Sunday, November 9, 2008

White Devil - Robert Rogers and Roger's Rangers

Few New Hampshire citizen’s played a more unique and controversial role in the pre-revolutionary period of America than Robert Rogers.

Robert Rogers, or Rodgers (7 November 1731 – 18 May 1795), was a New Hampshire resident and colonial frontiersman. Born in November of 1781 in Methuen, Mass, his family soon moved north to what is now New Hampshire settling in a town Roger's refers to in his writing as Mountalona and today encompassing what is likely portions of the towns of Dunbarton and Bow.
His service to the people of New England, particularly in the war known in the colonies as the French & Indian War, (in Europe the Seven Years War) is well documented and a study in the waxing and waning fame and controversy that surrounded this remarkable man.

Many military historians attribute the seeds of the American Revolution to the ideology, tactics and strategies of the famed Roger's Rangers, started under his leadership. Indeed, one of his favored rangers was John Stark who would later set aside his "Ranger temperament" to become a General in the Colonial Army and utter the famed phrase "Live Free or Die".

White Devil is a book that provides a balanced and thoughtful look at this fascinating historic figure from the perspective of the lead-up to, and aftermath of, the historically significant and savage, bloody attack on the village of Saint Francis, Quebec.

With British tempers stoked by the 1757 French-led, Indian massacre at Fort William Henry, calls for retribution reached a fevered pitch throughout the colonies. The task of exacting that retribution fell to the Rangers. In what was unquestionably one “war crime” in response to another Rogers was ordered to exact revenge by leading a hazardous search and destroy mission against the Abenaki Indian village of St Francis, far behind enemy lines in Canada’s St. Lawrence Valley.

Against all odds, Rogers and his men fulfilled their perilous orders, only to be faced with the even more daunting prospect of a grueling retreat. Between them and safety lay some 200 miles of unforgiving wilderness. It was a nightmarish journey home. Vengeful French and Indians were soon in hot pursuit. The rangers who evaded them faced other unforgiving enemies. Winter was closing in, and their rations were soon gone: crazed with hunger, some resorted to cannibalism in a desperate bid for survival; those who finally reached safety were truly the walking dead.

St. Francis expedition won Major Rogers’ heroic status throughout Britain’s empire and the moniker “White Devil” among the Abenaki. Today, competing historical views of the events surrounding the attack on St. Francis depict Rogers and his Rangers in much the same dichotomous view.

Without romance, and with a revealing understanding of the emblematic nature of the St. Francis massacre, author Stephan Brumwell draws upon meticulous archival research and first-hand knowledge of the rugged region where these dramatic events unfolded to create a gripping account of the events. Brumwell weaves together the testimonies of eyewitnesses—British, French and Indian—to tell a powerful and moving true story from North America’s violent colonial frontier.
Stephan Brumwell is based in Amsterdam. A former newspaper reporter, he received his Ph.D. at the University of Leeds. Brumwell is the author of an acclaimed book about ordinary soldiers who fought the French and Indian War called Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763, as well as many journal and magazine articles. A recipient of the Authors’ Foundation Elizabeth Longford Grant, he lectures regularly in the US and the UK.

White Devil – by Stephan Brumwell, Da Capo Press Eleven Cambridge Center, Cambridge MA 02142. Paperback · $17.95 · ISBN: 0-306-81473-0 · 335 pages

1 comment:

  1. Appears to be a more balanced recounting than the Kenneth Robert's Northwest Passage ovel or the Spencer Tracy 1940's movie of the same