Thursday 30 July 2009

A Bottle of Port & two canteens of water!

We have a half-faced shelter over in Fox Valley for group members to use when Historical Trekking & Camping. I keep the shelter stocked with a bottle of Tawny Port & two canteens of drinking water. Perhaps I should mention that on the advertising posters, it might attract new members!
Reminder to self; Put more port on the shopping list! Gee pioneer camping is great!

My Life Magazine; Armidale and District Recruitment!

Well I have just been interviewed by My Life Magazineas a spokesperson for the New England Colonial Living History Group. Let us hope that this article can attract more members for our group.
I started this group about 18 years ago, three other people came in response to my advertising to help me start this group. Those people became founding members like myself. They were Geoff Howarth, Arthur Baker and Shane Murphy. All three were prime-movers in our group. These men became my very close friends, and they are now all dead. I am the only remaining founder member alive and I fear that if we do not find more people to join our group, it will die with me!
I have tried everything over the years to find more members; posters in the Armidale Public Library and on other notice boards, events in the local Newspaper, registered our group on the internet, printed information brochures for distribution and yet in 18 years we have had no enquiries!!! We are now down to four members, the other three are much younger than I but like I said, I can't see this group continueing after I have gone and I need someone else to take up the rains, someone I can pass on my skills to.
Here's hoping, fingers crossed!

Monday 27 July 2009

Where have all the 1940s children gone?

Where have all the 1940s children gone? © Keith H. Burgess.
Where have all the children gone who used to play cowboys and Indians, Davy Crocket and Daniel Boone? Those were the days of high adventure; the Daniel Boone craze on black and white TV. The days when the Hudson Bay Company were still hiring men and boys from England and Scotland and we didn’t even know it!
What happened to those children of adventure, of coonskin hats and rubber knives. They grew up too quickly and at the age of just 14 years we were in full time work and play was forgotten.
Then some of us had children of our own and for a brief time we learnt to play again, we made wooden guns and knives for our kids and wished we were of that age again when such simple things were so much fun. We learnt to play again lost in the adventure of the imagination, teaching our own kids how to “make believe”.
And then as the kids grew up we were kept busy with earning a wage, or trying to find work, and play was forgotten yet again. But not all of us have forgotten how to have fun, how to play. Some of us still believe in secret places and things in the woods that you don’t talk about. Some of us still seek and find that high adventure; those bygone days of the Daniel Boone craze. Of pirates and woodland Indians and the woodsmen we used to be.
But now our toys are real, no more is the tomahawk and knife made of rubber and the flintlock made of plastic. Now we can throw our tomahawks and make them stick in a target block, our knives cut the block of cheese to go with the bread and port whilst we sit before a camp fire. Come and join us in our adventure whilst you still can.
The New England Colonial Living History Group. Armidale NSW. Phone 67 755 292.

Monday 13 July 2009

French & Indian War Re-enactment.

Trouble Far From Home.

Trouble far From Home. © Keith H. Burgess.
I rarely have a problem entertaining myself when away from home; there is always something to do or something that needs doing. A simple wooden kettle hook is soon made with my clasp knife and then I can go foraging for tinder plants or hunting for animal sign. Even making a simple rabbit stick is satisfying in an isolated situation. If I find a suitable dead tree then I can enjoy some tomahawk throwing, practice is always worthwhile and fun. I learnt to throw the tomahawk by walking through the woods carrying my tomahawk and every time I came across a suitable dead tree I would judge the distance and throw. Hitting the target was not the challenge; I learnt to hit the target at a set distance on a proper target. The challenge here was to judge that distance without pacing it out. Now I no longer have to measure the distance.
Throwing the tomahawk taught me how to throw the rabbit stick. The rabbit stick can be a digging stick too because it has a sharpened point on each end. The length of the rabbit stick really depends on the user, but it should not be any shorter than from the point of your elbow to the knuckles of your clenched fist. The rabbit stick can also be used to hunt ducks and geese coming off the water. The Natives here use the boomerang for this purpose and if they miss their target the boomerang comes back.
The first time I had to really use a rabbit stick I was not expecting it. I had one young son in a baby carrier on my back, and another, my eldest at seven years of age stood some distance away on the other side of the grass flats. As I watched him a snake suddenly rose up beside him and struck at him. It was only a warning strike but I could not call out for fear that my son would turn toward me and the snake would strike for real. I could not run with my younger son on my back, so I strode as fast as I could toward my son and the snake searching the ground before me and around me for a suitable stick. I found one within several strides and threw it. I was at least a good 10 meters or so away, not the furthest I had ever thrown a tomahawk but the carrier on my back made the throw much harder. Since that time I have started practicing with my knapsack on my back. The stick struck the snake hard and knocked it away from my son’s leg. You just never know when a certain skill may be needed or come in useful.
This day though I was far from home and I had decided to have some target practice. This is not something I generally enjoy doing because it costs me lead and powder but on this occasion I had not used my firelock for quite a while and I needed to know I could go this length of time and still point my fusil without thinking about it. To make it a fair test I did not choose a target on the spot, I walked off through the woods carrying my fusil clubbed over my shoulder as I often do. Then when something presented itself as a target I rolled the fusil off my left shoulder turning it completely over and straight to my shoulder.
There was a “clatch” as I touched the trigger and the flint hit the hammer, but no boom! No “flash in the pan”, nothing. Well I thought philosophically it was a good job it did it now and not when I had an enraged boar bearing down on me! This is the sort of situation you learn from, I did not have a spare hammer with me, and in fact I did not have one at all. I went back to camp and got a fire going and put the kettle on for a cup of coffee.
I have this thing about taking my fusil with me wherever I go, having it with me even though I do not intend to use it, it just makes me feel right. Well I had my fusil with me but it would not work, the hammer was not sparking and I had checked the flint and it was still sharp. I sat thinking until my coffee was barely warm. Staring at the fire I suddenly had the thought that I might be able to re-harden the hammer.
I had a turnscrew (screw driver) with me so I removed the hammer (modern name is frizzen) and dropped it in the hot coals of the fire. As soon as the hammer reached cherry red I hooked it out with a couple of sticks and dropped it in my coffee. I wiped the hammer dry and fitted it back on the fusil, then I primed the pan, plugged the horn, pushed the horn to my back, closed the hammer over the pan, brought the fusil to my shoulder and squeezed the trigger. There was an instant satisfying boom and the old familiar feeling as the stock pushed into my shoulder as if in slow motion. I stood for a while breathing in the smell of Black Powder, life is good, it felt right again now.
Author’s Note: I still have that hammer on my firelock and it has been 20 years since that day and my fusil has never misfired since.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

