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The Continental Army was the
army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch, service branc ...

army
of the
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Founded in the 17th and 18th centuries, th ...
and the Revolutionary-era
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
. It was formed by the
Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British c ...
after the outbreak of the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen American colonies of British America British America comprised the colon ...
, and was established by a resolution of Congress on June 14, 1775. The Continental Army was created to coordinate military efforts of the Colonies in their war for independence. General
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
was the commander-in-chief of the army throughout the war. The Continental Army was supplemented by local militias and volunteer troops that were either loyal to individual states or otherwise independent. Most of the Continental Army was disbanded in 1783, after the Treaty of Paris formally ended the fighting. The 1st and 2nd Regiments of the Army went on to form what was to become the
Legion of the United States The Legion of the United States was a reorganization and extension of the Continental Army from 1792 to 1796 under the command of Major General Anthony Wayne. It represented a political shift in the new United States, which had recently adopte ...
in 1792. This became the foundation of what is now the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare, land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Uniformed services of the United States, U.S. uniformed services, and is designated as the Army o ...
.


Origins

The Continental Army consisted of soldiers from all 13 colonies and, after 1776, from all 13 states. When the American Revolutionary War began (at the
Battles of Lexington and Concord The battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was init ...
on April 19, 1775) the colonial revolutionaries did not have a standing army. Previously, each colony had relied upon the
militia A militia () is generally an army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-b ...

militia
(which was made up of part-time citizen-soldiers) for local defense, or the raising of temporary provincial troops during such crises as the
French and Indian War The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was a theater of the Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Great Britain ...

French and Indian War
of 1754–63. As tensions with
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island, and the List of i ...

Great Britain
increased in the years leading to the war, colonists began to reform their militias in preparation for the perceived potential conflict. Training of militiamen increased after the passage of the
Intolerable Acts The Intolerable Acts were punitive laws passed by the British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dep ...
in 1774. Colonists such as
Richard Henry Lee Richard Henry Lee (January 20, 1732June 19, 1794) was an American statesman and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing a state. National founder ...

Richard Henry Lee
proposed forming a national militia force, but the
First Continental Congress The First Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from 12 of the 13 British colonies that became the United States. It met from September 5 to October 26, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall Carpenters' Hall is the official birthplace of the C ...
rejected the idea. On April 23, 1775, the
Massachusetts Provincial Congress The Massachusetts Provincial Congress The Provincial Congresses were extra-legal legislative bodies established in ten of the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colo ...
authorized the raising of a
colonial army Colonial troops or colonial army refers to various military units Military recruitment, recruited from, or used as garrison troops in, colonial territories. Colonial background Such colonies may lie overseas or in areas dominated by neighbourin ...
consisting of 26 company regiments. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut soon raised similar but smaller forces. On June 14, 1775, the
Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British c ...
decided to proceed with the establishment of a Continental Army for purposes of common defense, adopting the forces already in place outside Boston (22,000 troops) and New York (5,000). It also raised the first ten companies of Continental troops on a one-year enlistment, riflemen from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia to be used as
light infantry Light infantry is a designation applied to certain types of foot soldiers () throughout history, typically having lighter equipment or or a more mobile or fluid function than other types of infantry, such as or . Historically, light infantry ...
, who became the 1st Continental Regiment in 1776. On June 15, 1775, the Congress elected by unanimous vote George Washington as Commander-in-Chief, who accepted and served throughout the war without any compensation except for reimbursement of expenses. Supporting Washington as commander in chief were four (
Artemas Ward Artemas Ward (November 26, 1727 – October 28, 1800) was an American major general Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces A ...

Artemas Ward
, ,
Philip Schuyler Philip John Schuyler (; November 18, 1804) was an American general in the Revolutionary War and a United States Senator The United States Senate is the Upper house, upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the United States Hous ...

Philip Schuyler
, and
Israel Putnam Israel Putnam (January 7, 1718 – May 29, 1790), popularly known as "Old Put", was an American army general officer A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines ...

