Queen's Rangers

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Queen's Rangers
A Light Infantry Man and Huzzar of the Queen's Rangers, ca 1780.jpg
Active1776–1783
1791–1802[1]
Country Great Britain
Allegiance British Army
BranchBritish provincial rangers unit
TypeLight infantry
Dragoons
RoleGuerrilla warfare
Reconnaissance
SizeCompany
Garrison/HQFort William Henry (1755–1757)
Rogers Island (1757–1763)
Nickname(s)Queen's American Rangers, Simcoe's Rangers
EngagementsAmerican Revolutionary War
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rogers

Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe
A rifleman of the Queen's Rangers, ca. 1780

The Queen's Rangers, also known as the Queen's American Rangers, and later Simcoe's Rangers, were a Loyalist military unit of the American Revolutionary War. Formed in 1776, they were named for Queen Charlotte, consort of George III. The Queen's Rangers served as a light corps in the tradition of British rangers during the Seven Years' War, operating on the flanks and in advance of Crown forces, manning outposts, conducting patrols, and carrying out reconnaissance and raiding operations.

A small number of Black Loyalists served in the Queen's Rangers, such as the trumpeter Barnard E. Griffiths.[2] After the war, the Rangers were removed to the British colony of Nova Scotia and disbanded. On September 1, 1791, the regiment was reformed as the Queen's Rangers under Colonel Commandant John Graves Simcoe.[3]

French and Indian War[edit]

The origins of the Queen's Rangers began in the Seven Years' War (French and Indian War), during which France and Great Britain fought for territories in the New World. At first, French-Canadian habitants and their Indian allies were quite effective by employing guerrilla tactics against the British regulars. To counter the French tactics, Robert Rogers raised companies of New England frontiersmen for the British and trained them in woodcraft, scouting, and irregular warfare, sending them on raids along the frontiers of New France as Rogers' Rangers.[4]

The Rangers soon gained a considerable reputation, particularly in the campaigning in upstate New York around Fort Ticonderoga and Lake Champlain. They also launched a long-range raid to destroy Indian allies in the St. Lawrence valley, gained the first lodgement in the amphibious landings on Cape Breton to capture Louisbourg, and took the surrender of the French outposts in the upper Great Lakes at the conclusion of the war.[5]

American Revolutionary War[edit]

A grenadier of the Queen's Rangers, ca. 1780

When the American Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, about fifty Loyalist regiments were raised, including the Butler's Rangers, the King's Royal Regiment, and the Maryland and Pennsylvania Loyalists. Robert Rogers again raised a unit, this time in New York (mostly from Loyalists living in Westchester and Long Island), from western Connecticut, and with men from the Queen's Loyal Virginia Regiment.[6] The new unit was named in honour of Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III. It first assembled on Staten Island in August 1776 and grew to 937 officers and men, organized into eleven companies of about thirty men each, and an additional five troops of cavalry.[7]

The unit immediately set about building fortresses and redoubts, including the one that stood at Lookout Place. Rogers did not prove successful in this command and he left the unit on January 29, 1777. The regiment had suffered serious losses in the Battle of Mamaroneck, a surprise attack on their outpost position at Mamaroneck, New York, on October 22, 1776. Eleven months later, on September 11, 1777, they distinguished themselves at the Battle of Brandywine, suffering many casualties while attacking entrenched American positions.[8] They were then commanded by Major James Wemyss. On October 15, 1777, John Graves Simcoe was given command, when the unit became known informally as "Simcoe's Rangers".[9]

John Graves Simcoe turned the Queen's Rangers into one of the most successful British regiments in the war. They provided escort and patrol duty around Philadelphia (1777–8); fought in the Philadelphia Campaign; served as rearguard during the British retreat to New York (1778); fought the Stockbridge Militia in The Bronx (1778); fought on October 26, 1779, at Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where Simcoe was captured but freed in a prisoner exchange on December 31, 1779; at Charlestown, South Carolina (1780); in the raid on Richmond, Virginia with Benedict Arnold and in other raids in Virginia (1780–1).[10]

