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Subject: 1757 - Rogers' Rangers Expedition 1757
Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2001 19:57:46 EDT
Rogers' Rangers Expedition 1757
Source: The History of Rogers' Rangers, Vol I, The Beginnings by B. G.
On Jan 15, 1757, Major Sparks, Rogers' commanding officer at Fort Edward,
the order that launched Rogers Rangers on the first of their famous Winter
British commanding officers were uneasy as to what might be brewing at the
ominous French fortress's Ticonderoga and Crown Point. Consequently, Rogers
marched from Fort Edward on Jan 15, with his Lieutenant, John Stark; Ensign
Page of Richard Rogers's Company and fifty Rangers from the two Rogers's
Arriving at Fort William Henry that night, Rogers informed the Commandant,
Eyre, that he had been ordered to reconnoiter the French forts with
Rangers, and to harass the enemy in any way that he saw fit.
Major Eyre assigned Capt. Speakman to choose thirty-five of the best officers
men from his and Hobbs's Companies at Fort William Henry. "All were
that went on this Scout," but Speakman had many aspirants. Besides himself,
sixteen officers and men from his Company were accepted; while Ensign James
Rogers with fourteen men of Hobbs's Company also volunteered (Capt. Hobbs, the
fighting Deacon, was in the hospital with smallpox).
Robert Baker, a Volunteer in the 44th Regiment was also taken. From this
15, 1757, Hobbs' and Speakman's Companies came under Rogers' command, and,
although as yet unofficial, they constituted part of Rogers Rangers.
The next two days were busily spent in preparing snowshoes and provisions for
expedition. It appears that the Rangers whom Rogers brought from Fort Edward
had snow-shoes: for as early as November 11, 1756, Loudoun had transmitted
through Richard Rogers for the Rogers's Companies to construct them. But
and Speakman's Companies had never engaged in any winter campaigns which were
so characteristic of Rogers Rangers; naturally the new Companies were not com-
plete in this very essential winter gear, and it remained for the seasoned
of the Rogers's Companies to instruct them in the making of snowshoes.
A glimpse at the officers and men comprising this first major expedition of
reveals a strange but deadly potent conglomeration of fighting men: Of the
Capt. Thomas Speakman, second in command to Rogers, was a seasoned fighter
as well as a Ranger. Rogers' lieutenants, John Stark and Samuel Kennedy were
veterans as scouts but as yet had never been in a heated action. His Ensigns
(present in the expedition) James Rogers, Jonathan Brewer and Caleb Page were
also skilled scouts but unbaptised by battle, with the exception of Ensign
Brewer, who had seen considerable action in Nova Scotia.
Two volunteers, Andrew Gardiner and Robert Baker had joined the expedition
with the prime thought of distinguishing themselves and thus win promotion.
was from the frontier town of Fort Number Four, New Hampshire (Charlestown)
was serving as a Cadet in Rogers' own Company. His goal was an Ensigncy in
Rogers' Rangers, while Baker, a Cadet in the 44th Regiment strove for an
in the Regulars.
James Henry and a Dutch-Indian half -breed, William Hendrick Phillips of
Rogers' Company had served with Rogers in his various exploits of 1756; but
Henry alone could boast of being one of the original thrity Rangers of Rogers'
nucleous Company in 1755 and unlike Phillips, had served in Rogers' first
ious action at "The Isle au Mouton". Stephen Holland, the only Sergeant of
Richard Rogers' Company in the expedition was an industrious individual, but
had not had the opportunity to distinguish himself. Sergeants Charles Joseph
and John Howard of Hobb's Company were also inexperienced in battle. The same
could be said of Sergeant Increase Moore of Speakman's Company.
A status which existed in Hobb's and Speakman's Companies exclusively, were
represented by Ebenezer Perry and John Edmonds of Hobb's and Samuel Fisk of
Speakman's who were also novices.
