See more Continental Army articles on AOD.

Powered by
Share this page on
Article provided by Wikipedia

See also: "Newburgh Conspiracy

A small residual force remained at "West Point and some frontier outposts until Congress created the "United States Army by their resolution of June 3, 1784.

Planning for the transition to a peacetime force had begun in April 1783 at the request of a congressional committee chaired by "Alexander Hamilton. The commander-in-chief discussed the problem with key officers before submitting the army's official views on 2 May. Significantly, there was a broad consensus of the basic framework among the officers. Washington's proposal called for four components: a small regular army, a uniformly trained and organized militia, a system of arsenals, and a military academy to train the army's artillery and engineer officers. He wanted four infantry regiments, each assigned to a specific sector of the frontier, plus an artillery regiment. His proposed regimental organizations followed Continental Army patterns but had a provision for increased strength in the event of war. Washington expected the militia primarily to provide security for the country at the start of a war until the regular army could expand—the same role it had carried out in 1775 and 1776. Steuben and Duportail submitted their own proposals to Congress for consideration.

Although Congress declined on May 12 to make a decision on the peace establishment, it did address the need for some troops to remain on duty until the British evacuated New York City and several frontier posts. The delegates told Washington to use men enlisted for fixed terms as temporary garrisons. A detachment of those men from West Point "reoccupied New York without incident on November 25. When Steuben's effort in July to negotiate a transfer of frontier forts with Major General "Frederick Haldimand collapsed, however, the British maintained control over them, as they would into the 1790s. That failure and the realization that most of the remaining infantrymen's enlistments were due to expire by June 1784 led Washington to order Knox, his choice as the commander of the peacetime army, to discharge all but 500 infantry and 100 artillerymen before winter set in. The former regrouped as Jackson's Continental Regiment under Colonel "Henry Jackson of Massachusetts. The single artillery company, New Yorkers under John Doughty, came from remnants of the 2nd Continental Artillery Regiment.

Congress issued a proclamation on October 18, 1783, which approved Washington's reductions. On November 2, Washington then released his Farewell Order to the Philadelphia newspapers for nationwide distribution to the furloughed men. In the message he thanked the officers and men for their assistance and reminded them that "the singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle."

Continental Army Plaza, "Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Washington believed that the blending of persons from every colony into "one patriotic band of Brothers" had been a major accomplishment, and he urged the veterans to continue this devotion in civilian life.

Washington said farewell to his remaining officers on December 4 at "Fraunces Tavern in New York City. On December 23 he appeared in Congress, then sitting at Annapolis, and returned his commission as commander-in-chief: "Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life." Congress ended the War of American Independence on January 14, 1784, by ratifying the definitive peace treaty that had been signed in Paris on September 3.

Congress had again rejected Washington's concept for a peacetime force in October 1783. When moderate delegates then offered an alternative in April 1784 which scaled the projected army down to 900 men in one artillery and three infantry battalions, Congress rejected it as well, in part because New York feared that men retained from Massachusetts might take sides in a land dispute between the two states. Another proposal to retain 350 men and raise 700 new recruits also failed. On June 2 Congress ordered the discharge of all remaining men except twenty-five caretakers at "Fort Pitt and fifty-five at West Point. The next day it created a peace establishment acceptable to all interests.

The plan required four states to raise 700 men for one year's service. Congress instructed the Secretary at War to form the troops into eight infantry and two artillery companies. Pennsylvania, with a quota of 260 men, had the power to nominate a lieutenant colonel, who would be the senior officer. New York and Connecticut each were to raise 165 men and nominate a major; the remaining 110 men came from New Jersey. Economy was the watchword of this proposal, for each major served as a company commander, and line officers performed all staff duties except those of chaplain, surgeon, and surgeon's mate. Under "Josiah Harmar, the "First American Regiment slowly organized and achieved permanent status as an infantry regiment of the new Regular Army. The lineage of the "First American Regiment is carried on by the "3rd United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).

However the "United States military realized it needed a well-trained standing army following "St. Clair's Defeat on November 4, 1791, when a force led by "General "Arthur St. Clair was almost entirely wiped out by the "Western Confederacy near "Fort Recovery, Ohio. The plans, which were supported by U.S. President "George Washington and "Henry Knox, "Secretary of War, led to the disbandment of the Continental Army and the creation of the "Legion of the United States. The command would be based on the 18th-century military works of "Henry Bouquet, a professional Swiss soldier who served as a "colonel in the "British army, and French "Marshal "Maurice de Saxe. In 1792 "Anthony Wayne, a renowned hero of the "American Revolutionary War, was encouraged to leave retirement and return to active service as Commander-in-Chief of the Legion with the rank of "Major General.

