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Ranger History - consolidation of previous posts and more

Note:  These mini-essays were pulled together years ago..before this blog, some links may no longer work


Rangers in the French and Indian Wars (and before)

Rangers existed in English colonial America well before the United States of America came into being. The first American "Ranger" of note, is considered to be Benjamin Church, who operated in the mid 1670's, but he was by no means the first or most famous. In actuality, the "ranger concept" in America dates back to colonial Virginia, which was established in 1607 with one small fort on the James River - Jamestowne. A short look at Virginia, the first permanent colony, and intended initially as a forward base of colonization with "settlers" serving 7 year periods, reveals how the "borderer" ranger concept inherited from Britain came into being. As James B. Whisker summarizes, "The Virginia militia was of greatest significance in the seventeenth century, during which time the development passed through several stages. The first quarter of the seventeenth century was marked by improvisation and experimentation as the colonists attempted to develop a formula which would work in the colony's particular circumstances. In the second quarter of the century "this system was reorganized, refined, and repeatedly tested in combat." In the third quarter the colonial leaders excluded slaves and indentured servants, but dwelled on intensive training of specialized units, such as the frontier rangers." - The American Colonial Militia, 1606-1785, Vol 5. The Colonial Militia of the Southern States. James B Whisker, Edwin Mellen Press,1997.
Following the 1622 Powhatan Confederacy surprise attack which killed 347 colonists, Captain John Smith, back in England, offered the following: "IF you please I may be transported with a hundred Captaine Souldiers and thirty Sailers...These I would imploy onely in ranging the Countries, and tormenting the Salvages, and that they should be as a running Army till this were effected, and then settle themselves in some such convenient place, that should ever remaine a garison of that strength, ready upon any occasion against the Salvages, or any other for the defence of the Countrey, and to see all the English well armed, and instruct them their use. But I would have a Barke of one hundred tunnes, and meanes to build sixe or seven Shalops, to transport them where there should bee occasion." - The project and offer of Captaine John Smith, to [IV. 152.] the Right Honourable, and Right Worshipfull Company of Virginia. A.D. 1622. The generall historie of Virginia, New England & the Summer isles By John Smith
Indeed, the colony changed from an "all-inclusive" para-military force (between 1610 and 1612, 650 English veterans of the Protestant war in the Netherlands were sent with arms and armor) to a selective body of militia based around "eight defensible communities" from which they also launched offensives from each of these locales. In 1632 they erected a great wall across the peninsula from the James River to the York (akin to the Hadrians wall that was designed to hold back the Pictish tribes - ancient inhabitants of Scotland - to the north). In 1644, following another massacre, it organized militia into two military associations along county lines and mandated 4 drills a year. Then, in 1652, the counties were to form regiments instead of companies. By 1666 they had 5 military associations organized around counties and each county had a regiment of militia infantry, "trained bands" and a troop of dragoons. Thus, after after two protracted wars by 1650, the native threat had largely disappeared in tidewater Virginia and, as settlers, approached the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range, the tribes again menaced colonial homesteads. In response were formed garrison forts on the frontier and manned with one year "draftees." They then formed and hired mounted ranger units to patrol between these forts. To give warning of hostile movements toward settlements, the colonists established teams of experienced backwoodsman to patrol, or "range," between outposts looking for signs of danger - thus the familiar term likely borrowed from Scotland - "rangers" - is fitting indeed. After a year or so, these rangers were disbanded and replaced with other forces...dragoons etc. However, in 1683, they went back to "trained bands of rangers, but who now lived at home at their own expense" only to replace them again in 1684 with a standing force of 120 troopers divided into 4 companies. All men had to provide for themselves. Throughout the period, 1607-1699, and unlike the trend in Europe, the colonists always provided their forces with various types of armor - believing it an "absolute necessity" to prevent great loss of life with the Indians - who were awed by the sight and whose weapons would generally be blunted or deflected. - Soldiers of the Virginia Colony 1607-1699: A Study of Virginia's Military, Its Origins, Tactics, Equipment and Development, Donald A. Tisdale, Dietz Books, 2000. Rangers came back again, as related by Whisker, when "In 1710 the Assembly authorized the lieutenant-governor, as military commander of the colony, to form several bands of rangers. Each county lieutenant "shall choose out and list eleven able-bodied men, with horses and accouterments, arms and ammunition, resideing as near as conveniently may be to that frontier station." The lieutenant served simultaneously as county militia commander and commandant of the rangers. - Virginia State Papers, 1: 152." 

"It was service in the Corps of Frontier Rangers that made the strongest appeal to the taste of the young Virginians. The freedom, the freshness, and the remoteness of the primeval woods were all the special property of this fine body of men. Passing day after day through the intricacies of the pathless forests, which were now clothed in the thick foliage of spring and summer, and now stripped naked by the winds of the late autumn and winter, they were always changing their surroundings, and thus escaped the monotony of scene and occupation which rendered stagnant the ordinary existence of the soldiers belonging to the garrisons. Apart from the possibility of encountering the Indians as they advanced from hill to hill and valley to valley under that vast roof of green leaves or bare branches, they were constantly starting up game, which afforded not only sport for the moment but food for the daily meal. The bear, the deer, the wild turkey, the pheasant, each must have hourly crossed the paths of these wandering guardsmen, and it required the motion of a second only to unsling the carbine and empty its contents into the flying quarry. Such a company, mounted on their spirited plantation horses, and dressed in the buckskin costume of the frontier as that best adapted to stand the hard wear, must have presented a remarkable spectacle as they moved along through those remote scenes. There was a romantic wildness about their situation, a silent grandeur in their environment, independently of the mere picture formed by their own procession, which at times must have impressed the dullest mind among them"pp. 21-22
"England's First Colony," The Gentleman's magazine, Volume 302, 1907

Obviously, other English colonies followed, and with them the adaptation to their particular environment and conditions.Consider nearby Maryland:
"Beside the planters and the farmers, the unsettled state of the border gave rise to another class of colonists, men to whom a life devoted to hunting and adventure proved more attractive than one engaged in the regular industry of agriculture. These were the frontier rangers. The rangers were maintained as a sort of constabulary. They constituted the warders of the border, and acted as scouts to watch for and report the approach of hostile Indians, to maintain the boundaries claimed by the Proprietary, and incidentally, to take up runaway servants and stray cattle. The mode of life which this occupation involved had its fascinations, and there naturally developed a class of backwoodsmen,—men who lived by the rifle, adopted the wild life and even the dress of the Indians,—whom they often surpassed in keenness of vision, unerring marksmanship and knowledge of woodcraft,—with the accompanying accomplishments of tracking and tracing quarry, whether it were game or foe. These backwoodsmen when they made their rare visits to Annapolis for the purchase of ammunition or other supplies, clad in their hunting costumes of deer skin, with fringed leggings, with faces browned by exposure, and not infrequently decorated with paint, after the fashion in personal adornment which prevailed among the Indians, had their vanity particularly gratified when, as sometimes occurred, they were themselves mistaken for savages."pp. 196-197
The lords Baltimore and the Maryland palatinate: six lectures on Maryland ..., by Clayton Colman Hall, 1902

Often overlooked in the public telling of the early Ranger story, dominated by New England historians,  were the colonial and frontier Ranger exploits in the southern colonies. For example, Georgia organized the "Troop of Highland Rangers" In 1739, to deter the attack by native tribes but also against a more feared threat of a Spanish incursions from Florida. During King George's War in 1746, changing alliances among Native American tribes led to the raising of forts that special ranging units would patrol between. During King George's War in 1746, changing alliances among Native American tribes led to the raising of forts that special ranging units would patrol between. By the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1755, most colonies had small groups of rangers patrolling their western borders. For instance, the "rangers" scouting for the Augusta County Regiment in the Shenandoah Valley forwarded their reports to young Lieutenant Colonel George Washington, commanding the Virginia regiment protecting the colony. Based upon their information, Washington shifted troops to strengthen the several forts likely threatened by raids. Amidst the French and Indian war, the Cherokee War, in the south, "was the greatest challenge mounted on South Carolina's soil since the Yamassee War of 1716-17....militia initially deployed suffered several defeats, primarily from well executed ambuscades. William Bull II assumed the high executive post and immediately took certain bold steps. He asked for and received legislative support to increase the number, training and supplying of additional ranging companies. He recruited his rangers heavily along the frontier, offering various bonuses, an opportunity for revenge and appeals to patriotism. The men he chose, after proper training and outfitting, proved to be the correct force for the job. As all colonial politicians discovered, urban militia were essentially useless in the deep forests and were not even especially suited for garrison duty in isolated areas. Some British regulars assumed responsibility for garrison duty in some forts. The Amerindians of course had made no real provision for a war of some length by laying in food and supplies. The provincial rangers simply ground them down in a series of small clashes, none of which was especially noteworthy; and by destroying their homes and crops and dispersing their families." - Whisker, Vol 5. And yet, in the south, as Whisker advises "..there was essentially no rivalry in conquest from any other European power the way the northern colonies suffered from the rivalry between the French and the English for supremacy in North America. Occasionally, Georgia experienced incursions from the Spanish; and in the Seven Years' War the French presented a very few minor problems in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. In that war Virginia, Maryland and to a far lesser degree, the Carolinas, did supply troops to fight against the French in western Pennsylvania. - Whisker, Vol 5." In "Quaker" Pennsylvania, no longer peaceful by 1755, "Governor Morris had used the two devices available to him after the king vetoed ill-fated militia act. First, Morris used the Supply Act of 27 November 1755. This law provided money to pay regular troops and to build frontier forts. The fund was administered by seven commissioners, two appointed by the governor and five by the legislature.(247) The governor's plan was to pay volunteer ranging companies, pointing out that these were more acceptable than the deployment of British or other "regular" troops. Morris raised 500 rangers at Shamokin alone. He created other ranging units in and for other frontier counties. These units, like those raised a year earlier under the authority of Penn's charter, did not disband with the expiration of the Militia Act.- Whisker, Vol 3. The Pennsylvania Colonial Militia." But it was even further north in the major campaigns against the French and Canada, that the ranger concept earned its earliest and widest fame (and as legends go it did not hurt that then, as now, the Boston-New York axis, was the "media center of the" colonies.) Though not the first Ranger, even in New England, Robert Rogers became perhaps the best and, for certain, most acclaimed. In 1756 this woodsman (and accused counterfeiter) from New Hampshire, Robert Rogers, created and eventually took command of four companies, thereby creating the famous "Roger's Rangers". Roger's Rangers performed many long-range surveillance and attack missions; missions that very few units were capable of then; particularly in the rough terrain of the Americas.

August 1971 Volume 22, Issue 5


James McPherson: Ranger and Rancher on the Southern Colonial Frontier


"Robert Rogers is a type that appears in every war: the restless, unsuccessful civilian who finds himself within the military discipline and emerges as a heroic leader, only to lapse into a drifting semi-failure again when peace is restored. Rough-cut or refined, he is a type that seems permanently maladjusted to normal civilian pursuits such as routine employment; family responsibility, financial solvency, civic duty, etc. Yet in a local disaster or a national war he reveals unsuspected clearheadedness, daring; endurance, and devotion, although these traits may be accompanied by a monumental impatience with paper reporting, formal regulations, or the ideas of others, as though they were a troublesome intrusion from the work-a-day world he had joyously abandoned. But for the French and Indian War, Robert Rogers might have remained an obscure, uneducated frontiersman of New Hamshire, chained to some stony acres and known locally only for his instability and athletic prowess. Warfare, however, brought out his particular genius; it provided him with his opportunity for fame and a military reputation he richly deserved. Rogers was born on November 18, 1731, in northeastern Massachusetts to Scotch parents from northern Ireland. When he was eight his family took up land in the isolated Great Meadow across the Merrimack River in southern New Hampshire. He was at an impressionable age when the opening of King George's War, 1744, unleashed hostile Indians from the St Lawrence on the English settlements. The Rogers family fled into the town of Rumford. In 1746 young Robert served with the militia but met no enemy. In 1752 Robert acquired a small farm of his own but put a tenant on it and joined a surveyor's party laying out a road to the Connecticut River. He became adept in woodcraft and Indian lore. Standing six feet in height - a very tall man for those times-well muscled and excelling in all feats of strength, he was remarkably able to take care of himself in the wilderness. Outbreak of the French and Indian war brought a call from New Hampshire early in 1755 for volunteers to drive the French from Grown Point The unemployed Rogers recruited more than fifty men and was made a captain; John Stark was his lieutenant At age 23 he was on his way. His Journals, herewith reprinted, relate his campaigns, scouting expeditions, and astonishing services to the English forces. The book opens in September 1755 when he was at Lake George and runs through January 1761, after he had received the surrender of Detroit to Great Britain. It includes several pieces of correspondence. Undoubtedly the high point of interest is his raid on the Indian village of St Francis and his harrowing flight Rogers' distinctive contribution to military tactics was his organization of a corps of skirmishers, scouts, and woodsmen called Rangers. The inadequacy of British regiments for wilderness fighting was obvious to all but the most bullheaded British officers, and Rogers' created a striking force and intelligence eye that General Amherst was quick to recognize as invaluable in this theater of war. Aristocrat though he was, Amherst admired the intrepid major and upheld him against the jealousies of lesser officers who were too painfully conscious of being "gentlemen." Rogers was intelligent enough not only to lead his Rangers with incredible success on dangerous missions, but to write a manual for their training, included in the Journals. If the British military mind had allowed regulars to be exercised in Ranger tactics, they might easily have crushed the American Revolution later; instead the Americans absorbed the lessons of Rogers' experience and fielded an army that perplexed the orthodox British. Relaxation of the pressures of war was postponed for awhile by detachment of Rogers to South Carolina to face a Cherokee uprising in 1761, and then to relieve Detroit in 1763 from Pontiac's siege. Meanwhile, as an undoubted hero known on two continents, he had married a minister's daughter back in New Hampshire. After the treaty of peace he found himself in debt from old unsettled accounts and without rank in the regular army. He decided in 1765 to go to London "to get what ever may offer." While there he wrote-certainly assisted by a secretary, a Princeton graduate, whom he had taken along-and published two books. First to appear was the Journals. It was well received but was not as popular as his Concise Account of North America, because it told the English about the rich interior country now opened to them. Today judgment is reversed, and the Journals is considered the more valuable reference. Both books were designed to obtain some Crown appointment for Rogers in the West, and they succeeded. He was named commandant of Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Michigan), superintendent of neighboring Indians, and it was suggested to General Thomas Gage that he be commissioned a captain in the 60th Regiment. The remote post and an administrative position proved his undoing. Hamstrung by restrictions from his suspicious superiors, beset by quarreling subordinates, extravagant in gifts to the Indians, injudicious in licensing traders, disappointed in a search for the northwest passage, never commissioned as a captain, and falling out with his secretary, Rogers found himself suddenly arrested in December 1767 for treason! The vague case collapsed when he was tried in Montreal, but Rogers' reputation was ruined and he was heavily in debt. He tried England again in 1769 to get his garbled accounts settled. Obtaining part of his money, he was forced to turn it over to creditors. One petition followed another: to recover property losses, to get his army commission, to head a new colonial government in the West; to lead an expedition, to obtain a grant of land. Failing and floundering, he was thrown into debtors prison in 1772. He tried to sue General Gage in 1774 as the author of all his troubles. A new bankruptcy law opened the prison door for him and he finally secured his retired pay as a major. In 1775 he sailed for home and his neglected family. The Revolution was on, and as a pensioned British officer Rogers was suspect. He made a secret application to Congress for a commission, but was rejected and even thought to be a spy. His wife cast him out He then fled to the British lines and was commissioned a lieutenant colonel to raise a battalion, known as the Queen's Rangers. His name still earned magic. After some little military success, he was nevertheless replaced in 1777 by a regular officer, at the insistence of other regular officers. He continued to recruit Tories for military service, but by 1779 was drinking heavily. In 1782 he returned to England and soon was back in debtor's prison intermittently, his pension frequently assigned to creditors. He died in miserable exile on May 18, 1795. In the new republic Rogers was forgotten until Francis Parkman retold the exploits of Rogers' Rangers in his popular Montcdm and Wolfe, 1884. He was written about for boys. In 1935 he was given generous space in the Dictionary of American Biography. Kenneth Roberts made him the hero of a historical novel, Northwest Passage, 1937. The definitive biography is by John R. Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, 1959. Meanwhile, collectors had sought copies of his works and made them recognized as rare books. Because it is an authentic narrative of personal experience, the Journals is a valued and respected source for the French and Indian War. - by HOWARD H. PECKHAM William L. Clements Library The University of Michigan - Read the book (select Flip book) at JOURNALS OF Major ROBERT ROGERS

Titles are links to sites or documents:
Birth of a Fighting Force
SuaSponte.COM Ranger History
Ranger History
Rangers-Lock's History
British Ranger and Rifle Units
Rogers Rangers
Rogers Rangers
Battle on Snowshoes
Battle on Snowshoes Documentary
Rangers-A True Ranger-Zaboly
Rogers Rangers - Wargaming & Music downloads
The Corps of Light Infantry 1758 in the French & Indian War
See also Silcox, James H. Jr. "Rogers and Bouquet: The Origins of American Light Infantry." Military Review 1985 65 (12)62-74.
Rangers as a major influence for Light Infantry Light Infantry

Rogers' Rangers - To Range the Woods - The Noncommissioned officer Images of the Army in Action
French and Indian War Rangers- An album by Thomsomfeld

(some very "familiar" images collected here on photobucket)

A personal sketchbook for those interested in the Ranger, Woodsman/Longhunter and Riflemen of the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars.

