Bob Shepherd at the statue of Maj Robert Rogers, Rogers’ Island, NY.
Whilst visiting up State New York for an Autumn break, I managed to fulfill a lifetime ambition. To go on a pilgrimage and pay homage to the great Robert Rogers.
When I was a young SAS (22nd Special Air Service Regiment) student back in the mid 1970s in Hereford, those of us that passed the first phase of selection were handed out a copy of Rogers Rangers Rules. These rules were written in the late 1750s by the commander of the Rangers, Major Robert Rogers. The rules have been taken on by almost every Western Special Forces unit since.
Rogers was born in New Hampshire. His family were Scots/Irish. He had the skills of a woodsman and got on well with the native Indians. He fought in the French Indian War for the British, and he achieved some amazing operations out in the Wilderness. He and his Rangers dressed mainly in a mix of green or dark clothing, Indian attire, an array of British and Indian weaponry, and some wore blue Scots bonnets. The British red tunic wasn’t for them. They operated mainly ahead of the British troops and with minimal kit-much like today’s Long Range Patrol Groups and Special Forces.
In his ranks he had a mix of Native Americans, free slaves, Scots and Irish and local settlers. The great thing about this period is that he gave everyone an equal chance of promotion, and to lead operations. in other words, a man not in the least racist. What’s happened to America since?
Operating in the Rangers was tough. Going out into the wilderness in all seasons, fighting and surviving. There are stories recorded of Rangers turning into cannibals as a last resort whilst in survival mode.
Travelling through the Hudson Valley and up along Lake George to Ticonderoga, and further on to Lake Champlain to Crown Point, gave me an idea of what they must have gone through (even though I benefited from all the comforts of modern travel). The highlight for me though was setting foot on Rogers Island which sits across the bank from the small, sleepy community of Fort Edward. This modest scrap of land is where Robert Rogers trained, lived, fought alongside his men and penned the enduring “Rogers Rules”. Walking through the grass I came upon a clearing where the monument to him stands. It was simply breathtaking.
I’ve spent years reading up on Robert Rogers and his Rangers. For those of you who are interested, the best book by far in my opinion is Journals of Robert Rogers by Timothy J Todish, with some fabulous illustrations by Gary S Zaboly. It’s a very well written account of Rogers’ life and absolutely pulls no punches.
15 thoughts on “A Pilgrimage to Rogers Island, NY.”
Excellent article never knew a thing about this guy
Illuminating to say the least
Keep up the good work and excellent articles
I will certainly get myself a copy, sounds really interesting.
loving the picture mate.
Thanks Paul, love from us to all at home mate.
thanks… how is the recommended book compared to “Nortwest Passage”?
It’s more of a history of Robert Rogers, by way of documented evidence, family knowledge and other elements.
Rogers had always wanted to discover the NW Passage, but was refused funding by HMG. It appears that a few senior British officers were keeping him down, probably through childish jealousy.
Definitely read both for the history of the regional characters of the time.
Finished the book… a bit of difficult english from the beggining, but got used to. That guys definately knew how to do a solid CTR, and amphibious ops!
You’ve seen it yourself Bob, career officers in the ‘ regular army’ versus irregular soldiers, more than often is there little love lost…
Thanks for quick reply Sir
Thanks for the post. Came across this while researching an upcoming novel. An ancestor (Obadiah Deland) served in the French and Indian war and our revolution. His service has been the inspiration for my fictional work (CAPTAIN’S CROSS) set in 1753 (to be published in 2016). Your books look interesting and I am looking forward to a good read.
All the very best with your novel…I look forward to reading it.
Very best regards,
Check out Ray Mears documentary on Rogers Rangers.
I have a copy of a hand written note from Robert Roger’s to an ancestor of mine, about FEB 1754, asking him to destroy the counterfeit bill’s he had given my ancestor, as Rogers was about to be tried for counterfeiting.
Richard, that would be worth some money today for collectors. I know Robert Rogers had trouble getting money owed to him and his Rangers from the British. He even went to great lengths by travelling to the UK to try to get what they were owed. I’m sure you know that’s where he died…and was laid to rest in a pauper’s grave in South London.
Just learned that Rogers w as the one who uncovered (by playing the part of a fellow patriot) Nathan Hale as a spy.