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early U.S. Army

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early U.S. Army

Unread postby gghbisa » Sat Dec 20, 2008 7:44 am

I’m back after some login problems.

For the last few months I have been using the Library of Congress site to do some research into the organization of the early U.S. Army.

In the early days the army’s organization was set by law in great detail. By reading the actual laws from the Journal of the Continental Congress and the book of Statues at Large that all laws passed by the Federal Congress are printed in, I was able to see exactly what ranks existed and when.

Here are some interesting tidbits I found:

In May 1778 congress stopped appointments of Colonels in the Infantry, all vacancies would be filled by Lieutenant Colonels.

Also passed in 1778, battalion (Regimental) commanders would also command one of the companies under them. In that case the Lieutenant who would actually be running the company would hold the rank of Captain Lieutenant.

In March 1779 congress resolved “That all warrant officers on the civil staff of the army, be put on the same footing with commissioned officers, in respect to arrests, trails, and punishments.”

From the time the Continental Army became the United States Army in 1784 until March 16, 1802 the army had no full Colonels in its table of organization.

The commissioned ranks below Captain underwent a lot of changes. During the revolution they are shown for infantry lieutenant and ensign, for dragoons Lieutenant and cornet and for artillery first lieutenant and second lieutenant.

After the war the infantry continued to use lieutenants and ensigns and the artillery used just lieutenants. When dragoons were authorized they used lieutenants and cornets.

On March 3, 1799 a law was passed that allowed the president to enlarge the for the looming war with France. Section 2 of that law officially changed the ranks of ensign and cornet to second lieutenant. However the president never had to use the law and it was repealed in May of 1800.

The next time the army’s organization was set was the act of March 16, 1802. Under this law the artillery and the corps of engineers had first lieutenants and second lieutenants while the infantry had first lieutenants, second lieutenants and ensigns. When dragoons were added in 1808 they had first lieutenants, second lieutenants and cornets.

A reorganization of the army in january of 1813 gave the artillery first lieutenants, second lieutenants and third lieutenants, the infantry first lieutenants, second lieutenants, third lieutenants and ensigns and dragoons first lieutenants, second lieutenants, third lieutenants and cornets. The corps of engineers had only first and second lieutenants.

Third lieutenants and ensigns disappeared from the infantry in march of 1815. Cornets went with the abolition of dragoons in the same law and were not revived when the dragoons came back in 1833. The artillery was still allowed third lieutenants until march of 1821.
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