Members Only Knowlton's Rangers
Knowlton's Rangers was a reconnaissance and espionage detachment
of the Continental Army established by George Washington. Named
after its commander, Thomas Knowlton, the unit was formed in 1776.
Washington chose Knowlton as the unit’s commander because of his
experience as a scout in the French and Indian Wars and adept
leadership at the battles of Breed's Hill and Long Island. Consisting
of 130 men and 20 officers, the unit was charged with conducting
reconnaissance, carrying out raids against British facilities and other
dangerous covert missions. Even Thomas Knowlton’s own son and
brother were part of the small reconnaissance detachment.
On September 16, 1776, Knowlton's Rangers were scouting in
advance of Washington's Army at Harlem Heights, New York. The
skirmish turned into an all-out battle with multiple flanks and counter
maneuvers from both the British and Rangers. In the face of heavy
enemy fire, Knowlton rallied his troops to carry on the attack. He fell
mortally wounded in front of his men. Knowlton accepted his fate
with the same fortitude that he had accepted his mission with. Just
before his death, Knowlton was quoted saying, “I do not value my life
if we do but get the day.”
Knowlton's Rangers are considered the United States of America's
first organized intelligence service organization, as well as the first
American Ranger unit formed after America declared its
independence from the United Kingdom.
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