"Stark's Independent Corps of Rangers" (a.k.a. the "New Hampshire Rangers"): The Living History / Color Guard Unit of the NHSSAR.



The living history group/color guard of the NHSSAR portrays a Continental Ranger unit in the command of General John Stark during the American Revolution (1775 - 1783). Stark himself served as a captain of Rogers' Rangers during the French and Indian War (1756 - 1763) and many of the Rangers portrayed by the NHSSAR would previously have served with him in that unit. Ranger units were small, cohesive bodies of rough and fiercely independent men who depended upon each other for survival in the harshest of environments. They rightfully considered themselves unique and not subject to the same strictures as much of the Army. The Rangers of the French and Indian War and American Revolution are the forebears of today's Ranger and Special Forces units.



The Rangers of the Revolution were generally skilled woodsmen trained in the style of unconventional warfare developed by New Hampshire's Robert Rogers. Their tactics often emulated those of the Native American Indians. Roger's Rules of Ranging. Detachments from Ranger units were at times temporarily attached to other units of the Army - to gather intelligence on the enemy; to serve as guides; to conduct long-range reconnaissance; and to execute swift and unexpected strikes in the heart of enemy territory.

Various State governments raised Ranger units during the Revolution but, for all practical purposes, there were only two or three functional Ranger units within the Continental Army itself. In 1776, a provisional company of New Hampshire Rangers supported the Continental Army on the Lake Champlain Front. In October of 1776, New Hampshire Ranger Benjamin Whitcomb was commissioned as an officer in the Continental Army and empowered to raise two companies of Continental Rangers. He recruited his men from both New Hampshire and the "New Hampshire Grants" around the Green Mountains (present-day Vermont). Given the limited number of men in the Ranger Corps and the loyalty found within the ranks of the Rangers, some of these men may previously have followed former Ranger John Stark into battle at Bunker Hill.



Small detachments of Whitcomb's men were assigned to serve with various units of the army as the need arose. These Rangers were not in the command structure of the units to which they were deployed and were therefore known as the "Independent Corps of Rangers in the Service of the United States." They were generally accountable only to their own officers or to the higher echelons of the Army that assigned their duties.



Rangers' dress was varied and included the attire of the farmer or frontiersman, often modified for long-range travel through uncharted hostile territory. For more formal occasions, some may have adopted the green coat and red facings of another Independent Corps within the Continental Army: the "Green Mountain Boys" serving under Seth Warner. At least 53 Rangers from New Hampshire served for a time with the Green Mountain Boys. The dress coat of the NHSSAR's Rangers is based upon the documented uniform of Warner's men. It would not be unusual, however, to see either the Rangers of the Revolution or the members of the NHSSAR who portray them today dressed in different attire.



In October of 1777, many members of the Independent Corps of Rangers served at the decisive Battles of Saratoga, NY and witnessed the surrender of General Burgoyne. Thereafter, detachments of the unit served with various regiments of the Northern Department of the Continental Army - a Department ultimately commanded by General Stark. Men of the unit "ranged" across New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Canada and beyond until the reorganization of the American Army on January 1, 1781, when the Independent Corps was disbanded in Coos Territory, New Hampshire. Thereafter, the men of the unit found their way into other outfits, such as State Ranger companies or units of the reorganized Continental Army.



Like the Rangers of the Revolution, the Rangers of the NHSSAR sometimes skirt the line between State and Federal service. At times, detachments are administratively attached to other units, but always maintain their identity as part of the Independent Corps of Rangers in the command of John Stark. The NHSSAR's living history unit is one of the few such groups comprised entirely of individuals who claim documented descent from a patriot of the American Revolution.



If you are interested in arranging for the appearance of our color guard/living history unit, or if you wish to join our ranks, please contact our Color Guard Commander, Jack Manning.



NHSSAR Color Guard at Fort William & Mary, March 2001


NHSSAR Color Guard Great Northern March from Fort Ticonderoga to Crown Point, March 2001


NHSSAR Color Guard at the Patriot's Day Parade, Concord MA 2001


NHSSAR Color Guard at Fort Ticonderoga, May 2001




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