Israel Putnam
) and eight ( Seth Pomeroy,
Richard Montgomery Richard Montgomery (December 2, 1738 – December 31, 1775) was an Ireland, Irish soldier who first served in the British Army. He later became a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and he is most fa ...
,
David Wooster David Wooster ( – May 2, 1777) was an American general who served in the French and Indian War and in the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War o ...
,
William Heath William Heath (March 2, 1737 – January 24, 1814) was an American farmer, soldier, and political leader from Massachusetts who served as a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Heath made his home for hi ...
,
Joseph Spencer Joseph Spencer (October 3, 1714 – January 13, 1789) was an American lawyer, soldier, and statesman from Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 Census, it has t ...
,
John Thomas John Thomas may refer to: Politics United States * John Chew Thomas (1764–1836), U.S. Congressman from Maryland * John Thomas (New York) (1792–1866), New York politician * John Warwick Thomas (1800–1871), North Carolina state legislator and ...
, John Sullivan, and
Nathanael Greene Nathanael Greene (June 19, 1786, sometimes misspelled Nathaniel) was a major general Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces ...
) As the Continental Congress increasingly adopted the responsibilities and posture of a legislature for a sovereign state, the role of the Continental Army became the subject of considerable debate. Some Americans had a general aversion to maintaining a standing army; but on the other hand, the requirements of the war against the British required the discipline and organization of a modern military. As a result, the army went through several distinct phases, characterized by official dissolution and reorganization of units. Broadly speaking, Continental forces consisted of several successive armies, or establishments: * The Continental Army of 1775, comprising the initial
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography ...

New England
Army, organized by Washington into three divisions, six brigades, and 38 regiments. Major General Philip Schuyler's ten regiments in New York were sent to invade
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...
. * The Continental Army of 1776, reorganized after the initial enlistment period of the soldiers in the 1775 army had expired. Washington had submitted recommendations to the Continental Congress almost immediately after he had accepted the position of Commander-in-Chief, but the Congress took time to consider and implement these. Despite attempts to broaden the recruiting base beyond New England, the 1776 army remained skewed toward the Northeast both in terms of its composition and of its geographical focus. This army consisted of 36 regiments, most standardized to a single battalion of 768 men strong and formed into eight companies, with a rank-and-file strength of 640. * The Continental Army of 1777–1780 evolved out of several critical reforms and political decisions that came about when it became apparent that the British were sending substantial forces to put an end to the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colo ...
. The Continental Congress passed the "Eighty-eight Battalion Resolve", ordering each state to contribute one-battalion regiments in proportion to their population, and Washington subsequently received authority to raise an additional 16 battalions. Enlistment terms extended to three years or to "the length of the war" to avoid the year-end crises that depleted forces (including the notable near-collapse of the army at the end of 1776, which could have ended the war in a Continental, or American, loss by forfeit) * The Continental Army of 1781–82 saw the greatest crisis on the American side in the war. Congress was bankrupt, making it very difficult to replenish the soldiers whose three-year terms had expired. Popular support for the war reached an all-time low, and Washington had to put down mutinies both in the
Pennsylvania Line The Pennsylvania Line was a formation within the Continental Army. The term "Pennsylvania Line" referred to the quota of numbered infantry regiments assigned to Pennsylvania at various times by the Continental Congress The Continental Congress ...
and in the
New Jersey Line The New Jersey Line was a formation within the Continental Army. The term "New Jersey Line" referred to the quota of numbered infantry regiments assigned to New Jersey at various times by the Continental Congress. These, together with similar conti ...
. Congress voted to cut funding for the Army, but Washington managed nevertheless to secure important strategic victories. * The Continental Army of 1783–84 was succeeded by the United States Army, which persists to this day. As peace was restored with the British, most of the regiments were disbanded in an orderly fashion, though several had already been diminished.


Soldiers

Soldiers in the Continental Army were volunteers; they agreed to serve in the army and standard enlistment periods lasted from one to three years. Early in the war the enlistment periods were short, as the
Continental Congress The Continental Congress was a series of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
feared the possibility of the Continental Army evolving into a permanent army. The army never numbered more than 48,000 men overall and 13,000 troops in one area. Turnover proved a constant problem, particularly in the winter of 1776–77, and longer enlistments were approved.Neimeyer, ''America Goes to War,'' pp 36-38. The officers of both the Continental Army and the state militias were typically yeoman farmers with a sense of honor and status and an ideological commitment to oppose the policies of the
British Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...