Ranger Riflemen Sketchbook


A Forgotten "True Ranger" of American Military History - James Smith

Although made famous for a time by a book (First Rebel 1937), a Time Magazine article, which called him "one of the most dramatic minor figures ever neglected by U. S. historians," and a major motion picture, Allegheny Uprising starring John Wayne, the legend of James Smith as a "Ranger" has been neglected and forgotten by US Ranger historians. Born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, in 1737, he was captured by the Indians when he was eighteen years of age, and adopted into one of their tribes, but escaped in 1759, was a leader of the "black boys" in 1763-'5, and a lieutenant in General Henry Bouquet's expedition against the Ohio Indians in 1764. He was one of an exploring party into Kentucky in 1766, settled in Westmoreland county in 1768, and during Lord Dunmore's war was captain of a ranging company, and in 1775 major of the Associated battalion of Westmoreland county. He served in the Pennsylvania convention in 1776, and in the assembly in 1776-'7. In the latter year he commanded a scouting party in the Jerseys, and in 1777 was commissioned colonel in command on the frontiers, doing good service in frustrating the marauds of the Indians. He settled in Cane Ridge, near Paris, Kentucky, in 1788, was a member of the Danville convention, and represented Bourbon county for many years in the legislature. He published two tracts entitled " Shakerism Developed" and "Shakerism Detected," "Remarkable Adventures in the Life and Travels of Colonel James Smith" (Lexington, 1799; edited by William M. Darlington, and republished, Cincinnati, 1870), and "A Treatise on the Mode and Manner of Indian War" (Paris, Kentucky, 1804). -
His respect for the Indians and understanding of their tactics - which formed the essentials of Ranging tactics - was second to none and was documented clearly and concisely in “On Their Discipline and Method of War in An Account of the Remarkable Occurrences in the Life and Travels of Colonel James Smith, Now a Citizen of Bourbon Country, Kentucky, During His Captivity with the Indians in the Years 1755, 1756, 1757, 1758, 1759.” In A Selection of Some of the Most Interesting Narratives of Outrages Committed by the Indians in Their Wars with the White People, edited by Archibald Loudon. (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Wennawoods Publishing, 1996.)
Consider these passages:
"...I was called upon to command four hundred riflemen, on a expedition against the Indian forces in French Creek. It was sometime in November before I received orders from General M'Intosh, to march...We marched in three columns, forty rod from each other. There were also flankers on the outside of each column, that marched a-breast in the rear, in scattered order - and even in the columns, the men were one rod apart - and in the front, the volunteers marched a-breast, in the same manner of the flankers, scouring the woods. In case of attack the officers were immediately to order the men to face out and take trees - in this position the Indians could not avail themselves by surrounding us, or have an opportunity of shooting a man from either side of the tree. If attacked, the center column was to reinforce whatever point appeared to require it the most. When we encamped, our encampment formed a hollow square, including about thirty or forty acres - on the outside of the square there were centinels placed whose business it was to watch for the enemy, and see that neither horses or bullocks went out. And when encamped, if attacks were made by an enemy, each officer was immediately to order the men to face out and take trees, as before mentioned, and in this form they could not take the advantage by surrounding us, as they commonly had done when they fought the whites.....
On (The Indians') Discipline and Method Of War
I have often heard the British officers call the Indians the undisciplined savages, which is a capital mistake - as they have all the essentials of discipline. They are under good command, and punctual in obeying orders: they can act in concert, and when their officers lay a plan and give orders, they will cheerfully unite in putting all their directions into immediate execution; and by each man observing the motion or movement of his right hand companion, they can communicate the motion from right to left, and march abreast in concert, and in scatterred order, though the line may be more than a mile long, and continue, if occasion requires, for a considerable distance, without disorder or confusion. They can perform various necessary manoeuvers, either slowly, or as fast as they can run: they can form a circle, or semi-circle: the circle they make use of, in order to surround their enemy, and the semi-circle if the enemy has a river on one side of them. They can also form a large hollow square, face out and take trees: this they do; if their enemies are about surrounding them, to prevent from being shot from either side of the trees. When they go into battle they are not loaded or encumbered with many clothes, as they commonly fight naked, save only breechclout, leggins and mockesons. There is no such thing as corporeal punishment used, in order to bring them under such good discipline: degrading is the only chastisement, and they are unanimous in this, that it effectually answers the purpose. Their officers plan, order and conduct matters until they are bought into action, and then each man is to fight as though he was to gain the battle himself. General orders are commonly given in time of battle, either to advance or retreat, and is done by a shout or yell, which is well understood, and then they retreat or advance in concert. They are genarally well equipped, and exceeding expert and active in the use of arms....Why have we not made greater proficiency in the Indian art of war? Is it because we are too proud to imitate them, even though it should be a means of preserving the lives of many our citizens? No! We are not above borrowing language from them, such as homony, pone, tomahawk, & c. which is little or no use to us. I apprehend that the reasons why we have not improved more in this respect, are as follows; no important acquisition is to be obtained but by attention and diligence; and as it is easier to learn to move and act in concert, in close order, in the woods; so it is easier to learn our discipline, than the Indian manoeuvers. They train up their boys to the art of war from the time they are twelve and fourteen years of age; whereas the principal chance our people had of learning, was by observing their movements when in action against us. I have long been astonished that no one has wrote upon this important subject, as their art of war would not only be of use to us in case of rupture with them; but were only part of our men taught this art, accompanied with our continental discipline, I think no European power, after trial, would venture to shew its head in the American woods....."- Thomas Froncek "Voices from the Wilderness," McGraw Hill, 1974. pp.16-19

"In July 1759 after five years with his Indian captives, he walked away from his hunting party, boarded a French ship at Montreal that had English prisoners on board returning to the colonies to be exchanged. But, ironically all were sent to prison in Montreal so he remained there for four months. Finally, he and the prisoners were sent to Crown Point a fort and English trading post near Lake Champlain New York. (Did he meet Rogers or observe Rogers' Rangers?) He traveled on foot for almost a year returning early in 1760 to his home between Mercersburg and Fort Loudon. He learned that his sweetheart had married a few days before he arrived. He stated it was impossible for him to describe his emotions upon learning of this news. His family received him with great joy, but were surprised at how much he looked and acted like an Indian. He settled in his old home and became a farmer. In May 1763, he married Anne Wilson. They had seven children. Indian war parties once again continued raiding the whole Conococheague Valley, now Franklin County, driving out and killing hundreds of settlers. These settlers were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. Pennsylvania was Quaker government at the time and wanted to maintain a pacifist role. So, the local settlers hired James Smith as captain of a company of rangers. As he chose the men to become "Smith's Rangers" he dressed them in the Indian manner, with breechclouts, mocassins, and green shrouds. In place of hats, they wore red hankerchiefs tied around their heads. Painted their faces red and black like Indian warriors. He taught them how to look like and Indian, dress like an Indian, and fight like an Indian. Believing strongly that the British were allowing unscrupulous traders to supply the Indians with weapons, ammunition, etc. Smiths' Rangers way laid these pack trains and burned their supplies. (81 horse loads, 63 were destroyed) Three hundred men strong, Smiths' Rangers marched to Fort Loudon where the traders had fled. They continued firing upon the fort. Lt. Charles Grant of the 42nd Highland regiment commanded Fort Loudon. Lt. Grant had confiscated many weapons from the county people. Smiths' Rangers fired on the fort for two days and nights, so closely that no one was permitted to go in or out. Firing was kept up on all corners of the fort, so that the sentries could not stand upright on the bastions . No one was hurt. Finally, November 11, 1765, Lt. Grant surrendered the guns to Wm. McDowell and vacated the fort with his troops. The British flag came down and the "First Rebel", James Smith and his Rangers proclaimed victory. James Smith truly believed in his cause of protecting the settlers. Smiths' Rangers patrolled the area for several months. When Sir William Johnson proclaimed peace with the Indians, the traders were once again allowed to pass unharmed. James Smith went on to explore the county west of the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee. He had earned the rank of Colonel in the Revolutionary War. He moved to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania and settled on a farm on Jacob's Creek. Here his beloved wife died. He returned to Kentucky in 1785 looking after some land claims and married Margret Rodgers Irvine, a widow with five children. Col. James Smith was a man of very quiet character, a reader and a thinker, much given to religious reading and meditation. He was able to keep a journal during his captivity which was unusual. When he put his story into book form his notes were a great asset, for most captivity narratives that were written years later from memory. Apparently Smith continued to keep journals all his life. Some may still survive and would be of rare historical values. He spent his later years in Washington County, Kentucky, where he died in 1812." - The James Smith Story by Anna Rotz, with historical reference from The First Rebel, Swanson, N., Farrar & Rinehart, 1937. Portrait: Charles J. Stoner - 

The 1937 Time magaizine review of "THE FIRST REBEL" by Neil H. Swanson, Farrar and Rinehart, related how 74 year old Smith "the old Indian fighter stormed because he was not allowed to enlist in the War of 1812. Finally he set off alone to join the army at Detroit, turned back only when news of the Americans' easy surrender there convinced him that the army did not amount to much any more." - Pennsylvania's Black Boys, Time, Monday, Jul. 26, 1937,9171,758045,00.html


Rangers in the American Revolution

"the finest regiment in the world"
The history of the Rangers also continues in the American Revolution when the Continental Congress created a "Corps of Rangers," who were to be "sharpshooters." Variously known as the "Ranger Corps," "Partisan Corps," or "Rifle Corps," but more overtime commonly called Morgan's Riflemen, this unit compiled a spectacular record scarcely excelled by any regiment in the Continental Army. Morgan's rifleman/rangers were a group of hand-picked "sharpshooters." They were regarded by Washington as "chosen men, selected from the army at large, well acquainted with the use of rifles, and with that mode of fighting which is necessary to make them a good counterpoise to the Indian." (Quotation from Battles of the American Revolution by Curt Johnson)....In 1775, the Continental Congress called into service ten companies of riflemen to be raised in the States of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Continual reorganization reshuffled these units, but the Pennsylvania contingent effectively comprised the 1st Continental Regiment of the United States Army. Later, under the command of Daniel Morgan, riflemen volunteered for the epic march which failed in its attempt to capture Quebec, despite the courageous attempts by Morgan to take the city. Upon exchange Morgan was soon asked by General Washington to form a special Corps of select riflemen. Morgan scoured the army and selected 500 of the best marksmen for his corps. Later his leadership would place Morgan as one, if not the, most successful field leader of the American Revolution - but definately the least remembered. "In the bloody battle of Freeman's Farm, 19 September, in which Arnold frustrated Burgoyne's attempt to dislodge the American left wing from Bemis Heights, Morgan played a principal part; and in the final conflict of 7 October, in which the British army was wrecked, his services were equally eminent. It is said that when Burgoyne was introduced to Morgan, after the surrender at Saratoga, he seized him by the hand and exclaimed, "My dear sir, you command the finest regiment in the world." - In the great work of overthrowing Burgoyne, the highest credit is due to Morgan, along with Arnold, Herkimer, and Stark. History has not been kind to the "Old Wagoner" or to the men that served under him in the siege of Boston, in the assault on Quebec, the destruction of Burgoyne's army at Saratoga, and his devastating defeat of Banester Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpen's."

An interesting note to the Ranger and Rifle unit connection comes in the person of Morgan's illegitimate son, Willoughby Morgan, born about 1780-81 (while Morgan campaigned in the Carolinas),who served as an officer in the post War of 1812 Rifle Regiment. - see Donald Higginbotham's "Daniel Morgan - Revolutionary Rifleman" and website CANTONMENT MISSOURI, 1819-1820 by Sally A. Johnson. Footnote for Lt. Col. Willoughby Morgan - "Morgan, Willoughby, Va. Capt. 12 Inf., 25 Apr, 1812. Maj. 26 June, 1813. Retained 17 May 1815 as Capt. Rifle Reg. with bvt of Maj. from 26 June 1813. Maj 8 Mar 1817. Lt. Col. 10 Nov. 1818. Trans. to 6 Inf. I June 1821. Trans. to 5 Inf. 1 Oct. 1821. Trans. to 3 Inf. 31 Jan. 1829. Col. 1 Inf. 23 Apr 1830. Bvt Col 10 Nov. 1828 for 10 yrs. fai serv. in one grade. Died Apr. 4, 1832." (Hamersley, op. cit., p. 648)." see also - + + More on Daniel Morgan and his contributions to the Ranger-Riflemen legacy base data
-Calahan, North. Daniel Morgan: Ranger of the Revolution. AMS Press, 1961; ISBN 0-404-09017-6
-Graham, James The Life of General Daniel Morgan of the Virginia Line of the Army of the United States: with portions of his correspondence. Zebrowski Historical Publishing, 1859; ISBN 1-880484-06-4 Selected Excerpts on Morgan's "Ranger Corps" or "Rifle Corps" from Graham's "The Life of General Daniel Morgan of the Virginia Line of the Army of the United States:"
-Higginbotham, Don. Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman. University of North Carolina Press, 1961. ISBN 0-8078-1386-9
recent book - Revolutionary Rangers: Daniel Morgan's Riflemen and Their Role on the Northern Frontier, 1778-1783 - Richard B. LaCrosse, Jr.

