Ranger Origins

Rangers came into existence in response to challenges that were far different than those faced in the Old World during the 17th century. The major differences were in the ruggedness of the terrain and the enemy they faced in the New World. The American Indian did not conceive of war as a long campaign of maneuver, and he despised pitched battles. Hardened by his environment, accustomed to traveling great distances on foot, he was more inclined to use stealth and reconnaissance to select his objective, then execute a swift and devastating raid that employed terror to maximum advantage.

European tactics and methods were useless against this combination of terrain and enemy. Survival dictated the need for new methods. Small groups of men began to move out from the settlements to scout the surrounding territory for signs of enemy movement and to provide early warning. Reports of these groups include words such as: "This day, ranged 9 miles." Thus, the "Ranger" was born. As their skill in woodcraft and this new form of warfare was perfected, it was now the turn of the "Rangers" to use the raid. They were versatile from the start, able to move on foot or horseback. In addition to over-land raids, they conducted over-water operations against the French and their Indian allies.

The first organized Ranger unit was activated in 1670 to combat a hostile tribe under the leadership of Metocomet, also called King Phillip. The Rangers, commanded by Captain Benjamin Church, crushed the attacks and ended King Phillip's War in 1675.

Click here to read more about Rangers in Colonial America.


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