A Winter's Tale By Keith H. Burgess

18th century Historical Trekking-A Winter’s Tale. By Keith H. Burgess ©
I left alone early in the morning with the frost still on the ground. Before leaving I loaded my fusil just in case I should need it. I started north following the wilderness trail until I reached Pilot’s Rock at the head of Hazard Valley, so named for a close friend who died some years ago. His Living History persona was that of Arthur Hazard, but his real name was Arthur William Baker. From Pilot’s Rock I moved steeply down into the valley below catching at saplings to steady me on the slippery decent. This was true forest with sticks and leaves and rocks littering my downward path. In order for me to take advantage of every hand hold I was continually having to swap my fusil from hand to hand. Finally I reached the bottom and crossed the narrow now dry Header stream and started my ascent again on the other side.
I took my time in the climb as I did not want to perspire too much. If one goes to bed at night damp in the winter you are very likely to freeze. The best thing to do is to dry your clothes in front of the fire before lying down for the night. I saw pig sign along the trail but it was not recent, then a strong scent of wild pig came to me and I stood still surveying the forest about me. It does not pay to hurry on a walk or trek, you can miss seeing a lot of things if you do. Slowly and quietly are best in the woods. Seeing nothing I moved on but held my fusil at the ready, and then beside the trail I saw fresh diggings and large rocks that had been turned over. Further on I found a downed tree, now hollow and split with age, part of it had been torn apart as if by a huge bear looking for grubs. Here the smell was strongest and the tracks in the earth, about the size of my palm were fresh since the last rain the day before. Again I stopped and listened and looked, but all was silence. I took this opportunity to pour a measure of buckshot down the barrel on top of the round ball load. I topped this off with a leather wad to hold the shot in place, then cradling my fusil in my left arm I moved on.
As I reached the ridge above the country changed, now the ground beneath the trees was covered in bracken and old mossy logs, here too were many Goonagurra, grass trees. This part of the forest had a primeval look and feel about it. The trail was narrow here among the bracken and the grass trees and I felt it necessary to stop frequently to look and listen. As I reached a bend in the trail I saw a giant tree had fallen against another and was being held there after having smashed large branches to the ground. It was an eerie feeling walking past these giants knowing that sooner or later the pressure would become too much and both would come crashing across the trail.
A movement up ahead caught my attention but it was only two wood duck taking off from the dam. They beat their way through the trees weaving and dodging and then slowly turned to come speeding back toward me again. I raised my fusil in mock readiness and they would have made easy targets with a load of number 6.
The dam was full which was a pleasing site and I found more pig tracks and a couple of wallows in the muddy edges. There was sign of goat having been there too but not recent. I made my way into the edge of the woods and took off my pack, water bottle, shot pouch and horn and then just stood for a while taking in the serenity. Sunlight was now sending shafts of pale light through the trees and far off I heard the morning serenade of magpies.
It was an easy matter to use the leather ties from my bedroll to secure a cross pole between two trees and from there I secured my oil cloth making wooden pegs with my tomahawk to peg the lower edge down. Inside this I lay a thick bed of sticks and over this I cast my blanket. My shot pouch, horn and fusil I lay on the blanket well back from where my fireplace would be, and covered them with one side of the blanket. Then I found another pole and pushed it between the cross pole and the oil cloth forming a ridge in the oil cloth from cross pole down to the ground. The upper part of this pole stuck out over the fireplace to be used for hanging my kettle.
The morning was spent clearing the area around my shelter of debris and building a pile of sticks next to the shelter to keep the wind out and to be used as firewood. I collected a good pile of heavy wood that would last me through the night and placed it close to the shelter so I could reach it without getting out of my blanket. In the back of the shelter I stored plenty of kindling, both dry grass and larger kindling sticks. These would remain dry regardless of rain or snow and would be used if the fire should go out in the night.
I dug a small fire pit and surrounded it with rocks and earth, rocks furthest away from the shelter to reflect warmth back into the shelter, and earth on the near side to keep any running water out of the pit. This done I picked up my fusil, shot pouch and horn and went for a scout about to see what I could find.
I was back in camp well before dark having found plenty of sign of wild goats and pigs but sighted no animals except roos and wallaby. I set about laying my fire and making fire with flint and steel. There is something very satisfying about using primitive methods to accomplish a task; it gives one a strong feeling of self-reliance. Once the fire was going well I put a kettle of water on to boil. My 18th century style brass trade kettle weighs just under 1-1/2lbs, but it is sturdy and large enough for a big stew and with its bail it is a pleasure to use. It does not take up much room in my knapsack despite being about 7 inches wide and 4 ½ inches deep, because I pack it with my bags of dried foods. My water I carry in a leather costrel which is very light when empty and holds about 2 litres.
Once the kettle was boiling I added some loose tea and lifted it off the fire to brew. A dash of rum from my period flask improved the taste and I enjoyed a meal of bread and corned beef. I woke several times in the night to build up the fire, the cold having woken me. Sometime in the early morning hours I woke again to find only a few remaining coals kept alive by the ash. I quickly grabbed a handful of light kindling from the back of my shelter and gently blew until I had flames again. In the flickering firelight I could see a light fluttering of snow falling. I stoked the fire well and pulling my Monmouth cap down over my ears tried to get some more sleep.
Morning was a winter wonderland with snow on the ground and the trees. I climbed out of my bedroll and shelter to go for a walk and relieve myself. Then back to my shelter and put on a kettle of water to boil. It was a beautiful sight and I just sat there looking at all the whiteness. I was jerked out of my thoughts by screams like a demented seagull as three large black cockies flew over looking more like giant vampire bats in the early light. What a strange wild land this is, but it has its own beauty.
As the sun came up in the east behind me the rays of light came through the forest trees in shafts and shone on the mist like a mirror making things seem brighter than they really were. As the sun rose the shafts of light moved over the snow and the dripping from the trees began. I wished it had kept snowing. After the tea had brewed I poured myself a cup and put some oats and currents on to cook. Then got out my little handmade journal and began to make a record of this trek so far.
There can be nothing finer I think than sitting snug in a primitive shelter on a cold morning with snow all around whilst eating a hot meal and sipping a hot drink. I did not want to leave, though I knew I had to sooner or later. So I sat there thinking how nice it would be to live a life like this, then realised that I virtually did, except in a house in the forest instead of a primitive shelter. My thoughts strayed to life 300 years ago, the adventure and the hardships and thought myself very lucky that I could experience this lifestyle still. I sat there a long time before finally heading for home.