Other than the regiments and separate companies of riflemen from Pennsylvania and the states to the south, who really functioned as light infantry rather than rangers, the Continental Army only formed two functional ranger units. Knowlton's Rangers, a provisional three-company unit of volunteers from Connecticut and Massachusetts line regiments under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton, came into being during the late summer of 1776 at New York City. It performed excellently in a light infantry role at the battle of Harlem Heights on 16 September 1776, but Knowlton suffered a mortal wound. Two months later the remnants of the corps fell into British hands when Fort Washington surrendered. Captain Nathan Hale of this corps gained immortality as a brave but singularly inept spy. Whitcomb's Rangers started as a similar provisional unit on the Lake Champlain front in 1776. It gained permanent status as a two-company force on 15 October of that year and provided reconnaissance capability to the Northern Department until 1 January 1781 when it disbanded at Coos, New Hampshire, as part of a general reorganization of the Continental Army. Most of Whitcomb's men came from New Hampshire and the Hampshire Grants (now Vermont). Other units in the Continental Army either used the term ranger in their designation or were commonly called rangers, but did not serve in that capacity in the traditional sense.from CMH-RANGERS IN COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY AMERICA


Rangers on the Frontier

Most "traditional" ranger histories pay lip service - one or two sentences - to the Rangers of the War of 1812 period and the US Mounterd Ranger Battalion of 1832 and sometimes not even that (probably in their rush to get to Confederate Mosby!). They read like this: "During the War of 1812, Congress called for the Rangers to serve on the frontier. The December 28, 1813, Army Register lists officers for 12 companies of Rangers." Another source adds a little more length, but also erroneous/incomplete information: "Several independent companies of United States Rangers were raised from among the frontier settlers as part of the regular army. Throughout the war, they patrolled the frontier from Ohio to Western Illinois on horseback and by boat. They participated in many skirmishes and battles with the British and their Indian allies. Several companies were also raised by frontier states (in the present Midwest)- sua"

The Nafziger Collection - American Army 1781-1811 documents an even earlier attempted ranger regiment formaulation by Secretary of War Henry Knox during the so-called "quasi-war" with France and perceived imminent general war during the Adam's administration
790UXXA: Rangers Formed to Defend the Western US Frontier, 1790 - 1 pg
791UXXA: Organization of US Ranger Regiment Raised in 1791 - 1 pg

A search at American State Papers on the 1791 "lead" yielded:

American State Papers: Indian Affairs Volume Four Part One, pp. 101-103, p. 107, p.111, p. 113

these next images are originally from the graphic intensive (bandwidth limited viewing) US Army 1789-1820 documents

open link in new tab to read or download

It is clear from a study of the above documents that much consideration and planning was given to the use of federally organized Rangers in the protection of the western frontier in the post-Revolution period. The protection of which would obviously increase in significance as the native Americans, urged on by their English suppliers, sought to fight for their ever-dwindling hunting grounds in the Old Northwest - one of the major contributing factors to the war of 1812. The majority in Congress were represented by those who chose to either ignore, dismiss (i.e. the Indians as a long-term viable threat) or, proclaiming the evils and costliness of a "large" standing army, proposed to meet with what they retorted was a more cost effective and sufficiently proficient force - their time honored, ultimately invincible, militia and volunteers!


Rangers in the War of 1812

Years ago, from Bryan Phillip's highly detailed SpecOps chronology at
now absent from the web (thus not linked), I saw this curious listing:
3.2. Col. Russell's 17th U.S. Regiment of Rangers.
Upon further available book research, I annotated the following: "By the end of War of 1812 period, the Regular army of the United States had a maximum strength of two regiments of dragoons, a regiment of mounted rangers, sixty battalions of line infantry, six battalions of light infantry, three battalions of Rangers, five battalions of rifles (formed into the 1st-34th, 36th -44th Infantry regiments, *35th Infantry {ranger} regiment, 45th - 48th Infantry {light} regiments, and 1st - 4th Rifle regiments), twelve battalions of the corps of artillery, each of four companies, and a ten-company regiment of light (horse) artillery.- Katcher and various" so I revised Phillip's table as shown:

United States Army Rangers - War of 1812
1812-1815 - Separate companies of Rangers (12 companies)
1812-1815 - Regiment of Mounted Rangers (10 companies)- 17th U.S. Regiment of Rangers
1812-1815 - 35th Infantry Regiment - *alleged Ranger capability
A normal regiment of the day was 10 companies. So the above list tantalizingly breaks out to, more or less, 32* companies of US Rangers or slightly more than THREE FULL REGIMENTS OF RANGERS (two purportedly organized as such by name) or TWO plus REGIMENTS of today's RANGERS. Given that units throughout the war were manned somewhere between 1/3rd and 2/3rds full** - that still probably leaves it as the most sizeable force of RANGERS ever planned for at one time!*** *WWII = 6 companies x 6 Battalions = 36 Companies - Today's Ranger Regiment = 4 Ranger Companies x 3 Battalions - 12 companies Regiment today) **WWII Ranger companies averaged 65 men. As early as 1811 and at least by 1813 the "western" states and territories (Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri etc.) had each called into service companies of mounted rangers each consisting of about one hundred (100) men.
***the Ranger Force's 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions ceased to exist after Cisterna in January 1944, the 4th Battalion was subsequently deactivated and merged into the 1st Special Service Force. The 2nd, 5th, and 6th fought through to VE/VJ day.

Obviously, the mult-regiment, and even companies, conclusion was faulty for a number of reasons revealed through further exploration aided by the ever expanding web. But first I will discuss what was and is generally available:
Most "traditional" ranger histories pay lip service - one or two sentences - to the Rangers of the War of 1812 period and the US Mounterd Ranger Battalion of 1832 and sometimes not even that (probably in their rush to get to Confederate Mosby!). It reads like this:
"During the War of 1812, Congress called for the Rangers to serve on the frontier. The December 28, 1813, Army Register lists officers for 12 companies of Rangers."
Another source added a little more length, but also erroneous/incomplete information: "Several independent companies of United States Rangers were raised from among the frontier settlers as part of the regular army. Throughout the war, they patrolled the frontier from Ohio to Western Illinois on horseback and by boat. They participated in many skirmishes and battles with the British and their Indian allies. Several companies were also raised by frontier states (in the present Midwest)- sua"
Gilpin in "The War of 1812 in the Old Northwest" gives Rangers 2 brief comments - on page 34 he notes that 5 companies were raised of the 6 that were called for by Congress in January 1812. Elting in "Amateurs to Arms", sites the same 6 company call-up. Katcher in Osprey MAA The American War 1812-1814 fails to mention them..and Kochan in the follow up MAA 345 The United States Army 1812-1815 cites the 6 company formation (foot and mounted) and the 25 February 1813 call for 10 more Ranger companies. (Neither mentions the 35th and it is absent from the table on page 16 in Kochan.)
Philip Katcher's "Armies of the American Wars 1755-1815" mentions the President call-up of 17 ranger companies on p.115.
The official Army history does not even mention the rangers as a significant force despite its 10 company equivalent of a regiment: "Early in 1814 four more infantry regiments and three more regiments of riflemen were constituted. Finally, therefore, forty-eight infantry regiments, numbered from the 1st to the 48th, came into being, plus four rifle regiments, the 1st through the 4th. This was the greatest number of infantry units included in the Regular Army until the world wars of the twentieth century. (my underline)" - Army Lineage Series Infantry Pt I - Note the distinction "Regular Army" and again absence of Ranger mention.
The best summary is provided by John K Mahon in his 1991 book "The War of 1812": 
"Early in 1812 seven companies of mounted United States had been constituted to help the territories defend themselves. Two were to be raised in Ohio, the rest in Kentucky and in the Indiana and Illinois territories. In February 1813 ten more companies were authorized: four to be recruited in Indiana, three in Illinois, and three in Missouri. Since there was considerable patronage in raising in raising and officering these companies, they were a boon to the areas assigned to recruit them. Even so, the last ten companies were never fully manned.17
It was expected that the territorial governors would build blockhouses at key points and use the Rangers to scour between them across the important lines of access leading from the Great Lakes into the Mississippi Valley. When large numbers were needed, the Rangers could alert the local militias. In practice, the companies operated separately, and Colonel William Russell, who had theoretical command over all of them, was skeptical of their ability to protect 500 miles of wilderness. On one rare occasion, Russell drew six companies together and traversed Indiana Territory diagonally from the northeast for a distance of 500 miles. In spite of the Rangers, the Indians gained control of the land as far as the Illinois River. Governor Ninian Edwards of Illinois Territory personally personally supervised the defense of the territory. With difficulty he arranged for a garrison to hold Fort Edwards at the mouth of the Des Moines River. When he failed to make contact with Hopkins' expedition, he gathered together 360 men, mostly United States Rangers and a detachment of Illinois riflemen, and with them he destroyed the Indian town at the head of Lake Peoria. He was proud of this march and was nettled when credit for it fell mostly to Colonel Russell. The Territorial legislature assured the President that the credit belonged to Edwards and used the opportunity to ask for added help against "inhuman and ferocious enemies." It suggested extermination. Edwards' goal was to build a line of forts, and by mid-March 1813 he had brought seventeen of them nearly to completion. One stood on each of the Rock, Wisconsin, and Illinois rivers to interdict the canoe routes from Lake Michigan. His plan was to keep armed boats at the mouths of these rivers too. General Hopkins, meanwhile, brooded over his previous failure and made plans to try again. He assembled three regiments of militia infantry from Kentucky, Zachary Taylor's company of regulars, a company of Rangers, and some scouts, for a total of 1200 men, and led them out of Fort Harrison on 11 November 1812. This time he destroyed the forty without a fight and wiped out a Kickapoo. village of 160 huts. His men cut down all the growing corn they came upon. Detachments now split off for pursuit. One fell into an ambush and lost eighteen men. The rest returned intact, and Hopkins was proud to lead them back through the snow to Fort Harrison, confident that he had permanently crippled the Indians in that quarter. All the while General Harrison gave his own attention to mounting a campaign against the British."
The War of 1812 By John K. Mahon, 1991

Note that Mahon's summary only covered the Rangers in 1812.

War of 1812 histories are woefully inadequate when it comes to a study of Army organization, so it is no wonder that Rangers are scarcely mentioned, let alone treated in depth. One must turn to National Archives, Registers, and Congressional documents to piece together a composit picture: At NARA we find "..Congress authorized the President to increase the size of the Regular Military Establishment, to accept and organize volunteers, to raise units of Rangers (as US Volunteers) and Sea Fencibles, and to create a Flotilla Service. The Ranger units were raised for the protection of the frontier along the Mississippi River and adjacent States. The Sea Fencibles was the first organization of the U. S. Army charged exclusively with coastal defense. With the Flotilla Service, the Sea Fencibles protected ports, habors and the coast. Many of the War of 1812 volunteer units were mustered into service for short periods (30, 60, 90, and 120 days, and 6, 9 and 12 months.) Consequently, many people served more than one enlistment. There may be two or more records for the same soldier." - War of 1812 Military Records at the National Archives

In searching Congressional "Military" documents at the American State Papers 1789 to 1838, I found several pieces of "ranger" information and posted them to my website as War of 1812 - US Army Infantry, Rangers and Riflemen


alternate search methods and  "Ranger" results:

-Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 12th Congress, 2nd Session, Pages 145 through 146, Mounted Troops
November 10, 1812  

View pages 145 and 146

-Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 12th Congress, 2nd Session, Pages 647 through 648, Mounted Rangers 
View pages 647 and 648
January 8, 1813 

--Note: Erroneous Citation in Annals of Congress: Index --HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Mounted Rangers, on motion of Mr. Jennings, the Military Committee were instructed to inquire
into the expediency of raising, for the protection of Indiana Territory ... 195
  = should be page 647-648

Rangers, a bill to authorize the President to raise ten additional companies of, read three times, by consent, and passed ... 1056

Search Descriptive Information

House Journal --INDEX TO VOL. IX.
Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1813-1815

Browse House Journal
continuing act for raising certain companies of rangers ... 31, 44, 231, 232, 614
(See bills H. R. No. 26, 245)
explanatory of act raising 10 companies of rangers ... 121, 129, 297
(See bills H. R. No. 54, 120)
amend act to raise additional military force ... 45, 55
(See bills H. R. No. 28 and S. No. 11)
further provision for filling the ranks and to encourage the re enlistment
of soldiers ... 175, 206
(See bills H. R. No. 77)
further provision for filling the ranks of the ... 497, 526
(See bills H. R. No. 205 and S. No. 61)
proposition to class population and draft for filling the ranks ... 571
authorize the raising a corps of sea fencibles ... 55
(See bills S. No. 10)
raise three additional regiments of riflemen ... 206
(See bills H. R. No. 78)

12th, 1811-13 

12th Congress--November 4, 1811 to March 3, 1813
Henry Clay, of Kentucky, Speaker

First Session: November 4, 1811 to July 6, 1812 (245 days, held in Washington)
Second Session: November 2, 1812 to March 3, 1813 (122 days, held in Washington)
13th, 1813-15

13th Congress--May 24, 1813 to March 3, 1815
Henry Clay, of Kentucky, Speaker
Langdon Cheves, of South Carolina, Speaker1

First Session: May 24, 1813 to August 2, 1813 (71 days, held in Washington)
Second Session: December 6, 1813 to April 18, 1814 (134 days, held in Washington)
Third Session: September 19, 1814 to March 3, 1815 (166 days, held in Washington)


Browse the Annals
House - 2nd Session -- November 2, 1812 to March 3, 1813
Senate - 2nd Session -- November 2, 1812 to March 3, 1813
Rangers, an act to raise ten additional companies of ... 1334


Rangers, to continue in force an act to raise ten additional companies of 1 r. 436, 2 r. 437, 439, 3 r. and p. 439, ex. and s. 444, pr. 445, ap. 446.

Browse the Annals

House - 2nd Session -- February 16, 1814 to April 18, 1814
 Corps of Rangers, an act to continue in force, for a limited time, certain acts authorizing ... 2723
note first continuance approval date was July 24, 1813

December 23, 1814 
Bills and Resolutions, House of Representatives, 13th Congress, 3rd Session Bill 39 of 90


American State Papers, Senate, 12th Congress, 1st Session

Report of the Secretary of War on the number and equipments of the military force of the U. States in 1812, ... 319

American State Papers, Senate, 13th Congress, 2nd Session - Military Affairs: Volume 1 
American State Papers, House of Representatives, 13th Congress, 3rd Session
Military Affairs: Volume 1  
1814-Regimental Recruiting - composite - pp512-513

1814- Rangers - NWstrength - p535
Report of the Secretary of War, with an army register for 1815, ... 625

Alternate viewing source:

American State Papers: Documents, legislative and executive of the Congress of the United States ..., Part 5, Volume 1 (Google eBook), United States. Congress, Gales and Seaton, 1832 

Report of the Secretary of War on the number and equipments of the military force of the U. States in 1812, ... 319 
Register rules and regulations of the army for 1813 December 29 1813   384 

Documents showing the amount disbursed as bounties and premiums for recruits since January 27 1814 and the distribution of the same October 27 1814      511  - 512-513 table
Report of the strength and distribution of the army previous to July 1, 1814     535

Obviously, organizational schemes and numbers alone, do not tell us enough about this early Ranger "force" (all three Ranger organizations listed above). With some targeted cluster searching on Vivismo, and online book searches at Google books, as well as some leads from unexpected sources, a more complete picture can be set forth:

US Regiment of Mounted Rangers or 17th United States Regiment
The Search:

I found a posting from Shawn Banks (a re-enactor in Co A, Ranger 17th Illinois Territory): 

"...(my unit) was created by an act of Congress in 1811 to deal with Indian attacks and English encroachment...Ten companies of mounted rangers were dispatched under the command of Col. William Russell. Six of the companies were garrisoned, the rest became roving bands, patrolling the territory. Our research concluded that the companies lasted about three years, disbanding because they had yet to be paid for their services rendered or the equpment & horses they provided....started as a "federal" regiment. By the time they got to the Illinois Territory, discipline had become somewhat lacks. Many had traded cloth pants for buckskin, because of brambles and underbrush. An observer wrote that they were rather rag-tag but that they "all had cocked hats made of wolf hair." Banks(a social studies teacher) later elaborates "The rangers were an idea of President Madison. Ninian Edwards had sent several dispatches to Madison and the Sec. of War, Wm. Eustis about the numerous indian attacks happening throughout southern Illinois territory. Edwards stated in one dispatch "No troops of any kind have yet to arrive in this territory, and I think you may count on hearing of a bloody stroke on us soon. I have been extremely reluctant to send my family away but, unless I hear shortly of more assistance than a few rangers, I shall bury my papers in the ground, send my family off, and stand my ground..." Aug 4, 1812. Madison had created the earlier mentioned 10 companies of rangers, i.e. mounted riflemen. The rangers would be like special forces, operating and patroling independenly of other federal troops. "The men would furnish their own equipment, horses, food and clothing. They would not be dependent on military stores in any way. The pay would be one dollar a day and the men would scout the frontier in Illinois and Indiana until the indian trouble came to a close." (Bonham, 411) They were to be commanded by Col. Wm. Russell of the 7th Regiment out of Kentucky. Russell to a fairly long time to organize and move into the territory. In their first engagements, they took the Indians by surprise, as they were not dressed as regulars, and they acted without commands. Each ranger had specific duties that were coordinated in advance as to not take the time during the battle. Their attack was swift and seemingly, to the indians, disorganized. The tribes became confused and were repelled on several occasions. This type of troop movement was effective however, it was not very reasonable in an accounting sense. You have guys roaming about the frontier, getting paid a dollar a day. They didn't have time clocks or a place to go that was keeping track of all their pay. So, the rangers began to realize that this was not working in their favor and many of the units collapsed."
In response, board moderator Robert Braun provided illuminating research conclusions on the 17th United States Regiment, displayed at the Blackhawk Message Board - 2005: As Braun reveals:

"I also consulted some of my sources. Rene Chartrand only has a brief mention (one paragraph) in his Uniforms and Equipment of United States Forces in the War of 1812. In Frontier Illinois, author James E. Davis did a little better. He devoted a couple of paragraphs to the Ranger unit on pp. 135-6, and mentioned Samuel Whitesides-- future Black Hawk War militia general-- and militia private! Regarding the question of "militia' vs. "Regular," I might venture an assessment:
1. Souces agree that the "Rangers" were raised as the "17th United States Regiment" by an act of Congress, circa 1811. (This unit should not be confused with the 17th Regiment of U. S. Infantry, which served differently than the "Ranger" regiment);
2. They are officered by William Russell, a Revolutionary War officer, war hero, and a Regular Army colonel from Kentucky;
3. Pay was to be drawn from the Federal government;
4. The authorization to recruit and train additional companies came from the Federal government, not the territory-- regardless of Gov. Ninian Edwards' desire for protection in the territory.
While the regiment raised and trained additional companies from the territory, it is clear to me that this authority came from the federal government, with the full cooperation of the Edwards' territorial government. In short-- the 17th Regiment was and remained a Federal "Regular" regiment. It may have had territorial men in its ranks and had the full faith and confidence of Gov. Ninian Edwards, the regiment was beholded to the federal authorities as a Regular Regiment-- however tenuous that authoirity may have been in territorial Illinois... and however "irregularly" the companies of the regiment may have behaved and fought. This situation is VERY similar to the raising of the U. S. Ranger battalion under Colonel Henry Dodge in 1832. While this battalion raised and trained many territorial and state men in its companies (who were armed, equipped and horsed on their "own hook") the authority and pay came from the Federal Government."

A cursory search of "17th United States Regiment" yields a Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, Volume XI Illinois Militia, Rangers & Riflemen 1810-1813 Pg. 8-26
"Although Governor EDWARDS had several times during the years of 1811 and 1812 recommended to the Secretary of War the enlistment of one or more companies of "Rangers," to protect the frontier, and Congress having, in 1811, passed an act authorizing the organization of ten companies of rangers, which were afterward organized as the 17th United States Regiment, under Colonel William RUSSELL, of Kentucky, an Indian fighter of bravery and experience, it does not appear that more than one Company was recruited in the Illinois Territory. DAVIDSON and STUVE say in their History, in reference to this force: "Four companies were allotted to the defense of Illinois, whose respective Captains were Samuel and William B. WHITESIDES, James B. MOORE and Jacob SHORT. Independent Cavalry Companies were also organized for the protection of the remote settlements in the lower Wabash country, of which Willis HARGRAVE, William MCHENRY, Nathaniel JOURNEY, Captain CRAIG, at Shawneetown, and William BOON, on Big Muddy, were respectively commanders, ready, on short notice of Indian outrages, to make pursuit of the deprecator. (D. and S. Hist. Ill., p. 249.) We are, however, of the opinion that there must have been some mistake about the fact alleged of four companies of the 17th Regiment being from Illinois, as, of the Captains mentioned, we have evidence that Samuel WHITESIDES, James B. MOORE and Jacob SHORT were commanding Companies of Militia at the time, in the service of the Governor of the Territory, all belonging to the Regiment which WILLIAM WHITESIDE, as Lieutenant Colonel, was then commanding (the 2nd Regiment Ter. Militia). The organization and size of this command appear from a regimental return, on file in this office, bearing date of September 16, 1812, which was no doubt made out at Camp Russell (note: a mile and a half northwest of the present town of Edwardsville, in Madison county, in honor of the Colonel, the commander of the Regiment of Rangers. (D. and S. Hist., pp. 249-250.), signed by Lieutenant Colonel William WHITESIDE, Commanding, and Elihu MATHER, Adjutant - "War Dept May 14. 1814
your Excellency may have found it necessary to detail the 4th. Regt. and an order is inclosed for Col. Miller to suspend his march, until you may be satisfied that the rangers & regular troops under Colonel Russell and the recruits which are raising in the Territory for the additional army are equal to the protection of that frontier." - Eustis to Harrison

"After the formation of the United States, the first Army Rangers were created by act of Congress in 1811, just before the outbreak of the War of 1812. The organization of 10 Companies of mounted Rangers were under command of Colonel William Russell with 4 of these Companies detailed to patrol and protect the Illinois Territory from the English and Indians." - 17th Reg. of Illinois Territorial Rangers this re-enactor group potrays this unit but does not us the original title the unit was formed under - 17th United States Regiment

"Congress, in 1811, passed an act authorizing the organization of ten companies of rangers which afterward formed a regiment, known as the 17th U. S. Infantry, placed under the command of Col. Wm. Russell of Kentucky, a renowned Indian fighter. Of these companies four were raised in Illinois Territory, those commanded respectively by Captains Samuel Whiteside, Wm. Whiteside, James B. Moore, and Jacob Short.—J. H." - footnote p.338 - "Camp Russell was erected about a mile and a-half northwest of the present town of Edwardsville, and was called for William Russell, who was colonel of a regiment of ten ranging companies." p.405" - The Pioneer History of Illinois (Google book).

"An act of Congress followed, authorizing the enlistment of ten companies of mounted rangers, to be styled the 17th regiment, of which Col. William Russell, of Kentucky, was given command, and over each of which companies a captain was elected by the men. Four of those companies, recruited from Illinois, were assigned to the defense of Illinois, towit: The companies of Capt. William B. Whiteside, Capt. Samuel Whiteside, Capt James B. Moore and Capt. Jacob Short. Four of them were assigned to Indiana and two to Missouri. Over toward the Wabash five companies of mounted rangers were organized, to-wit: The companies of Capt. Willis Hargrave,§ Capt. William McHenry,§ Capt. Nathaniel Journey, Capt. Thomas E. Craig (of Shawneetown) and Capt. William Boone of the Big Muddy. Forts, block houses and stockades were erected over the State wherever settlements were to be found...(p.71)...On the llth day of September, Colonel Russell, who had been ordered, from near Vincennes, promptly left that point with two small companies of United States rangers, commanded by Captains Perry and Modrell* to join Governor Edwards and move up the Illinois to make a demonstration before the hostile Indians (there concentrated) of a character to cower them, which if ineffectual was to be followed by chastisement and destruction of their villages; likewise to recover the property and murderers sought by Captain Levering, to suffer no possible miscarriage. Gen. Samuel Hopkins commander of the Kentucky troops raised for the occasion, some 2,000 in number, was ordered to move up the Wabash to Ft. Harrison, destroy the villages in his coarse near the Wabash; march across the prairies of Illinois by way of the headwaters of the Sangamon and Vermillion rivers; form a junction with Edwards and Russell and together sweep all the villages along the Illinois river. General Hopkins' Kentuckians, undisciplined, and hopelessly insubordinate, after crossing into the Illinois prairies, became reckless and disorderly. It was known among them that the success of the expedition depended entirely on their activity and secrecy. Yet they loitered and shot game along the way and otherwise disobeyed the positive commands of the veteran general and his aids to such a shameful extent that the Indians in all the territory desired to be covered, learned the object of the movement and fled north to safety,just as had been feared when orders for secrecy and haste had been given. The season was rainy and the roads naturally slow; competent guides were lacking and on the fourth day out from Ft Harrison, the army lost its course in the vast prairies and returned disgraced, to the Wabash....The part assigned to Governor Edwards and Colonel Russell, more hazardous, was executed with precision and despatch, though fraught with nothing brilliant. Happily Governor Reynolds, in whose debt the State of Illinois must always remain, was a member of that expedition, as sergeant in the company of William B Whitesides, and has left us the following faithful account of it: " Towards the last of September, 1812, all the forces of the United States rangers and mounted volunteers, to the number of 350, were assembled at Camp Russell and duly organized, preparatory to marching against the Indians, and join the army under General Hopkins. Camp Russell was one mile and a half north of Edwardsville, and then on the frontier. " Colonel Russell commanded the United States rangers; Colonels Stephenson and Charles Rector were in command of the volunteers; Major John Mordock, Colonel — Desha, United States army, and several others (names not recollected) were field officers; Captains William B. Whiteside, James B. Moore, Jacob Short, Samuel Whiteside, Willis Hargrave (William McHenry, Janny and Lieutenant Roakscn, with a small independent company of spies, consisting of 21 men,) commanded companies. " Colonel Jacob Judy was the captain of a small corps of spies, comprising 21 men. (Governor Reynolds was in this company.) The staff of Governor Edwards were Nelson Rector, Lieut. Rober K. McLaughlin, United States army, and Secretary Nathaniel Pope There may have been more, but the writer does not recollect them. " This little army being organized, and with their provisions for or 30 days packed on the horses, they rode (except in a few instance when pack horses were fitted out,) took up the line of march in northwardly direction. Captain Craig, with a small company, was ordered to take charge of a boat, fortified for the occasion, with provision and supplies, anc proceed up the Illinois river to Peoria. "This little army at that time was all the efficient force to protect Illinois. We commenced the march from Camp Russell on the last day of September....I am well aware that we cannot judge of conditions so competently as those present at the time, but from the manner in which Governor Reynolds treated it; the pusillanimous conduct of Hopkins' troops and the assinine and criminal action of Craig, we must, while conceding that to the expedition amid the Indiains, until they recovered breath to do more damage, we must regard with regret the treatment given the villages of the friends of the whites. We will admit that much mischief was hatched in their villages; possibly the Fort Dearborn massacre, of it who shall say an indiscriminate assault should have been made upon friend and foe alike? It was an incident of Indian life and character to find such conditions, and when a raid was contemplated, the highest intelligence should have directed its execution. Finding no reinforcements from Hopkins and Craig and suspecting attack from the exasperated Indians, Governor Edwards turned his face toward Camp Russell, and reached it with his command after 13 days absence. Strange as it may seem, a controversy arose as to who should have the credit of originating the expedition. The question should have been, to whom should we credit the execution of it...(On the latter question Governor Edwards wrote: "I received a letter from Colonel Russell, proposing to me an expedition somewhat similar, and promising to come on before the day I had appointed for marching. He accordingly arrived, with a part of two companies of rangers, consisting of 50 privates and their officers, and tendered me his services, which I gladly accepted by appointing him second in command, well knowing and duly appreciating his great experience in Indian warfare and his merits as a military )....Let it not be understood that the rangers of Missouri were idle while those reports were current and while those plundering raids and murders were multiplying. Though settlements were few and far apart, the great distances were covered by pursuing parties almost constantly. In fact it may be said for the rangers, that all of fighting, vengeance, reprisal, victory which came to the whites, came through the steadfastness of companies of rangers or other detachments and not from any combination of command or concerted expedition. Those rangers were here, there and everywhere, abating not their energies to protect the feeble settlements and by the time the year 1813 came round, with its renewed needs of protection, the rangers went from fort to fort, repairing some, enlarging others, removing families- to safer posts and running down thieves and murderers. " (p.127-144)" - Excerpts from PUBLICATION NO. 9 OF THE ILLINOIS STATE HISTORICAL LIBRARY - TRANSACTIONS OF THE ILLINOIS STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY FOR THE YEAR 1904.
Mahon's 'War of 1812" (above) appears to be the source of Zedric and Dilley's chapter "Russell's and Coffee's Rangers" from their compendium "Elite Warriors: 300 Years of America's Best Fighting Troops": "Five companies of rangers were recruited in the Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky territories and, soon after, two additional companies were raised. In 1813, an additional ten companies of rangers were authorized and raised. These ten included four raised in Indiana, three in Illinois, and three in Missouri. They were authorized in place of a regiment of infantry that had been planned. Rangers provided their own horses, weapons, equipment, and rations. Pay for mounted rangers was one dollar a day, three times the normal pay for soldiers. These ranger companies were identified, over the years that they were active, in a wide variety of ways. Although they were members of the Regular Army, they were usually singled out and referred to as Rangers, United States Rangers, the Regiment of Rangers, and even the Corps of Rangers. By the following year, the 17 ranger companies had been consolidated into 10, with a total force of just under 1100 men. The Federal government expected the various territories and states along the frontier, especially those on the Mississippi River, to build a series of block and forts at strategic points. The mission of the rangers was to patrol the areas around and between these strong points. The ranger companies operated independently rather than as a larger force. As a consequence, lieutenants and captains commanded these companies. A total of 10 captains and 41 lieutenants were on the Army's rolls as ranger officers. The "senior" ranger officer was Captain Andre Piere although Colonel William Russell was theoretically the overall commander of these independent ranger companies. Russell did not believe that it was possible for the companies to guard the entire frontier. He devised a plan to take advantage of the widespread locations of the ranger companies and to convince the Indians along the frontier that a much larger force than actually existed guarded the area. Russell rotated the companies in and out of areas always making certain that the rangers watched the critical lines of communications as much as possible. On more than one occasion rangers conducted long range expeditions into what was considered hostile Indian territory to collect intelligence for the army. The story of rangers during this period is told in mostly small, not very well known battles. These battles were almost all part of the War of 1812. The battles, with one major exception, took place in the old Northwest Territory or Canada. The battles were at: Pimartam's Town, Illinois (on Lake Peoria) in October 1812; at the Mississippi Rapids near Campbell's Island, Illinois in July 1814; at Malcolm's Mill in Canada during November 1814; and, several months after the "final" battle at New Orleans, at Fort Howard, Wisconsin in May 1815. The most significant contribution the rangers made during the war was with Major General Andrew Jackson in the south. Jackson and his rangers were fighting against two enemies, the British and the Creek Indians. According to Army records these were separate campaigns in two different wars. The rangers who supported Jackson were mostly from Tennessee and were commanded by Colonel John Coffee. In his fight against the Creeks, Jackson derived his authority from the Tennessee legislature, which had authorized him $300000 to raise an army and avenge the attack at Fort Mims by the Upper Creek Indians (also called the Red Sticks). Other Creeks fought with Jackson and were called the Lower Creeks or White Sticks. Coffee recruited a force of mounted Tennessee woodsmen and Choctaw Indians to be scouts and guides for Jackson's army. Despite early victories at Tallashatchee and Talladega, Jackson's army slowed down because of the departure of soldiers on short-term enlistment and a high desertion rate. Finally, however, in March 1814, at Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River, Jackson's army met and nearly obliterated a force of 900 Creeks under Red Eagle. Later, from December 1814 to January 1815 at New Orleans, Jackson continued to rely on Coffee's mounted rangers to provide intelligence on British movement to conduct raids. The rangers' equipment, included long knives, tomahawks, long rifles, and was similar to equipment used in earlier periods, such as in Morgan's first company. A favorite tactic of these rangers was to "pick off sentinels" and then slip away quietly. In 1815, the US Army disbanded all regular ranger companies. Several states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, and Louisiana, raised state volunteer and militia companies of rangers to supplement troops of the Regular Army. These rangers continued to conduct patrols, particularly on the northern frontier of the United States, and watched the British and Indians in the area, especially since they each carried on an active fur trade with the other. Elite Warriors: 300 Years of America's Best Fighting Troops By Lance Q. Zedric, Michael F. Dilley, 1996, pp. 71-73.