Among the Privates:
William Morris of Robert Rogers' Company who had been a Sergeant from July
to September 1756, when he was demoted to his enlistment status of a private
a breach of discipline. He had prevailed on Rogers to let him serve in the
was determined to recover his non-com status if events permitted. Other
characters were Thomas Burnside of Rogers' Company and Joshua Martin and John
Shute of Dick Rogers' who, though frequently distinguishing himself, served
length of the war as a private, not desiring anything higher.
Like many of the veterans of Rogers Rangers, Shute was happy enough to serve
the ranks and not take on the responsibilities of an advancement. Among other
individuals, Hobbs's Company furnished a Spanish Catholic, Emanuel la Portuga,
who was soon to die heroicly. Among the many young men in Speakman's Company
was Thomas Brown, a 16 yer old boy, who, as a consequence of this
expedition went through an incredible period of harrowing captivity.
Practically all the above mentioned individuals who survived the forth coming
were promoted as a reward for their outstanding services and deeds of valor.
A few notes on the gear of these four companies reveals that Rogers' Rangers
into this battle dressed in greenish buckskin (viz., the two Rogers'
other two companies of the Corps (Hobb's and Speakman's) were the only
Rangers who were in unifrom which consisted of a grey duffle coat and vest,
breeches and leggings. Arms consisted of individually owned muskets,
and firelocks in the Rogers's Companies as well as privately owned scalping
and hatchets (or tomahawks). Hobb's and Speakman's carried regulation
cartouch boxes, and wore regulation shoes from the King's stores, and were
hatchets by a contractor. Unlike the Rogers's Companies, they did not all
have the Corps' most prolific weapon, the scalping knife.
The Rogers's Company officers carried compasses in the large end of their
horns. This excellent practice was later imitated by all the officers of
Rangers. Ammunition per man consisted of 60 rounds of powder and ball.
Provisions consisted of two weeks' supply of dried beef, sugar, rice and
and corn meal. The food rations were carried in a knapsack strapped over the
As Rogers desired that the utmost secrecy be maintained in regard to his
he did not start until the evening of the 17th. Shortly after dark, eighty
five well picked
and equipped Officers and Rangers assembled on the fort 's parade. Rogers
personally inspected each and every man to see that he was properly equipped
with a musket,
sixty rounds of powder and ball and two weeks' rations of food. As quickly
ness descended to form a protective screen, the expediton filed out of the
the quiet frosty night wrapped in blankets (a Rangers' winter campaign coat)
resembling a long line of ghostly phantoms wending their ghastly way to some
theater of death.
Marching only a few miles down the lake to the first narrows of Lake George,
made their camp on the east side of the lake at a point where the steep slope
a mountain covered their rear, and the frozen surface of the lake lay
free of any obstruction as far as the eye could see in the clear night.
In spite of the strength of this position, Rogers fixed strong sentries at
about the encampment. They were not to be relieved from the main body until
morning. As Rogers most aptly put it, "profound secrecy and silence being
of the most importance in these cases". Each sentry therefore, consisting of
men, two of whom were constantly alert, and when relieved by their companions
it without noise; and, in the event of those seeing or hearing anything to
they were not to speak, but one of them was to silently retreat and notify
The strategy of these tactics were, of course, to warn the main body as
as possible so that they might deploy themselves quietly to repulse a night
If any noisy alarm was given the enemy would rush in before the Rangers had
to form for battle, and so catch them at a disadvantage.
The night passing tranquilly, Rogers' men were up at the break of dawn as
the usual time for the French Indians to make a surprise attack. During the
Rogers had allowed small fires to be built in the heavy part of the woods, in
about three feet deep. The coals were now rekindled and the Rangers quickly
themselves gruel of cornmeal, which was washed down with rum from their wooden
canteens. As they ate, Rogers went from man to man asking if they were lame
their first day's march on the ice, as several new men had slipped on the
march, but none would admit their disability and it was not until the day's
had started that Rogers, standing to one side, picked out eleven lame men as
column filed past.
To be continued Part 2, p. 118.
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth