Nathan Hale Ancient 
Fifes and Drums

Knowlton's Rangers
Knowlton's Rangers, named after their commander Thomas Knowlton were an elite group of soldiers created by George Washington for the sole purpose of collecting information about the Brittish movements and intentions. they are known as America's first spies and were the equivalent of today's special forces. The rangers were hand selected from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island regiments. 

Although Knowlton’s command of the rangers was short lived due to his unfortunate death on September 16, 1776 the unit proved valuable to Washington’s Army.  In September the British were preparing an attack on Harlem Heights, Washington wanted to find out exactly what they were preparing so he had Knowlton take his unit and scout out the intentions. After getting close to the British forces without detection, there was a fierce thirty minute skirmish followed by Knowlton pulling back orderly about a quarter mile. He had the unit reorganize along a tree and fence line and when the British advanced down the road they fired several volleys upon them. As Washington moved more regiments into the area with the ultimate goal of surrounding the British and cutting them of, the British moved about five thousand men into the battle. Throughout the day the Americans continued to gain ground however Washington ultimately ordered his men back due to the concern of the British reinforcements. One recollection of the battle however might lend a sense of how having units such as the Knowlton’s Rangers could improve the outcome of the battle was recorded by Joseph Reed, “The pursuit of the flying enemy was so new a scene that it was with difficulty our men could be brought to retreat.”

Knowlton's Rangers of Today
As a unit of the Nathan Hale Ancient Fifes and Drums, the Knowlton's Rangers are easily spotted at local parades or events marching in front of the unit firing the flint lock black powder muskets. The unit also takes part in local reenactments.
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton
First moving from MA at age 8 to a 400 acre farm in Ashford CT where he was raised. Thomas Knowlton's first military experience started as a  private in 1757 during the French and Indian War. Upon his return he was married in 1759 and purchased a farm in Ashford at the current location of the Norcross Webster Boy Scout Reservation. 
With the news of Lexington reaching Connecticut, Knowlton joined a group of men from Ashford, Windham, Coventry and Mansfield to travel north. This company was the first milita from another colony to provide assistance to the colony of Massachusetts. Knowlton was selected captain of the militia after they drew ballots and he was unanimously selected. 
After several accomplishments and promotions, on August 12, 1776 Knowlton was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and placed in charge of the elite hand picked group of soldiers called rangers. A short month later on September 16, 1776 the unit was scouting in New York and Knowlton was mortally wounded. When his unit moved him to prevent his capture it is told that he said "you see my son, I am mortally wounded you can do me no good go fight for your country."

Officers of 

Knowltons Rangers



Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton

Major Andrew Colburn

Adjutant Thomas Fosdick




      Stephen Brown,  Thomas Grosvendor, Nathan Hale, Lemuel Holmes



Oliver Babcock, Jessee Grant, Abner Bacon, Ephraim Cleveland, Aron Stratten, Jacob Pope


Benoni Shipman, Aron Cleaveland, Daniel Knowlton, Thomas Hender, Ebenezer West

Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates, of the Rangers, Taken
Prisoners at Surrender of Fort Washington, N.Y. Island, Nov.
16, ’76.
Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates, of the Rangers, Taken
Prisoners at Surrender of Fort Washington, N.Y. Island, Nov.
16, ’76.

Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates, of Knowlton's Rangers taken Prisoners at Surrender of Fort Washington, N.Y.  

November 6, 1776

Detached from Durkee’s Regt.


Benjamin Irish, William Stuart


Nath’l. Chesebrough, John Lay, George Wilson, Roswell, Becket, Jabez Dewey, William Ashcraft, Joseph Sheffield, Roger, Billings, Phineas Ellis, Reuben Skespicks, Ammon Harvey, Joshua, Davis, Seth Norton, Jos. Hancock, Daniel Sampson, Abner Cole, Daniel Vanderpole, Moses Gun, Enoch Greenward, Thomas Skespicks, Charles Kelley, James Cheesbrough, Jos. Lankfort, Jos. Smith, Joel Jones, died Jan. 17, Daniel Conner, Daniel Hitt, William Pearce.

Detached from Wyllys’ Regt


John Benton


Simeon Linsey, Elisha Taylor, Seth Done, Richard Chamberlain, Timothy Hubbert, Samuel Fails, Oliver Burnham, Asa Barns, Thmoas Homes, Levy Latimer

Detached from C. Webb’s Regt


David Thorp, Samuel Laes.


Samuel Peck, Elisha Howel, Elisha Judson, William Jones, Elisha Peck, Samuel Robbins, died Jan. 14, Thomas Herdike, David Beauel, Samuel Smith, James Bugbee, Roger Blaisdel, Hull Curtiss, Zephaniah Cummings, died Feb. 7, Thomas Cook, Benjamin Devenport, Thomas Fargo, Elihu Grant, Timoth Hodges, Samuel Hale

Detached from Chester’s Regt


 Abijah Read died Jan 28., Perese Ainsworth.


Jacob Pettibone, Rufus Downing, Rufus Hibbert, Jedediah Dyer, died Jan 20., Abner Adams, John

Waid, Philip Williams, John Trarveret, Thomas Stone, Timothy Cady, Pender Jenison, Philip Abbott, Edward

Hughes, John Hobbs, Luman Long, Richard Parsons, died Jan 19., Hezekiah Wadsworth, Aden Marcey, John Miner, William Woodward, John Cooks, Josiah Underwood, John Adams, died Jan 16.

Detached from Sargent’s Regt.


Frederick Putnam, John Rains.


Niles Beckwith, Josiah Macomber.


Nath’l Turner, Daniel Griswold, Joseph Goodrich, died Dec 2., Joseph Spencer, died Nov. 2.,

William Scott, Nicholas Ashley, Aaron Pettibone, Samuel Silsby, William Woodward, Levy Proctor, Israel Sheldon, Eliphalet Mason, Barna How, William Crowfoot, John Mores, Aaron Woodward, John Taylor, Barna Allien, died Nov. 28., Joshua Wright.

Johnston, John. The Record of Connecticut Men in the Military and the Naval Service Duringthe war of the Revolution 1775 - 1783, 2009, pg 121