Author’s Note: The accompanying photos are not from this trek. They were taken by my youngest son Kaelem around about the same time earlier in the year when he followed me part way on a trek.

Sunday 5 July 2009

Winter Trek By guest writer Mark Jones of Uralla NSW.

Photographs by Mark Jones(copyright).

©Mark Jones, Uralla NSW Australia.
Winter Trek, 13th and 14th June 2009 at Wychwood, Armidale.
On the Saturday about mid afternoon Christopher and I arrived at Keith’s place. We got into the rest of our gear and made our greetings. Before long we were off on our trek to camp. We took one of the longer routes, heading south and then west towards Fox Valley, where Keith had been busy through the year building a shelter. Always on the lookout for game trails and material for tinder and fire nests, kindling and the like, we negotiated some heavily wooded areas and gullies before reaching camp. Upon arrival we found Keith’s shelter very well situated and well appointed. The shelter overlooked a dam and it had a good fire sight and sleeping area along with a good supply of wood to keep us warm. After familiarising ourselves with camp we scouted the dam for any sign of recent activity and Keith set up an area for the usual nature calls. There was no significant sign, but that didn’t mean that there wouldn’t be.
Back to camp and we got the fire going, warming us in no time really. Keith and Chris would share the raised bedding area and I would sleep on the ground next to the fire. The stash of wood was close by, which meant that I didn’t have to get out of my bedroll to keep the fire going through the night. Christopher and I had added another wool blanket and a sheepskin to our bedrolls. The bedrolls were noticeably heavier, but we thought that it would be worth the carrying. Chris made himself a blanket coat for the trek, I had made one myself also and a pair of half-thicks. One of our priorities for this trek was to keep warm-it worked!
The evening kicked off with a welcomed dash of port. Unbeknown to us, we had all brought along corned beef for our meal. Some hard cheese followed that later and some ships biscuits that my good wife made for us, accompanied by some more port and some yarning. Later we brewed up a kettle of coffee with sugar to taste.
I don’t think that there was any great discomfort sleeping during the night. I remembered stirring a few times only to put more wood on the fire and at one time looking out to see the moonlight gleaning through the trees with the fog rolling in. It was a pleasant night indeed. There was to be a harsh frost for the morning, but we were nestled amongst the trees.
We awoke to a new morning and found it well. Keith made some porridge and Chris and I tried to use the rest of the corned beef, cheese and biscuits. The kettle was boiled for another coffee.
It was decided that Christopher and I would start on a shelter for ourselves and we set about clearing a spot to build. We were able to get a bit of a stockpile of wood in the clean up. A downed tree would give us some branches for our beams, so we set about removing them with our tomahawks. My hawk head kept coming off and I decided to split the helve and wedge it-that seemed to do the job. I noticed a dent in the edge of my hawk later; some of the wood was hard. Obviously the tomahawk head isn’t hard enough, so I’ll have to try and do a job on it. The side beams of the shelter went up well. On one side we were able to lock the beam in between two trees with every ones help and some leverage. The other side beam and the crossbeam were kind of self-locking together too. It’s handy when you can minimise cordage. All the hard work done and Keith decided to head back to his shelter to tidy up and have a rest before our return trip. Chris and I got three more beams up and a couple of logs on the ground for the start of a raised bed area.
The wind was blowing quite a bit from time to time and we could hear the cry of a kid goat every now and again. Chris and I thought that we might go and see what we could find. They must have been a few gullies over into the neighbour’s place, as nothing was spotted. Heading back to camp we came across a scrape and rub tree from a big pig. It must have been big because his scat made my eyes water with the thought of trying to pass it! There were several more piles of scat on the trail back towards camp, but it was more than a couple of days old.
As we packed our gear and tidied up camp we discussed the route we would take to head back, straight up and over heading east north east. Working out the water rasion for the return trip, I was able to down some extra water to rehydrate before starting out.
On the two treks that Chris and I have done, (Keith has quite a few more under his belt), we have noted that it is important to carry as least as possible and have enough to be self-sufficient. There in lies the balance and it can only be worked out by experience-just doing it! Things like the number of items you put on your back and over your shoulder, lighter water containers, wider straps to spread the load and the what if’s – can you really make do without the extra this and that in case of………… such as the knowledge and ability to make a bow and arrows instead of taking a workshop to repair your flinter if it requires it. Perhaps a small exaggeration, but you know what I mean! Chris and I will have to ditch our rucksacks with cord ties and make a knapsack with wide straps. And I’ll have to have my powder horn on the same side as my hunting bag, so that I’m not criss-crossing everything I put on!
It was good to do a winter trek, because even doing a spring or autumn trek would be a bit more exhausting with the heat. There is still a lot to learn.
Mark Jones (Deerslayer).