"Congress in 1811 passed an act for the organization of 10 companies of mounted rangers to protect the frontiers of the West These companies constituted the 17th United States regiment and Colonel William Russel an old Indian lighter of Kentucky was assigned to its command. The companies were generally made up of frontier citizens, who had the additional stimulus in their duties of immediately defending their homes, kindred and neighbors. Each ranger had to furnish his own horse, provisions and equipments all complete, and the recompense from the government was one dollar per day. They appointed their own company officers, and were enlisted for one year. Four companies were allotted to the defence of Illinois, whose respective captains were, Samuel and William P>. Whitesides, James 13. Moore, and Jacob Short. Independent cavalry companies were also organized for the protection of the remote settlements in the lower Wabash country, of which Willis Hargrave, William McHenry, Nathaniel Journey, Captain Craig, at Shawneetown, and William Boon, on the Big Muddy, were, respectively, commanders, ready on short notice of Indian outrages', to make pursuit of the depredators. These ranging companies performed most efficient service in the protection of the settlements in Illinois against the savage foe. The rangers and mounted militia, in times of supposed peril, constantly scoured the country a considerable distance in advance of the frontier settlers; and yet the savages would often prowl through the settlements, commit outrages, and elude successful pursuit...."
- A complete history of Illinois from 1673 to 1873, by Alexander Davidson (of Springfield, Illinois), 1877, p. 249

From the above it is made clear that Rangers were considered indispensable on the frontier and were conceived as a regimental formation and even given a name the 17th United States Regiment - albeit a denominator short-lived and not to be confused with the 17th Infantry regiment.

So, by many accounts the first* US RANGER REGIMENT was conceived as early as 1790-1791 and formed beginning in 1811!

(and they were mounted!)

I could find no Congressional military legislation enacted in 1811 but, obviously, discussion, debate and drafting in 1811 preceded the 2 January 1812 legislation. Further legislation followed in 1813 and 1814 and "continued it in force for a limited time" until the end of the war:

TWELFTH CONGRESS First Session 4 Nov, 1811-6 July, 1812 
"1812 - Jan 2 Chap 11 
- An act authorizing the President of the United States to raise companies of rangers for the protection of the frontiers of the United States..."not exceeding six"...p. 211" 
"1813 - July 1 Chap 119 
- An act supplementary to An act authorizing the President of the United States to raise certain companies of rangers for the protection of the frontier of the United States...p. 233"

THIRTEENTH CONGRESS First Session 24 May  - 2 Aug 1813

"August 2 Chap 41 An act explanatory of an act entitled An act to raise ten additional companies of rangers...p. 249" 

Investigation of their uniform and weaponry yielded some interesting results:
"There was a Mounted Ranger Battalion of ten companies. They were equipped with plain green hunting smocks and trousers, a Tarleton helmet with a black roach, green turbaning and a green plumette on the left, and black crossbelts and leather equipment. They were issued rifles, and officers and NCO's wore sabres as well." - (lost web site)
"There were also several battalions of Rangers serving on foot. The main difference between their issue and that of the Mounted Rangers was that the dismounted Rangers wore wide brimmed hats and were issued muskets and bayonets."

"Typical Ranger accouterments consisted of a rifle, knife and tomahawk and each man carried with him his own supply of provisions (Dillon)."

As for the notation of the 1814 creation of the 35th U.S. Regular Infantry and its alleged foot Ranger designation, I have yet to find any further mention of such a designation or purpose for this regiment and have not been able to relocate my previous non-web book source for the original notation. 
NARA states that "the 12th, 20th, and 35th infantry regiments were recruited from Virginia," and its 98.3.2 Records of infantry units shows Company and order books available on the 35th. According to Craig R. Scott's Tip # 36, War of 1812 - Records in the National Archives: in some cases militia units became the core of regular Army units, and he cites as one example the 35th recruited in Virginia. For more on the 35th go to the old 35th US Infantry Regiment - 1813-1815
due to bandwiidth limitations the site may not be available...see the bottom of my post War of 1812 - US Army Infantry, Rangers & Riflemen...for an appended copy.

Additional sources:
Niles' Weekly Register, Vols 1 9, 1811 15. D358N69, RareBk. See General Index under "Rangers" and "Russel, Col." (sic).
Letter from N. Edwards regarding Illinois Rangers
Nathan Boone's Captain of Mounted Rangers
Nathan Boone's Mounted Rangers - Muster Roll War of 1812
Captain Nathan Boone's Company of Missouri Ranger
Capt. James Callaway & His Rangers
Mungers Rangers - War of 1812
For more on Col William Russell read the interesting article KENTUCKY "REGULARS" IN THE WAR OF 1812. By A. C. Quisenberry. Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Frankfort, Kentucky January 1914

Ivers, Larry. "Rangers in Florida - 1818." Infantry 53 (Sep Oct 1963): p. 37. Per.



The Rangers on the Old Sante Fe Trail

The First United States military aid extended to the Santa Fe traders was in the form of escorts, the troops accompanying the traders through Indian country, but remaining permanently stationed in Missouri, Indian Territory, or at Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri River. In other words, instead of guarding the Trail, as the later military posts did, the military escorts guarded only the trade caravans which they accompanied. There were at least six such United States Army escorts during the pre-Mexican War era: The first in 1829 was led by Major Bennet Riley - a War of 1812 Rifle Regiment officer - with four companies of the Sixth Infantry (in which the Rifles had been merged).

What happened essentially was this. Several days after the caravan proceeded unescorted beyond the Mexican boundry (Arkansas River) "The frightened traders requested Riley and his troops to come to their aid, and, although it meant taking United States soldiers into Mexican territory, Riley did not delay. He led his command across the river and proceeded to the besieged caravan. Arriving at the train during the night and establishing a suitable guard, the soldiers witnessed the withdrawal of the Indians the following morning. The traders, fearing to continue without escort, begged Riley to accompany them onward. He complied, and escorted them for two days, to Drunken Creek (twenty-four miles from the scene of the attack), and then refused to go farther into foreign territory. After resting in camp for one day, the troops returned to the Arkansas and remained on the Mexican side for ten days before recrossing the river and going into camp opposite Chouteau's Island. For the duration of their encampment, the soldiers moved camp when necessary for cleanliness or to find grass for the oxen or buffalo for food. They were almost constantly harassed by Indians until August 11, but the remaining two months of their stay on the Arkansas were passed practically without incident. Since they were infantry, Riley and the soldiers found it extremely frustrating not to be able to give chase to the hostile Indians....Despite the limitations placed upon them because they were not mounted, the soldiers withstood the Indian attacks. The command lost only four men during the entire expedition. For defensive purposes they were effective and successful, but their experiences demonstrated the need for cavalry if they were ever to take the offense against the Indians. This lesson apparently had its effect, because the next escort was comprised of United States Mounted Rangers....Senator Benton submitted Major Riley's report to the Senate in 1830 in support of legislation to provide further protection for the Santa Fe trade. The report may have been influential in securing passage of an act, in 1832, establishing the United States Mounted Rangers." - source Indian Attack on Charles Bent at Bear Creek Pass

a missing link in Ranger History - the US Rifle Regiments 1808-1821

Mounted Ranger Battalion of 1832

"The Regiment of Dragoons was disbanded on 15 June 1815, and for seventeen years the Regular establishment again had no cavalry." ...In 1831 uprisings by the Menominees at Prairie du Chien in the Northwest Territory and by Black Hawk's band at Rock Island, Illinois, provided tangible evidence of the need for an Army capable of tracking down and pursuing the Indians beyond their usual haunts. Finally, in June 1832, Congress authorized the organization of a Battalion of Mounted Rangers for defense of the frontier. Some 600 hardy frontiersmen were brought together." ARMY LINEAGE SERIES ARMOR-CAVALRY
"The Mounted Ranger Battalion was made up of young, hardy hunters, trappers, and other outdoorsmen, who were required to furnish their own horses and horse equipment, weapons, and dress. They were completely without uniforms or insignia of rank of any kind, although contemporary writings reveal they did have buglers. Recruiting rules specified that they be clothed in the "hunting dress of the day." - The Horse Soldier 1776-1850, p. 85- by Randy Steffen

"Experience with this battalion proved the value of a mounted force, but it also indicated the importance of having the force properly trained and disciplined. As a result, on 2 March 1833 Congress authorized a regiment of dragoons in lieu of the Battalion of Mounted Rangers." - from the ARMY LINEAGE SERIES ARMOR-CAVALRY

- One interesting individual,Captain Jesse Bean,may be said to "connect" the old Rifle Regiment to the US Mounted Rangers. (Bean) "was born about 1784 in Tennessee, and died before 31 January 1844 in Independence County, Arkansas...served during the war of 1812 in between 28 July 1812 and 28 July 1817 in Captain Joseph Kean's Company of the US Rifle Regiment as a gunsmith. In 1832 Lewis Cass, Secretary of War, commissioned Jesse to raise a company for the military force at Fort Gibson on the Arkansas River above Fort Smith. This was Captain Jesse Bean's Arkansas Mounted Rangers of the Army of the United States, the first military company raised in the area specifically to serve outside the territory. The company was in service for about a year. In 1832 the Indian Commissioner, Henry Leavitt Ellsworth was instructed "to visit and examine the country set apart for the emigrating Indians, west of the Mississippi", land in what is now Oklahoma. He was accompanied by the famous author Washington Irving whose book "A Tour of the Prairies," published in 1835 and based on Irving's journal during this trip. Washington Irving's "tour" included a circuit from Ft. Gibson through the back country and back to Ft. Gibson between 10 October 1832 and 9 November 1832. During this portion of the tour Ellsworth and Irving were escorted by Jesse's company." - source: Kraus-Everette Genealogy

Ranger Excerpts from Tour of the Prairies by Washington Irving

Ellsworth was part of the so-called the Stokes Indian Commission, which was an "effort to bring representatives of the wild tribes to Fort Gibson for the purpose of making treaties with them and impressing them with the sovereignty of the United States; it was hoped that they would conform their conduct accordingly & become friends of the whites and of the Indian immigrants from the East who were to be the new owners of the Indian Territory. Ellsworth's efforts in 1832, when Irving accompanied him, failed to accomplish this result. In 1833 another expedition set out from Fort Gibson commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Many. In his command were two select companies of the Seventh Infantry and three companies of Rangers commanded by captains Bean, Ford, and Boone, the latter Nathan Boone, son of the famous Daniel. They went as far as the country on the Washita, Blue, and Red rivers, but returned empty-handed after suffering tremendous hardships. - - FORT GIBSON - A BRIEF HISTORY Grant Foreman Press of Hoffman-Speed Printing Co., Muskogee, Oklahoma

From Tom Aycock's MOUNTED INFANTRY OR DRAGOON?"The formation of the Ranger Battalion served several purposes. They showed the government the wisdom of a mounted unit. The also, however, showed the need for a regular unit of horse. Henry L. Ellsworth (a commissioner dispatched from Washington to negotiate a treaty with the warlike tribes), wrote,
"The Rangers generally, are smart active men at home, good farmers & respectable citizens. They enlisted only for one year, to explore the country and expect to return to their families again when their term is out- in the meantime, they seemed determined to keep up republican equality, by acknowledging no superior and let me here say, I consider the Rangers almost a failure - their dress in the first place is practically the poorest clothes they have or can get- their equipments are only one rifle- this often gets out of order, and then the Ranger has no weapon" Now, their appearance is that of so many poor hunters - they strike no awe."

At the end of 1832, the Secretary of War, Lewis Cass, reported that it cost $150,000 more a year to maintain the Battalion of Mounted Rangers than it would for a full regiment of dragoons. The fate of the Rangers was sealed. By July of 1833, the men of the Ranger Battalion had served their 1-year's enlistment, and demanded their discharge. Earlier that year Congress had authorized The United States Regiment of Dragoons, on the 2nd. of March. This is the date used as the real birthday of the United States Cavalry.

The Ranger commander, Major Henry Dodge, was promoted to colonel and given command of the new regiment.

"Thus ended the history of Major Dodge's Mounted Rangers. No battle had been fought and no blood had been shed; no acts of heroism are recorded;and the reports of rifles were heard only on the drill ground. But the battalion of Mounted Rangers certainly insured the peace of the northwestern frontiers which had seen and felt the terror of Indian outbreaks. Then, too, with the moral influence of a movable force Major Dodge was able to perform the duties of adviser and friend among a people who with each generation had to look less at a rising and more to a setting sun. As early as March 2, 1833, President Jackson had approved an act "for the more perfect defense of the frontier" whereby was created the first regiment of Dragoons in the army history of the United States. It was but another recognition of henry Dodge's military services when two days later the President appointed him Colonel of this force which was to consist of seven hundred and forty-eight officers and men. As early as the previous December the proposition of the Secretary of War to convert the Mounted Rangers into a regiment of Dragoons had been urged in Congress: the cost would be less than for the Rangers by $153,932 a year; the Dragoons would be equal in celerity of movement; their service on horse and on foot would require training in the use of both rifle and the sword; and finally, the addition of such a force would make much more complete the military arm of the government. Jefferson Barracks, a post ten miles below St. Louis, was selected as the headquarters for the regiment. Early in March 1833, orders for the enlistment of the corps were issued, and Colonel Dodge divided his time between commanding the Rangers on the Illinois frontier and in assisting in the organization of the Dragoons. During the spring and summer of 1833 his military orders were generally issued over the title of "Col. US Dragoons Commanding U. S. Rangers" [The same order, which brought the Regiment of Dragoons into existence, stated that: "The Ranger Battalion would continue in service until formally relieved by regular cavalry."]
"I wish the Regiment to be efficient and useful to the country", wrote Colonel Dodge to the Adjutant General. "And by taking a part of the officers from the Regular Army who understand the first principles of their profession and uniting them with the Ranging officers who understand the woods service would promote the good of the service. The sooner the determination of the Hon Secretary of War on this subject the better for the good of the service..."
Stephen W. Kearney, the Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment, was appointed to superintend the recruiting of the regiment, with the order "to recruit healthy, respectable men, native citizens, not under twenty, nor over thirty-five years of age, whose size, figure and early pursuits may best qualify them for mounted soldiers." Henry Dodge by Louis Pelzer,1911 pp.78-82

Other sources:
JSTORS provides access to the excellent article "The United States Mounted Ranger Battalion, 1832-1833" by Otis E. Young - originally in The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Dec., 1954), pp. 453-470 doi:10.2307/1897493
Beers, Henry Putney. The Western Military Frontier, 1815 46. Phila: Author, 1935. 227 p. E179B44.
Foreman, Grant. Pioneer Days in the Early Southwest. Cleveland: Clark, 1926. 349 p. F396F67.- See Chap entitled "Washington Irving at Fort Gibson, 1832."
McBarron, H. Charles, Jr. "U.S. Mounted Ranger Battalion, 1832-33." Mill Collect & Hist 1 (Dec 1949): pp. 5 6. Per.

Privilege vs. equality: civil-military relations in the Jacksonian era, 1815-1845, by Robert P. Wettemann,ABC-CLIO,2009
see 3. Egalitarianism vs. Aristocracy: Officers and Civilians
"The Creation of the Mounted Ranger Battalion and its replacement by the First Regiment of Dragoons the following year provides insight into the Jacksonian mindset. Authorized by Congress in 1832, the Mounted Ranger Battalion typified the citizen-soldier tradition....the battalion sought to ease concerns regarding forming an aristocratic mounted branch of service by forming what amounted to a federally-sanctioned battalion of mounted militia to meet the challenges of frontier service.  Though the senior officers possessed military experience, none had attended West Point....."

