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Robert Rogers (soldier) : biography

7 November 1731 - 18 May 1795

Robert Rogers (7 November 1731 – 18 May 1795) was an American colonial frontiersman. Rogers served in the British army during both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. During the French and Indian War Rogers raised and commanded the famous Rogers' Rangers. Shadow Warriors

Pontiac's Rebellion

For more details on this topic, see Siege of Fort Detroit and Battle of Bloody Run.

On 7 May 1763, Pontiac's Rebellion erupted in Michigan. Chief Pontiac — with a force of 300 warriors — attempted to capture Fort Detroit by surprise. However, the British commander was aware of Pontiac's plan and his garrison was armed and ready. Undaunted, Pontiac withdrew and laid siege to the fort. Eventually more than 900 Indian warriors from a half-dozen tribes joined the siege of Fort Detroit.

Upon hearing this news, Rogers offered his services to General Jeffrey Amherst. Rogers then accompanied Captain James Dalyell with a relief force to Fort Detroit. Their ill-fated mission was terminated at the Battle of Bloody Run on 31 July 1763.

In an attempt to break Pontiac's siege of Fort Detroit, about 250 British troops led by Dalyell and Rogers attempted a surprise attack on Pontiac's encampment. However, Pontiac was ready — supposedly alerted by French settlers — and defeated the British at Parent's Creek two miles north of the fort. The creek, or run, was said to have run red with the blood of the 20 dead and 34 wounded British soldiers and was henceforth known as Bloody Run. Captain James Dalyell was one of those killed.

Soon after these events, Pontiac's rebellion collapsed and Chief Pontiac himself faded away into obscurity and death. Surprisingly, Rogers would later memorialize Pontiac and his rebellion in a stage play during his sojourn in England.


French and Indian War

In 1755, war engulfed the colonies, spreading also to Europe. Britain and France declared war on each other. The British in America suffered a string of defeats including Braddock's. Encouraged by the French victories, American Indians launched a series of attacks along the colonial frontier.

Ranger recruiter

The war broke out in the midst of Robert Rogers' counterfeiting trial. The colonial government decided it needed experienced frontiersmen more than it needed to punish counterfeiters; hence, the charges against Rogers were dismissed. Upon his release, Rogers was appropriated in 1755 as an official recruiter for the renowned Colonel John Winslow.

In 1756, Rogers arrived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and, using the authority invested in him by Colonel Winslow, began to muster soldiers for the British Crown. It was probably during this time that the recruits enlisted by him began to be called "Rogers' Rangers" by the local populace.

Due to attacks by Americans Indians along the frontier, Rogers' recruitment drive was well supported by the frightened and angry provincials. The masons of St. John's Lodge in Portsmouth received him with two degrees. In Portsmouth, he also met his future wife, Elizabeth Browne, the youngest daughter of Reverend Arthur Browne (Anglican). By the end of 1756, Rogers had raised three more companies of rangers, for a total of four, one of which he commanded.

Robert's brothers — James, Richard and possibly John — all served in Rogers' Rangers. Richard died of small pox in 1757 at Fort William Henry; his corpse was later disinterred and mutilated by hostile natives.Timothy J. Todish, The Annotated and Illustrated Journals of Major Robert Rogers; 2002, Purple Mountain Press. James would later assume Robert's post in the King's Rangers at the end of the American Revolutionary War. It is not known what became of John, but it is suspected that he remained in the south after Robert's 1762 visit to Charleston, South Carolina.

Rogers and the Rangers

Rogers raised and commanded the famous Rogers' Rangers that fought for the British during the French and Indian War. This militia unit operated primarily in the Lake George and Lake Champlain regions of New York. They frequently undertook winter raids against French towns and military emplacements, traveling on crude snowshoes and across frozen rivers. Never fully respected by the British regulars, Rogers' Rangers were one of the few non-Indian forces able to operate in the inhospitable region due to the harsh winter conditions and mountainous terrain.

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