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Robert Rogers was born in 1731 in Methuen, Massachusetts. He is a noted historical character for his role in the French and Indian War which lasted from 1754 to 1763. In the War, he raised and led a militia force of six hundred men who became known as "Roger's Rangers."
Rogers and his men took part in General James Wolfe's expedition against the French in Quebec and in the Montreal campaign of 1760. After these campaigns in Canada, he was sent by the General Jeffrey Amherst to take possession of the forts in the northwestern frontier. Among these was the fort at Detroit. Three years later, when Rogers was again in what was then the western frontier of the British colonies, he took part in Pontiac's War. He participated in the major battle of this War, the Battle of Bloody Ridge.
After finishing his military career, Rogers went to England. It was in England, in 1765, where he published his most well-known works:
- Concise Account of North America
- Journals of Major Robert Rogers
While in England, Rogers proposed to King George III to lead an expedition by land to discover the Northwest Passage. King George turned this proposal down, but gave Rogers command of the northwest post of Michilimackinac. In 1766 Rogers took the initiative in leading an expedition of his own to try to discover the Northwest Passage. This expedition did not reach the Pacific though. For this expedition, Rogers was tried for treason, but acquitted. After his trial he returned to England to try to regain his reputation and straighten out his finances.
Roberts and the French and Indian War
Roberts had gained much attention in the French and Indian War for his band of six hundred Rangers he formed and led. They were an unusual fighting force for the time due to the following reasons:
- Instead of marching and fighting in formations as was the practice of the British and French regular troops of the time, the Rangers adapted features of Indian warfare.
- Each Ranger was mobile and self-sufficient, not part of a tight military formation fighting as a single unit under the direction of a commander.
- Each Ranger wore buckskin instead of an official uniform.
- Every Ranger was armed with a smooth-bore flintlock, sixty rounds of ball and powder, a hatchet, and also carried a supply of dried meat and biscuit.
The Rangers became known as the "eyes" of the British Army for their mobility and scouting reports. In a battle, they fought behind the cover of bushes or trees. In the Battle of Snowshoes, however, fought in the area of Ticonderoga, New York City, on March 13, 1758, about one hundred and thirty of the one hundred and eighty Rangers in the Battle were lost. Rogers himself barely escaped capture. Nonetheless, the Rangers survived as a fighting force to later destroy the village of the Saint Francis Indians who were allies of the French and receive the surrender of French posts in the northwest at the end of the War.