Did the term "rangers" have any real meaning during the Civil War?

major bill

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During the Civil War a great many companies used the term 'rangers' in their name. Rangers were used as rangers during the French and Indian War and even the American Revolution, but I have not seen many operations during the Civil War that would be considered true ranger operations. This made me wonder if during the Civil War, rangers were rangers in name only.
 

major bill

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Companies, especially Confederate companies, loved to assign themselves grand titles. I don't think Ranger in a company name necessarily meant anything more than Rifles in their name guranteed they would not be armed with smoothbores.
It does not appear that either side believed that ranger style operations were practical. Still could have the Union or Confederacy benefited from using ranger style operations?
 
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Companies, especially Confederate companies, loved to assign themselves grand titles.
So true.

"Rangers" was a very ubiquitous name for many early War local units on both sides.

I think it was an example of hubris more than anything else.

Such grandiose company names made the old fat men think they were members of an elite unit, while the 15 year old boys
thought they were joining an equivalent of a modern U.S Marine Corps Force Recon outfit.
 
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Many of Terry’s Texas Rangers had been in fact Texas Rangers, so they had earned the title.
Very True again !

But the Texas Rangers were the real deal.
I wasn't even thinking about those guys.

I was referring to the civilians that got together and formed a militia group in the village of Pleasantville (insert whatever state).

:bounce:
 

major bill

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At least so far it appears that neither side conducted ranger style operations during the Civil War. Was there a tactical reason for this?

I will make an example where a ranger operation might have been possible. The Union had many soldiers use to winter conditions. Could have a raid by soldiers use to cold weather have accomplished anything? Confederate cavalry would have had difficulties in snow. Could have a ranger operation in the dead of winter accomplish anything?
 
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One would have to define ranger, some definitions include simply a member of a group of armed men.

If going by traditional role of US Rangers, deep penetration raids behind enemy lines and close range fighting, would think partisan rangers during ACW would have came the closest. Also would probably been closest to Frances Marion in the ARW.
 

Lampasas Bill

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One would have to define ranger, some definitions include simply a member of a group of armed men.

If going by traditional role of US Rangers, deep penetration raids behind enemy lines and close range fighting, would think partisan rangers during ACW would have came the closest. Also would probably been closest to Frances Marion in the ARW.

Although on the Federal side, the Andrew's Raid (The Great Locomotive Chase) might come closest. Also, there was Cushing's small boat raid that sank the CSS Albemarle.
 

major bill

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One would have to define ranger, some definitions include simply a member of a group of armed men.

If going by traditional role of US Rangers, deep penetration raids behind enemy lines and close range fighting, would think partisan rangers during ACW would have came the closest. Also would probably been closest to Frances Marion in the ARW.

I would agree that the war in Missouri did have operations that could be called 'ranger' operations, but many were conducted by mounted men. The French and Indian War rangers were not mounted. Should we change the meaning to include mounted operations? I would have no problem including mounted ranger operations. So perhaps the older operations by foot rangers were simply updated to mounted ranger operations. Maybe I need to adjust my view of ranger operations.
 

7thWisconsin

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The modern ¨Rangers¨ were named in honor of Robert Roger´s Rangers, the most famous and probably most capable Ranger organization raised during the French and Indian War. I really think ¨ranger¨ was a next to useless term even then and was applied to lots of bodies of non-professional colonial infantry. The term had a little bit of an elite connotation during the American Revolution, i.e. Butler´s Rangers, Simcoe´s Queens Ranger, Johnson´s Kings Royal Rangers of New York, Knowlton´s Rangers, etc. But it really still wasn´t a technical military term. Certainly almost any company calling itself ¨rangers¨ during the Civil War was purely romantic association. Mosby´s Rangers, the Missouri guerillas are standout exceptions, but a lot of raids that we might think of as actions typical of rangers were undertaken by cavalry. The Rangers rise out of the trend in WW2 toward elite infantry: Commandos, Chindits, Rangers...
 

RedRover

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I was referring to the civilians that got together and formed a militia group in the village of Pleasantville (insert whatever state).

:bounce:

They certainly did apply some curious unit designations. My favorite is J.B. Gordon's "Raccoon Roughs..." Now there's a branch of service!

In many States, the Militia was legally organized by regiments, battalions, and companies. Like in Florida, where 20 regiments of Militia were organized by county, and often the several companies of each militia regiment just designated Company A, B, etc., and to employ the common infantry tactics. These companies were arranged geographically within the counties, like modern school districts. For those uninterested in mustering with their neighbors, a majority of whom had no particular enthusiasm for the purpose, federal and State laws allowed the formation of independent companies of "volunteer" militia light infantry, riflemen, cavalry or artillery. Generally one company attached to each militia battalion or regiment, and perhaps an artillery or cavalry company per brigade, or division, etc. Such corps were to wear a particular uniform, etc. In order to designate these independent companies of "volunteers" (rather than common militia doing duty purely by legal requirement) they chose their own name, just as they chose their own uniform. With the formation of the Provisional Army of the Confederate States, many such militia companies joined up as is. A large number of such companies formed in their communities specifically for Confederate service, and designated themselves accordingly (also elected their own officers, and made up uniforms, etc.). They were assigned legal company and regimental designations by the Confederate War Department on their muster-in and assignment to battalions and regiments...
Some examples of local companies employing the term "rangers"

"Rifle Rangers" (Co. A, 2nd NC Inf., CSA).
"Ringgold Rangers" (Co. C, 13th GA Inf., CSA).
"Rattlesnake Rangers" (Co. C, 19th BN GA Cav., CSA).