TWENTY SECOND CONGRESS First Session 5 Dec, 1831 - 16 July, 1832
"1832 June 15 Chap 131
- An act to authorize the President to raise mounted riflemen for the defence of the frontier..."That the President of the United States be and he is hereby authorized to raise either by the acceptance of volunteers or enlistment for one year unless sooner discharged six hundred mounted rangers to be armed equipped mounted and organized in such manner and to be under such regulations and restrictions as the nature of the service may in his opinion make necessary..p.325"


"1833 March 2 Chap 76
- An act for the more perfect defence of the frontiers 329
An Act for the more perfect defence of the frontiers 1 Organization of regiment of dragoons 2 Pay when mounted Pay when on foot 3 To serve on horse or foot and subject to rules and articles of war &c ...That, in lieu of the battalion of mounted rangers authorized by the act of the fifteenth of June one thousand eight hundred and thirty two, there be established a regiment of dragoons...p. 329"



The Search for Mobility

1833-1861 - 1st U.S. Dragoon Regiment (became 1st US Cavalry)So we see that the Dragoons were to be infused with the fieldcraft skill of the Rangers, seasoned with regular army discipline, and intended to develop an elan to impress its foes.
The regiment, made up of a field and staff (headquarters) and 10 companies, had 34 officers and 714 men, many of whom were formerly in the Battalion of Mounted Rangers. One such former Ranger officer in the new regimnet was Capt. Nathan Boone, youngest son of Daniel Boone. "Most of the other officers were taken from the regular army. There was Lt. Philip St.George Cooke, late of the 6th. U.S. Infantry, and the new Lieutenant Colonel, Steven Watts Kearny. There was also a Lt. Jefferson Davis who would serve as the first adjutant...The combination of Regulars and Rangers gave to the new regiment some officers with a thorough knowledge of military principles and others well acquainted with the type of action that all were soon to experience. -MOUNTED INFANTRY OR DRAGOON? By Tom Aycock
"The third effort to make contact with these Western Indians was successfully carried out in 1834, by what became known as the famous Dragoon Expedition. General Henry Leavenworth arrived at Fort Gibson April 28 of that year and assumed command of the post, which he held until June 12 when he departed in command of the expedition. This expedition included also Colonel Henry Dodge, Colonel Stephen Watts Kearney, and Major R. B. Mason. Jefferson Davis, a lieutenant a few years out of West Point, was in command of one company. This train of five hundred mounted troops, a large number of white-covered baggage wagons, and seventy head of beeves made an imposing procession. It was accompanied by eleven Osage, eight Cherokee, six Delaware, and seven Seneca Indians who went along to serve as guides, hunters, interpreters, and as representatives of their respective nations. They crossed the Arkansas River below the mouth of Grand River, passed over the prairies near the site of the future Muskogee, traveled southwest to the mouth of the Washita River, then northwest, where they visited the site of a Comanche village at the western end of the Wichita Mountains. This was a disastrous expedition which resulted in the deaths of nearly 150 men from disease and the effects of excessive hot weather and poor water upon the unseasoned and undisciplined soldiers lately recruited from private life in the North and East. Included among the casualties of this expedition was that of General Leavenworth, who died July 21 near the Washita River. However, they did succeed in bringing back to Fort Gibson representatives of the Kiowa, Wichita, and Waco tribes, and after their return invitations were extended to all the Indians within reach to attend a grand council at the post--Choctaws, Cherokees, Creeks, Senecas, Osages, Delawares, and others. Here, on September 2, 1834, began one of the most interesting and important Indian councils ever held in the country." - FORT GIBSON - A BRIEF HISTORY Grant Foreman Press of Hoffman-Speed Printing Co., Muskogee, Oklahoma
see -
1836-1861 - 2nd U.S. Dragoon Regiment (became 2nd US Cavalry)
"As quickly as the war in Florida was over in 1842, although all were retained, regiments and companies were reduced to minimum size. However, by a fluke, the Regular infantry actually increased. This came about because in the spring of 1843, to save money, the 2d Dragoons were converted into a rifle regiment. They thus became the first rifle corps included in the establishment for two decades, that is, since the Rifle Regiment had been disbanded in 1821. The erstwhile horsemen, who felt degraded on foot, clung hard to their dragoon organization, but they received rifles and, as far as is known, trained as riflemen. Agitation to remount them was continuous, and within a year they became the 2d Dragoons again. When they were reconverted, rifle corps disappeared once more from the Army, except that the President received authority from Congress to convert two or more infantry regiments into rifles if he thought it expedient. He never exercised this authority. - (see ** for more below)
The close historical "connection" between regular Ranger, Rifle and Dragoon formations cannot and should not be easily dismissed or glossed over - in the militia ranks they found their fullest expression in Partisan and irregular units such as the Texas Mounted Rifles and Rangers now discussed.


