What follows is the information submitted to the Georgia Historical Commission:
The History of the United States Army Mountain Ranger Camp in Dahlonega Georgia
begins in 1951.
However, the history and events that brought Rangers to train in the Mountains
of North Georgia began many years prior, throughout Georgia and the North
American Continent, before the United States was formed.
In the fledgling years of Colonial America, the colonist found themselves in a
strange new land that to them seemed vast, overwhelming, uncharted and unknown.
These early Americans chose the bravest of their numbers to “Range” out into
the new frontier and explore, map and report what they found. These were the
In the early military the Rangers were full-time soldiers who would range
between fixed fortification to provide early warnings and act as guides. In
1622, as America grew and the native Indians were forced from their lands,
hostilities erupted. These early Rangers were militia that protected early
From 1670 to 1675, Benjamin Church’s Rangers were involved in fighting with
distinction in the King Phillip’s War with frontier Indians.
In 1747, John Gorham was tasked by the British Army to form the first Ranger
Unit assigned to British forces. These Rangers were called “His Majesty’s First
Independent Company of American Rangers”.
The Colony of Georgia also had it’s own Rangers. Georgia’s founder, General
James Oglethorpe, established several Ranger Units among his militia. In 1733
General Oglethorpe, settled in Georgia and saw the need for a militia to
protect the colonies against the native Indians and the Spanish. He sought the
wood-wise and unconventional fighters to form The Georgia Coastal Rangers and
Highland Mounted Rangers.
In July of 1742, Spanish forces sailed from St. Augustine and landed near St.
Simons Island. General Oglethorpe quickly led his militia consisting of British
troops and Rangers and friendly Indians. On July 7th 1742, the Georgia Rangers
were guarding the town of Frederica on St. Simons and spotted a force of more
than one hundred Spanish troops approaching. General Oglethorpe led a force
composed of Highlander Rangers, Coastal Rangers and Indians against the
Spaniards in a battle at Gully Hole Creek. The Georgia force was victorious
after a fierce one-hour fight, leaving the Spaniards with losses of over
one-third of their men and all the officers’ corp. killed or captured. The
Ranger lost one man to heat exhaustion.
Later in the day the Spanish landed two hundred elite Grenadiers and crossed
the open marsh, to the battle known as the Battle of Bloody Marsh. After two
hours of expending ammunition at men that would hide and shoot the Spanish
withdrew, not knowing that they severely outnumbered the Georgia Militia. After
this encounter, the Spanish would completely withdraw from Georgia never to
During the French and Indian War Major Robert Rogers formed nine companies of
Rangers to fight for the British from 1754 to 1763. Major Rogers wrote 28
Standing Orders that are just as important to Rangers of today as they were to
the Rangers of that time. These standing Orders are taught to each Ranger as
part of his training.
In 1775, the Continental Congress authorized 10 companies of expert riflemen to
be organized and equipped. These men were placed under the command of Daniel
Morgan and designated as “The Corps of Rangers”. Additionally, a Connecticut
Lieutenant Colonel, named Thomas Knowlton formed a Ranger unit of 150 hand
picked men that fought at the battle of Harlem Heights in New York City on 16
September 1776. South Carolina and Georgia both established mounted Ranger
units in 1775-1776. Sometimes referred to as partisans, these Rangers performed
well in battle. The legendary Francis Marion, also known as the “Swamp Fox”,
led South Carolina Units. In 1777, the Continental Congress authorized the
formation of additional partisans, one of these all American units was formed
and led by “Light Horse Harry” Lee (the Father of Robert E. Lee).
During the War of 1812, Rangers were again used to protect frontier towns and
citizens. These Rangers were deployed to the western frontier to battle the
Indians and provide law and order to these fledgling settlements. These Rangers
were the forefathers to such legendary law enforcement agencies as the Texas
Rangers and Arizona Rangers.
