Formed in October, 2012, The Conegochege Ranging Company is evolved from premier living history units with a rich history that began in the late 1990’s as the 1st Pennsylvania Battalion (1stPB). Historically the 1stPB was a one year unit of the Continental Army; formed in 1775, it served primarily in the Canadian Campaign of 1776 and mustered out late in 1776.
In 2008 the unit sought to modify its primary focus and transitioned to a portrayal of Revolutionary War era militia as "The Pennsylvania Associator’s". The reasons for this change were numerous, but primarily was made to allow more flexibility in choosing from a wider array of events, in clothing requirements, and to hopefully become more appealing to attract new members. Over the span of several years, in spite of varied efforts to attract new members, we came to the realization that we were not growing as we hoped we would. We were finding too that those necessary distractions – i.e. careers and the obligations of life outside of the unit, were taking their toll as well on attendance. It is difficult, to say the least, to embody a credible living history unit, especially one dedicated primarily to military events, when the average muster count at an event was curtailed to two or three members. We were beginning to wonder how we could better accommodate these conditions, yet continue the legacy of our mandate that we would strive to accept no less than our very best efforts in appearance and actions, and accept only those willing to work hard to that end.
Preliminary research was completed, and during a fall hunting camp in October of 2012 the concept of The Conegochege Ranging Company was brought to bear. It was decided that we would change our direction entirely and delve into the frontier chapters of the mid-18th century. Throughout the 18th century, Provincial Ranging Companies were an integral part of the defense of the frontiers and the westward expansion of settlement. For this portrayal we can still draw knowledge from research of firsthand accounts, of which many are extant, except there the adversaries were more Indians and the elements, and less red-coated British soldiers and Loyalist militias; there the environment was mostly wilderness, not the established farms or towns of the East. Most if not all of the equipment we used as Pennsylvania Associators is appropriate for a ranging company impression. The greatest appeal of this change was seen in the realization that we can tailor an accurate interpretation and representation of frontier activities with two men or twenty. Whereas any account of a three man Associator’s Company is essentially non-existent, two or three provincials engaged in scouting an area around a fort, or guarding a harvesting party, or any number of other frontier related actions, is entirely plausible. This allows us to no longer be burdened with the concern and frustration of a low turnout. As Captain Joseph Armstrong's Company, of Col. John Armstrong's Provincial Battalion, our focus will be to interpret a provincial ranging company in what was then Cumberland, now Franklin County; men who lived in the vicinity of the area a few miles west of modern day Chambersburg, PA. When the opportunity presents itself, and with certain minor additions and/or changes in clothing styles, we will still have the flexibility to do interpretations of the period of the American Revolution. We have the ability to effectually offer impressions covering the 1750’s into the 1780’s.
So, welcome to “The Conegochege Ranging Company”. You may find it interesting how we came up with this name. We had considered following a historic format, such as Captain “fill in the blank’s” Rangers or something like that, but we thought something a little more generic would better convey the diversity of our impression. Conococheague Creek is one of the major watercourses traversing a large portion of the Cumberland Valley in south central Pennsylvania. “Conococheague” is a Delaware Indian word suggested to mean “it winds a long way”. This area has a very rich colonial history, and in many first-hand accounts of settlement of this area, it is often referred to as “Conococheague Settlement”. A privately owned farm near Mercersburg, on the western edge of the valley, has been used many times by our unit for training weekends, hunting camps and tactical battles; Conococheague Creek passes through very near to this farm. Given the colonial history of the area, and that the idea for this ranging company was nurtured at an event at this farm, we decided on this name. To lend further credence to the name, we referred to a 1755 map (below) detailing the area, and borrowed from it the spelling of “Conegochege”.