Journals of Major Robert Rogers

Category: Journal
Last Updated: 26 Jan 2021
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Robert Rogers was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire, (or Methuen Massachusetts), in 1727. His parents, James and Mary McFatridge Rogers were Scotch-Irish, also had three other sons James, Richard, and John. 1 They lived in a small town in Massachusetts, which was a frontier town with log houses along the Merrimack valley. Robert was fourteen or fifteen years of age when his father founded a settlement in the wilderness on 2,190 acres of land, which he named Munterloney. From his youth, he was inured to the hardships of the frontier, acquiring character traits of decisiveness, self-reliance and boldness, which distinguished him later in life. Rogers, acquired his scanty stock of “book –learning,” as he termed from a log school house that was sixteen feet long and twelve feet wide. 3

Most of his knowledge came from his father’s farm, where he learned to hunt, trap, and fish which he earned a small living from. While he was on hunting excursions he mingled with the Indians and learned some of their language, hunting methods and their habits. 4 He was six feet in statute, well proportioned, and one of the most athletic men of his time, well known in all the trials of strength and activity among the young men of his vicinity, and for several miles around. About six years after they moved, Robert’s father James was walking through the woods on his way to visit a friend, when he was shot by the far away neighbor, thinking that he was a bear. He died later that night from his wound. Robert told some locals at a town tavern, that his mother was also killed by some hunters that thought her tracks were a bear. Everyone in the tavern thought he was telling a huge lie and tallest tale so they bought him a drink for the greatest lie. Robert was not lying; he did lose both of his parents. Robert joined the military service when he was twenty-eight.

In 1746, when King George’s War broke out, Robert joined the New Hampshire militia as a private in Captain Ladd’s Scouting Company and then again later (1747) in Eastman’s Company, to guard the New Hampshire frontier. 7 there were ample details given of his adventures; most of them were given by himself in his journals. He wrote a book ‘A Concise Account of North America”, which was a success and attracted royal attention. 8

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In 1754 Robert became involved with a gang of ounterfeiters; he was indicted, but never brought to trial because the war broke out. 9 In 1755, France and Britain had declared war on each other, and conflict was spreading to the colonies of Europe. They were fighting over the right of discovery and occupation, each one wanting more of America. Since Rogers was an experienced frontiersman, the colonial government dropped the counterfeit charges against him, meanwhile he was appointed as an official recruiter for Colonel John Winslow. 10 In 1756, Rogers started recruiting soldiers for his militia.

Rogers had an unusual talent for training his men in the most dire circumstances. He trained them in live fire, they learned to handle the extreme cold, how to live off of very little food. 11 By the end of 1756, Rogers had raised four regimens of rangers. He himself commanded one of them, and they were known as Rogers Rangers. He wrote a guide for the Rangers to follow that had twenty eight rules for ranging. This guide later became famous, and was called Robert Rogers’ 28 “Rules of Ranging”. 12 Robert’s brothers all served in a regimen of the Rangers.

His brother Richard died in 1757 of small- pox at Fort Henry, his body was dug up and found mutilated and scalped by hostile natives. 13 His brother James stayed on with the King’s Rangers and assumed Robert’s post after the American Revolutionary War ended. Not much is known about brother John after the war was over. Rogers was personally responsible for paying his soldiers, He went deeply in debt, and had to take out loans when their payroll was raided while in transport. Rogers was never reimbursed for his expenses by the government or the British Army. 4 Over the next three years the Rangers served under a series of unsuccessful British commanders. The Rangers slowly grew to twelve companies as well as several additional contingents of natives who had pledged their allegiance to the British cause.

The Rangers were kept separate from the British regulars. 15 In 1758 Rogers went to Lake George with about one hundred and eighty men, and had a battle with the French and Indians, he lost one hundred and fourteen of his men. After that battle, General Abercrombie presented him with a commission of Major of the Rangers. 6 In 1759 Major General Amherst sent Rogers with 200 men to attack St. Francis, they had been terrorizing the New England frontiers for centuries. They had been killing their cattle, burning their buildings, and killing the men and children and kidnapping the women. Rogers was to destroy the village but not harm any women and children. After it was over 200 Indians had been killed and they set the village on fire, because when morning came Rogers had seen over 600 scalps strung upon poles and doorways, which were mostly English. 7

In 1760, Rogers and 600 Rangers and seventy Indians, in whale boats left for Montreal. He met up with Pontiac, the next morning they talked and smoked the peace-pipe. Pontiac gave him and his men provisions for his journey, and a few Indian braves for escort. 18 In 1764, he married Elizabeth Brown, daughter of Reverend Arthur Brown. 19 Between 1762 and 1765, he bought and sold land, some of it was very expensive. Some of them he purchased and some of them he received in consideration of military services. 0

Major Rogers wasn’t a good husband, after seventeen years Elizabeth divorced him on the grounds of desertion and infidelity. 21 In 1764, after many failed business ventures, trying to recoup money that he had spent trying to equip the Rangers, he could not pay his debtors. He suffered financial ruin. His creditors had him put in a New York prison for his debts, but he escaped. 22 In 1765, his journals and A Concise Account of North America were published; this work was a description of several British Colonies on that Continent, their population, their religion, boundaries, and their situations.

It also included several accounts of Nations and Tribes of Indians residing in those parts; it took into account their customs, manners, government, and the population. 23 Immediately after that publication, Rogers wrote a stage play that memorialized Pontiac and his rebellion. 24 He gained some success for his publications, and simultaneously attracted royal attention. His name and fame became familiar through the country and among both armies. 25 Rogers went to King George III to propose an expedition to find the Northwest Passage.

In 1766, Rogers was bestowed an appointment as Commandant at Michilimickinac. After the conquest of Canada, this had become the most important military and trading post in the interior. 26 Rogers and his wife Elizabeth moved to Fort Michilimickinac where he began his duties as royal governor. This appointment was an office of great responsibility, a rare opportunity for Rogers, who took advantage of it. While the Governor, he was not supposed to incur expenses without authority; Rogers did so, was arrested and taken to Montreal, but he managed to get himself acquitted of the charges. 7

In 1769 Rogers returned to England where he reported to the King. Rogers remained there until 1775, while there, he served as a soldier for awhile for Algerine, which was a job he performed very well, even though Rogers was approaching age fifty. 28 One day while Rogers was a passenger in a mail coach, a highway robber stopped the coach, and stuck a gun through the window and demanded that everyone give him their valuables; Rogers drew the thief through the window by his collar, and told the coachman to drive on.

The robber had a reward offered for him of L50 sterling, which Rogers collected. 28 While Rogers was away, his friend Amherst was replaced as commander of the British forces in America by Sir Thomas Gage. Gage hated Rogers because of his friendship with Amherst, and the fact that he was a colonial. Gage set out to destroy Rogers, he wanted him removed as royal governor, however had to be careful because Rogers was appointed by the King. 29 In 1776 Rogers fought his last war in America.

He seemed to have slowed down; he did not display his usual leadership, which he had always showed in the previous years. 30 In 1777 he returned to England where he was not heard much about, I know he started frequenting the local taverns, I am sure telling his tales of adventures. He will always be known for the manual that he had written for surviving while ranging. To this day his writings “Rogers 28 rules of Ranging” 31are given to every Ranger that joins the service as a Ranger. Robert Rogers died in 1799. He will be sadly missed and his stories will go on forever.

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Journals of Major Robert Rogers. (2017, Mar 25). Retrieved from

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