British Crown
. The enlisted men were very different. They came from the working class or minority groups (Irish, German, African American). They were motivated to volunteer by specific contracts that promised bounty money; regular pay at good wages; food, clothing and medical care; companionship; and the promise of land ownership after the war. They were unruly and would mutiny if the contractual terms were not met. By 1780-81 threats of mutiny and actual mutinies were becoming serious. Upwards of a fourth of Washington's army were of , many being recent arrivals and in need of work. The Continental Army was racially integrated, a condition the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare, land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Uniformed services of the United States, U.S. uniformed services, and is designated as the Army o ...
would not see again until . During the Revolution African-American slaves were promised freedom in exchange for military service by both the Continental and British armies. Approximately 6,600 people of color (including African American, indigenous, and multiracial men) served with the colonial forces, and made up one-fifth of the Northern Continental Army. In addition to the Continental Army regulars, state militia units were assigned for short-term service and fought in campaigns throughout the war. Sometimes the militia units operated independently of the Continental Army, but often local militias were called out to support and augment the Continental Army regulars during campaigns. The militia troops developed a reputation for being prone to premature retreats, a fact that General
Daniel Morgan Daniel Morgan (1735/1736July 6, 1802) was an American pioneer, soldier, and politician from Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and South ...
integrated into his strategy at the
Battle of Cowpens The Battle of Cowpens was an engagement during the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirtee ...
and used to fool the British in 1781. The financial responsibility for providing pay, food, shelter, clothing, arms, and other equipment to specific units was assigned to states as part of the establishment of these units. States differed in how well they lived up to these obligations. There were constant funding issues and morale problems as the war continued. This led to the army offering low pay, often rotten food, hard work, cold, heat, poor clothing and shelter, harsh discipline, and a high chance of becoming a casualty. Keeping the continentals clothed was a difficult task and to do this Washington appointed James Mease, a merchant from Philadelphia. Mease worked closely with state-appointed agents to purchase clothing and things such as cow hides to make clothing and shoes for soldiers. Mease had eventually resigned in 1777 and had compromised much of the organization of the Clothing Department. After this on many accounts the soldiers of the Continental Army often were poorly clothed and had little blankets and often did not even have shoes. The problem with clothing and having shoes for soldiers was often not the fault of not having enough but the organization and lack of transportation. To reorganize the Board of War was appointed to sort out the clothing supply chain. During this time they sought out the help of France and for the remainder of the war, clothing was coming from over-sea procurement.


Operations

At the time of the
Siege of Boston The siege of Boston (April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776) was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was ...
, the Continental Army at
Cambridge, Massachusetts Cambridge ( ) is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and part of the Greater Boston, Boston metropolitan area as a major suburb of Boston. , it was the fifth most populous city in the state, behind Boston, ...
, in June 1775, is estimated to have numbered from 14 to 16,000 men from New England (though the actual number may have been as low as 11,000 because of desertions). Until Washington's arrival, it remained under the command of
Artemas Ward Artemas Ward (November 26, 1727 – October 28, 1800) was an American major general Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces A ...

Artemas Ward
. The British force in Boston was increasing by fresh arrivals. It numbered then about 10,000 men. The British controlled Boston, and defended it with their fleet, but were outnumbered and did not attempt to challenge the American control of New England. Washington selected young
Henry Knox Henry Knox (July 25, 1750 – October 25, 1806) was an American military officer who was a senior general of the Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was fo ...

Henry Knox
, a self-educated strategist, to take charge of the artillery from an abandoned British fort in upstate New York, and dragged across the snow to and placed them in the hills surrounding Boston in March 1776. The British situation was untenable. They negotiated an uneventful abandonment of the city, and relocated their forces to Halifax in Canada. Washington relocated his army to New York. For the next five years, the main bodies of the Continental and British armies campaigned against one another in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. These campaigns included the notable battles of ,
Princeton Princeton University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
,
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,
GermantownGermantown or German Town may refer to: Places Australia * Germantown, Queensland, a locality in the Cassowary Coast Region United States * Germantown, California, the former name of Artois, a census-designated place in Glenn County * Germ ...
, and Morristown, among many others. The army increased its effectiveness and success rate through a series of trials and errors, often at great human cost. General Washington and other distinguished officers were instrumental leaders in preserving unity, learning and adapting, and ensuring discipline throughout the eight years of war. In the winter of 1777–1778, with the addition of
Baron von Steuben Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben (born Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben; September 17, 1730 – November 28, 1794), also referred to as Baron von Steuben (), was a Kingdom of Prussia, Prussian and ...

Baron von Steuben
, a Prussian expert, the training and discipline of the Continental Army was dramatically upgraded to modern European standards. (This was the infamous winter at
Valley Forge Valley Forge functioned as the third of eight winter encampments for the 's main body, commanded by , during the . In September 1777, Congress fled to escape the British capture of the city. After failing to retake Philadelphia, Washington l ...

Valley Forge
.) Washington always viewed the Army as a temporary measure and strove to maintain
civilian control of the military Civilian control of the military is a doctrine in military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict betwee ...
, as did the
Continental Congress The Continental Congress was a series of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
, though there were minor disagreements about how this was to be carried out. Throughout its existence, the Army was troubled by poor logistics, inadequate training, short-term enlistments, interstate rivalries, and Congress's inability to compel the states to provide food, money or supplies. In the beginning, soldiers enlisted for a year, largely motivated by patriotism; but as the war dragged on, bounties and other incentives became more commonplace. Major and minor mutinies—56 in all—diminished the reliability of two of the main units late in the war.John A. Nagy, ''Rebellion in the Ranks: Mutinies of the American Revolution'' (2008). The French played a decisive role in 1781 as Washington's Army was augmented by a French expeditionary force (under General Rochambeau) and a squadron of the French navy (under the Comte de Barras). By disguising his movements, Washington moved the combined forces South to Virginia without the British commanders in New York realizing it. This resulted in the capture of the main British invasion force in the South at
Siege of Yorktown The siege of Yorktown, also known as the Battle of Yorktown, the surrender at Yorktown, or the German battle (from the presence of Germans in all three armies), beginning on September 28, 1781, and ending on October 19, 1781, at Yorktown, Virgi ...
. The Americans and their allies had won the land war in North America and independence was assured. Before the peace treaty went into effect in 1783, the British partly recovered by defeating the French fleet at the
Battle of the Saintes The Battle of the Saintes (known to the French as the Bataille de la Dominique), also known as the Battle of Dominica, was an important naval battle in the Caribbean between the British and the French that took place 9–12 April 1782. The Britis ...
.


Demobilization

A small residual force remained at
West Point The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point or simply Army is a four-year United States service academy in West Point, New York West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United Stat ...
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 Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States The Founding Fa ...

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 Sir Frederick Haldimand, KB (11 August 1718 – 5 June 1791) was a military officer best known for his service in the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Ar ...

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 at Rockingham near
Rocky Hill, New Jersey Rocky Hill is a Borough (New Jersey), borough in Somerset County, New Jersey, Somerset County, New Jersey, United States, named for the Rocky Hill Ridge. Before roads were improved and people traveled by automobiles, it was known as the Devil's F ...

Rocky Hill, New Jersey
, released his ''Farewell Orders issued to the Armies of the United States of America'' 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." 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 Fraunces Tavern is a museum and restaurant in New York City, situated at 54 Pearl Street (Manhattan), Pearl Street at the corner of Broad Street (Manhattan), Broad Street in the Financial District, Manhattan, Financial District of Lower Manhatta ...
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 Josiah Harmar (November 10, 1753August 20, 1813) was an officer in the United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is ...
, the
First American Regiment The First American Regiment (also known as Harmar's Regiment, The United States Regiment, The Regiment of Infantry, 1st Sub-legion, 1st Regiment of Infantry and 1st Infantry Regiment) was the first peacetime regular army A regular army is the off ...
slowly organized and achieved permanent status as an infantry regiment of the new Regular Army. The lineage of the
First American Regiment The First American Regiment (also known as Harmar's Regiment, The United States Regiment, The Regiment of Infantry, 1st Sub-legion, 1st Regiment of Infantry and 1st Infantry Regiment) was the first peacetime regular army A regular army is the off ...
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 on November 4, 1791, when a force led by
General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral zone in suppo ...
was almost entirely wiped out by the
Western Confederacy The Northwestern Confederacy, or Northwestern Indian Confederacy, was a loose confederacy Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * ...
near
Fort Recovery, Ohio Fort Recovery is a village (United States)#Ohio, village in Mercer County, Ohio, Mercer County, Ohio, United States. The population was 1,430 at the United States Census 2010, 2010 census. The village is near the location of Fort Recovery, first es ...
. The plans, which were supported by U.S. President George Washington and
Henry Knox Henry Knox (July 25, 1750 – October 25, 1806) was an American military officer who was a senior general of the Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was fo ...

Henry Knox
,
Secretary of War The secretary of war was a member of the U.S. president The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foak ...
, 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 Henry Louis Bouquet, generally known as Henry Bouquet (1719 – 2 September 1765), was a Swiss mercenary who rose to prominence in British service during the French and Indian War and Pontiac's War. Bouquet is best known for his victory over ...