Rangers in the Mexican - American War

First & Second Regiments, Texas Mounted Rifles - Commonly known as "Texas Rangers" they "led the way" during the war with Mexico
Early Beginnings:" August of 1823, Austin asked for additional ten men to supplement Morrison's company. He called for "ten act as rangers for the common defense..." These two companies are regarded as the first ancestors of the modern Texas Rangers.
During Austin's day, companies of men volunteered and disbanded as needed. Some served for days and others for many months. The official records show that these companies were called by many names: ranging companies, mounted gunmen, mounted volunteers, minutemen, spies, scouts and mounted rifle companies. Initially, several companies fought on foot and employed fifers and drummers in the European and Colonial American military tradition. When this proved ineffective against mounted Indians, they quickly adopted frontier horseback tactics. They became so effective against Indian guerrilla raids that they strongly influenced the formation of the U.S. and C.S.A. cavalries during the Civil War... Like Texas, the early Texas Ranger had multicultural roots. Company rolls show that Anglos, Hispanics and American Indians served in all ranks from private to captain. These men freely borrowed from each others' experience and equipment. While most had been born in the American South, many hailed from Ireland, Germany, Scotland and England and spoke with their native accents. Early Rangers shot Spanish pistols and American rifles from Tennessee and Kentucky, they carried Bowie knifes made in Sheffield England and rode swift Mexican ponies. One writer said that a Texas Ranger could "ride like a Mexican, trail like an Indian, shoot like a Tennesseean, and fight like the devil." In 1842, (Samuel H.)Walker and another former Ranger, Big Foot Wallace, took part in the ill-fated Mier Expedition, in which a group of Texans invaded Mexico. The Texans were captured and every tenth man was ordered executed.
War: In 1846, within a year of Texas' admission as the 28th state of the Union, the United States and Mexico were at war.
"It did not take General Taylor long to drive the Mexican Army back to the south of the Rio Grande. Involved in the fighting was a company of Rangers that was recruited from men at Corpus Christi and Point Isabel. They were commanded by Sam Walker, who had a long service record with the Rangers before Texas became part of the Union. Taylor won the Battle of Palo Alto and shortly forced General Mariano Arista to recross the Rio Grande. Sam Walker became one of the first heroes of the war in this action.
Ultimately, the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles, was formed. Jack Hays was colonel; Sam Walker, lieutenant colonel; and Michael Chevallie, major. All were experienced Rangers from before the war. This would be the most famous of the Ranger units. It and other Ranger units would be with Taylor through the capture of Monterey and the Battle of Buena Vista, both hard-fought victories against great odds.
The Rangers were good for scout duty, wagon escort, and courier service. They also participated in pitched battle, such as the Battle for Monterey. These Ranger outfits were a sight to see. They furnished their own horses and most of their own weapons, and they wore no uniforms. There was great informality between officers and men. This informality had nothing to do with discipline. A captain might use a man’s first name when he told him to do something. The man would obey the order, using the captain's first name in reply. Informality was not insubordination, no matter what the regulars might have thought. What really counted was how the Rangers gathered intelligence and fought. They proved their worth in every situation worth mentioning.
After Buena Vista, the center of war shifted to the south, where General Winfield Scott was marching inland for Mexico City, after taking Vera Cruz. However, there was still guerrilla activity in the north, and Taylor still had the service of some Ranger outfits. Sam Walker fought in Scott's epic campaign against Mexico City. Another Ranger outfit, the Second Texas, also commanded by Colonel Jack Hays, did get to Central Mexico. They landed at Vera Cruz and were occupied fighting guerrilla bands in Scott's rear areas. In one action, Sam Walker was killed. Colonel Hays received orders to move to Mexico City, a move that was accompanied by a great deal of fighting. The Texans entered Mexico City on December 6, 1847. Until the Rangers arrived, there was little control in the city. The people who doubted the reputation of the Rangers were in for a terrible time, because the Texans brought a great deal of law and order to the city.
The Rangers also fought guerrilla bands in south central Mexico until the war was ended by a treaty of peace. Two of these bands were led by General Paredes and an ex-priest, Celedonia de Juarata. They caused the Rangers a great deal of trouble, but they paid a very high price for doing so. General Joseph Lane, who commanded the cavalry brigade, had high praise for the Rangers, mentioning Hays and Alfred Truett by name. In an earlier report, he had also praised the Rangers and singled out Major Chevallie for special mention." - Lonnie Maness review of Frederick Wilkins' "The Highly Irregular Irregulars: Texas Rangers In The Mexican War,Austin, Texas: Eakin Press, 1990. -in Texas Ranger Dispatch #6 - 2002 Spring
The Rangers fought with such ferocity in the war they came to be called "Los diablos Tejanos"-- the Texas Devils.
For the next decade after the Mexican War, the Rangers existed primarily as volunteer companies, raised when the need arose and disbanded when their work was done." Their Indian enemies considered "Texans" separate from "Americans." - The Texas Rangers
see also: Early Republic of Texas Rangers
The life of Moffett Trimble, as with Jesse Bean above, is interesting in its ranger connections. Trimble "was a sergeant in the U.S. Mounted Rangers under Colonel Henry Dodge. He rode with Captain Jesse Bean's company of rangers out of Ft. Gibson Oklahoma in the 1830s. He moved to Texas around 1840 and during the Mexican War, was a Texas Ranger under the legendary Sam Walker. Since that time each generation of Trimble's has carried on the Walker name. His great-grandfather, Sam Walker Trimble served in a Texas cavalry regiment during the Civil War and later fought with John Ford's Texas Rangers in the Indian wars, taking part in the Battle on the Frio, in 1866. He was later a peace officer, professional gambler and stockman in Texas."
Meanwhile and elsewhere, as American's sought their Manifest Destiny, Rangers were at the fore in Arizona (listen to the Marty Robbins song - Big Iron), Colorado, Oregon, and California; practically every territory saw similar organizations in the vanguard of militia, state and later federal troops - as had always been the case since the original colonies to the old Northwest territory.
Some even organized themselves on freedom's side in lands as far away as Australia where, in October 1854, an apparently corrupt verdict against the murderers of a miner at the Eureka Hotel aroused the men on the hitherto quiet Ballarat diggings, west of Melbourne, to seek reform of the administration of the goldfields and political rights,by establishing a reform league to press their case. An estimated two hundred Americans, the Independent Californian Rangers, convinced of the coming benefits of an Australian Republic and under the leadership of James McGill,...armed with revolvers and Mexican knives and...horses fought at the fateful Battle of Eureka Stockade... They (aka the Independent Californian Rangers Revolver Brigade), reportedly manned outposts around the stockade (makes sense since tey were mounted). However, according to another source, "In a fateful decision, McGill decided to take most of the Californian Rangers away from the stockade to intercept rumoured British reinforcements coming from Melbourne." During the overwhelming British attack, the "American diggers armed with revolvers were notable in the brief hand-to-hand struggle inside the stockade. An official report of the action described them dashing up towards the soldiers to ensure a better aim, and thereby preventing the riflemen and other comrades from supporting them." (The Australian "bushrangers," and New Zealand "Forest Rangers" are fascinating subjects of their own.
Ranger, Rifle and Voltigeur units would be organized in Walker's Nicaragua Filibuster army of 1856 (at its peak probably 1200 strong)
1846-1861 - U.S. Regiment of Mounted Riflemen (became 3rd US Cavalry - note the riflemen's bugle on the patch!)
The Regiment of Mounted Riflemen was authorized by an Act of Congress on May 19, 1846 as a new organization in the United States Army: a regiment of riflemen, mounted to provide greater mobility than the Infantry and equipped with percussion rifles to provide greater range and more accurate firepower than the Infantry's muskets or the Dragoon's carbines. This regiment had initially been designated for use on the Oregon Trail but was diverted at its origin into Mexican War service. Its animals were lost on the way, so only two companies, mounted on Mexican horses, acted as cavalry. The rest, armed with Model 1941 rifles, bayonets, and flintlock pistols, fought on foot.
War with Mexico: The 2d Dragoons were in every battle from Palo Alto to Chapultepec. The Mounted Riflemen, fighting dismounted at Chapultepec, earned from General Winfield Scott, Commanding General of the Army, the compliment that became their motto: "Brave Rifles! Veterans! You have been baptized in fire and blood and have come out steel." During the war the regiments were broken up and the companies scattered. As in the Seminole War they often fought as infantry, but their usual missions were reconnaissance and pursuit.
One obscure unit also deserves mention here:
Little is documented on the Regiment of U.S. Voltigeurs and Foot Riflemen, 1847-48: Voltigeurs are Light Infantry."At the start of the Mexican War, Congress tried to get along with just eight infantry regiments of Regulars, but in doing so gave the President power to expand their companies to one hundred enlisted men during the war. Ten months after hostilities commenced, it was necessary to change this policy and add nine new regiments-with the same organization as the old ones-to the Regular infantry. Eight of them, as was customary, bore numbers, the 9th through the 16th; but the other got a name. It was called the Regiment of *Voltigeurs and Foot Riflemen. Half of this unit was to be mounted, the other half on foot, and each horseman was paired with a foot soldier who was to get up behind him for rapid movements. This arrangement was never executed, and the Voltigeurs became in fact a regiment of foot riflemen, armed with the same rifle (a muzzle-loader) as the Mounted Riflemen. Quite by chance, the regiment included a company of mountain howitzers and war rockets, but it was not linked with the riflemen tactically, nor were the rockets and howitzers ever used together. They fought at Contreras, Churubusco, Chapultepec, and Mexico City. (At Chapultepec they stormed the western wall of the castle - in true Ranger spearhead tradition.) *Voltigeur~a picked company of irregular riflemen in each regiment of the French infantry, lightly armed skirmisher - Voltigeurs Accounts and Bios.htm
When the war with Mexico came to an end and the usual postwar reductions of the Army began, the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen was retained as a part of the Regular establishment. All the other new regiments were mustered out, and the Volunteers were discharged and returned home. The Regiment of Mounted Riflemen was at once ordered overland to Oregon, but many of its members took advantage of a wartime law that permitted Regulars to receive discharges at the conclusion of hostilities. As a result, the depleted regiment had to wait for recruits at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. On 10 May 1849 it started its 2,000-mile trek westward, but still its organizational problems continued. After reaching the Oregon Territory the riflemen deserted in droves to go to California and join in the search for gold. In 1851 a mere skeleton of the regiment returned to Jefferson Barracks. It was again brought up to strength and then sent to the Department of Texas where, to implement the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, it tried to keep the Indians of Mexico out of the United States and those of the United States in.
In 1855 the mounted force grew by two regiments. This time the new organizations were called cavalry. The 1st and 2d Cavalry were constituted on 3 March 1855 not by an act expressly dealing with Army organization, but by an addition to an appropriations bill. The two regiments were organized in the same manner as existing horse regiments but, contrary to the Secretary's recommendation, General Orders prescribing their organization made them a distinct and separate arm. Thus, the mounted force consisted of dragoons, mounted riflemen, and cavalrymen.
With Manifest Destiny came the problem of confronting the "finest light cavalryman in the world" - the Indian horse warrior (although not the finest cavalry "unit" due to "social and political organization that exalted the individual at the expense of the group"). As Robert Utley, in Frontiersmen in Blue explains: "The regulars came home from the Mexican War in high spirits, with soaring morale borne of solid achievement. Officers and men alike, they had consistently outshone the Volunteers in every test of military ability and had been largely responsible for the succession of triumphs...But a variety of influences soon smothered this spirit and turned the talented and ambitious to other pursuits. Able officers and men there were, but the mediocre and incompetent formed too large a proportion for the Regular Army to retain more than a shadow of its wartime energy and ability." - Utley, p. 28.
"A vast and inhospitable terrain demanded an army that could live off the country in the Indian manner or a logistical system so supremely developed as to permit operations not dependent on the resources of the country. A highly mobile enemy skilled in guerrilla tactics demanded either a highly mobile counterguerrilla force or a heavy defensive army large enough to erect an impenetrable shield around every settlement and travel route in the West. That the Army, for reasons not wholly or even largely within its control, never met these requirements explains its not too creditable record in the half century of Indian operations beginning in 1848." p.9 Utley later concludes that "The U.S. Army was unprepared for the Civil War as it was inadequate for the Indian Wars very largely because the nation, through its elected representatives, declined to pay the price of Manifest Destiny." - p. 16
Such a price would have been needed in forming the best fitted force for western service - dragoons, mounted riflemen and lastly, cavalry were never consistantly financed, manned or supported (nor could they be with a Congress divided by societal, political and sectional differences shaped by its founding).
In 1855, while considering an enlargement of the military establishment, Texas senators Houston and Rusk "advocated Rangers for frontier defense instead of Regulars." To them "they cost less, they fight Indians more effectively, and they could be demobilized after the threat subsided." - Utley, p. 13. "'School house officers and pot-house soldiers "would never conquer the Indians,' exclaimed Thomas Hart Benton in 1855, 'and at last the Inidian wars will have to be ended as others have been, by citizen rangers and volunteers." - 33rd Cong 2nd Sess pp 334-341. - Utley, p. 14. As Utley, in comparing the alternatives of cavalry (expensive), mule-mounted infantry (inferior) and volunteer rangers summarizes the latter as follows, "Volunteer rangers were immensely appealing to frontier settlers and their congressional spokesmen. Such troops, although rather more expensive and given to undisciplined excesses, were frequently mustered - usually by a state or territorial governor over the protest of the local regular army commander...Volunteers, although noted for individuality and self-reliance, were lamentably deficient in discipline.
Utley paints a vivid picture of these three regular formations, Dragoons, Mounted Riflemen and Cavalry: "Minor distinctions of uniform, arms and equipment differentiated the three varieties of horsemen, must notably the Mounted Riflemen, who carried rifles and in theory traveled on horseback and fought on foot. But in reality none conformed to the generally accepted European meaning of the terms; all were in fact, light cavalry. The efforts of Secretary Davis and General Scott to eliminate distinctions and designate all the mounted regiments as cavalry failed to overcome Congressional inertia and the pride of the regiments in their history and traditions." - Utley, p. 22.
He sketches the regiments as follows:
1st Dragoons - dignified and methodical;
2nd Dragoons - "epitome of military impudence";
1st Cavalry (later the 4th) - less colorful compared to the;
2nd Cavalry (later the 5th) - possessed of elan - War Department favorite - breeding ground for generals;
Mounted Riflemen (later the 3rd) - a cantankerous lot - "largely from civil life but fully experienced as West Pointers"
- p.23.
"For all its weaknesses, only the regular cavalry came closest to the ideal. For all its failures, it could also point to some remarkable accomplishments." - p. 28.
The idea of establishing either a mounted regular force manned with ranger-skilled men or a highly disciplined volunteer ranger force was seemingly beyond the possibilities of the times - with one notable exception. The qualities and skills needed against the Indian on the frontier - those found in a ranger (or another Indian) - could only be found in the self-reliant citizen to which the life and harsh discipline of a soldier was not attractive. Nor would it be made so by a niggardly Congress, who represented a divided society that evolved from a culture that despised a standing army. A society that both feared and despised or ignored and idealized the native Indian, usually in proportion to the distance from them. To those common soldiers - mostly immigrants - who did the hard dirty work and were payed so very little, no sympathy was to be expected by those citizens, especially those who led an equally hard frontier life, and saw genuine opportunities in land and commerce that abounded in the America of their day.
The notable exception was Texas. Walter Prescott Webb, who wrote the definitive, The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier defense (Boston, 1935) is quoted at length by Utley: "Theoretically they (the new state of Texas) were quite willing to turn the task of protecting the frontier over to the federal government, but practically they were unwilling to accept the federal plan; they soon demanded that the work be done through their institutions and leadership - at federal expense...The Texans demanded that the United States should muster the Rangers into federal service pay them with federal money, and let them run all the Mexicans into the Rio Grande and all the Indians into the Red River." - Utley, p. 70. (Webb p. 127.).
As Robert Utley elaborates in Forgotten Rangers: ,"A product of the frontier himself, Governor Davis felt a keen obligation to the anguished frontier families. At his behest, on June 13, 1870, the legislature enacted a measure authorizing him to muster, for twelve months’ service, twenty companies of "Texas Rangers"—only the second appearance of this term in law. Each company would number sixty-two officers and men. As usual, Rangers would provide their own horses, six-shooters, accouterments, and camp equipage. For the first time, however, the shoulder arm—breech-loading cavalry carbines—would be purchased by the state, issued to the Rangers, and the cost deducted from the first pay. And pay was promised: from one hundred dollars a month for captains to fifty for privates. The state would furnish provisions, ammunition, and forage. Although organized under the rules and regulations of the U.S. Army, the Rangers would always operate under state control, reporting to an adjutant general authorized by the new militia act.[2]
The enabling legislation remained silent on how to pay for what came to be known as the Frontier Forces. However, on August 5, 1870, the legislature resorted to the novel expedient of floating $750,000 in state bonds, with interest at seven percent, payable in gold twice a year. These "Frontier Defense Bonds" would be redeemable in twenty years and paid off in forty.[3]
With pay and logistical support promised, ranger companies came together swiftly. Governor Davis appointed the captains, mostly solid Unionists with solid ranger credentials. By the end of 1870, fourteen companies had been organized and posted at key locations on the frontier. The full twenty sanctioned by the legislature never took shape, but for the first time since 1865 Texas Rangers patrolled the frontier.[4]
The War Department lost little more than a month in reacting to the advent of Texas Rangers. On July 19, Secretary of War William W. Belknap declared that the state of Texas would not be allowed to make war on the Indians and that the U.S. military authorities would preserve the peace. The U.S. military authorities, of course, had signally failed to preserve the peace—either in the interior or on the frontier—and the Texas commander, Brevet Major General Joseph J. Reynolds, welcomed the prospect of twelve hundred Rangers on the frontier. He and Davis promptly colluded to sidestep the secretary’s edict. In direct violation of the law, Davis placed the Rangers at the disposal of the War Department—i.e. a receptive Reynolds. During the formative months of the Frontier Forces, therefore, ranger officers operated under the command of the nearest senior federal officer. That worked neither uniformly nor well. General Reynolds, moreover, had flouted the intent of his superiors, and he made matters worse by recommending, as an alternative to the Rangers, the muster of five hundred frontiersmen into the U.S. service. Hopelessly tangling the issue was a dispute over whether the Rangers could draw subsistence at U.S. military posts. By the end of 1870, so confused and frustrating had the bureaucratic squabbling become, Davis had the state assume complete control and support of the Frontier Forces.[5]
see:Texas Ranger Dispatch Magazine, #1 - 2000 Fall -Forgotten Rangers by Robert M. Utley
But Utley notes, "Even with the aid of nearly four hundred federalized Texas Rangers, (Bvt Major General George Mercer) Brooke could not protect the people from the raiders. "I do not believe," he wrote to the adjutant general, "that three thousand men or more stationed on the frontier posts can prevent these deluded people from secretly passing the line of posts in very small parties at different points and after uniting in large bodies in particular neighborhoods where they commit their acts of murder and depredations and instantly return to their country... "The general thought that any offensive into Indian haunts offerred the only hope of easing the menace, but his forces were to weak for effective defense, much less offense." - Utley, p. 72. Secretary for War Annual Report 1850, pp 51-53.
However, with the arrival of the new 2d Cavalry (which became the 5th Cavalry in 1861), Colonel Albert Sydney Johnston commanding, "..a new and more energetic breed of Regulars manned the Texas defenses from 1856 to 1861 and, like Harney and Sumner to the north, began to think and act offensively. For another, increasing numbers of Texas Rangers were mobilized for Indian duty, and they, too, on occassion carried the war to the homes of the marauders. The Kiowas and Comanches were not conquered, nor did their raiding activity diminish, but their aggressions now brought penalties unknown in the past. - Utley, p. 126.
"In the next four years, elements of the 2d Cavalry engaged in forty small-unit combats with hostile Indians and nearly always exacted a slight toll in casualties...Although the 2d Cavalrymen compiled a laudable record, they were still too few, even when aided by mounted contingents of the 1st, 3d, and 8th Infantry, to screen the frontier from Red River to the Rio Grande. Since 1846 Texans had championed the use of state rangers to make up the deficiency...only in the gravest emergencies could federal commanders bring themselves to ask for state rangers in federal service; they usually made good Indian fighters but, like all frontiersmen, tended to go their own way with supreme disregard of federal authority, plans, and objectives. And, as General Brooke remarked as early as 1849, their "general and natural hostility to the Indians...would be very apt to bring about what we wish to avoid-a general war.
In Hardin R. Runnels, who took office as governor in 1857, the ranger advocates at last found an executive who could be prodded into sanctioning a sizable state force operating independently of the U.S. Army and relying on the Texas congressional delegation in Washington to secure reimbursement for its expenses. With four companies already in service, Runnels won authority from the legislature in January 1858 to raise an additional contingent of a hundred men to be employed offensively. The command went to Captain John S. (Rip) Ford, a veteran of more than a decade of intermittent ranger service against the Indians and a frontiersman who knew how to handle the individualistic volunteers. Commented the Austin Intelligencer: "What with the Utah War and Kansas, the United States fails to afford Texas the protection necessary to save the scalps of our citizens. Let us, therefore, protect ourselves, and charge the bill to Uncle Sam....Rip Ford organized his ranger command and marched it toward the northern frontier in the early spring of 1858, General Twiggs moved to cooperate..By the time the (federal) concentration had been completed in July, the orders had been rescinded, but it was too late to cooperate with the state troops. Captain Ford had already led his hundred rangers and an equal force of Indian auxillaries from the Brazos Agency in an invasion of the Comanche range north of Red River. On may 11 he had surprised a large Comanche village on the Canadian River near Antelope Hills. In a seven-hour conflict, his men put 300 warriors to rout, killed a reported 76, and destroyed the camp with all its contents. A week later Ford was back at Fort Belknap. In the Battle of Antelope Hills the Comanches were badly hurt by whites for the first time. Far from discouraging them from frontier aggressions, it served only to inflame them. Utley, pp. 127-129. - Secretary for War Annual Report 1849 p. 143. & 1858, pp 253-54. Winfrey, Texas Indian papers, pp. 270-277
Not all "rangers" earned credit. A former dismissed and disgruntled Indian agent, John R. Baylor, worked to incite retaliation against reservation Indians (some of whom broke away and occasionally particpated in raids) "..organized a some three to four hundred self-styled rangers and got himself elected captain. According to Utley, "..most of these rangers came from recently arrived settlers and akin "to the freebooters who had terrorized Kansas in recent years." Baylor led about 250 "rangers" against the Brazos Agency, home of the very Indians who had so ably served Ford and Van Dorn in the northern campaign...ordered by the army commander to clear out, he was then beseiged by 60 reservation Indians. The Superintendant of Indian Affairs later led the reservation Comanches Exodus-style out of, in his words, the "heathen land of Texas" and north to Wichita and a safer reservation; upon return, was shot to death by a Baylor supporter as a reward. - Utley, pp. 136-38.
So, on the whole, even much too big Texas, as with the west in general, was too wild and wooly for any consistant policy or doctrine to be effected.
The real problem for the Army since its inception (besides Congress) were organizational and doctrinal decisions made without regard to purpose and mission:
As presented INDIAN WARS: By Robert Marshall Utley, Wilcomb E. Washburn, 2002 thru the Indian expert, mountainman, and treaty negotiator Tom "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick: "...skepticism about treaty councils sprang from a conviction that any "big talks" were premature until the Indians had been whipped and made to feel the power of the government. However unacknowledged as an instrument of Indian policy, war or the threat of war buttressed every treaty....and nothing short of an efficient military force stationed in their country will do this." The United States did not possess such a force. Even though the national boundaries had leaped to the Pacific, embracing an additional million square miles of territory and two hundred thousand Indians, President Polk had informed a receptive Congress in 1848 that "the old army, as it existed before the war with Mexico," would be adequate for all purposes. This force numbered slightly more than ten thousand officers and enlisted men, enlarged to eighteen thousand by 1860. The regular army contained some able and dedicated soldiers, but in sum they barely achieved a rating of mediocre. The enlisted soldiers were not the well-motivated youngsters of the Mexican War but too often criminals, toughs, drunkards, and fugitives swept swept up from the streets of the big eastern cities by industrious recruiting officers." "The greater part of the army," a young infantryman wrote to his parents, "consists of men who either do not care to work, or who, being addicted to drink, cannot find employment." And for the officers, whether West Pointers or not, slow promotion, isolation, boredom, and whiskey dulled ambition. Even for the ambitious, professional horizons remained oppressively constricted. Awesome new challenges confronted this weak little army as it moved from the eastern woodlands into the trans-Mississippi West. Plains, mountains, and deserts presented extremes of topography, climate, and distance unknown in the East. There were few navigable rivers on which to move heavy consignments of mena and materials. The scarcity of water, fuel, and natural foods made living off the land precarious for the soldier. Peopling this unfamiliar land were unfamiliar Indians, nomadic or semi-nomadic in contrast to their eastern kinsmen and boasting fighting skills that in combination with the hostile environment made them the most formidable of adversaries. Even though the regular army found its principal sanction in the frontier, its leaders, from the dropsical general in chief Winfield Scott—"Old Fuss and Feathers"—on down, steadfastly refused to face up to the realities of the frontier mission. They seemed to have learned nothing from earlier experiences with eastern Indians. They regarded Indian hostilities as too transitory to justify special measures, and they persisted in using tactics and organization adapted from European textbooks that contained no useful hint on how to employ troops against Indians...Again, Broken Hand Fitzpatrick saw the situation and sounded repeated warnings against the weak little outposts that were multiplying across the West: "Instead of serving to intimidate the red man, they rather create a belief in the feebleness of the white man. In fact, it must be at once apparent that a skeleton company of infantry or dragoons can add but little to the security of five hundred miles square of territory; nor can the great highways to Utah and New Mexico be properly protected by a wandering squadron that parades them once a year. Half measures would never work. "The policy must be either an army or an annuity. Either an inducement must be offered to them greater than the gains of plunder, or a force must be at hand to restrain and check their depredations. Any compromise between the two systems will be only productive of mischief, and liable to all the miseries of failure." Tom Fitzpatrick had seen it all happen before, and not very long before."
But first the whites would resort to a long festering blood-letting amongst themselves brought about by expansion and manifest destiny.


