During the Second World War, the United States Army created special military units known as Rangers. The activation of these battalions was influenced by the British Commandos. However, Rangers had first appeared in the colonial period and continued through the Indian wars of the post-Civil War period.^ Several accounts of varying historical accuracy and completeness have described the operations of these battalions. However, there has been no composite study of the Rangers which has utilized the several collections of the sources related to their history. Part of the difficulty in such a study results from the dispersion and condition of the records. The Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, is the designated repository of Army historical documents. Since 1967 it has been gathering source material, but substantial collections still remain at other posts and institutions.^ The sources indicate the opposition to the formation of the Rangers by some conventional-minded officers who were concerned with the loss of their more promising noncommissioned officers and enlisted men. Gen. George C. Marshall designated the Rangers as a transient organization to give combat experience to as many soldiers as possible. This designation prevented Col. William O. Darby from organizing a permanent Ranger Force with a command headquarters, despite the recommendation of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.^ In terms of tactical employment the Rangers were organized with the objective of conducting amphibious raids and landings, long-range patrols, and spearheading attacks. When assigned such missions--Arzew, Sened Station, Gela, Omaha Beach, Cabanatuan--they were successful. The defeat at Cisterna, however, was a serious and damaging reversal which renewed controversy over their status. Moreover, some commanders of the regiments and divisions to which the Rangers were attached employed them as line infantry. Since the Ranger battalion lacked the firepower and manpower of the regular infantry battalion, this was often a costly and wasteful use of them. Like the Commandos, the Rangers were special units designed for special missions and should have been employed only for such tasks where they could, and did, justify their existence. ^

Subject Area

History, United States

Recommended Citation

JEROME JOSEPH HAGGERTY, "A HISTORY OF THE RANGER BATTALIONS IN WORLD WAR II" (January 1, 1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI8213242.