Mark Jones is a member of the New England Colonial Living History Group. Mark is also a knife maker and bowyer.

Friday 3 July 2009

Moccasins For A White man.

I needed to replace some worn out soles on my moccasins, but did not have anything that I could easily mould and sew. Usually when I sew on a double sole I use medium weight leather and sew on the side of the moccasin so the thread is not touching the ground. Then I remembered some talk about a white man's moccasin, called a shoe-pack. There was such a moccasin, but only one was found, and the pattern that was put about was not the original design.Anyway I thought that it at least set a precedent for a white man sewing a sole on a moccasin in that fashion, so here are some pics of my new moccasin soles.As you can see I used an awl first to make the holes round the sole, then I followed the line of holes carefully with my knife to cut a slit so it would protect the thread.

Rogers Rangers Rules.

Rogers Rangers Rules.
Roger’s Rangers Rules or Plan of Discipline
Major Robert Rogers - 1757(Commander of Roger’s Rangers)
This is the original version —
1. All Rangers are to be subject to the rules and articles of war; to appear at roll-call every evening on their own parade, equipped each with a firelock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a hatchet, at which time an officer from each company is to inspect the same, to see they are in order, so as to be ready on any emergency to march at a minute's warning; and before they are dismissed the necessary guards are to drafted, and scouts for the next day appointed.
2. Whenever you are ordered out to the enemy's forts or frontiers for discoveries, if your number be small, march in a single file, keeping at such a distance from each other as to prevent one shot from killing two men, sending one man, or more, forward, and the like on each side, at the distance of twenty yards from the main body, if the ground you march over will admit of it, to give the signal to the officer of the approach of an enemy, and of their number, & c.
3. If you march over marshes or soft ground, change your position, and march abreast of each other, to prevent the enemy from tracking you (as they would do if you marched in a single file) till you get over such ground, and then resume your former order, and march till it is quite dark before you encamp, which do, if possible, on a piece of ground that may afford your sentries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy at some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.
4. Some time before you come to the place you would reconnoitre, make a stand, and send one or two men in whom you can confide, to look out the best ground for making your observations.
5. If you have the good fortune to take any prisoners, keep them separate till they are examined, and in your return take a different route from that in which you went out, that you may the better discover any party in your rear, and have an opportunity, if their strength be superior to your, to alter your course, or disperse, as circumstances may require.
6. If your march in a large body of three or four hundred, with a design to attack the enemy, divide your party into three columns, each headed by a proper officer, and let these columns march in single files, the columns to the right and left keeping at twenty yards distance or more from that of the center, if the ground will admit, and let proper guards be kept in the front and rear, and suitable flanking parties as a due distance as before directed, with orders to halt on all eminences, to take a view of the surrounding ground, to prevent your being ambushed, and to notify the approach or retreat of the enemy, that proper dispositions may be made for attacking, defending, & c, and if the enemy approach in your front on level ground, form a front of your three columns or main body with the advanced, guard, keeping out your flanking parties, as if you were marching under the command of trusty officers, to prevent the enemy from pressing hard on either of your wings, or surrounding you, which is the usual method of the savages, if their number will admit of it, and be careful likewise to support and strengthen your rear guard.
7. If you are obliged to receive the enemy's fire, fall or squat down, till it is over, then rise and discharge at them. If their main body is equal to yours, extend yourselves occasionally; but if superior, be careful to support and strengthen your flanking parties, to make them equal with theirs, that if possible you may repulse them to their main body, in which case push upon them with the greatest resolution, with equal force in each flank and in the center, observing to keep at a due distance from each other, and advance from tree to tree, with one half of the party before the other ten or twelve yards. If the enemy push upon you, let your front fire and fall down, and then let your rear advance thro' them and do the like, by which time those who before were in front will be ready to discharge again, and repeat the same alternately, as occasion shall require; by this means you will keep up such a constant fire, that the enemy will not be able easily to break your order, or gain your ground.
8. If you oblige the enemy to retreat, be careful, in your pursuit of them, to keep out your flanking parties, and prevent them from gaining eminences, or rising grounds, in which case they would perhaps be able to rally and repulse in their turn.
9. If you are obliged to retreat, let the front of your whole party fire and fall back, till the rear has done the same, making for the best ground you can; by this means you will oblige the enemy to pursue you, if they do it at all, in the face of a constant fire.
10. If the enemy is so superior that you are in danger of being surrounded by them, let the whole body disperse, and every one take a different road to the place of rendezvous appointed for that evening, which must every morning be altered and fixed for evening ensuing, in order to bring the whole party, or as many of them as possible, together, after any separation that may happen in the day; but if you should happen to be actually surrounded, form yourselves into a square, or if in the woods, a circle is best, and, if possible, make a stand till the darkness of the night favours your escape.
