The Historical Unit

 
 
 

At the beginning of 1779, Brigadier-general Augustine Prevost received orders from His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, then Commander in Chief, to reform the East Florida Rangers, into a Regiment of Infantry, on the Provincial establishment. Prior to this, the East Florida Rangers, a battle toughened provincial militia group who had fought alongside the Indians, against the Americans, in actions along the Georgia-Florida border since 1776. This newly formed regiment was initially referred to as Brown’s Rangers referring to their commander Lt. Col Thomas Brown.

In January 1779, the men who would become the core of the King’s Carolina Rangers lead the advance of the British force that took Augusta and then, during the British withdrawal from Augusta, they rescued the loyalist survivors of the Battle of Kettle Creek and escorted them back to the British column. They also screened the British withdrawal and took part in the Battle of Briar Creek. In April, they were in the vanguard of General Prevost’s advance on Charleston and in July, the Rangers were assigned to the exposed and unhealthy post at Ebenezer, GA.

The King’s Carolina Rangers (KCR) was organized in June 1779 under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Brown, of Augusta, Georgia. A noted Loyalist, Brown had previously been the commander of the East Florida Rangers. The KCR consisted of nine infantry companies, of which one was converted into a troop of dragoons in 1782, and achieved a maximum strength of four hundred in all ranks. In September 1779, they were thrown into the defense of Savannah where they anchored the extreme right of the British lines. The experience of fighting behind formal works was a new experience to Brown and his men. The association with regulars was an opportunity for education in skills the Rangers had not previously acquired. The fact that they knew how to form a battle line and make a bayonet charge, as they did the following September in the defense of Augusta, was very likely learned during the siege of Savannah.

In June 1780, Brown and the KCR led the British advance up the Savannah to retake Augusta, GA. With Brown as commander of the Augusta garrison, the Kings Rangers became responsible for patrolling the South Carolina/Georgia backcountry Throughout August of that year, rebel activity increased in the backcountry and the Rangers were busy suppressing it. They took part in the Battle of Hanging Rock in August and repelled the patriot attempt to retake Augusta in September. At this time, as a result of the rebel attack on Augusta, they undertook the building of Fort Cornwallis, adjacent to the present day site of St. Paul’s Church. The KCR spent the rest of 1780 and much of 1781 chasing rebels in the backcountry as British control deteriorated. In October 1781, the Rebels again attacked Augusta, this time capturing the town and most of the King’s Carolina Rangers after a 2-week siege.

Following this defeat, the KCR was once again raised from volunteers and put back to duty. The final campaign of the KCR was in the defense of Savannah in 1782 where they were involved in a number of actions trying to fend off the American advance.

After the fall of Savannah, the Rangers went to St. Augustine in East Florida where, in 1783, the unit was “decommissioned” and the refugees transported to land grants they had received in various locations within the British Empire such as, England, Nova Scotia, and Abaco Island (The Bahamas).