The unit surrendered at Yorktown and its rank and file were imprisoned at Winchester, Virginia. Earlier, on May 2, 1779, the regiment was taken into the American establishment as the 1st American Regiment and was later, on December 25, 1782, taken into the British establishment. In 1783, when the war was ended by the Treaty of Paris, the Queen's Rangers left New York for Nova Scotia, where it was disbanded. Many of the men from the unit formed Queensbury, New Brunswick on land grants.[11]

Post-war years[edit]

After 1791, when Simcoe was named lieutenant governor of the newly created Upper Canada, the Queen's Rangers was revived to form the core of the defence forces. The leaders were mostly veterans of the American War of Independence. Although there was little military action during this period, the Rangers were instrumental in building Upper Canada through Simcoe's road building campaign. In 1795–6 they blazed the trail for Yonge Street, and then turned to Dundas Street and Kingston Road. They also built the original Fort York, where they were stationed. The Queen's Rangers were again disbanded in 1802 with most of the men joining the York Militia. During the War of 1812, many of the disbanded rangers saw active service with the Upper Canadian militia.[12]

During the Rebellions of 1837, Samuel Peters Jarvis raised a new Queen's Rangers out of the York Militia to fight the rebels, which again disbanded soon after being raised.[13]

Legacy[edit]

Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe

A Canadian Army Reserve Regiment called The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC) traces its roots to the original Rogers' Rangers.[14] In 2012 the Rangers were assigned the perpetuation of three War of 1812 units and received battle honours accordingly.[15]

An Ontario historical plaque was erected in Yorktown, Virginia, by the province to commemorate the Queen's Rangers' role in Ontario's heritage.[16]

An elementary school in Copetown, Ontario was named after the Queen's Rangers in 1958. This school was closed in 2019.[17]

Notable officers[edit]

  • Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rogers: Commanded August 26, 1776, to January 29, 1777. Former commander of Rogers' Rangers during the French and Indian War.
  • Major Christopher French: Temporary Commander January 30 to May 4, 1777. Came from and returned to the 22nd Regiment of Foot.
  • Major James Wemyss: Commanded May 5 to October 14, 1777. Came from the 40th Regiment of Foot. Later served as field commander of the 63rd Regiment during the Southern Campaign.
  • Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe: Commanded October 15, 1777, to October 13, 1783. Came from the 40th Regiment of Foot.
  • Captain Æneas Shaw: Purchased his commission towards the start of the American Revolution, later becoming Captain. Rejoined the reformed Queen's Rangers in 1792 when the unit relocated to Kingston, and then went with Lieutenant Colonel Simcoe to York, present-day Toronto, in 1793.[18]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ War Office, A List of the Officers of the Army and marines with an Index; A Succession of Colonels; and a List of the Officers of the Army and Marines on Half-Pay. Also with an Index. Army List, 1794.
  2. ^ "REVISITING B. E. GRIFFITHS: FORMER SLAVE, QUEEN'S RANGER, AND "SON OF AFRICA"; Journal of the American Revolution". 23 April 2019. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  3. ^ "John Graves Simcoe; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  4. ^ "Robert Rogers; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  5. ^ "Francis Parkman".pp.266-267
  6. ^ Katcher, p.98
  7. ^ See mentions as in various contemporary reports e.g.By W. T. Sherwin, W.T. & Carlile, Richard, The Republican, Volume 9, London, 1824, pp.98-100
  8. ^ "Robert Rogers; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  9. ^ "John Graves Simcoe; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  10. ^ "John Graves Simcoe; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  11. ^ "Christopher Robinson; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  12. ^ "John Graves Simcoe; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  13. ^ "Samuel Peters Jarvis; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  14. ^ The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment): History Archived April 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 11/02/12.
  15. ^ The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC) Retrieved 11/02/12.
  16. ^ "Ontario Plaque". Archived from the original on 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
  17. ^ "Saying farewell to Queen's Rangers Elementary School in Copetown". Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  18. ^ "Aeneas Shaw; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 16, 2021.

References[edit]

External links[edit]