But as mentioned above by 7th Miss. the names were chosen for effect, and bore no particular relation to how the Provisional Army of the Confederate States chose to employ them.

An exception were the "Partisan Ranger" corps accepted into CSA Service under the "Partisan Ranger act" of 1862.

The CSA Partisan Ranger forces were organized into "bands" by law on April 21, 1862. President Davis was authorized to commission officers to organize units of infantry or cavalry (unlike militia or CSA volunteer units who elected their own officers). Where possible they could organize into "companies, battalions, or regiments, either as cavalry or infantry."
When mustered into CSA service the Partisan Rangers were to receive the same pay, rations, quarters, as other soldiers (not clothing or clothing commutation money evidently), and were subject to the CS Army regulations. However, it appears the presumption was most such would not be supplied regularly, as Confederate government urged the organization of "partisan ranger" units to operate behind or near enemy lines.
The CS Army offered them money for captured federal weapons and equipment supplied to the CS Army Ordnance Dept.

Most of the famous "Partisan ranger" corps of the CSA were mounted. There were infantry bands and units (I think the bands were smaller corps, not so strong as a legally organized company). Off hand, in 1862 in Florida Col. Theodore Brevard commanded the 1st Battalion of Florida Partisan Rangers (infantry) in East Florida. I believe many of Bedford Forrest's cavalry units were formed initially as Partisan rangers.

On June 1863 Richmond, tired of reports of the "irregularities" of partisan ranger units, ordered the Department commanders to organize all such partisan rangers into battalions and regiments, and bring them under the regulations and operations of the army. Partisan corps serving behind enemy lines were exempt from this order. [AIGO, CSA, GO 82, June 12, 1863.]
The Confederate government repealed the partisan ranger act entirely in February, 1864 at the behest of General Lee and others. Thereafter partisan ranger units had to reorganize as conventional provisional army units (like Mosby's and McNeills'), or otherwise enroll for active service therewith. Those that continued in their former state were considered essentially outlaw or deserter "bands."

Some good books on CSA "Partisan Rangers" include Jeff Thompson's "Partisan Rangers of the Confederate Army" (in Western Kentucky):
Google Books: Thompson's Partisan Rangers

There is Mosby's famed battalion of Partisan Rangers, later organized as the 43rd BN of VA Cavalry.
Google Books: Mosby's Rangers...

A somewhat popular novel from the late 1830s (set in 1856) was Beverly Tucker's "The Partisan Leader; A Tale of the Future..." a fictional tale of Southern men taking to the woods to combat a Northern invasion. It was reprinted a few times, including a Confederate edition in 1862, and perhaps influenced some Confederate volunteers in their preferred mode of action behind "Yankee" lines.

I have not seen that the US Army included any sort of specific "ranger" unit (designated such by law), but some outfits took the name. A notable federal "ranger" outfit was the Loudon (VA) Rangers; a volunteer cavalry unit organized for scouting in Northern Virginia, etc.
Google Books, Loudon rangers

J. Marshall,
Hernando, FL.
 
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bdtex

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Most of the famous "Partisan ranger" corps of the CSA were mounted. There were infantry bands and units (I think the bands were smaller corps, not so strong as a legally organized company). Off hand, in 1862 in Florida Col. Theodore Brevard commanded the 1st Battalion of Florida Partisan Rangers (infantry) in East Florida. I believe many of Bedford Forrest's cavalry units were formed initially as Partisan rangers.

On June 1863 Richmond, tired of reports of the "irregularities" of partisan ranger units, ordered the Department commanders to organize all such partisan rangers into battalions and regiments, and bring them under the regulations and operations of the army. Partisan corps serving behind enemy lines were exempt from this order. [AIGO, CSA, GO 82, June 12, 1863.]
The Confederate government repealed the partisan ranger act entirely in February, 1864 at the behest of General Lee and others. Thereafter any partisan units had to reorganize as conventional provisional army units (like Mosby's and McNeills'), or otherwise enroll for active service. Those that continued in their former state were considered essentially outlaw or deserter "bands."
Good information sir. During my cemetery visits this year I found a number of Partisan Rangers, mostly from Alabama. Some of the information you posted above was on Muster Records I found while researching those soldiers in fold3.
 
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I would think during the period the idea of rangers wasn't confined to infantry, as noted most Partisan Rangers were mounted, Minnesota raised a mounted ranger unit during Dakota war period of ACW, the United States had experimented with Mounted Rangers in 1830's as well as Texas Rangers were mounted.
 
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