11. If your rear is attacked, the main body and flankers must face about to the right or left, as occasion shall require, and form themselves to oppose the enemy, as before directed; and the same method must be observed, if attacked in either of your flanks, by which means you will always make a rear of one of your flank-guards.
12. If you determine to rally after a retreat, in order to make a fresh stand against the enemy, by all means endeavour to do it on the most rising ground you can come at, which will give you greatly the advantage in point of situation, and enable you to repulse superior numbers.
13. If general, when pushed upon by the enemy, reserve your fire till they approach very near, which will them put them into the greater surprise and consternation, and give you an opportunity of rushing upon them with your hatchets and cutlasses to the better advantage.
14. When you encamp at night, fix your sentries in such a manner as not to be relieved from the main body till morning, profound secrecy and silence being often of the last importance in these cases. Each sentry, therefore, should consist of six men, two of whom must be constantly alert, and when relieved by their fellows, it should be done without noise; and in case those on duty see or hear anything, which alarms them, they are not to speak, but one of them is silently to retreat, and acquaint the commanding officer thereof, that proper dispositions may be made; and all occasional sentries should be fixed in like manner.
15. At the first dawn of day, awake your whole detachment; that being the time when the savages choose to fall upon their enemies, you should by all means be in readiness to receive them.
16. If the enemy should be discovered by your detachments in the morning, and their numbers are superior to yours, and a victory doubtful, you should not attack them till the evening, as then they will not know your numbers, and if you are repulsed, your retreat will be followed by the darkness of the night.
17. Before you leave your encampment, send out small parties to scout round it, to see if there be any appearance or track of an enemy that might have been near you during the night.
18. When you stop for refreshment, choose some spring or rivulet if you can, and dispose your party so as not to be surprised, posting proper guards and sentries at a due distance, and let a small party waylay the path you came in, lest the enemy should be pursuing.
19. If, in your return, you have to cross rivers, avoid the usual fords as much as possible, lest the enemy should have discovered, and be there expecting you.
20. If you have to pass by lakes, keep at some distance from the edge of the water, lest, in case of an ambuscade, or an attack from the enemy, when in that situation, your retreat should be cut off.
21. If the enemy pursue your rear, take a circle till you come to your own tracks, and there form am ambush to receive them, and give them the first fire.
22. When you return from a scout, and come near our forts, avoid the usual roads, and avenues thereto, lest the enemy should have headed you, and lay in ambush to receive you, when almost exhausted with fatigues.
23. When you pursue any party that has been near our forts or encampments, follow not directly in their tracks, lest you should be discovered by their rear guards, who, at such a time, would be most alert; but endeavour, by a different route, to head and meet them in some narrow pass, or lay in ambush to receive them when and where they least expect it.
24. If you are to embark in canoes, bateaux, or otherwise, by water, choose the evening for the time of your embarkation, as you will then have the whole night before you, to pass undiscovered by any parties of the enemy, on hills, or other places, which command a prospect of the lake or river you are upon.
25. In paddling or rowing, give orders that the boat or canoe next the sternmost, wait for her, and the third for the second, and the fourth for the third, and so on, to prevent separation, and that you may be ready to assist each other on any emergency.
26. Appoint one man in each boat to look out for fires, on the adjacent shores, from the numbers and size of which you may form some judgement of the numbers that kindled them, and whether you are able to attack them or not.
27. If you find the enemy encamped near the banks of a river, or lake, which you imagine they will attempt to cross for their security upon being attacked, leave a detachment of your party on the opposite shore to receive them, while, with the remainder, you surprise them, having them between you and the lake or river.
28. If you cannot satisfy yourself as to the enemy's number and strength, from their fire, & c. conceal your boats at some distance, and ascertain their number by a reconnoitring party, when they embark, or march, in the morning, marking the course they steer, & c. when you may pursue, ambush, and attack them, or let them pass, as prudence shall direct you. In general, however, that you may not be discovered by the enemy on the lakes and rivers at a great distance, it is safest to lay by, with your boats and party concealed all day, without noise or show, and to pursue your intended route by night; and whether you go by land or water, give out parole and countersigns, in order to know one another in the dark, and likewise appoint a station for every man to repair to, in case of any accident that may separate you.
Such in general are the rules to be observed in the Ranging service; there are, however, a thousand occurrences and circumstances which may happen that will make it necessary in some measure to depart from them and to put other arts and stratagems in practice; in which case every man's reason and judgment must be his guide, according to the particular situation and nature of things; and that he may do this to advantage, he should keep in mind a maxim never to be departed from by a commander, viz. to preserve a firmness and presence of mind on every occasion.
— From JOURNALS OF MAJOR ROGER ROGERS (as published in 1765)