Henry Bouquet
, a professional Swiss soldier who served as a
colonel Colonel (; abbreviated as Col., Col or COL) is a senior military officer An officer is a person who has a position of authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social rel ...
in the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
, and French
Marshal Marshal is a term used in several official titles in various branches of society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. T ...
Maurice de Saxe Maurice, Count of Saxony (german: Hermann Moritz von Sachsen, french: Maurice de Saxe; 28 October 1696 – 20 November 1750) was a notable soldier, officer and a famed military commander of the 18th century. The son of Augustus II the Strong, ...

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 Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparent confusion of a lie ...
. The legion was recruited and raised in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Pittsburgh ( ) is a city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions ...

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
. It was formed into four sub-legions. These were created from elements of the
1st First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill, ...
and 2nd Regiments from the Continental Army. These units then became the
First First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill ...
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 Fort Lafayette was an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_(right),_are_large_islands_of_north-west_Europe image:Small_Island_in_Lower_Saranac_Lake.jpg.html" ;" ...
in Pittsburgh. Throughout the winter of 1792–93, existing troops along with new recruits were drilled in military skills, tactics and discipline at
Legionville Legionville (or Legion Ville) was the first formal basic training facility for the military of the United States. The camp, which was established in winter 1792 under the command of Major General Anthony Wayne, was near present-day Baden, Pennsylv ...
on the banks of the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course wi ...

Ohio River
near present-day
Baden, Pennsylvania Baden is a borough in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, along the Ohio River. The population was 4,135 at the United States Census 2010, 2010 census. It is the former site of Logstown, a significant Native Americans in the U ...
. The following Spring the newly named Legion of the United States left Legionville for the
Northwest Indian War The Northwest Indian War (1785–1795), also known as the Ohio War, Little Turtle's War, and by other names, was a war between the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or ...
, a struggle between American Indian tribes affiliated with the
Western Confederacy The Northwestern Confederacy, or Northwestern Indian Confederacy, was a loose confederacy Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * ...
in the area south of the
Ohio River The Ohio River is a long river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course wi ...

Ohio River
. The overwhelmingly successful campaign was concluded with the decisive victory at 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 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 Winfield Scott (June 13, 1786May 29, 1866) was an American military commander and political candidate. He served as a general in the United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare, land military branch, service bra ...

Winfield Scott
in 1835. In 1796, the United States Army was raised following the discontinuation of the legion of the United States. This preceded the graduation of the first cadets from
United States Military Academy The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point or simply Army is a four-year United States service academy in West Point, New York West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United Stat ...
at
West Point, New York West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United States. Located on the Hudson River The Hudson River is a that flows from north to south primarily through eastern in the United States. It originates in the of ...
, which was established in 1802.


Rank insignia

During the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Army initially wore
ribbons A ribbon or riband is a thin band of material, typically cloth but also plastic or sometimes metal, used primarily as decorative binding and tying. Cloth ribbons are made of natural materials such as silk, cotton, and jute and of synthetic materi ...

ribbons
,
cockade File:William Mosman - Prince Charles Edward Stuart, 1720 - 1788. Eldest son of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart - Google Art Project.jpg, Hat with a white cockade (Prince Charles Edward Stuart) A cockade is a knot of ribbons, or other circular- o ...

cockade
s and
epaulettes Epaulette (; also spelled epaulet) is a type of ornamental shoulder piece or decoration used as insignia of rank by armed forces and other organizations. In the French and other armies, epaulettes are also worn by all ranks of elite or ceremoni ...

epaulettes
of various colors as an ''ad hoc'' form of rank insignia, as General George Washington wrote in 1775: In 1776 captains were to have buff or white cockades.


Ranks in 1775

Later on in the war, the Continental Army established its own uniform with a black and white cockade among all ranks. Infantry officers had silver and other branches gold insignia:


Ranks in 1780


Major battles

*
Siege of Boston The siege of Boston (April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776) was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was ...
*
Battle of Long Island The Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn and the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, was an action of the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and t ...

Battle of Long Island
*
Battle of Harlem Heights The Battle of Harlem Heights was fought during the New York and New Jersey campaign of the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, ...

Battle of Harlem Heights
*
Battle of Trenton The Battle of Trenton was a small but pivotal American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen A ...

