Tuesday, February 14, 2012

More Recent Reading: White Devil and Roger's Rangers

Tam does an excellent and enticing review of White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery And Vengeance in Colonial America*, a very well written book that covers the length and breadth of the French and Indian war with a focus on Roger's Rangers and their raid on the Abenaki village of St. Francis in New France.

White Devil's author, Stephen Brumwell, knows how to make the past come alive and has produced a book that is hard to put down. The battles and tactical mishaps are wonderfully described, as is the savagery of the fighting in each engagement and its aftermath. In short, your chances of survival when captured by Indians was generally quite low and lots of suffering before you died was expected. Similarly, Indian captives didn't always fare well either and the laws of war were often observed more in the breech than as a matter of course.

Interestingly, today three active military units in North America all claim descent from Roger's Rangers.

  • The first is the one that most people would assume to be so descended: The US Army's 75th Ranger Regiment.

  • The second is the Queen's York Rangers, 1st American Regiment. During the American Revolution, Rogers remained a loyalist under interesting circumstances described by Brumwell in his book. Currently a Canadian Militia (Reserve) force armoured reconnaissance unit, The Rangers parade out of Aurora, Ontario and Fort York Armory in Toronto and have recently been in engagements in Afghanistan and continue the Ranger tradition in Canada.

  • The third unit, interestingly enough, is the 1st Battalion, 119th Field Artillery, A Michigan National Guard Unit. Dubbed "The finest infantry unit in the artillery" the Red Lions have continued the Ranger tradition along with superior artillery fire.

Quite a lasting legacy from a force that disappeared off the regimental rolls once the French and Indian War ceased, and whose evolutionary wilderness war-fighting techniques and Rules of Ranging still resonate with light infantry forces worldwide through the present day.

In addition to White Devil, The Journals of Major Robert Rogers, one of the primary sources identified and relied upon by Brumwell in his book are also available for purchase on Amazon. The compilation is a great read as a primary source from the period.

*the link to White Devil has the small proceeds from the purchase going to Tam's Amazon Associate account rather than my own. After all, she found it, reviewed it, and got me to read it so use her link and you won't be steered wrong.

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