, the camp of the 20th was probably near Crown Point Center - which is on Putnam Creek - about 3.6 km from Crown Point center and 4.7 km from the lake.

    He had got about a half mile (from the lake ?) when Langlade et al met him in the west in a semi-circular ambush. So, WAG is a half mile west of Sheepshead Is. at mouth of "valley" between Sugar Hill and Breeds Hill - since Rogers mentions two hills.

    However, I'm notorious lousy at WAGs.

    Battlesites has shipped and should be here in a week (? cuz of Xmas).

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default Battlesites Arrived

    Beavor uses 2 French sources (Bougainville & Bourlamaque) and 2 English sources (Rogers & Brown) to get his bearings for his subsequent walk through the woods. The book lacks topo maps and artifact recovery maps (not the Little Bighorn field report by any means). He says his associates did all of that in finding the artifacts. I have no reason to doubt or to distrust their competence and detailed data; but all of that is absent from the book.

    He does pick and choose from the accounts. E.g., to locate Rogers' ambush he uses Bougainville's "two leagues" ("deux lieues") from Ft. Carillon - Beavor finds that leagues varied from 2.4 to 4.6 miles. He chose 2.4 miles x 2 leagues to match Fivemile Creek. That's a plausible path for Rogers to have taken, ending up at Fivemile Point area. So is Putnam Creek to the north, ending up near modern Crown Point village. A report from Ft. Carillon has Langlade's ambush within 3 leagues of Carillon, about 3pm - the report of the sled ambush reached Carillon about 11:30 am. That would be closer to Crown Point village, but to its south.

    Here's an ACME topo map.

    Beavor places the battle at E, directly W of Ft. Ti, the same location as he has for Lord Howe's death 6 months later. He may be right, but I think the accounts of Rogers and Brown have to be read with great care. Beavor makes too many convenient cherry picks.

    I have to get my scanner going over the holidays so we can be on the same pages.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 12-21-2013 at 05:39 AM.

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