During the American Civil war, both the North and South Armies deployed Ranger
units. The Union Army had Mean’s Rangers who exploits included the raid on the
ammunition trains of Southern General Longstreet. While the Southern Rangers
led by Mosby raided Union supply depots as far north as Pennsylvania. After the
Civil War, Rangers returned to the Western frontier to continue their law
enforcement roles and protection of settlers.
On May 26th 1942 Major General Lucien Truscott convinced the Army that a force
of Commandos were needed. An order was given and the 1st Ranger Battalion,
Commanded by Major William Orlando Darby was formed and trained in Scotland.
Rangers were attached to the multi-national force of men that landed at the
French Port of Dieppe. Although 3 Rangers were killed and 5 captured, it was
the Rangers of the United States Army that drew first blood for the American in
the European theater. The Rangers performed brilliantly in North Africa,
leading several assaults and capturing key terrain, towns and objectives. In
fact they performed so well that 2n Battalion was formed. Later the 3rd and 4th
were filled with volunteers and trained. The Rangers helped the American and
British sweep across Sicily and then into Italy. American Generals wanted an
end-around operation to cut off the Germans and decided to land at Anzio. It
was here that the 1st, 3rd and 4th Rangers were sent to an objective that was
defended heavily and where many Rangers were killed or captured. This one
battle cost the Army three Ranger Battalions. However, elsewhere in the world
other Rangers were being formed to handle additional hazardous missions. The
29th Infantry was also training a Ranger Unit and just before they were to be
activated they were melted back into the 29th Infantry. However, these were
The newly formed 2nd Battalion and the 5th Battalion that trained in Tennessee
were to play major roles for the Allies in the invasion of Fortress Europe,
during Operation Overlord and the June 6th 1944, D-DAY invasion.
The 2nd Battalion was given the mission of scaling 100-foot cliffs that
overlooked and controlled the Beaches of Utah and Omaha beaches. The Germans
had placed 155 mm guns in reinforced bunkers at this location and they would
surly devastate the beaches and take untold lives of American, if the Rangers
could not scale the cliffs and silence those guns. With ropes, rope ladders and
shear strength, the Rangers scaled the cliffs of Pointe du Hoe and completed
their assigned mission. Although no guns were placed in the bunkers, the
Rangers scaled the cliffs under intense enemy fire with determination and
courage. While the 2nd Battalion scaled the cliffs, the 5th Battalion landed
with infantry on Omaha Beach, While most of the men were pinned down on the
beaches by intense fire, the Commanding General of the Landing Forces yelled to
the Rangers, “Lead the Way” and from this statement, came the motto of the
modern day Rangers. The 2nd and 5th Battalions continued to march across France
and into Germany, contributing to final victory over the Axis powers.
Part of Ranger History is the formation of the 1st Special Services Force; a
joint American/Canadian unit developed and trained to fight in the rugged
mountains of Europe. The 1st SSF was comprised of the remnants of the 1st, 3rd
and 4th Ranger Battalions. It was an all-volunteer unit, whose members included
mountain climbers, skiers, lumberjacks and game wardens. They mainly worked
behind enemy line keeping the Germans off balance, keeping German troops in the
rear to find and fight the 1st SSF and keeping those troops from enforcing
Rommell’s Atlantic Wall. Although this was a precursor to the Modern day
Special Forces (Green Berets), their history and lineage comes from the
Rangers. And it is this reason that the Special Forces history and lineage is
the same as the modern Rangers.
While the Rangers were making history in Europe two other Ranger Units were
operating in the Pacific. When General Macarthur returned to the Philippines,
as he had promised, Rangers of the 6th Ranger Battalion were the spear headers
of that invasion. Clearing islands that were in the path of invasion was their
main responsibilities. However, a forgotten saga of Ranger History is the
dynamic raid on the Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Compound near the Philippine
City of Cabu. In this Prisoner of War compound over 500 Americans; British and
other nationalities lay in waste from starvation, disease and brutality from
their Japanese capturers. These were the remaining men from the Death March of
Bataan. The 6th Ranger Battalion marched over 30 miles behind enemy lines and
made a daring raid on the camp. All prisoners were saved, two Rangers lost
their lives and 600 Japanese Soldiers died at the hands of the Rangers and
their partisan allies. The raid itself was heroic enough but the Rangers then
had to bring the former prisoners back through enemy territory to safety.
Deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia, another Ranger Unit was marking the
pages of History Books for future generations of Rangers to build on. This
all-volunteer unit was designated the 5307th Composite (Provisional). But
reporters of that time dubbed them Merrill’s Marauders, named after their
leader Frank D. Merrill. (The current Mountain Ranger Training Camp is named in
his honor) The Marauders, code named Galahad, moved men and supplies along the
Ledo road in Burma and fought the Japanese the entire time. Involved in 30
minor battles and 5 major battles, the Marauders were trained in deep
penetration missions and kept the Japanese busy in that sector of the war. The
final battle for most Marauders took place at Mytchkina Airfield. This was the
only all weather airfield in the region and crucial to further Allied
operations in CBI theater. The 5307th was reassigned as the 475th MARS unit
after the final battle. These men began the lineage of the current 75th Ranger
Prior to 1950, their own instructors or the instructors of the British Army
trained all Rangers. As new men filled the ranks the veterans trained them.
Each unit trained differently but usually had the same goals. It was the desire
of Gen Truscott, in the beginning that the training received by the Rangers
from their British and Scottish instructors would serve as role model for
future training. The initial beliefs were that after training, these men would
return to their individual units and train the men in those units how to better
operate as light infantry. The 29th Infantry men did just that, however,
because of the heroics and efforts of the 1st Ranger Battalion in North Africa,
it was decided to allow these men to remain as a unit for special operations.
At one time there was an overall command unit commanded by Col. William O.
Darby, just prior to the attack on Selerno.
Now in the 1950s the Army saw that the need for this specialized training was
needed again and this time they developed a course of instruction that would
follow the beliefs of Gen Truscott. The US Army Ranger School was developed to
train Officers and NCOs and send them back to their units to spread the
training, esprit-de-corps. and attitude of the US Army Ranger.
Ranger Units at that time had been disbanded and the school served its intended
purpose because there was no solely Ranger Units to train. However, the
hostilities of the Korean Conflict would change that. The Ranger Companies that
were formed for this conflict added to the proud history. Although there were
no great frontal assaults in Korea such as the assault on the Point-du-hoe, the
Rangers, never the less made a name for themselves. Most of the actions by the
Rangers were behind the lines actions or specialized missions.
The 1st Ranger Company, on one night raid, marched 9 miles in pitch darkness
and destroyed the Headquarter of the 12th North Korean Division killing it’s
commander and most of his staff. 112 Rangers forced two North Korean Regiments
to retreat that night. These Korean Rangers were the first Airborne Rangers and
the combined companies of the 2nd and 4th made a combat jump at Munsan-Ni along
the 38 parallel. Once on the ground the 2nd Ranger Company plugged gaps in the
lines while the 4th Ranger Company made an over-water raid to secure the
Hwachon Dam from the North Koreans. The 2nd Ranger Company was an all black
Company in the Segregated Army of that time. However, the Rangers knew of no
color differences, they only knew the 2nd Ranger Company as fellow Rangers. The
8th Ranger Company in Korea began another chapter of Ranger history. In a
battle that raged for hours, 33 Rangers, while on patrol, discovered two
Chinese Reconnaissance Companies. The Ranger fought their way back to friendly
lines killing over 70 Chinese soldiers and wounding many more. Two Rangers were
killed and three wounded but the Rangers returned to the lines with those
wounded and killed men. Not beginning the tradition but certainly enhancing the
Ranger tradition of “Never Shall I leave a Fallen Ranger”.,,
After Korea the Rangers were designated as the 75th Infantry, on Okinawa in
1954. Its ranks were filled by the Korean War veteran Rangers and the remnants
of the 475th.
After the Korean Conflict Ranger School continued to train Officers and NCOs to
fill the ranks of regular infantry and combat arms branches of the services.