Rangers in the Civil War - CSA & USA

Since starting to work on a study of the Confederate Partisan Ranger Corps, Bertil Haggman - PARTISAN RANGERS UNITS AND GUERRILLA COMMANDS - has, with the aid of friends and helpful employees of several State Archives, identified the following number of units of regiment, battalion and company size: 142 Partisan Ranger Corps and 92 Guerrilla Commands. As he states, "Many more units (possibly between 100 and 200) need to be investigated." Civil War Rangers and GuerrillasThe Confederate cavalry ... included the partisan groups led by Brig. Gens. Turner Ashby, John H. Morgan, and Col. John Mosby. These very active commands were classified as cavalry because their men were excellent horsemen. Since the groups operated either wholly in Confederate territory or, as in the case of Morgan, in and out of friendly territory at their own dictates, they were usually able to keep themselves supplied with good mounts. They were also deserving of the name cavalry for the service they performed. The men were expert raiders who made sudden and successful attacks upon Union outposts and supply trains and disrupted lines of communications, brought in reliable information about strengths and movements, and sometimes fought delaying actions."
United States Rangers, although often overlooked in historical accounts should also be mentioned and included, Mean's Loudon Rangers (Independant Battalion) of Quakers and German-Americans, who once captured Confederate General Longstreet's ammunition train, and even succeeded in engaging and capturing a portion of Colonel Mosby's force. At the start of the war, all across the Union and loyal South, state Ranger Companies, several called Union Rangers, formed. For example, a company known as "Nebraska Rangers" was organized, under command of Capt. W. G. Hollins, and their services offered to the Governor under the call for volunteers. These men were all old Indian fighters, and accustomed to the perils and alarms of war. - -
One volunteer "ranger" unit saw particular action in the Great Sioux Uprising, 1862-63
1st Regiment Minnesota Mounted Rangers aka 1st Regiment Cavalry "Mounted Rangers"
Organized at St. Cloud, St. Peters and Fort Snelling, Minn., October 9 to December 30, 1862 - Colonel Samuel McPhaill commanding. Organized for frontier duty against Indians. 1st Battalion engaged in frontier duty until June, 1863. Sibley's Expedition against Indians in Dakota Territory June 16-September 14. Battle of Big Mound, D. T., July 24. Dead Buffalo Lake July 26. Stony Lake July 28. Missouri River July 28-30. 1st Battalion on duty at Fort Ripley, and rest of Regiment at Fort Snelling, Minn., until December, Mustered out October 20 to December 7, 1863. Regiment lost during service 2 Officers and 4 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 31 Enlisted men by disease. Total 37.
Brig. Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley led his troops from Fort Ridgely, Minnesota, into the Dakotas, pursuing the Santee Sioux, who had initiated an uprising in the Minnesota River Valley in August 1862. The Santee had joined forces with the Teton Sioux. Having marched all day on July 24, 1863, Sibley’s scouts, around 1:00 pm, reported that they had spotted a large Native American camp a few miles away. Sibley established a camp on a nearby salt lake and set his men to entrenching it for protection. While in the process of making camp, numerous Native Americans appeared expressing friendship. A number of them approached the scouts gathered about 300-400 yards from the camp and began talking with them. Surgeon Josiah S. Weiser, 1st Regiment Minnesota Mounted Rangers, joined the assembly, but soon afterwards a Sioux shot and killed him. The scouts attempted to kill the attacker but he escaped. Native Americans who had hidden behind the surrounding ridges now emerged and attacked. (A Lt Freeman was killed by Santee`s near Big Mound 24 June 1863, after he had gone hunting alone)In detachments, the soldiers went out to meet the Native Americans. Sibley, with some men, approached the “Big Mound” on the opposite side of the ravine. He attempted to dislodge those Sioux who were on the upper part of the large ravine firing at the infantry and cavalry with impunity. The Union forces displaced these and other well-placed Sioux in the surrounding ridges by accurate artillery fire and forced them into the broken prairie where they fled in confusion. The mounted troops, with some of the infantry and artillery following, set out in pursuit. A running battle ensued for the rest of the day. Before dark, the soldiers broke off the pursuit and returned to camp as previously ordered, some not arriving until the next morning. The Sioux forces were broken and dispirited. - -
During the Civil War, with thousands of Texans off fighting with the Confederate Army, frontier protection was afforded by a "Regiment of Rangers." Even it eventually became part of the Confederate Army. By the second half of the decade, the biggest threat to Texas was was lawless Texans. In 1874, the Legislature created two Ranger forces to cope with the situation - -the Frontier Battalion,... and an organization called Special Forces...five years time the Rangers were involved in some of the most celebrated cases in the history of the Old West. Much of the fact that would later be mixed with Ranger legend occurred during this turbulent period. - The Texas Rangers
Colorful Bio of Texas Ranger Dan Roberts 1841-1935
Some have disputed if indeed these cavalry/partisan units should be considered Rangers - why not? Rangers have always chosen the most effective means of mobility!!! In view of this and other research of past correspondence, deeds, land bountys and wills which shows a continual use of the word sharpshooter with ranger (as with ranger and riflemen) - I believe one final non-titled ranger unit deserves mention - The United States Sharpshooter Regiments.
In my opinion, this unit is deserving of mention here, because it employed the fighting techniques and tactics of stealth and concealed movement, as well as skirmish techniques, similar to those of past and future rangers.... missing link? the US Sharpshooter Regiments
Even though most of the volunteer infantrymen were raised and officered by the states, a few hundred units were not. Several types of volunteers were more directly linked to the United States than to any state, the earliest of these being two regiments of U.S. Sharpshooters (1st and 2d) organized in 1861. These two contained companies from several states, raised by the states. Their origin in more than one state was an uncommon attribute, but their real distinguishing feature was the manner in which they were officered. While the states appointed the company and field officers in ordinary volunteer units, the Federal government appointed them in the Sharpshooters and similar outfits.
As Utley narrates "Secession and Civil War did not slow the westward advance. On the contrary, despite the great ordeal that absorbed the energies of North and South, mineral strikes throughout the West continued to lure whites into areas of previously undisturbed Indian possession. The quickening pace of white settlement gave renewed force - and clear definition - to the Indian policy that had been pursued since the close of the Mexican War. In official language the policy came to be known as concentration. For whites, concentration offered a happy coincidence of self-interest and noble philanthropy. On the one hand, Indians would be cleared from lands whites wanted or already possessed, confined to lesser lands unwanted or not yet wanted, and prevented from causing any further annoyance. On the other hand, in their reservation homes the Indians could be insulated from the contaminating influence of the white man and made the beneficiaries annuities of tools and stores but of the most precious gift at the white man's command—his culture. Before these blessings could be bestowed, however, the Indians had to be concentrated. More often than not, this meant war...the postwar Army was hardly more adequate for its frontier mission than the ante bellum version had been. As Reconstruction duties in the South diminished, Congress imposed a ceiling of twenty-five thousand enlisted men. Scattered among scores of little outposts, they presented a show of weakness such as Tom Fitzpatrick had warned against as early as 1851."
The regular army, outwardly and inwardly, was literally and figuratively lost in the wilderness - unable to present a unified vision of the force it could or should organize to be, let alone provide for or maintain it. The answer, insofar as the Indians and warfare in general, was to be found first in insuring the skilled, professional application of force
Between the Civil War and World War II, only a cavalry units, the Indian scouts, and a volunteer cavalry unit which fought dismounted, called The Rough Riders, filled the interegnum with the daring, elan and special service exhibited and provided by Rangers of old.
AMERICAN RANGERS, PRE 20TH CENTURY - A Working Bibliography of MHI Sources



Combat action in every theater of the Second World War soon called for the special adaptive, assault and raid based tactics and capabilities of the Rangers.

Among the remarkable separate battalions were the 1st-6th Rangers. These were light infantry trained to slash deep into enemy-held territory in order to demoralize the foe in every way they could. Although the ranger battalions were not created by redesignating existing infantry outfits, and so not given any official history before the time of their constitution in 1942, they were nevertheless heirs to a very old and proud tradition. That tradition went further back than the American Revolution; indeed the rules drawn up by Robert Rogers in 1757 for his famous ranger companies that served for England in North America were reprinted for use in training the rangers of World War II. The rangers were not the only infantry constituted to perform commando missions. A comparable unit was the 1st Special Service Force, established in July 1942. This force was designed to operate behind enemy lines when snow covered Europe. Accordingly, all its men were volunteers whose civilian aptitudes seemed to prepare them for swift operations in snow. Among them were lumberjacks, game wardens, forest rangers, and professional skiers. The 1st Special Service Force was remarkable also in another way; its personnel were drawn about equally from Canada and from the United States. It was an early experiment in international co-operation, and it worked well. After vigorous campaigning-but not much of it in snow-the unit was disbanded in January 1945 and most of its American personnel transferred to a new regiment, the 474th Infantry. Still another commando-type outfit was the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), which was organized in October 1943. Its specialization was operation in Burma along the Ledo Road, and its personnel were drawn from men who knew jungle fighting. This unit was commanded by Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill and became very famous under the nickname of "Merrill's Marauders." Like the men of the ranger battalions and of the 1st Special Service Force, the Marauders were volunteers. At length, on 10 August 1944 the unit was reorganized and called the 475th Infantry. Members of this unit were later authorized to wear the Ranger tab.
Rangers; Selected Combat Actions in WWII
U.S. Army Special Operations in World War II
Merrill's Marauders
Merrill's Marauders: Combined Operations in Northern Burma in 1944, Dr. Gary J. Bjorge. (HTML)
Merrill's Marauders

"Ranger units, which had fought in World War II and had been dropped from the postwar organization, reappeared during the Korean War. Whereas the World War II rangers had been organized in battalions, the Korean War rangers were organized into separate companies that were normally attached to infantry divisions. All rangers were volunteers, airborne qualified, and specially trained for their mission of infiltrating enemy lines and attacking command posts, artillery positions, tank parks, communications centers, and other key facilities. Since their highly specialized capabilities were not utilized in Korea to the extent anticipated, the ranger companies were inactivated by the end of 1951. Ranger techniques were perpetuated by individual training. In the fall of 1951 a Ranger Department was established at the Infantry School with the goal of providing one ranger-qualified officer per rifle company and one noncommissioned officer per platoon. Starting in July 1954, every newly commissioned Regular Army officer assigned to the infantry was required to take either ranger or airborne training.
Rangers of the 50s
Eyes behind the Lines: US Army Long-Range Reconnaissance and Surveillance Units, revised ed., James F. Gebhardt. Paper #10. (PDF)

"In 1973, the Army chief of staff, General Creighton Abrams directed the activation of the first battalion sized Ranger unit since World War II. He charted, The Ranger Battalion is to be an elite, light and a proficient infantry battalion in the world. A battalion that can do things with its hands and weapons better than anyone ...wherever the Ranger Battalion goes, itmust be apparent that it is the best. In January 1974, the 1st Ranger Battalion activated at Fort Stewart, GA. The 2nd Ranger Battalion subsequently activated at Fort Lewis on October 1, 1974. On October 25, 1983, the 1st and 2nd Ranger Battalions spearheaded Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of Grenada, with a low-level airborne assault onto Point Salinas airstrip. Because of the demonstrated effectiveness of the Rangers, the Army activated the regimental headquarters and the 3rd Ranger Battalion in 1984, both at Fort Benning, GA." Ft Lewis website


Today's Rangers are firmly established, widely popular and sufficiently advertised.
Witness this short synopsis from the MSNBC Facts web site (mistakes and all!!):
Their slogan is "Rangers lead the way," and in almost every American war, the Rangers have done just that.The history of the Rangers goes back to the American Revolution when the Continental Congress created a "Corps of Rangers," who were to be sharpshooters and reconnaissance troops.Ranger units were also raised in the War of 1812, the Mexican War and the Civil War. They were small units of raiders that could get in and out of a enemy position,creating havoc.
The modern Rangers, though, trace their history back tothe brave men of the Ranger Battalions of World War II. They were organized in 1942 as small commando units that could get behind enemy lines to create havoc. ... in the D-Day plans. Rangers were assigned a task that seems nearly impossible - they were to take out the German defenses on a 150-foot tall cliff as the main body of soldiers approached. With guts and muscles, the Rangers climbed the sheer cliff of Pointe du Hoc and took out the deadly anti-ship guns. No sooner had the Rangers from Pointe du Hoc accomplished their mission, when they had to attack even more positions to save the invasion force on the beaches.Their actions on the high ground are credited for saving the Allied invasion.When the war was over, the Ranger units were disbanded. But soon, they would be put together again.
In 1950, communists tried to take over Korea. The United States fought with the South Koreans to turn the communists back to the North. Rangers were reactivated, and for the first time, black men and white men fought alongside each other. The Rangers were used as scouts in Korea, and helped perform raids and ambushes before bigger units came in.The Rangers played an important role in the Vietnam War, performing long-range patrols into dangerous territory. They would go behind enemy lines for weeks, reporting where the enemy was for bombers and artillery units. Rangers fought in Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989, the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and in 1993 were sent to Somalia to capture Mohammed Aidid, the leader of a guerilla force wreaking havoc in the African nation."
click below for some "first-hand" stories:
Ranger Association
75th Ranger Regiment Association

U.S. Army Rangers are elite warriors. During World War II, they more than proved their daring, skill and ability to do the impossible in deadly places such as San Pietro and Normandy. Once the shooting stopped, the Army disappeared its Ranger battalions. But Rangers came back for the Korean and Vietnam wars, where they operated as separate companies executing high-risk, behind-the-lines missions with the same dash and courage as their predecessors. After Vietnam, the Pentagon re-formed this extraordinary force -- 1st, 2nd and 3rd battalions, 75th Rangers Regiment -- and they've been out there in tombstone country doing hard duty ever since. Like the Rangers of WW II, Korea and Vietnam fame, they're at the forward edge: parachuting into Grenada and Panama at night to a warm welcome from enemy tracers and -- overtly or covertly -- at every other hot spot coming down. You know, killing fields like Somalia, where a surrounded Ranger company fought off a force 20 times its size. In recognition of the especially high risks they take both in training and in combat and how hard they work to keep in razor-sharp shape, the Army awarded these heroes the distinctive black beret. Like the word SWAT on the back of an FBI or police uniform, the beret says: We're special. Few in today's slack Army can make the physical and mental cut. Few can handle the discipline, the sacrifice, the 100-pound load and fast Ranger pace. Few are willing to pay the price to join these American Spartans who live by the sword and -- if asked -- die by the sword. Just like our elite Special Forces troopers with their green berets, and paratroopers with theirs in maroon, our Rangers take great pride in their black berets, which to them are far more than headgear. The black beret is a badge of honor that says: We are as good as you can get. We're the last surviving warriors in an Army gone soft because of the bureaucrats at the top, the go-along-to-get-along types in the middle and the overabundance of what's-in-it-for-me slugs down at the bottom....A beret for all ranks won't fix the problems driving the exodus -- self-serving senior officer leadership that's turned micromanagement and Consideration of Others into an art form. Nor will a beret do much for the low pay, ghetto-like housing and back-to-back deployments in running sores like Bosnia and Kosovo. Nor will it return the ideals of Duty, Honor, Country that are now just words because slick ticket-punching managers have replaced stand-up-and-be-counted leaders. Only leadership can fix the Army's problems. I hear Shinseki is a good man. A smart general knows when to defend and when to retreat. He should cut his losses on the beret. This might upset a few Ranger-hating staff pukes and a factory in Arkansas that's gearing up to make a million black berets. It might even annoy Bill Clinton, who might be into the irony of an Army that his policies have demolished wearing Monica-esque black berets. Spiking the berets-for-everyone order would send a message that Shinseki reads the signposts loud and clear and is smart enough to change course when he's headed in the wrong direction.

Ongoing chapters - The War on Terrorism - Afghanistan, and Iraq - will undoubtedly be compiled by another advocate and admirer of the Rangers in the not too distant future

Sua Sponte RIP to inspirational Rangers in my life - Lt. Colonel William Powell, Major Malvesti, Gen Wayne A Downing - and PDG
**"The 2nd Cav redeployed (from OIF) to Fort Polk in July 2004, and the Army shortly thereafter issued orders to move the colors to Fort Lewis to begin transformation to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The 2d Cavalry Regiment will be the fourth unit to transform to a Stryker vehicle equipped organization as part of the Army's Transformation Initiatives. This is a significant and historic change for the regiment, because it symbolizes a return to the storied original heritage of the 2d Regiment of Dragoons in which the soldiers enter the battle mounted and then have the capability to fight dismounted in any terrain or circumstance. As champions of modernization, the 2d Dragoons will proudly continue the legacy built upon 168 years of adaptability and honorable service. From the Swamps of Florida to the Deserts of Iraq, the 2d Dragoons continue to live up to their Motto Toujours Pret (Always Ready) when our Nation calls.- Ft Lewis website"

Ranger related books from Osprey Publishing


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