Rogers Rangers Revenge

St Francis, Crown Point and Ticonderoga Victories and notes from the Memoirs of Robert Rogers (Rangers)
Conquest of Canada
Source: History of Charlestown, NH by Rev. Henry H. Saunderson pub 1876

Chapter V p.79
New Hampshire, notwithstanding the discouragements arising from the loss of Fort Henry and other disasters the previous year, raised in the summer of l758 a regiment of eight hundred men which was placed under the command of Colonel John Hart. A portion of the regiment was ordered to join the expedition against Louisberg and the remainder did duty under Lieut. Colonel John Goffe on the western frontiers. One hundred of Goffe's detachment was stationed as a garrison at Fort 4 Charlestown, NH. In relation to this, Hall, in his history of Eastern Vermont remarks: "For the defense of her own frontiers, Massachusetts made the usual provision: while New Hampshire, changing the method upon which she had so long acted, voted men and supplies for the protection of the forts within her own boundaries which had been maintained by the magnanimity of the Bay Province." No special force, however, besides the Regiment of Colonel Hart was raised by New Hampshire for the protection of her frontiers.
During this year the incursions of the Indians were not numerous. They appeared only once in Charlestown, at which time they killed Asahel Stebbins and took Mrs. Stebbins and Isaac Parker, a soldier, prisoners. Some writers place this incursion in August, some in September.
The Provinces were generally encouraged by the military operations of l758. Louisburg had been taken, which was a great success, and the English also had secured possession of Fort Frontenac and destruction of Fort DuQuesne on the Ohio, where now stands the city of Pittsburg, the contention for which began the war; but the defeat of Abercrombie at Ticonderoga and his subsequent inactivity once more sunk the spirits of the inhabitants of the western frontiers of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to a very low ebb and filled them with new apprehensions of attacks from the savage enemy. But Massachusetts, full of the energy with which her citizens have always been animated, still kept her forts well garrisoned and her Rangers out upon the scouting service, though probably with no great hope of security against an enemy so repeatedly elated with success. But their hopes were soon revived by the arrival of General Amherst, with six veteran regiments from Louisburg, who immediately pressed on through the woods to Albany, and took command of the army in that quarter; and though the season was too far advanced for offensive operations the effect of the presence of Amherst in that section upon the public mind was salutary: soon after Amherst's arrival, Abercrombie left the army and sailed for England.
During the winter of l758 Charlestown, NH was garrisoned with one hundred regular troops from the army which were under the command of Capt. Cruikshanks; and the winter passed away quietly without any incursions of the enemy. And the plan for operations for l759 was such as to encourage the expectation, that the frontiers would be relieved from the depredations to which they had been so long exposed. The plan was for General James Wolf to conduct an expedition against Quebec, and General Amherst another against Ticonderoga and Crown Point. To aid in the latter expedition the troops which had garrisoned Charlestown under Capt. Cruikshanks were withdrawn to join the army on the Hudson - and General Amherst applied to the Governor of Massachusetts to raise an equal number of Provincials to take their place at Charlestown, NH, which was promptly done. The men raised from Col. Israel Williams' regiment in the county of Hampshire and placed under the command of Capt. Elijah Smith were ordered to fort 4 of Charlestown on the 4th of May.
"The army destined to attack Ticonderoga assembled at Albany about the lst of June under General Amherst and on the 22d of July he arrived before Tidonderoga and invested it with twelve thousand men, Provincials and regulars. The enemy immediately abandoned their advanced lines which had proved so fatal to Abercrombie's army the preceding year, and retired within their main work.
Amherst pressed the siege as vigorously as possible and in a short time was ready to open his batteries; but M'de Bourlemaque, the French commander, finding he had to oppose a general of skill as well as courage, partially dismantled his fort, blew up some of the bastions and leaving most of his heavy artillery, retired down the lake to Crown Point and Amherst took possession of the place. A few days after, the French evacuated Crown Point and retired to their posts at the northern extreme of Lake Champlain, and Amherst immediately occupied the abandoned post and commenced additional works."
The capture of these important posts immediately relieved the frontiers of New England from incursions from the western quarter, and a general joy spread through the long distressed Provinces. Crown Point had been in possession of the French for nearly thirty years; and from that place predatory parties had issued and involved the frontiers of Massachusetts and New Hampshire in blood and slaughter; and numerous were the prisoners who had there suffered the disgraceful and cruel treatment of the savages. One other post from which the Provinces of New Hampshire and Massachusetts had suffered similar cruelties still remained in the hands of the enemy. This was the village of St. Francis, situated at the mouth of the river of that name between Montreal and Quebec. From its easy communication with the upper part of the Connecticut River, this place had long been a focus of murder and devastation and many a captive had there suffered barbarities intolerable; and the place was loaded with the plunder of the English colonies. General Amherst now resolved to put an end to these barbarities by destroying the place.
"Major Robert Rogers, who had so frequently distinquished himself as a partisan during the war, was selected for the arduous service with his hardy Rangers and an attachment of regular troops; and he received the folowing orders from the commander-in-chief.
Camp at Crown Point, Sept. l3, l759
You will, this night, set out with the detachment, as ordered yesterday, viz., of two hundred men, which you will take under your command and proceed to Missisqui Bay. From thence you will proceed in such a manner as shall most effectually disgrace and injure the enemy, and redound to the honor and success of His Majesty's arms.
