Rogers' Rules of Ranging (1757)
Major Robert Rogers was one of America's great military commanders. Fighting in the French and Indian War with his celebrated "Rogers' Rangers," he revolutioned warfare with his use of green uniforms (a forerunner to today's camouflaged clothing), adapted Indian tactics and "Rules of Ranging." His St. Francis Raid is recounted in the first half of Kenneth Roberts' book Northwest Passage.
The value of these rules was proven by Rogers and later by Lt. Colonel William Darby when he issued these rules verbatim to the First United States Ranger Battalion in World War II. The Rangers still use these rules today.
1. All Rangers are subject to the rules of war.
2. In a small group, march in single file with enough space between so that one shot can't pass through one man and kill a second.
3. Marching over soft ground should be done abreast, making tracking difficult. At night, keep half your force awake while half sleeps.
4. Before reaching your destination, send one or two men forward to scout the area and avoid traps.
5. If prisoners are taken, keep them separate and question them individually.
6. Marching in groups of three or four hundred should be done in three separate columns, within support distance, with a point and rear guard.
7. When attacked, fall or squat down to receive fire and rise to deliver. Keep your flanks as strong as the enemy's flanking force, and if retreat is necessary, maintain the retreat fire drill.
8. When chasing an enemy, keep your flanks strong, and prevent them from gaining high ground where they could turn and fight.
9. When retreating, the rank facing the enemy must fire and retreat through the second rank, thus causing the enemy to advance into constant fire.
10. If the enemy is far superior, the whole squad must disperse and meet again at a designated location. This scatters the pursuit and allows for organized resistance.
11. If attacked from the rear, the ranks reverse order, so the rear rank now becomes the front. If attacked from the flank, the opposite flank now serves as the rear rank.
12. If a rally is used after a retreat, make it on the high ground to slow the enemy advance.
13. When laying in ambuscade, wait for the enemy to get close enough that your fire will be doubly frightening, and after firing, the enemy can be rushed with hatchets.
14. At a campsite, the sentries should be posted at a distance to protect the camp without revealing its location. Each sentry will consist of 6 men with two constantly awake at a time.
15. The entire detachment should be awake before dawn each morning as this is the usual time of enemy attack.
16. Upon discovering a superior enemy in the morning, you should wait until dark to attack, thus hiding your lack of numbers and using the night to aid your retreat.
17. Before leaving a camp, send out small parties to see if you have been observed during the night.
18. When stopping for water, place proper guards around the spot making sure the pathway you used is covered to avoid surprise from a following party.
19. Avoid using regular river fords as these are often watched by the enemy.
20. Avoid passing lakes too close to the edge, as the enemy could trap you against the water's edge.
21. If an enemy is following your rear, circle back and attack him along the same path.
22. When returning from a scout, use a different path as the enemy may have seen you leave and will wait for your return to attack when you're tired.
23. When following an enemy force, try not to use their path, but rather plan to cut them off and ambush them at a narrow place or when they least expect it.
24. When traveling by water, leave at night to avoid detection.
25. In rowing in a chain of boats, the one in front should keep contact with the one directly astern of it. This way they can help each other and the boats will not become lost in the night.
26. One man in each boat will be assigned to watch the shore for fires or movement.
27. If you are preparing an ambuscade near a river or lake, leave a force on the opposite side of the water so the enemy's flight will lead them into your detachment.
28. When locating an enemy party of undetermined strength, send out a small scouting party to watch them. It may take all day to decide on your attack or withdrawal, so signs and countersigns should be established to determine your friends in the dark.
29. If you are attacked in rough or flat ground, it is best to scatter as if in rout. At a pre-picked place you can turn, allowing the enemy to close. Fire closely, then counterattack with hatchets. Flankers could then attack the enemy and rout him in return.