Not many know the U.S Army’s birthday is coming up on June 14th, so I thought I give a brief history about how our army came to be…
The United States Army was officially formed by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775. They authorized ten companies of rifleman to be raised specifically by the Continental Congress as opposed to state troops. They also accepted the army of New Englanders who had been surrounding the British in Boston since the evening of April 19. The number of troops who marched to besiege Boston varies, however, a document at the Massachusetts State Archives dated April 23 lists 21,196 troops around Boston and in coastal communities. Obviously, the number of soldiers that were accepted into Continental service would vary as soldiers went home, new soldiers arrived, and enlistments ran out by the end of 1775. It seems in June, the number thought to be brought into Continental service was around 15,000 at the time. All of this was happening not even two months after the war had broken out and a huge move on the part of the Continental Congress.
Things were moving ahead rapidly, and on June 15, Virginian George Washington was unanimously chosen by Congress as General and Commander in Chief of the newly formed army and began his journey to Boston to take command on the 20th. A committee had also been appointed to write the rules and regulations for the new army, quite possibly based upon the rules already written by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress on April 5 that had just been issued to Massachusetts officers in early May.
Picking officers to command the Continental Army also commenced, taking account of regional men with former military service, and trying to appease each state, a very fragile process with many men with large egos. That said, the alliance of continental officers was soon assembled with very little internal strife at the beginning, although there would be alterations as the Siege of Boston went on.
How did all of this happen so quickly and fairly efficiently? Preparing for war was not a new concept in the British Provincial colonies before the Revolution. Formations of Provincial forces had been raised and supplied numerous times during the 18th century, and many of those forming the new Continental Army or government had been a part of this process before. A look back at records in the Massachusetts State Archives through the 1740s to the 1760s show how the state could raise and equip men for service. Provisioning and supplying troops had been done many times before with help from England. While the state governments had done this in the past, it would be tougher this time to get many of the materials that were needed, and new foreign alliances would have to be forged if it was going to last.
Although raising armies had been done before, this time it looked to be moving towards something that hadn’t been done previously: a self-governed country independent from England, which finally happened eight long years later. No wonder we still celebrate to this day - Happy birthday United States Army!
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