Major Robert Rogers (7 November 1731 – 18 May 1795) was an American colonial frontiersman. Rogers served in the British army during both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. During the French and Indian War, Rogers raised and commanded the famous Rogers' Rangers, trained for raiding and close combat behind enemy lines. This militia unit operated primarily in the Lake George and Lake Champlain regions of New York. They frequently undertook winter raids against French towns and military emplacements, traveling on sleds, crude snowshoes, and even ice skates across frozen rivers. Rogers' Rangers were never fully respected by the British regulars, yet they were one of the few non-Indian forces able to operate in the inhospitable region despite harsh winter conditions and mountainous terrain.
Rogers evidenced an unusual talent for commanding his unit in conditions that the regular armies of the day were unaccustomed to working in. He took the initiative in mustering, equipping, and commanding ranger units. He wrote an early guide for commanding such units as Robert Rogers' 28 "Rules of Ranging". The Queen's York Rangers of the Canadian Army, the U.S. Army Rangers, and the 1st Battalion 119th Field Artillery all claim Rogers as their founder, and "Rogers' Standing Orders" are still quoted on the first page of the U.S. Army's Ranger handbook.
Interesting Note: Rogers' heroics in the French and Indian War, including the search for the Northwest Passage, and his later life are depicted in the novel Northwest Passage (1936) by Kenneth Roberts. The novel inspired the 1940 film Northwest Passage, starring Spencer Tracy as Major Rogers.
March 5th, 2018
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