This Place in History: Rogers’ Rangers



At ‘This Place in History’ we’re in Granby with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

‘We’re talking about these two stone cairns that are behind us that are probably some of the earliest Anglo burial sites in the state of Vermont. And they just so happen to belong to two soldiers who were part of Rogers’ Rangers,” began Perkins.

‘Rogers’ Rangers really was the first kind of special forces unit in the North American continent. It was put together by Robert Rogers. He started out as a captain and ultimately ended up as a major in the British Army. We’re talking 1750s now. He was asked to put together troops that could fight in the wilderness. At this time, the English were fighting against the French and both had Native American allies.”

“There were a lot of irregular actions taking place. Rogers became known far and wide for the training and the rules that his troops would follow. Those ‘Rules of Ranging’ are still used by today’s United State Rangers,” explained Perkins.

‘This was really a contested area between England to the south and France to the north. There weren’t many people living here, either French or English because of that war going back and forth. There were raids by both French and English regular troops, and also by Native Americans on both sides, with lots of casualties to civilians and captives taken in both areas.”

“In 1759, the Abenaki, who were allied with the French had been raiding all down through what’s now northern Vermont, northern New Hampshire and northern New York. Rogers was told to take his men north and to raid the main Abenaki village that they knew of, called St. Francis. It’s now called Odanak, in Quebec, near Montreal. They got to St. Francis, burned the village and killed a lot of people. It was a massacre of the Abenaki on the hands of the Rangers and then they took off into the wilderness, being pursued by the French army,” said Perkins.

‘They crossed Lake Memphremagog, landing up around Newport. And then followed the game trails and the river routes down through northern Vermont to end up at the Connecticut River, to follow it down. Where we are in Granby would have been along that route, probably following some of the Moose River down here.”

“We know a lot about this action because most of these men were very literate and they kept journals. Rogers kept a journal. Many of his subordinates kept journals and one of those subordinates, Sgt. Campbell, who had a group of men, came through this area and he wrote in his journal that they were very hungry and had to live off the land. They had no supplies with them.”

“They saw a pack of wolves attacking a moose and so they figured they could get the meat from that moose. It ended up that the wolves attacked his men. Two of the men died before the wolves could be driven off. And those men were buried in stone cairns right here. It’s rare to have an old grave like this and as well documented as it is,” concluded Perkins.

At ‘This Place in History’!

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historic markers, click here.

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