In 1759 Major Robert Rogers commanded s small unit of scouts and raiders in what was then Britain’s American colonies, fighting against French and Native American Indians.
These are Major Robert Rogers standing orders issued to his Rangers. Some of the language and details are dated, but these orders are still very relevant and guide our every action in the field.
The standing orders for this unit represent a blueprint for the tactical operations of special forces even now.
- Don’t forget anything.
- Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatched scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute’s warning.
- When you’re on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first.
- Tell the truth about what you see and what you do. There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lay all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don’t ever lie to a Ranger or an officer.
- Never take a chance you don’t have to.
- When you’re on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can’t go through two men.
- If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it’s hard to track us.
- When we march, we keep moving till dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.
- When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.
- If we take prisoners, we keep them separate till we have time to examine them, so they can’t cook up a story between them.
- Never march home the same way. Take a different route so you won’t be ambushed.
- No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout twenty yards on each flank and twenty yards to the rear, so the main body can’t be surprised and wiped out.
- Every night you’ll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.
- Don’t sit down to eat without posting sentries.
- Don’t sleep beyond dawn. Dawn’s when the French and Indians attack.
- Don’t cross a river by a regular ford.
- If somebody’s trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.
- Don’t stand up when the enemy’s coming against you. Kneel down, lie down, and hide behind a tree.
- Let the enemy come till he’s almost close enough to touch. Then let him have it and jump out and finish him with your hatchet.