Remember the barbarities committed by the enemy's Indian scoundrels on every occasion, where they have had opportunities of showing their famous cruelties towards His Majesty's subjects. Take your revenge; but remember that although the villains have promiscuously murdered women and children of all ages, it is my order that no women or children should be hurt. When you have performed this service, you will again join the army, whereever it may be.
Yours, etc, Jeff Amherst
Camp at Crown Point, Sept. l3, l759 To Major Rogers.
The destination of this expedition was kept a profound secret from the army, who were given to understand in the public orders of the previous day, that it was to march in a different direction.
The evening after receiving his orders, with every equipment necessary to ensure success, Rogers started out on his adventurous expedition. He proceeded in batteaux down the lake to Missisqui Bay, the distance of which, from Crown Point, was computed to be not far from a hundred miles, using the greatest circumspection to avoid discovery by the enemy. Everything went on well until the fifth day, when, while they were encamped on the eastern shore, a keg of gun powder accidentally exploded wounding Capt. Williams and several men who had to be sent back to Crown Point, with a part to conduct them. This reduced the force to one hundred and forty-two men officers included. But, pursuing his voyage, he arrived on the twentieth of the month at Missisqui Bay without having been discovered, where he secreted his boats and provisions sufficient to carry them back, on the return, under the bank of a creek overhung with brushwood and, as a guard to which, he left two trusty Indians with orders that should the boats be discovered by the enemy to follow his trail and give him information.
This arrangement made, Rogers struck out into the wilderness. But only the second day after, he was overtaken by the trusty fellows whom he had left to watch the provisions and boats, who brought him the unwelcome news that four hundred French and Indians had discovered his boats and sent them away under the charge of fifty men and that the remainder of the company were on his trail in rapid pursuit. This intelligence Rogers kept to himself and quickly devised means to meet the altered circumstances of his situation. For this he desspatched Lieut McMillen with ten men, two of whom were Rangers through the woods to Crown Point to inform General Amherst of what had taken place and request him to send provisions from Fort 4 at Charlestown up the Connecticut River to the mouth of the Great Ammonoosuc River near Coos Intervals, by which route he intended to return.
One of the two things he now knew that he must do; he must either fight his enemies or out-march them. But as the latter appeared to be the only feasible way by which he could have a prospect of accomplishing the object of his expedition, he determined to press forward with a speed which should distance all the enemies on his track. The travelling was horrid from the sunken nature of the country, which, in many places was covered with water mid-leg deep and often for long distances, a spruce bog, in which it became necessary to prepare a sort of hammock from the boughs of trees to enable the men to repose at night; and this after a day's march, continued from early dawn until darkness.
On the tenth day after leaving the Bay, Rogers struck St. Francis River about fifteen miles above the village and with some difficulty, forded it, as the water was five feet in depth, and running in a rapid current. It was now good marching ground and the men pressed on with celerity till on the 22nd day after their departure from Crown Point, one of them, by climbing a tree, discovered the village of St. Francis at three miles distance, when the party were ordered to halt and refresh themselves. At eight o'clock in the evening, Major Rogers, Lieut. Turner and Ensign Avery left the company and went forward for the purpose of reconnoitering the place. They found the Indians engaged in high frolic or dance, evidently entertaining no apprehensions of an enemy in the vicinity. They returned about two o'clock in the morning and at three o'clock, Rogers advanced with the whole party, within three hundred yards of the village, where the men were lightened of their packs and formed for action.
About an hour after this, the Indians broke up their dances and retired to their cabins for repose; and soon the whole village was wrapped in slumber, the more oblivious from the weariness induced by their late diversion. About half an hour before dawn, the troops, having been arranged in three divisions for the purpose of making simultaneous attacks, in as many directions, were ordered to advance. Never was a place more completely surprised, nor in a condition less capable of making resistence. The assault was made in the usual Indian mode of attack, on similar occasions, and the Rangers remembering the instructions of Amherst to "take their revenge" dealt death and destruction around them on every side, and with unsparing hands. Amid the partial darkness it scarcely being possible to distinguish age, or sex, men, women and children fell indiscriminately before the resistless fury of their terrible onslaught. Many were killed in their cabins, others, attempting to fly, were shot or knocked on the head. Some rushed to the river, but were pursued by the excited Rangers and their canoes sunk, and they were drowned or destroyed in some other way. When it became light enough to have a clear view of the scene, the prospect was truly horrible and had it not been for the sight of six hundred scalps of their countrymen, suspended upon poles and waving in the air, the assailants might have been moved to pity. But this horrid spectacle added such new vigor to their rage that no sympathy for the sufferers found place in their breasts and the slaughter was still continued without discrimination or mercy. The scene ended by a general conflagration of the cabins, (with the exception of some store houses) in which many Indians, who had concealed themselves, in their cellars and house lofts, and would not come out, were consumed. At seven o'clock in the morning all was over; and Rogers, in his report said: "By that time we had killed two hundred Indians and taken twenty women and children prisoners. Fifteen of the latter I suffered to go on their own way, and brought home with me two Indian boys and three girls".