Battle of Trenton
*
Battle of the Assunpink Creek The Battle of the Assunpink Creek, also known as the Second Battle of Trenton, was a battle between American and British troops that took place in and around Trenton, New Jersey Trenton is the capital city, capital city (New Jersey), city of ...
*
Battle of Princeton The Battle of Princeton was a battle of the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colonie ...
*
Battle of Brandywine The Battle of Brandywine, also known as the Battle of Brandywine Creek, was fought between the American Continental Army of General George Washington and the British Army of General William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, Sir William Howe on September&n ...
*
Battle of Germantown The Battle of Germantown was a major engagement in the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War. It was fought on October 4, 1777, at Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Germantown, Pennsylvania, between the British Army during ...
*
Battle of Saratoga The Battles of Saratoga (September 19 and October 7, 1777) marked the climax of the Saratoga campaign, giving a decisive victory to the Americans over the British in the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1 ...
*
Battle of Monmouth The Battle of Monmouth (also known as the Battle of Monmouth Court House) was fought near Monmouth Court House (modern-day Freehold Township, New Jersey) on June 28, 1778, during the American Revolutionary War. It pitted the Continental Army, comm ...
*
Siege of Charleston The siege of Charleston was a major engagement and major British victory, fought between March 29 to May 12, 1780, during the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and ...
*
Battle of Camden The Battle of Camden (August 16, 1780), also known as the Battle of Camden Court House, was a major victory for the British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, Bri ...

Battle of Camden
*
Battle of Cowpens The Battle of Cowpens was an engagement during the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirtee ...
*
Battle of Guilford Court House The Battle of Guilford Court House was fought on March 15, 1781, during the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated ...

Battle of Guilford Court House
*
Siege of Yorktown The siege of Yorktown, also known as the Battle of Yorktown, the surrender at Yorktown, or the German battle (from the presence of Germans in all three armies), beginning on September 28, 1781, and ending on October 19, 1781, at Yorktown, Virgi ...


See also

* Pluckemin Continental Artillery Cantonment Site *
History of the United States Army The history of the United States Army began in 1775. From its formation, the United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Uniformed serv ...
*'' Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States'' *Peter Francisco, Revolutionary War soldier and hero *Middlebrook encampment near Middlebrook, New Jersey ** Middlebrook encampment, First Middlebrook encampment (1777) ** Middlebrook encampment, Second Middlebrook encampment (1778–79) *Jockey Hollow, near Morristown, New Jersey, winter of 1779–80 *New Jersey Brigade Encampment Site, adjacent to Jockey Hollow, winter of 1779–80 *List of infantry weapons in the American Revolution * List of George Washington articles * George Washington in the American Revolution


Notes


References


Citations


Sources and further reading

* Billias, George Athan, ed., ''George Washington's Generals'' (1980) * Bodle, Wayne. ''The Valley Forge Winter: Civilians and Soldiers in War'' (2002) * Carp, E. Wayne. ''To Starve the Army at Pleasure: Continental Army Administration and American Political Culture, 1775–1783.'' (U of North Carolina Press, 1984). . * Cox, Caroline. ''A Proper Sense of Honor: Service and Sacrifice in George Washington's Army'' (2004). * Ferling, John. ''Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It'' (2015). * Fleming, Thomas. ''The Strategy of Victory: How General George Washington Won the American Revolution'' (Hachette UK, 2017). * Gillett, Mary C. ''The Army Medical Department, 1775–1818.'' (Washington: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1981). * Higginbotham, Don. ''The War of American Independence: Military Attitudes, Policies, and Practice, 1763-1789'' (1971
on line
* Lengel, Edward G. ''General George Washington: A Military Life.'' (2005). * Martin, James Kirby, and Mark Edward Lender. ''A Respectable Army: The Military Origins of the Republic, 1763–1789.'' (2nd ed. Harlan Davidson), 2006. . * Mayer, Holly A. ''Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community during the American Revolution.'' Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. ; . * Neimeyer, Charles Patrick. ''America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army'' (1995
complete text online
* Palmer, Dave Richard. ''George Washington's Military Genius'' (2012). * * Royster, Charles. ''A Revolutionary People at War: The Continental Army and American Character, 1775–1783.'' (U of North Carolina Press, 1979)
online
* , 451 pages



compiled by the United States Army Center of Military History


Primary sources

* Commager, Henry Steele, and Richard Brandon Morris, eds. ''The spirit of 'seventy-six: the story of the American Revolution as told by participants'' (1975)
online
* Scheer, George F. ''Private Yankee Doodle: A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier [Joseph Plumb Martin].'' (1962). *
RevWar75.com
provides "an online cross-referenced index of all surviving orderly books of the Continental Army".


External links


''Von Steuben's Continentals'' (video)
{{DEFAULTSORT:Continental Army Continental Army, Disbanded armies 18th-century history of the United States Army 18th-century military history of the United States 1775 establishments in the Thirteen Colonies