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"Indian Department Ranger Uniforms" Topic


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339 hits since 25 Jun 2018
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BayreuthvonSeybothen25 Jun 2018 7:10 p.m. PST

In the Battle of Oriskany there are listed among the British forces some Indian Department Rangers I don't know if this is referring to Butler's contingent or not. Does anyone have any idea of the uniforms they would be wearing if any in particular? Are they green or scarlet coated and what facings?

Terry3725 Jun 2018 7:31 p.m. PST

If Butler's Rangers, then a green coat with red collar, cuffs lapels and turnbacks, and a LI type cap with a brass front plate. I have also read of this regiment having had white facings but more sources show red. They also often wore bits of Indian garb.

Here's Leffert's plate for them.

link

Terry

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP25 Jun 2018 8:22 p.m. PST

If you want controversy…..
I hate the term "modern scholarship has rejected…" but in this case it's true.
The LI Cap with brass front plate is usually thought to be a post War invention. It's thought to be rather impractical for comfort and sneaking around through the woods. Having said that, I have a bunch (technical military term for "a lot") of figures with that head gear.
If I were doing the Rangers over, I would give them slouch hats or knit caps. But I'm not about to throw out perfectly rational figures who have fought for me well in the past.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Jun 2018 12:09 a.m. PST

I would just paint the front of the caps black, as if they were regular Ranger caps.

Glengarry526 Jun 2018 2:40 a.m. PST

I don't think there were "Indian Department Rangers" as such. The Indian Department was a military-diplomatic corps of a few dozen mostly American & British officers, translators (mostly French-Canadians) and some clerks. There was no regulation uniform but the officers usually wore scarlet jackets with predominately buff facings (although blue facings are recorded). The Indian Department worked closely with American loyalist units, particularly Butlers Rangers, and perhaps these are what are referred to as "Indian Department Rangers"?

rvandusen Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2018 3:20 a.m. PST

I recall reading, perhaps in Gavin Watt's book on the Stanwix/Oriskany campaign (is it Rebellion in the Mohawk Valley?) that Butler and the rangers during that period did not have uniforms yet. The uniformed loyalists at Oriskany were Royal Yorkers light infantry company. There may not have been an official Butler's Rangers until just after the St,Leger expedition.

Maybe you could use a few FIW French militia types in toques, long linen shirts, and mitasses mixed with a guys with slouch hats etc.

BayreuthvonSeybothen26 Jun 2018 3:56 a.m. PST

Thank you for all the info. I was confused as many things I have found online refer to Butler's Rangers at Stanwix/Oriskany but was perplexed as Butler's Rangers was not raised until after Oriskany. The National Parks Service page on Tory, Allied Indian, & British Military Leaders in New York lists Butler as the leader of of the Indian Dept. Rangers that besieged Fort Stanwix in 1777. As with Glengarry5 I thought there really was no regulation uniform for Indian Department except for the officers and they really were not a military force. The thing that makes me think they must have been uniformed is that apparently Butler convinced his group to turn their coats inside out as a ruse to fool the Tyron County Militia. If they were in regular clothing this ruse doesn't make sense. Is it possible maybe Butler was somehow commanding a group of Yorkers?

BayreuthvonSeybothen26 Jun 2018 4:18 a.m. PST

I have been looking more into Indian Department Rangers and have found this
any had been Indian Department employees under Sir William Johnson, and were personally known, respected and trusted by the Six Nations. Every man in two Ranger companies was fluent in the Indian languages,(3) and many were forest-wise veterans of the recent French and Indian Wars. Although not formally differentiated from the Indian Department until September 15, 1777, (4) they had been fighting as a unit since September 6,1775, when 90 Rangers and Indians under Capt. Gilbert Tice and Lieutenants Walter Butler and Peter Johnson successfully repelled a large American force at St. Johns, Quebec.(5) On September 25th, Lieutenants Butler and Johnson captured the notorious Ethan Allen, the victor of Ticonderoga earlier in the year. (6) The Rangers were expected to arm and equip themselves (7) and most carried their own deadly accurate Pennsylvania-Kentucky long rifles, that classic North American frontier arm developed by their forefathers in the forests and mountains of south Germany and Switzerland.
3. Ernest Cruikshank, Butler's Rangers, 1893 (1975 reprint available from Lundy's Lane Historical Society, Niagara Falls, Ont.)
4. Ibid p. 37, 38
5. Ibid p. 26
6. Ibid p. 26, 27

BayreuthvonSeybothen26 Jun 2018 4:18 a.m. PST

I have been looking more into Indian Department Rangers and have found this
any had been Indian Department employees under Sir William Johnson, and were personally known, respected and trusted by the Six Nations. Every man in two Ranger companies was fluent in the Indian languages,(3) and many were forest-wise veterans of the recent French and Indian Wars. Although not formally differentiated from the Indian Department until September 15, 1777, (4) they had been fighting as a unit since September 6,1775, when 90 Rangers and Indians under Capt. Gilbert Tice and Lieutenants Walter Butler and Peter Johnson successfully repelled a large American force at St. Johns, Quebec.(5) On September 25th, Lieutenants Butler and Johnson captured the notorious Ethan Allen, the victor of Ticonderoga earlier in the year. (6) The Rangers were expected to arm and equip themselves (7) and most carried their own deadly accurate Pennsylvania-Kentucky long rifles, that classic North American frontier arm developed by their forefathers in the forests and mountains of south Germany and Switzerland.
3. Ernest Cruikshank, Butler's Rangers, 1893 (1975 reprint available from Lundy's Lane Historical Society, Niagara Falls, Ont.)
4. Ibid p. 37, 38
5. Ibid p. 26
6. Ibid p. 26, 27

BayreuthvonSeybothen26 Jun 2018 5:09 a.m. PST

It does appear that at Oriskany Butler was in command of some light troops of the Yorkers though he was not an officer of them. Butler was brother-in-law to Sir John Johnson the commander of the Yorkers. So while the I.D. Rangers were likely not uniformed the men Butler had turn there coats inside out were Johnson's Greens.

rvandusen Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2018 3:18 p.m. PST

Again I may be in error, but I think the reason that Butler found himself commanding the Greens is because the light's officer was wounded and incapacitated at Oriskany.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Jun 2018 2:11 a.m. PST

BayreuthvonSeybothen – Your final surmises are correct. The unit we know as "Butler's Rangers" was not raised until after the St Leger expedition; Butler was present, but not in any official capacity. British officers of the Indian Department tended not to wear their uniforms in the field, but generally dressed so as to look "part of the group" (ie predominantly native dress). I am not sure of the story of the Royal Yorkers turning their coats inside out, but if they did it might well have worked since, despite having red facings, the lining of the coat was white and hence would have appeared as white coats faced green (the red cuffs and collar being strips of material stitched onto the outside of the coat), and white, or off-white coats were a fairly common colour for Rebel troops in 1776 and 1777.

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