The Army’s Origins
Born out of rebellion, the colonies didn’t have a formal army, just the troops from various New England militia companies cobbled together to form an amateur force. Each colony armed, funded and supported its own militia of American volunteers.
In early 1775, as they prepared to confront the highly-trained, well-organized British troops near Boston, Massachusetts, the revolutionaries had to quickly band their forces together, name a leader and establish a unified chain of command. This effort required the support of all the American seaboard colonies.
The Massachusetts Provincial Congress asked the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia to accept authority for the New England army. On June 14, 1775, Congress formed a committee “to bring in a draft of rules and regulations for the government of the Army,” and earmarked $2,000,000 to support the forces near Boston and New York City.
Additionally, they formed ten companies of expert riflemen from the middle colonies where rifles were primarily being used at the time: six from Pennsylvania, two from Virginia and two from Maryland. This group comprised frontiersmen and some of the militia leaders who were veterans of a unit known as Roger’s Rangers, skilled woodsmen who fought for the British during the French and Indian War.
Congress also appointed George Washington as commander-in-chief of their Continental Army. He formally took command at Boston on July 3, 1775.
The Army Flag
In 1956 on the Army’s 181st anniversary, the Army flag made its debut at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The white silk flag has a blue embroidered central design of the original War Office seal. “United States Army” is inscribed in white letters on a scarlet scroll, with the year “1775” in blue numerals below.
The Army Through the Years
THE ARMY NATIONAL GUARD
Salem, Massachusetts, 1637—The history of the National Guard began, Dec. 13, 1636, when the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony ordered the organization of the colony’s militia companies into three regiments: the North, South and East.
WORLD WAR II
Stepping Stone Island on the Vella Lavella Island Front, Southwest Pacific, 1943— Infantrymen of Company “I” await word to advance in pursuit of retreating Japanese forces. Signal Corps Photo: 161-43-4081 (Schuman)
Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944—An assault landing, one of the first waves at Omaha. The Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
Ia Drang Valley, Vietnam, 1965—Major Bruce P. Crandall’s UH-1D helicopter climbs skyward after discharging a load of infantrymen on a search and destroy mission.
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
Iraq, June, 2010—A Soldier, with A Battery, Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), walks the tarmac of Mosul Airfield at Contingency Operating Base Diamondback.
OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM
Farah Province, Afghanistan, June, 2010—U.S. Army 1st Lt. Shawn Meno of Mangilao provides security for Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah and members of a local Kuchi tribe residing in Bawka District in. (U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright)
In 1775, the Soldiers of the Continental Army forged a bond with Americans built on duty and victory that endures 240 years later. Today, we remember the origins and honorable service of our army professionals and commemorate those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.