Sunday, September 24, 2017

Cloaths talkt of for Rangers

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. "[Rogers, Robert]. To Captain Robert Rogers"The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1755.

Primary sources indicate ranger clothing & equipment of the F&I period varied greatly between ranging companies, and often within a single company over time. Generally speaking, personally supplied civilian clothing & equipment (including hunting coats) were more prevelent at the onset of the conflict, transitioning to military issued items as the war progressed. Context is critical for a representative ranger interpretation as this transition was implemented erratically between units.  Drastic differentiation in issue and resupply are documented and regional availability, cost constraints and logistical considerations were significant limiting factors to true uniformity during this era.  With that being said, evidence indicates certain items necessary for winter woodland service saw widespread adoption and use.

A January 1759 order in the Thomas Gage Papers instructs “Commanders at Several posts along the Hudson River” that  "A third of your garrison is to be trained to go into the Woods when necessary, on which account snowshoes, leggins, moccasins, socks, waistcoats, woolen gloves and caps will be sent them.”  (1)

A stellar overview of these ranging adaptations can be found in the critical material culture study by Artist / Historian Gary Zaboly entitled, Rogers' Rangers and Their Uniforms: Fact to Legend, Legend to Misconceptions in the book, The Annottated and Illustrated Journals of Major Robert Rogers by Timothy J.Todish.  Among the significant variety of collated sources, Mr. Zaboly highlights the correspondece and private notes of Lord Loudoun and other military leaders reagrding "Cloaths talkt of for Rangers," a preliminary list dated November 23, 1757 which includes, "a Match coat Different color from those the French get, Woolen Wastcoat, Britches, Shirt & Roller, Stockings, Shoes, Indian Stockings, For Accoutremnets; Horn & Bag for Bullets, Tomahock and Blanket"  (2)

Lord Loudoun's list was based on input from officers experienced in North American wooded terrain in several theatres between Nova Scotia and Virginia.  Most prominently reccomended indian stockings (woolen leggings) and matchcoats while additional sources often added winter moccasins, woolen caps & mitts or gloves.  Mr. Zaboly's comparative analysis clearly supports the prevelence of these items and the transition to the capot among those British engaged in Woods Service, and illuatrates the vagueness of terms concerning matchcoats, blanketcoats and watchcoats (3).  

Not mentioned by Loudoun but prominent in many ranging sources are tumplines.  These items and others will be examined in greater detail in future posts.

To access the clothing & equipment guidelines for the event click here.

(1). Thomas Gage Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan. Series III: Letter Books and Account Books. Box 1 Volume 1 Letter #2

(2).  Todish, Timothy J.  The Annotated and Illustrated Journals of Major Robert Rogers.  Purple Mountain Press, Fleischmanns. New York, 2002. pp 302

(3).    pp  297 - 302

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