THE EARLY RANGERS
The history of the American Ranger is a long and colorful one. It is a saga of courage, daring, and leadership. It is a story of men whose skills as soldiers have seldom been surpassed. During the Middle Ages, Rangiatorem, or Rangers, served the English King in his forest districts. Those long ago Rangers protected the deer from poachers, hunted wolves, and discouraged bandits from preying upon the forest hamlets. From the very beginning of the English settlements in North America, problems were encountered in defending against Indian attacks. Each colony needed a running army continually on foot to discover the Indians approach and give the militia time to assemble and march. During that period the word range was used to describe the movement of soldiers when they patrolled an area. Thus, soldiers who ranged were called Rangers. Parties of men ranged near the settlements, on the lookout for Indian war parties.
RANGERS OF THE 17TH, 18TH, CENTURIES
During the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, Rangers were volunteers who were looked upon as specialized, elite soldiers. They conducted the types of operations that are still considered as Ranger specialties; ranging (reconnoitering an area for information or searching for target opportunity), raiding, ambushing, attacking across unusually difficult terrain, and spearheading attacks. During operations, Rangers used the best available means of transportation. If the circumstances permitted, they rode horseback; however, their horses were used for transportation only. They usually dismounted and fought on foot. They also used boats whenever possible. Rangers conducted waterborne patrols and amphibious raids as early as the late seventeenth century. Units in New England sometimes conducted their winter ranging operations on snowshoes and ice skates. The most successful units were those that were composed of men who were familiar with living and working in the forests, on the prairies, or on the plains. Such men were very independent and only good leaders could secure their best performance.
During the French and Indian War (1755-63) on the American continent, companies of Rangers were raised for the British Army including the Ranger Company of the New Hampshire Provincial Regiment. This unit became commonly known as Major Robert Rogers' Rangers, the first modern rangers unit. Reconnaissance, ambushes, raids were the main tactics of the colonial Rangers and very little of these type of missions have changed over the centuries. It was, however, Robert Rogers who put Ranger training and standard operating procedures onto paper. The Standing Orders and Rules of Discipline have remained unchanged for centuries and are to this date taught to new Rangers. Striking at the enemy in their own areas of operation became a Ranger trademark. No matter the size of the raiding or ambushing unit, Rangers from conception through modern times have excelled at striking fear into their opponents' hearts when least expected.
The next two Ranger units are the inspiration for our Fideles Ranger mascot Ranger Rex
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
During the American Revolution (1775-1784), the individual states and the continental government made widespread use of Rangers. On June 14, 1775, with war on the horizon, the Continental Congress resolved that six companies of expert riflemen be immediately raised in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two in Virginia.
In 1777, this force of hardy frontiersmen provided the leadership and experience necessary to form the organization George Washington called the Corps of Rangers. Dan Morgan commanded the Corps of Rangers. The type of fighting used by the first Rangers was further developed during the Revolutionary War by Colonel Daniel Morgan, who organized the unit known as Morgan's Riflemen. These men, clad in frontiersman buckskin garb, schooled in the Indians' methods of forest fighting, and armed with the deadly, accurate frontiersmen's rifles were without equal. According to remarks by General Burgoyne, a famous British general, Morgan's men were the most famous corps of the Continental Army. All of them crack shots.
Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, organized another famous Revolutionary War Ranger element. Operating out of the Carolina swamps, they disrupted British communications and prevented the organization of loyalists to support the British cause. He and Dan Morgan above helped form the inspiration for Mel Gibsons character Benjamin Martin in his movie "Patriot."
Several famous men served as Rangers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For example, Daniel Boone was a North Carolina Ranger for a short time. Three of his sons commanded Ranger companies during the War of 1812. Nathan Hale was commanding a company of Connecticut Rangers during the Revolutionary War, when he volunteered for the spy mission that ed to his execution by the British.. In Illinois, during the Black Hawk War of 1832, Abraham Lincoln was a member of the State Frontier Guard whose members were called Rangers. He served in Elijah Illes' company then reenlisted as a Ranger in Jacob Early's company He ranged in Northwestern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin on the lookout for hostile Indians. The United States government and several frontier states continued to use Rangers as protection against hostile Indians. The United States Army maintained a 600-man battalion of Mounted Rangers on the prairies and plains of the Western frontier and Texas began using Rangers for the defense of its frontier.
THE CIVIL WAR
In 1862, during the Civil War (1861-1865), the Confederate government authorized the formation of Partisan Ranger bands to reconnoiter, raid, and ambush behind Union lines. Units were organized throughout the South; some provided very effective service. John Singleton Mosby was a famous Confederate Ranger during the Civil War. His raids on Union camps and bases were so effective, that part of North-Central Virginia soon became known as Mosby's Confederacy.
THE TEXAS RANGERS
After the Civil War, Rangers continued to guard the Texan frontier. In 1881, they fought their last battle with Indians, and their primary mission changed from Indian defense to law enforcement. Today, their descendants are the members of the small companies of Rangers who are part of the Texas State Police.
WORLD WAR II RANGER BATTALIONS
More than half a century passed without military Ranger units in America. However, during World War II (1941-1945), the United States, using British Commando standards, activated six Ranger infantry battalions. The Commandos used techniques that had been developed by Rangers in America more than two hundred years before. Rangers were given much tougher training than other infantrymen, and were best at hand-to-hand night fighting. Major (later Brigadier General) William O. Darby organized and activated the 1st Ranger Battalion on June 19, 1942, at Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. The members of the battalion were all handpicked volunteers. Rangers led the way by being the first United States troops to see ground combat in Europe at Dieppe.
The 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions participated in the June 6, 1944 D-Day landings at Omaha Beach, Normandy. It was during the bitter fighting along the beaches, that the Ranger motto was born. As the situation became critical on Omaha Beach, Brigadier General Norman D. Cota, Assistant Division Commander of the 29th Infantry Division, stated that the entire assault force must clear the beaches and advance inland or die. Whatever Cota's exact words, the motto of the Rangers became "Rangers lead the way." It is a valid motto, well earned.
The motto "Rangers Lead the Way" has proven true for over 60 years. Since the first group of hand picked volunteers was activated in WWII, Rangers have led the way on over 50 military campaigns including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Known as the 75th Ranger Regiment, today's Rangers are the premier light-infantry of the U.S. Army and serve as part of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Their mission is to plan and conduct special missions in support of U.S. policy and objectives. "Rangers Lead the Way" isn't just a motto, it's a fact. Each Ranger battalion is capable of deploying anywhere in the world with only 18 hours notice. Rangers are a highly trained and rapidly deployable light infantry force with specialized skills that enable it to engage a variety of conventional and Special Operations targets. Becoming a Ranger today requires completing one of the toughest military training schools in the world. Ranger candidates train to exhaustion, pushing the limits of their minds and bodies.
Our ranger history is adapted from the history on the web page of the U.S. Army Ranger Association, and our creed is modeled after the U.S.Army Ranger Creed. http://www.usmountainranger.org/news/history.htm and http://www.ranger.org/.