The Army’s official birthday is June 14, 1775. This was the time when the Continental Congress authorized the enlistment of soldiers, 10 companies of expert riflemen, to serve for an entire year with the Continental Army.
Just like the Continental Marines, the Continental Army was designed to protect the United Colonies during the Revolutionary War. The Army was created before the United States had declared independence. Their original fighting force was a cobbled-together group of amateur fighters from a variety of militia, and now the Army is one of the largest branches in the United States military.
When Was the Army Founded?
On June 14, 1775, the Continental Army was created by the Second Continental Congress to fight against Great Britain. The Continental Army’s appointed commander was George Washington. After a successful victory of the Revolutionary War, with the help of the French, the Continental Army was disbanded, except for a few regiments guarding the West Point arsenal and the Western Front, due to the people’s distrust of standing armies.
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Due to continuing conflict with Native Americans at the time, a field-trained standing army, the Regular Army, was created. The Regular Army would then be reorganized into the Legion of the United States, and then renamed in 1796 to the United States Army.
Organization of the Army
The Army is one of the largest and oldest branches of the United States Armed Forces. It was expanded upon since its inception and continued to grow as the years went on. The Adjutant’s General Corps was established on June 16, 1775, and has continued to operate since that time. Many other basic branches were created the same day, including the Corps of Engineers which the president at the time authorized to be organized and established, and located at West Point in the state of New York, and to constitute a Military Academy. The Finance Corps and Quartermaster Corps, with the latter’s basic supply and service support functions continuing to operate and exist, were also created on June 16, 1775.
The Field Artillery branch was established on November 17, 1775. The Office of Mounted Commands was created on December 12, 1776, while Armor became a permanent branch of the Army in 1950. The Ordnance Corps was established on May 14, 1812, by an act of Congress. Ordnance was also officially designated as a permanent branch of the Army in 1950 even though it had been a part of the Revolutionary War under the supervision of the Board of War and Ordnance.
Signal Corps was established on June 21, 1860, and the Chemical Corps was created on June 28, 1918. The Chemical Warfare service consolidated activities that had been dispersed across five different government agencies. The Military Police Corps was created on September 26, 1941, while the Transportation Corps was established on July 31, 1942. Prior to World War I, transportation operations were the responsibility of the Quartermaster General.
Military Intelligence was established on July 1, 1962. Intelligence and security are a critical aspect of the Army’s operations at all times, during conflict and during peace times. Aviation was established on April 12, 1983. The Air Force was established as a separate entity in 1947, which cleared the way for the Army to develop its own aviation assets to assist with reconnaissance, fire support, and transport. Special Forces was created on April 4, 1987. Special forces had been around since 1952, but due to a rise in the need for special operations, the Special Forces branch became a permanent branch of the Army.
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There are a variety of special Army branches that include the Army Medical Department (est. July 27, 1775), Chaplains (est. July 29, 1775), Judge Advocate General’s Corps (est. July 29, 1775), and Civil Affairs (est. August 17, 1955).
What Is the purpose of the Army, Then and Now?
The Army was founded on June 14, 1775. It is the land warfare branch of the military and designated as the Army of the United States in the U.S. Constitution. The Army has its roots in the Revolutionary War and is one of the oldest military branches. After the war, the Confederation of the Congress created the Army of the United States to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The U.S. Army is part of the Department of the Army which is one of three of the military departments that are part of the Department of Defense.
The purpose of the Army then was to protect the United States colonies. According to Section 3062 of Title 10 U.S. Code, the purpose is “provide an Army that is capable, in conjunction with the other armed forces, of:
- Preserving the peace and security, and providing for the defense, of the United States, the Commonwealths and possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States;
- Supporting the national policies;
- Implementing the national objectives; and
- Overcoming any nation responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States.
It goes on to state that, “In general, the Army, within the Department of the Army, includes land combat and service forces and such aviation and water transport as may be organic therein. It shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained combat incidents to operations on land. It is responsible for the preparation of land forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war except as otherwise assigned and, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Army to meet the needs of war.”
The United States Army Birthday Ball
Just like other branches of the military, the Army celebrates its birthday with a Birthday Ball. This event is typically a “black-tie,” full-service dress occasion wearing Dress Blues. These events are held at the local level, with ceremonies and a variety of celebrations at different posts and stations around the world. The Army Birthday Ball is a time to honor those who have come before us, as well as a time to celebrate the newest members of the military. Military balls are formal occasions where military service members can celebrate the Army’s birthday, but also a time where citizens and family members can join in on the commemoration.
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The Army is steeped in a rich and long history, the longest of all of the military branches. The Army’s mission has always been “to deploy, fight, and win our Nation’s wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustained land dominance by Army forces across the full spectrum of conflict as part of the Joint Force. The Army mission is vital to the Nation because we are a service capable of defeating enemy ground forces and indefinitely seizing and controlling those things an adversary prizes most – its land, its resources, and its population.”
As one of the largest branches of the United States Armed Forces, there is much to celebrate, to honor, and to discuss when it comes to the traditions and history of the United States Army. Celebrating the Army’s birthday allows us to remember our country’s history, to acknowledge the vital contributions of those who have served and protected the United States’ interests, and to build a sense of unity that is sometimes lost in a nation that is very polarized by politics. I hope that we can all agree that our servicemembers and the work that the Army has done since its inception have been for the good of this country, and it’s worth celebrating that sacrifice, commitment, and history of the United States Army.