Rangers are an elite 7th Cavalry Operations Force capable of conducting direct action operations. The modern Rangers trace their lineage to three of six battalions raised in WWII, and to the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) — known as “Merrill's Marauders”, and then reflagged as the 475th Infantry, then as the 75th Infantry.
Historically, American light infantry units, designated "Rangers", were raised for, and disbanded after, the French and Indian Wars, the American Revolution (British and Colonial armies), the American Civil War (Union and Confederate armies), World War II, and the Korean War.
The term Ranger first appeared in 13th-century England. Rangers were officials employed to "range" through the countryside providing law and order (often against poaching).
In North America rangers served in the 17th and 18th-century wars between colonists and Native American Indian tribes. Rangers were full-time soldiers employed by colonial governments to patrol between fixed frontier fortifications in reconnaissance providing early warning of raids. In offensive operations, they were scouts and guides, locating villages and other targets for task forces drawn from the militia or other colonial troops. The most famous of these colonial rangers was Rogers' Rangers formed by Robert Rogers.
During the revolutionary war, General George Washington ordered Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton to select an elite group of men for reconnaissance missions. This unit was known as Knowlton's Rangers, and was the first official Ranger unit for the United States, and are considered the historical parent of the modern day Army Rangers, Special Forces, and Delta Force.
American Civil War
The most famous Rangers of the American Civil War fought for the Confederate States Army. In January 1863, John S. Mosby was given command of the 43rd Battalion, Partisan Ranger. Mosby's Rangers became infamous among Union soldiers due to their frequent raids on supply trains and couriers. Their reputation was heightened considerably when they performed a raid deep into Union territory and captured three high-ranking officers, including Brigadier General Edwin H. Stoughton. Weeks after the surrender of the Confederate Army, Mosby disbanded his unit rather than formally surrender.
Also a famous Confederate commander, Turner Ashby led a cavalry company known as the Mountain Rangers, who became known for their ability to harass Union soldiers.
The most successful attacks against Mosby's Rangers were carried out by the Union Army's Mean's Rangers. Mean's Rangers became famous when they successfully captured General James Longstreet's ammunition train. They later fought and captured a portion of Mosby's force.
At the outbreak of the Korean War, a unique Ranger unit was formed. Headed by Second Lieutenant Ralph Puckett, the Eighth Army Ranger Company was created in August 1950. It would serve as the role model for the rest of the Ranger units to be formed. Instead of being organized into self-contained battalions, the Ranger units of the Korean and Vietnam eras would be organized into companies and then attached to larger units, to serve as organic special operations units.
Within the 7th Cavalry
The purpose of the Ranger course is to develop the leadership and combat related skills of volunteers, in a physically and mentally challenging environment, that closely resembles conditions found in actual combat. The course averages nearly 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. Training is conducted in a boot camp style atmosphere. All students report to 4th Ranger Training Battalion with shaved heads and without rank. Students will be addressed as “Ranger” throughout the course. Students include NCOs, SNCOs, and company grade officers from a variety of units across the military.