Although Robert Rogers was an effective commander of irregulars during the French-Indian War, the following letter gives a brief account of the reason for his replacement as commander of the Queen’s Rangers in 1777.
It was written by Alexander Innes, inspector-general of Provincials, and sent to General Clinton in November 1779.
In reporting the state of the different corps as they fell under my inspection it was with much concern that my duty obliged me to present to Sir William Howe the wretched situation of the Queen’s Rangers, then commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Rogers.
Mr Rogers had introduced into this corps a number of persons very improper to hold any commission and their conduct in a thousand instances was so fragrant, that I could not hesitate to tell the General that until a thorough reformation took place he could expect no service from that battalion, which in the course of the winter had been reduced to one fifth of its original strength, principally by desertion.
As an instance I find that on my first inspection , the effective strength of the four companies commanded by the complainants consisted of fifty-one rank and file. I was fortunate enough to find in that regiment several gentlemen particularly Major Grymes, and Captain Armstrong now Major of the regiment those had in general originally belonged to Lord Dunmore’s Virginia Corps of the same name and they were exceedingly ashamed of the behaviour and conduct of the other officers, that I was told they had it in contemplation to wait on the Commander in chief, resign their commissions, and serve as volunteers in any corps in the army rather than remain where they were.
On this representation, the General determined that Lieut.-Colonel Rogers should retire on his pay and give the command of the corps to Lieutenant Colonel French, then Major of the 22nd Regimen who accepted it on the express condition of being permitted to New Model the regiment and to recommend such officers only as were deserving that honour. The corps, therefore, was to all intents and purposes dissolved, and a new one formed.
Lieut.-Colonel French made out a list of officers for the new corps in which he included as many of the old officers as he thought fit: their recommendations were approved of by the General and the gallantry and good conduct uniformly shown by the Queen’s Rangers in every occasion do great honour to Lt.-Colonel French’s choice.
That gentleman did not remain long enough with the regiment to complete the reformation he had begun, but his resignation was voluntary and was accepted with reluctance, Major Wemys and Lieutenant Colonel Simcoe have commanded that battalion since, and their merit and service are too well known to need my testimony. The tenderness and humanity of Sir William Howe to the dismissed officers was strongly marked, he ordered them three months full pay and repeatedly desired they might be recommended for such commissions as they were qualified for. Mr Fraser might have been appointed a Lieutenant, which I thought really equal to his merit, but he declined it and as to the other three captains I should have been highly unworthy of the commission I now hold had I been capable of introducing them into any Provincial corps in the character of gentlemen.