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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Blindspot in my Knowledge of U.S. History

This is Steven Petrick posting.

If you have read many of my previous posts, or spoken with me, you are aware that I have an interest in military history.

Despite that interest, I am sometimes surprised by things that "I should know" but that I do not.

I have seen various episodes of a TV series that was about Roger's Rangers (I only really remember that Buddy Ebsen who would go on to play Jed Clampet in "The Beverly Hillbillies" and a few other shows was one of the co-stars). I have seen "Northwest Passage" at least once, with Spencer Tracy playing Rogers.

But it was not until the series "Turned" on AMC that I actually gave any real thought to what Rogers did during the Revolutionary War. I gradually became somewhat startled at a Tory named Rogers in that series, and had begun thinking back to my reading of the Revolutionary War and could not really recall Rogers being mentioned in anything I had read.

The heroic Rogers, a Tory?

To add to my discomfit one of the books I have received in the last year was "War on the Run" which tells the story of Rogers and his Rangers, from his birth to his death, and yes he was a Tory.

This is not to say that as a student of "the art of war" I am unwilling to learn from "the enemy" (certainly I was much impressed with the German commander in Africa, Lettow-Vorbeck, during the First World War as an example). Simply because someone is on the other side, it does not mean he is stupid or incompetent (although that state of affairs is dearly to be wished), so the precepts of Rogers being something I studied in the U.S. Army does not cause me any concern.

It is, however, surprising to be in my late 50s and find I had always thought Rogers was one of (or would have been if he were alive) the heroes fighting for American independence. He was not.

At least he was loyal to the crown from the start, and did not "turn his coat" as Arnold did.