Some U.S. Army History

Ross Dunfee

A group of investors from the Virginia Company of London established Jamestown, Va. (May 14, 1607) some 13 years prior to the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth, Mass. (Dec. 18, 1620). The Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery carried 105 passengers on a four-month voyage from England to the Virginia coast, arriving April 1607. As settlements began appearing along the Eastern seaboard, conflict occurred between European and Native American cultures. The Europeans began constructing their settlement in the middle of a 14,000 strong Algonquian settlement ruled by a powerful leader, Powhatan.

As the 13 colonies expanded, militias were established in which every able-bodied male was expected to participate, and every home was expected to have at least one working firearm; America’s original citizen soldiers. In King Philip’s War (1675) a colonist named Benjamin Church learned the guerilla warfare tactics of the Native Americans, and is considered the father of the American Rangers. Until the mid-1700s, English and French soldiers, along with their Native American allies, skirmished to control ownership of the new territory. The final skirmish is known as the French and Indian War (1754-63) where future President Washington, as a Colonel, led a regiment of soldiers. The battles at Lexington and Concord demonstrated the American Militia guerilla tactics.

On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress formed the first Continental Army with 10 companies of infantry riflemen, containing soldiers from all thirteen colonies (states in 1776). Each state was responsible for recruiting, equipping, and supplying soldiers who enlisted for one to three years. The Continental Army was a nationwide (13 colonies) trained professional force, while state militias (ultimately the National Guard) were used at home. George Washington was named the first Commander-in-Chief, and at the highest rank of the Army, Lieutenant General (3 stars). It wasn’t until after the Civil War that the rank of General (4 stars) was created for Ulysses S. Grant. In 1976, Congress and President Gerald Ford posthumously promoted Washington to the rank of General of the Army (5 stars) so that no officer of the U.S. Army will ever outrank him.

For more than a century the U.S. had three main armies; first was the standing professional army (relatively small) to man permanent forts, fight Native Americans, and produce engineering and construction works (Corps of Engineers (COE), established in 1802). Second, the states maintained their militia, in varying degrees of readiness, and third, was the volunteer army (citizen soldiers) whose function was to serve only during a time of war. An academy at West Point, NY, was authorized March 16, 1802, and staffed by the seventeen-man COE to improve the science and engineering skills of the cadets. Over the last century, the U.S. has endured threats and hostilities of world wars, cold wars, nuclear wars, and Middle East wars. The U.S. Army has always been ready to protect our country and our freedoms.

Support Our Troops—Arizona honors the members of the U.S. Army and members of all branches of the military by displaying flags on the principal roadways in Robson Ranch.