The report goes on: "When the detachment paraded, Capt. Ogden was found to be badly wounded, being shot through the body, but still able to perform duty. Six privates were wounded and one Stockbridge Indian killed. I ordered the party to take corn out of the reserved houses for their subsistence home, which was the only provision to be found. While they were loading themselves I examined the captives who reported that a party of three hundred French and Indian were down the river, four miles below us, and that our boats were waylaid. I believed this to be true, as they told the exact number of the boats and the place where they had been left. They also stated that two hundred French had, three days before, gone up the River to Wigwam Martinique, supposing that I intended to attack that place. A council of war now concluded that no other course remained for us, than to return by Connecticut River to No. 4." Source: Memoir of Rogers, in Life of Stark, pp.448 to 449).
This resolve being taken, Rogers, after an hour's rest commenced his march up the St. Francis and by Memphremagog Lake for Coos on the Connecticut. For eight days the detachment continued together, when, their provisions being entirely expended, Rogers found it necessary to divide it into several parties, that subsistence might more easily be procured, giving them orders to assemble at the junction of the great Ammonoosuc and Connecticut Rivers, where he expected to find provisions which were to be forwarded by the order of General Amherst, from Fort 4 at Charlestown, NH.
Two days after separating, the party under Ensign Avery were overtaken by the Indians - seven were captured and two escaped. Another party of about twenty, under Lieutenants Dunbar and Turner, were attacked and the principal part were killed or taken, including the two officers. The company under Rogers after a most wearisome march reached the Coos Meadows where they were expecting to find food, in a most fearful state of starvation; but no provision being found, so great was their disappointment that several of them died before the next day. Provisions had been sent by General Amherst's order by a party from Charlestown under the command of Lieut. Samuel Stevens, but hearing guns which he supposed to be those of the enemy the Lieutenant and his attendants immediately made their retreat down the river taking their provisions with them. About two hours after, Rogers and his men arrived to find their camp fire still burning and fired several guns for the purpose of bring them back, but without success. Subsequently, Rogers wrote concerning this situation:
"Our distress on this occasion was truly inexpressible. Our spirits, greatly depressed by the hunger and fatigue we had already suffered, now almost entirely sank within us; seeing no resource left, nor any reasonable hope that we should escape a most miserable death by famine. At length I came to a resolution, to push as fast as possible towards Number Four leaving the remains of my party, now unable to march further, to get such wretched subsistence as the barren wilderness could afford, till I could get relief to them, which I engaged to do within ten days. I taught Lieutenant Grant, the commander of the party, the use and method of prepareing ground nuts and lily roots, which being cleansed and boiled will serve to preserve life. I, with Capt. Odgen and one Ranger and a captive Indian boy, embarked upon a raft we had made of dry pine trees. The current carried us down the stream in the middle of the river where we endeavored to keep our wretched vessel by such paddles as we had made out of small trees or spires split and hewed."(Rogers' letter to General Amherst).
This whole history is of deep interest, but it must suffice to say that Rogers, after various disheartening experiences, at length reached No. 4 in safety and redeemed his pledge to his brave followers by relieving them on the tenth day. In two hours after his arrival at Fort 4 at Charlestown, NH boats were despatched loaded with provision up the river. Rogers himself went up with other canoes also laden with provisions two days after, for the relief of others of his party that might be coming on that way, the inhabitants assisting him in this affair. He likewise sent out expresses to Suncook (Pembroke) and Pennacook (Concord N.H.) that any who should straggle that way might be assisted and provision were sent up said rivers accordingly.
On returning from his expedition up the river, Major Rogers waited for his men at Charlestown, with whom, after they had been refreshed, he marched to Crown Point where he arrived December l, l759 and joined the army under Lord Amherst. Upon examination it was found that after leaving the smoking ruins of St. Francis, he had lost three Lieutenants and forty six Sergeants and privates. A few of these were prisoners but the greatest number of them perished miserably by famine in the wilderness.

Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth

Rogers Rangers Standing Orders.

Rogers Rangers Standing Orders.
1. Don't forget nothing.
2. Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute's warning.
3. When you're on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first.
4. Tell the truth about what you see and what you do. There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don't never lie to a Ranger or officer.
5. Don't never take a chance you don't have to.
6. When we're on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can't go through two men.
7. If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it's hard to track us.
8. When we march, we keep moving till dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.
9. When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.
10. If we take prisoners, we keep 'em separate till we have had time to examine them, so they can't cook up a story between 'em.
11. Don't ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won't be ambushed.
12. No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout twenty yards ahead, twenty yards on each flank and twenty yards in the rear, so the main body can't be surprised and wiped out.
13. Every night you'll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.
14. Don't sit down to eat without posting sentries.
15. Don't sleep beyond dawn. Dawn's when the French and indians attack.
16. Don't cross a river by a regular ford.
17. If somebody's trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.
18. Don't stand up when the enemy's coming against you. Kneel down, lie down, hide behind a tree.
19. Let the enemy come till he's almost close enough to touch. Then let him have it and jump out and finish him with your hatchet.