The legion was recruited and raised in "Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was formed into four sub-legions. These were created from elements of the "1st and "2nd Regiments from the Continental Army. These units then became the "First and "Second Sub-Legions. The Third and "Fourth Sub-Legions were raised from further recruits. From June 1792 to November 1792, the Legion remained cantoned at "Fort LaFayette in Pittsburgh. Throughout the winter of 1792–93, existing troops along with new recruits were drilled in military skills, tactics and discipline at "Legionville on the banks of the "Ohio River near present-day "Baden, Pennsylvania. The following Spring the newly named Legion of the United States left Legionville for the "Northwest Indian War, a struggle between "American Indian tribes affiliated with the "Western Confederacy in the area south of the "Ohio River. The overwhelmingly successful campaign was concluded with the decisive victory at the "Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794, Maj. Gen. "Anthony Wayne applied the techniques of wilderness operations perfected by Sullivan's 1779 expedition against the Iroquois. The training the troops received at Legionville was also seen as an instrumental to this overwhelming victory.

Nevertheless, Steuben's Blue Book remained the official manual for the legion, as well as for the militia of most states, until "Winfield Scott in 1835. In 1796, the "United States Army was raised following the discontinuation with the legion of the United States. This preceded the graduation of the first cadets from "United States Military Academy at "West Point, New York, which was established in 1802.

Rank insignia[edit]

Ribands as rank insignia: Aide-de-camp, commander-in-chief, brigadier-general.

During the "American Revolutionary War, the Continental Army initially wore "ribbons, "cockades and "epaulettes of various colors as an ad hoc form of rank insignia, as General "George Washington wrote in 1775:

"As the Continental Army has unfortunately no uniforms, and consequently many inconveniences must arise from not being able to distinguish the commissioned officers from the privates, it is desired that some badge of distinction be immediately provided; for instance that the field officers may have red or pink colored cockades in their hats, the captains yellow or buff, and the "subalterns green."

In 1776 captains were to have buff or white cockades.

Rank insignia of the Continental Army 1775 [13]
Ribands across the breast Cockades in the hats Epaulettes or stripes on the right shoulder
Major general Brigadier general Aide-de-camp Colonel,
Lieutenant colonel,
Captain Lieutenant, Ensign Sergeant Corporal

Later on in the war, the Continental Army established its own uniform with a black cockade (as used in much of the British Army) among all ranks and the following insignia:

Ranks and insignia of the Continental Army 1780
"General and
"Major general "Brigadier general "Colonel "Lieutenant colonel "Aide-de-camp "Major "Captain "Subaltern "Lieutenant "Ensign "Sergeant Major "Sergeant "Corporal "Private
""US-O9 insignia.svg ""US-O8 insignia.svg ""US-O7 insignia.svg Gold epaulets
Jacket with gold trim
Silver epaulets Gold epaulets
Hat with green "cockade
Gold epaulets Gold epaulet
(Right shoulder)
Gold epaulet
(Left shoulder)
No epaulets Red epaulets Red epaulet
(Right shoulder)
Green epaulet
(Right shoulder)
No epaulets
""Epaulette general brigade armee Napoléonienne.svg
""Epaulette colonel armee Napoléonienne.svg
""Epaulettes major.svg
""Epaulette colonel armee Napoléonienne.svg
""Epaulette colonel armee Napoléonienne.svg

""Epaulette plain.png
""Epaulette plain.png

""Epaulette plain.png

""Epaulette plain red.png
""Epaulette plain red.png

""Epaulette plain red.png

""Epaulette plain green one.png

Major battles[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wright, 1983, pp. 10-11
  2. ^ a b Cont'l Cong., Formation of the Continental Army, in 2 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 89–90 (Library of Cong. eds., 1905).
  3. ^ Cont'l Cong., Commission for General Washington, in 2 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 96-7 (Library of Cong. eds., 1905).
  4. ^ Cont'l Cong., Instructions for General Washington, in 2 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 100-1 (Library of Cong. eds., 1905).
  5. ^ Cont'l Cong., Resolution Changing "United Colonies" to "United States", in 5 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 747 (Library of Cong. eds., 1905).
  6. ^ Cont'l Cong., Acceptance of Appointment by General Washington, in 2 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 91–92 (Library of Cong. eds., 1905).
  7. ^ Rosen, David M. (2015). Child Soldiers in the Western Imagination: From Patriots to Victims. Rutgers University Press. 
  8. ^ Cont'l Cong., Commissions for Generals Ward and Lee, in 2 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 97 (Library of Cong. eds., 1905).
  9. ^ Cont'l Cong., Commissions for Generals Schuyler and Putnam, in 2 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 99 (Library of Cong. eds., 1905).
  10. ^ Cont'l Cong., Commissions for Generals Pomeroy, Montgomery, Wooster, Heath, Spencer, Thomas, Sullivan, and Greene, in 2 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 103 (Library of Cong. eds., 1905).
  11. ^ Cont'l Cong., Commission for General Thomas, in 2 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 191 (Library of Cong. eds., 1905).
  12. ^ "Liberty! The American Revolution (Documentary) Episode II: Blows Must Decide: 1774–1776. Twin Cities Public Television, 1997. "ISBN 1-4157-0217-9
  13. ^ Steven A. Bingaman (2013), The History of American Ranks and Rank Insignia, p. 11.


Further reading[edit]

Reference materials
Primary Sources

External links[edit]

) )