Today (June 14, 2021), marks the 246th anniversary of the creation of the United States Army.
Flashback to June 14, 1775. The Continental Congress is in session and its members decide to established a centralized fighting force. The Declaration of Independence would not be signed for more than a year. As part of this fighting force, the Continental Congress asked men to enlist. The original length of enlistment was one year.
Also, protecting the colonies was the purpose of this new force. Before its creation, individual militias provided protection.
According to the official website of the U.S. Army, the resolution creating the force, which was then known as the Continental Army stated: “Resolved, That six companies of expert riflemen [sic], be immediately raised in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two in Virginia; … [and] that each company, as soon as completed [sic], shall march and join the army near Boston, to be there employed as light infantry, under the command of the chief Officer in that army.”
Not only was this Continental force the first unified military force in America, it was also the country’s “first national institution.”
George Washington Chosen as First Commander of the Continental Army
Chosen to lead this new force was none other than George Washington. Washington came from Virginia. His military career had been a successful one. This led to his selection as the commander of the Continental Army. It was on June 19, 1775, that the Continental Congress official named Washington as the commander.
A section of Washington’s commission as commander read: “We, reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism, valor, conduct, and fidelity, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be General and Commander in chief, of the army of the United Colonies, and of all the forces now raised, or to be raised, by them, and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their service, and join the said Army for the Defence [sic] of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof: And you are hereby vested with full power and authority to act as you shall think for the good and welfare of the service.”
Continental Congress Gave $2 Million to Support New Force
George Washington inherited an army of almost 30,000 militiamen. There were 5,000 soldiers in New York. Another 22,000 militiamen were just outside of Boston. Also, the funds given by the Continental Congress to support this force was $2 million.
Washington took command on July 3, 1775. The force under his command was first called the Army of the United Colonies. However, after July 4, 1776, it came to be known as the Army of the United States.
As of the Army’s 264th birthday on June 14, the branch has approximately 1 million soldiers in uniform. Also, of that number, the Army deploys approximately 180,000 soldiers across the globe. There is a U.S. Army presence in 140 countries worldwide.