Robert Rogers at Michilimackinac

Robert RogersAlthough many of the historic residents of Michilimackinac were well-known around the Great Lakes and played key roles in the region’s development, few have remained as famous as Robert Rogers. Today known mostly for his exploits with ranger units during the Seven Years’ War in the late 1750s, Rogers also briefly served as the commanding officer of Michilimackinac, a position which brought him disgrace and financial ruin rather than the glory of his earlier military exploits.

Already famous following the success of his ranger units, Rogers received personal approval from King George III to mount an expedition to find the Northwest Passage, and the king appointed Rogers as the governor of Michilimackinac. Rogers arrived at Michilimackinac in the summer of 1766 and quickly dispatched the Northwest Passage expedition. He also began planning a new British colony around the Great Lakes, to be ruled by a governor with direct access to the King and government in London. These plans annoyed Thomas Gage, the commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, who already disliked Rogers. Gage searched for anything to use against Rogers, whose quarrels with subordinate officers produced enough evidence for Gage to accuse Rogers of treason.

Rogers SoldierOn December 6, 1767, Rogers’ own soldiers arrested him on the Michilimackinac parade ground, acting upon a warrant from Gage which claimed that Rogers had conspired to turn over Michilimackinac to the French. Due to the onset of winter, Rogers could not travel to the court martial Gage ordered convened in Montreal, and so spent several months confined at Michilimackinac. When the trial finally began in October 1768, the court quickly acquitted Rogers. Nonetheless, he found himself financially ruined, and he never regained the international fame he had enjoyed prior to his time at Michilimackinac.

This summer, join historic interpreters at Colonial Michilimackinac on July 25-26 as they present special tours and demonstrations about Robert Rogers and the 60th Foot, the unit stationed at Michilimackinac during his time as governor. Reenactors from Jaeger’s Battalion of Rogers’ Rangers will also be on hand demonstrating the tactical skills and camp life of Rogers’ ranger units during the 1750s. This weekend is part of a series of special events celebrating the 300th anniversary of Michilimackinac’s founding in 1715.

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