Rogers' Rangers was a group of colonial militia that fought for the British during the French and Indian War. Commanded by Robert Rogers they operated primarily in the Lake George and Lake Champlain regions of New York. The group was formed during the winter of 1755 by forces entrenched at Fort William Henry. The Rangers employed some of the earlier forms of guerrilla warfare used by European armies, used frequently during winter raids against French towns and emplacements, travelling on snowshoes and on frozen rivers.
Never fully respected by the regular British forces, they were often the only non-Indian force able to operate in the region due to the harsh winter conditions, and the difficulties of moving regular forces though the region's mountainous terrain.
After the British forces surrendered Fort William Henry, the Rangers were stationed on Rogers Island near Fort Edward. This allowed the Rangers to train and operate with more freedom than the regular forces.
During 1759 the Rangers were involved in one of their most famous operations. The Rangers were ordered to destroy the Indian settlement of St. Francois in Quebec from which attacks on British villages were frequently being launched. Using a force of 200 Rangers, and leaving from Crown Point in New York. Rogers lead his forces deep into French territory. Following the successful destruction of the village, the force ran out of food during their retreat back through northern Vermont. Once the Rangers reached a safe location along the Connecticut River, Rogers left them encamped, and returned a few days later with food, and relief forces from Fort at Number 4 now Charlestown, New Hampshire the nearest English town.
At the end of the war the Rangers were given the task of taking command of Detroit from the French forces on behalf of the British crown.
After the war most of the Rangers returned to civilian life. At the outbreak of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord, former Rangers were among the Minutemen firing at the British. After these events, Robert Rogers offered his help to the commander of the Colonial Army, George Washington. Washington refused, fearing that Rogers was a spy because Rogers had just returned from a long stay in England. Rogers was infuriated by this and did indeed join the British--forming the Queen's Rangers and later the King's Rangers.
During the Second World War, the U.S. Army was interested in the tactics of the British commando units, which by then had a couple of years of experience, and wanted similar special operations forces of their own. Recalling this colonial unit, they took the name "Rangers" as the official title; these units consider Rogers their founding father.
The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) of the Canadian Army claim to be descended from Rogers' Rangers.
The historical novel Northwest Passage (1937), an American classic, gave great verisimilitude to the events of Rogers' Rangers' raid on the Abenaki town of St. Francis. The first half of the novel was later adapted to film called Northwest Passage (1940).