Whitcomb's Rangers were authorized on October 15, 1776, and formed in November 1776 at Fort Ticonderoga in New York. The unit consisted of two companies of New Hampshire rangers for service with the Continental Army under the command of Benjamin Whitcomb, a veteran of Bedel's Regiment. They saw action at the Battle of Hubbardton, Battle of Bennington and the Battle of Saratoga. They were disbanded on January 1, 1781 at Coos, New Hampshire.
Whitcomb's Rangers functioned primarily as scouts and spies. Small groups of up to six men traveled behind British lines for days or weeks at a time. Several times, British intelligence reported them going into Canada dressed as Canadians or Indians. The unit, augmented by another ranger company under Captain Thomas Lee and volunteers from other companies, also went out in pursuit of Indian and Loyalist raiding and scouting parties. On June 17, 1777, men of Whitcomb's Corps fought the first action of Burgoyne's campaign when Indians functioning as a screen for the advancing British army ambushed fourteen Rangers on a scouting mission. Subsequently, some of the Rangers took part in the actions at Hubbardton, Fort Anne, Bennington, and Saratoga (where they fought as part of Dearborne’s light infantry). Several of the Rangers also took part in Brown’s raid on the British and Germans garrisoning the Ticonderoga/Mount Independence complex in the fall of 1777.
After the surrender of Burgoyne, Whitcomb received orders to serve as major in a regiment organized for an incursion into Canada under Lafayette. In early 1778, as part of those plans, the corps moved to Rutland, Vermont, where they built Fort Ranger which ultimately became the military headquarters for the Republic of Vermont. That fall, Whitcomb’s Rangers played a significant role in detecting and limiting the success of a "secret" British expedition to burn mills and sources of supplies in the Champlain valley. The Rangers had known of the pending raid for several weeks.
During the winter of 1778-79, Whitcomb’s Rangers moved to the upper Connecticut River valley, then known as “Co’os,” and set up headquarters in Haverhill, NH. As well as continuing to scout into Canada, the corps guarded the men working on the Bayley-Hazen Road which had been started with the intention of serving as the route for the second invasion of Canada. Much of the responsibility of protecting the region fell to Whitcomb Rangers and companies of men raised just for the summer months. In October of 1780, the British and their allied Indians attempted a raid on Co’os in order to destroy any war-making capabilities of the region. A few miles before they reached Co’os, a spy reported that Whitcomb had 500 men with him and the raiders decided to turn south and attack the White River valley instead. The area around Royalton, Vermont, suffered severely and the raid became a legendary piece of Vermont’s history.
Whitcomb’s Rangers carried on their service until the army’s reorganization in early 1781. At that time, the officers retired and the enlisted men joined the light infantry companies of the three New Hampshire regiments with the main army.