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White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery, and Vengeance in Colonial America

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In America's first war, known as the French and Indian War, France and England-both in unholy alliance with warring Native American tribes-battled each other in a series of bloody conflicts and terrifying attacks on colonial settlements. No more brutal raid was carried out than the massacre of the settlers at Fort William Henry-an atrocity memorably depicted in James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans.Following the raid, Major Robert Rogers and his famous band of "Rangers" marched north into French ...

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Overview

In America's first war, known as the French and Indian War, France and England-both in unholy alliance with warring Native American tribes-battled each other in a series of bloody conflicts and terrifying attacks on colonial settlements. No more brutal raid was carried out than the massacre of the settlers at Fort William Henry-an atrocity memorably depicted in James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans.Following the raid, Major Robert Rogers and his famous band of "Rangers" marched north into French territory to exact retribution, where they ruthlessly attacked a peaceful village of the Abenaki Indians, massacring its people with a frightening vengeance. After the raid, the attackers endured a horrifying journey back, as some of the men were captured and tortured, while others resorted to cannibalism rather than starve in the wilderness. When the remnants of Rogers' raiders, including the Major himself, returned, they were hailed as heroes and the legend of the brave Robert Rogers began. But was he hero, or was he the "white devil," as the Abenaki still call him? In vivid prose, Stephen Brumwell explores the truth behind the legend of this controversial and dramatic episode from America's violent past.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
The war referred to here is the French and Indian War, and the White Devil is none other than Major Robert Rogers, leader of the legendary Rogers' Rangers. Although he is traditionally accepted without question as one of the genuine heroes of Colonial history, Rogers's Abenaki and French foes quite naturally regarded him and his backwoods commandos in quite a different light. Although this book certainly doesn't lionize Rogers and his actions, it is much more balanced than its title might suggest. The isolated French and British settlements and forts were terribly vulnerable to surprise attack, and everyone dreaded the "savage" Indians used by both sides. Ambush and raid, pursuit and terror, were common enough and there was plenty of brutality to share all around. The book provides an impressive insight into an important historical period usually given short shrift in the classroom. Like any good popular history, it puts the reader squarely in the action, planning thrust and defense amid tangled woodlands and swamps, with families to protect and a wily foe to outwit. The scenes are straight out of James Fenimore Cooper, who first described them in The Last of the Mohicans. This is an exciting read, a fine account of just how difficult it was to trek across--never mind fight in--the primeval wilderness of upstate New York in the 1700s. Better yet, the reader learns just how difficult it is to judge which side is "right" and which is "wrong" in a war long past. KLIATT Codes: SA*--Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Da Capo Press, 335p. maps. notes. index., $17.95.. Ages 15 to adult.
—Raymond Puffer
Library Journal
Brumwell (Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763) tells the real story of Maj. Robert Rogers and his famous band of Rangers, who marched into French territory to exact ruthless retribution on the Abenaki Indians for their massacre of settlers at Fort William Henry, memorably depicted in James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans. Brumwell dramatically depicts the stealth involved in reaching the Abenaki at the St. Francis River Basin, the details of the brutal slaughter, and the harrowing retreat to final safety, offering different perspectives based on scant narratives from the Abenaki and accounts from survivors. Brumwell also relied on more than 250 years of North American, British, and French archived documents to explore the truth behind this controversial episode from America's aggressive past. This is an excellent update to John R. Cuneo's Robert Rogers of the Rangers and complements Fred Anderson's Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. Highly recommended for all Colonial American history collections.-Dale Farris, Groves, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306813894
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 2/14/2005
  • Pages: 335
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Brumwell has scoured numerous archives to unearth eyewitness accounts that lay bare the remarkable facts behind the legend of this controversial episode from America's violent frontier past. In White Devil, he tells a powerful true story of hardship and courage, savagery and humanity, vengeance and survival.Stephen Brumwell is a well-known expert on the British army in eighteenth-century America, and the author of Redcoats. He lives in the Netherlands.

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Table of Contents

Maps 8
Preface 11
1 Conflict and Coexistence 22
2 Making Reputations 56
3 The Ranging Way of War 97
4 Amherst and Wolfe 132
5 Chosen Men 157
6 Search and Destroy 183
7 Retreat and Pursuit 206
8 Reward and Retribution 238
9 Endings 263
Notes 283
Appendices 311
Dramatis Personae 320
Acknowledgements 326
Index 329
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2005

    A Rough House, Bar the Door Account

    'White Devil' is an exceptional and fascinating, rough house, bar the door account done in a scholarly manner. All the fictional villians, heroes, rogues and scoundels of Kenneth Roberts 'Northwest Passage' and James F. Cooper's 'Last of the Mohicans' come alive and are recognisable (under different names) in this extremely well-documented historical work. Yes, truth is stranger than fiction and as this book proves is even more unbelievable. If you are patient and work past the first chapter's slow development of the details of the raid and capture of American colonists by the St. Francis Indians (which, really is necessary for the understanding of the rest of the book) then hang on for a hard to put down narrative that gracefully dances between unthinkable acts of horror and terror to the unimaginable courage of real heroes. This story of the tragic hardships and courageous triumphs of the British Ranging Companies, the great grandparents of the present day American Military Rangers, is almost unbelievable. The book is also a story of the many men they produced such as Ranger John Stark, a captive, when young, of the St. Francis Indians, and who later as a Ranger follows Richard Rogers back on a raid to burn St. Francis. This is the crucible that takes an older John Stark in the American Revolution, to fight at Bunker Hill and ravage the British lines with his New Hampshire riflemen and then later with his frontiersmen follow Washington in his crossing of the Delaware. 'White Devil' is a great insight into that little known war, The French and Indian War,and its effects on the later American Revolution and how it was fought. Again, fascinating reading, but probably not for the squeamish.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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