All active duty Ranger Units were disbanded or delegated to the National Guard
or Reserve status, such as D Company 151st Infantry Indiana National Guard.
Rangers would not fight again as units until the Vietnam War. On February 1st
1969, 13 Ranger Companies of the 75th Infantry began their operations in
Vietnam. These Rangers worked in small teams being the eyes and ears for the
Divisions spread throughout Vietnam. When these Rangers were not watching the
enemy they were conducting raids and ambushes disrupting their operations.
These Rangers were so successful in their operations that the Secretary of Army
dubbed them the Neo Marauders.
It was the veterans of these units that became the nucleus of the first every
peacetime Ranger unit in American History, and they were designated as the 75th
General Creighton Abrams saw the need for light mobile force capable of
deploying anywhere in the world on a moments notice and signed the order, (No.
131), to Activate the 1st Bn (Ranger) 75th. On January 31st 1974 the 1st
Battalion was formed and trained then moved to it’s new home at Ft. Stewart
Georgia. On October 1st 1974 the 2nd Bn (Ranger) 75th Inf. was formed in Fort
Now the US Army Ranger School had two full time Ranger Units to train men for.
Not only were men from the Ranger Battalions being trained but also the School
still trained other combat arms branches and MOSs for the entire service. Many
foreign countries sent their Officers and NCOs to the US Army Ranger School.
Members of the Charlie Company 1st Bn (Ranger) 75th Inf. were involved in the
rescue of American Hostages being held in Tehran Iran in 1980. Operation Eagle
Claw would be the first test in combat for the newly formed Ranger Battalions.
These Rangers were to secure the landing field for the Special Forces teams
going in for the rescue. Other Rangers were to secure the airfield south of
Tehran so that when the hostages and rescuers flew from Tehran in helicopters
they could be whisked away to safety from the airfield. Although the mission
was aborted the Rangers proved that they could move to any location on the
globe within hours and be prepared for combat.
In October of 1983 again Rangers were called upon to strike for the United
States. This time both Ranger Battalions operated on the tiny island of
Grenada. Parachuting from 500 feet, these Rangers secured Salinas Airfield and
paved the way for additional units from the United States.
Operation Urgent Fury was a success but showed the military that planning,
communications and command between sister services needed to greatly enhanced.
The Army authorized the formation of the 3rd Ranger Battalion shortly after
Operation Urgent Fury. Along with the 3rd Battalion, Ranger Regimental
Headquarters was formed to command and control these three highly mobile
forces. This force was tested in December of 1989 when over 2000 Rangers
descended on several airfields, by parachute, in the Country of Panama. During
this operation 5 Rangers were killed, 42 wounded, and they captured over 1000
POWs and 18,000 enemy weapons.
Companies A and B of the 1st Battalion deployed to Saudi Arabia during
Operation Desert Storm and provided reconnaissance patrols into Kuwait to
determine Iraqi positions and strengths. They also served as a reaction force
if needed. The Rangers sustained no casualties during this operation. They
redeployed to Kuwait in December of 1991 in response to renewed aggression by
Iraq. Again proving that Rangers can deploy anywhere, anytime and faster that
any other soldier.
On October 3rd 1993 members of B Company 3rd Ranger Battalion conducted a
daytime raid to capture Mohammed Aidid in Mogadishu Somalia in support of the
U.S. Mission there. After two helicopters were lost to enemy fire and the
Rangers unwilling to leave a fallen comrade, the Rangers fought in the longest
sustained firefight since Vietnam. 13 hours of fighting had left them with 16
killed, and 57 wounded. But the Somalis paid a heavy price with loses of over
300 people. The courage and tenacity and their devotion to the Ranger Creed was
a hallmark of this action.
Currently our country is fighting another enemy, Terrorism, and the Rangers are
again leading the way. To seek out and destroy Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda
network, the Rangers assisted the Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan. On
October 7th 100 Rangers parachuted into an area near Khandahar conducting intel
gather operations and raids.
THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY RANGER IS STILL BEING WRITTEN AS THIS IS
BEING TYPED. SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD RANGERS ARE SUPPORTING THE FREEDOM OF
Since 1951 the training of these highly motivated and courageous Rangers has
been tasked to the U.S. Army Ranger School. The Ranger Department was
established in 1950 and designed the training course for Rangers. It was broken
into three phases. The first was conducted at Fort Benning. The second phase
was to be a mountain environment and situated north of Atlanta was the best
training area in the United States. Phase three is in the swamps of northern
The first Mountain Ranger Training Camp was established at what is now Pine
Valley recreational Area of the North Georgia College and State University.
Just off of Georgia Highway 19 south of Dahlonega there is a small encampment
of tall pines surrounded on three sides by the flowing waters of the Etowah
River. Across the river are the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was
here that the Mountain Ranger Training Camp set up their tents to begin another
proud chapter in Ranger history. Mountaineering skills were a vital part of
this training and the Ranger students traveled above Dahlonega to an old rock
quarry where they were taught the basics of military mountaineering. Patrolling
training was conducted in the lush woodland surrounding the Pine Valley Camp
and along the banks of the Etowah.
The first class of Rangers to attend the training in the mountains was 11
strong. How many continued on to the next phase is unknown. Since that first
class thousands of American Rangers have come to North Georgia to receive
training from the Mountain Ranger Training Camp. After the first year the
Training camp was moved to Camp Wahsega, in the National Forrest then a short
time later to it’s present site.
The training of Rangers is akin to the making of a fine knife. They come to
phase one as a raw piece of material. In phase one the material is tested and
shaped. They arrive in Dahlonega as a rough shaped article. Here they continued
to be tested and formed into a fight tool. When they leave for phase three they
are in a form that can be distinguished and again they are tested and finalized
in Florida. Ranger School does not make the final tool. The knife is honed to a
razors edge when these young warriors return to their units. But with out the
shaping and testing, they would surly break under pressure. It is apparent from
history that the testing and shaping done at the Mountain Ranger Camp is
instrumental in the making of a Ranger. History has shown that each graduate of
the most demanding school in the world, has the strength and shape to “Fight on
to the Ranger Objective”
Pine Valley represents the beginning of an era. It is not the beginning of
Ranger History but a significant part, it is not the end of history, for as
long as the United States has freedom it will need young men to obtain it and
guard it. And as long as the United States need highly trained Young Rangers
the Mountain Ranger Camp will continue to train them.
Pine Valley is a part of the heritage of Rangers and significant part of the
History of the Great State of Georgia
 History of the 5th Ranger Training Battalion, http://www.5thrtb.org/history.htm
 The First American Soldier, His Majesty’s First Independent Company of
American Rangers, http://www.tekawiz.com/1stRanger.html
 History of the US Army Rangers, http://www.grunts.net/army/rangers.html
 The First American Soldier, His Majesty’s First Independent Company of
American Rangers, http://www.tekawiz.com/1stRanger.html
 250 YEAR LATER, Bloody Marsh Revisited, Gordon Elwell, http://www.hsgng.org/pages/marsh.htm
 History of the US Army Rangers, http://www.grunts.net/army/rangers.html,
and authors own memory of Ranger training 1974-1983 (Steven H. Hawk)
 Rangers in Colonial and Revolutionary America, http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/documents/revwar/revra.htm.
 RANGERS IN WORLD WAR II, Robert Black
 Ghost Soldiers, Hampton Sides
 Author Steven H. Hawk ‘s training on the History and Lineage of the 75th
 Robert Black, Rangers In World War II
 CSM Neil Gentry, Ranger Creed, 1974
 Robert Black, Rangers in Korea
 History of the US Army Rangers, http://www.grunts.net/army/ranger/html
 The History of the US Army Rangers, http://www.grunts.net/army/rangers.html
 Eric Haney, Inside Delta
 History of the US Army Rangers
 Blackhawk Down
 Memories of remaining original cadre
 Ranger Creed