Friday, 8 May 2009

Robert Rogers


Robert Rogers was born in Dunbarton, New Hampshire, in 1727; died in England about 1800. He entered the military service during the old French war, for which he raised and commanded "Rogers's rangers," a company that, acquired reputation for activity, particularly in the region of Lake George. His name is perpetuated there by the precipice that is known as "Rogers's slide," near which he escaped from the Indians, who, believing" that he had slid down the steep defile of the mountain under the protection of the Great Spirit, made no attempt at further pursuit. On 13 March, 1758, with 170 men, he fought 100 French and 600 Indians, and, after losing 100 men and killing 150, he retreated. In 1759 he was sent by Sir Jeffrey Amherst from Crown Point to destroy the Indian village of St. Francis near St. Lawrence river, which service he performed, killing 200 Indians, and in 1760 he was ordered by Amherst to take possession of Detroit and other western posts that were ceded by the French after the fall of Quebec. Ascending the St. Lawrence with 200 rangers, he visited Fort Pitt, had an interview with Pontiac, and received the submission of Detroit. He visited England, and suffered from want until he borrowed money to print his journal, which he presented to the king, who in 1765 appointed him governor of Mackinaw, Michigan ; but while holding this office he was accused of plotting to plunder his own fort and to deliver it to the French, and was consequently sent to Montreal in irons and tried by court-martial. In 1769 he revisited England, but was soon imprisoned for debt. Afterward he returned to this country. Dr. John Wheelock, of Dartmouth college, wrote at this period: "The famous Major Rogers came to my house from a tavern in the neighborhood, where he called for refreshment. I had never before seen him. He was in but an ordinary habit for one of his character. He treated me with great respect" said he came from London in July, and had spent twenty days with the congress in Philadelphia, and I forget how many at New York: had been offered and urged to take a commission in favor of the colonies, but, as he was on half-pay from the crown, he thought it proper not to accept it "; and also "that he had got a pass, or license to travel, from the Continental congress." Major Rogers's accounts of himself were probably not accurate, but he had been a prisoner of congress, and was released on parole, promising that he would bear no arms against the American colonies. Soon after leaving Dr. Wheelock he wrote to General Washington: "I love America; it is my native country, and that of my family, and I intend to spend the evening of my days in it." It is believed that at this very moment he was a spy. Being suspected by Washington, he was secured in 1776, and during his examination, pretending that he had business with congress, was sent to Philadelphia under the care of an officer. That body decided that he should be disposed of by the Provincial congress of New Hampshire. Notwithstanding his parole, he accepted the commission of colonel in the British army, for which he raised the Queen's rangers, a corps that was celebrated throughout, the contest. To encourage enlistments he issued a printed circular promising to the recruits "their proportion of all rebel lands." On 21 October, 1776, he escaped being taken prisoner by Lord Stifling at Mamaroneck. Soon afterward he went to England, and in 1778 he was proscribed and banished. His subsequent history is lost. Rogers was the author of "A Concise Account of North America" (London, 1765); "Journals," giving an account of his early adventures as a ranger (1765 ; Dublin, 1770) ; and " Ponteach, or the Savages of America," a tragedy in verse (1766). This was printed anonymously, and is now very rare. His "Diary of the Siege of Detroit in the War with Pontiac" was published, with other narratives and with notes, by Franklin B. Hough (Albany, 1860; new ed., 1883). The names of the officers of Rogers's rangers are given in the "Report of the Adjutant-General of New Hampshire," and his exploits are chronicled in General John Wins-low's unpublished "Journal," and in manuscript letters in the Massachusetts archives. The "Journals" mentioned above are condensed in "Reminiscences of the French War," edited by Caleb Stark (Concord, 1831), and also appear in an abridged form in a "Memoir of John Stark" by the same author (1860). The best edition is that edited by Franklin B. Hough (Albany, 1883).