When the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on 10 May 1775 the battles of Concord, Lexington, Ticonderoga, and Crown Point were history. New England patriots were successfully maintaining a tight land siege of Boston. On 14 June the Continental Congress adopted the army besieging Boston as the Continental Army when it appointed a committee to bring in "a draft of rules and regulations for the government of the army."+ Click here to expand
On 15 June the Congress appointed George Washington as the "General and Commander in Chief of the Army of the United Colonies," and he formally took command on 3 July 1775.
Washington described the Army as "a mixed multitude of people. . . under very little discipline, order or government." Out of this "mixed multitude" Washington set out to create a disciplined army. Suspicious of the "leveling" tendencies of the New Englanders, Washington made the distinction between officers and enlisted men more rigid. He ordered in mid-July that all general officers, their aides, and the brigade majors were to be distinguished by ribbons of various colors. The distinctive insignia chosen for the field and company grade officers were cockades of various colors to be worn on the hats. The cockades of field officers were to be red or pink, those of captains yellow, and those of subalterns green. The non-commissioned officers were to be distinguished from the enlisted men by epaulettes or strips of cloth sewed on the right shoulder, red for sergeants and green for corporals.
In this scene from one of General Washington's surveys of the lines before Boston, an aide-de-camp in a brown semi-military coat with buff facings and the green ribbon of his position across his chest is seen in the left foreground. In the center foreground General Washington is shown in the blue and buff "suit of regimentals" he had had made that spring, and worn at the sessions of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The light blue sash on his breast denotes his rank as "Commander in Chief." In the right foreground is Major General Artemas Ward in a plain dark military style coat and the purple sash of a major general over his white small clothes. All three of the foreground figures wear black cockades on their hats as did their British adversaries. In the background are various regiments of General Ward's Division in the motley array of the Continental troops before Boston, the officers distinguished by their cockades.- Click here to close
The British General Cornwallis surrendered his army at Yorktown to the allied American and French forces under Generals Washington and Rochambeau on 19 October 1781. That surrender is usually regarded as the end of the war, but it was not so regarded at the time. The capitulation at Yorktown involved the surrender of one of the three British armies in America and that one not the strongest.+ Click here to expand
Charleston, the capital city of the south and a very strategic position, Wilmington, Savannah, and New York with its strong garrison were all in British hands. Peace was still more than a year away, and the forces in the south under General Nathanael Greene and in the north under General Washington had to keep the field in fair weather and in foul.
During that time the troops under General Greene, usually ill fed and clad, engaged in a series of minor actions and skirmishes and strenuous marches and countermarches. Under such leaders as Greene, Marion, Sumter, Sumner, and Lee, they forced the British to retire to Savannah and Charleston. In face of this constant American pressure the British gave up Savannah in July 1782 and evacuated Charleston in December of the same year.
In the right foreground is an enlisted artilleryman in the blue coat of that corps, faced and lined with red, and trimmed with yellow binding and buttons. His cocked hat is bound with yellow worsted binding and carries the black and white "Union" cockade. In the left and center foreground are shown a captain and a lieutenant. The captain wears an epaulette on his right shoulder and the lieutenant one on his left shoulder.
Both officers are wearing the uniform prescribed for the troops of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia in October 1779 of blue coats "faced with blue," i.e., blue collars, cuffs, and lapels, "button holes edged with narrow white lace or tape," lining of white cloth, and white buttons. Their coats, adapted to field service, reflect the shortages of supplies in that the buttonholes do not have the buttonholes edged with narrow silver lace which would have been worn by the officers in place of the prescribed "narrow white lace or tape" edging worn by the enlisted men on their buttonholes. In the background is seen a column of southern troops, in the prescribed uniform, with their wagons on the march.- Click here to close
The westward sweep of American settlement and fur trading after the war of 1812 soon advanced beyond the Army's western posts. To protect these settlers and the growing fur trade, and to establish control over the northwestern Indians within the limits of the United States, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun proposed to establish garrisons on the upper Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.+ Click here to expand
Although his plan was not completely realized, by the fall of 1819 a considerable body of troops had advanced to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they wintered. Near the encampment at Council Bluffs a United States Expedition under the command of Major Stephen H. Long, ordered to explore the "country between the Mississippi and Missouri," also wintered. Here in October 1819, Major Long, the Indian Agent Major O'Fallon, and other officers held council with the Otoes, Missouris, Iowas, and Pawnees.
In the right foreground is an infantry private in the simple uniform evolved during the War of 1812. The single-breasted dark blue coat has white buttons and the collar is laced with white binding. The cylindrical leather cap has a front raised above the crown and is trimmed with the white cords and plume and the black national cockade with an eagle button on it ordered to be worn by all troops in 1816. White cotton trousers and linen gaiters complete the summer dress uniform.
The Indian chief in the center is attired in the buffalo hide robe worn by most of his compatriots attending the council. On his left stands one of the scientists associated with the Long expedition. He is wearing the "United States Explorers" uniform, a dark blue coat with an embroidered gold star on the collar and plain gilt buttons. With this uniform coat he wears an ordinary civilian round hat and white waistcoat.
In the left foreground is Major Long, leader of the expedition. He is wearing the uniform established for the Corps of Engineers, a dark blue coat with black velvet collar and indented cuffs, flat yellow metal buttons with the device and motto of the Corps, and blue twist herringbone buttonholes on the breast and on the cuffs. On his collar he has the gold star encircled by a sprig of laurel. He wears the two gold epaulettes of a field grade officer, and over his red sash appears the black leather waistbelt with a yellow plate used by staff and Engineer officers.
In the background may be seen infantry musicians in red coats with white lace on the collars, the various officers and officials attending the council under the national colors, and an Indian treaty flag.- Click here to close
Early in 1832 the U.S. Indian Commissioner in Florida negotiated a treaty with the Seminoles whereby the Indians would relinquish their lands in Florida and move to Arkansas by 1 January 1836. Long before the deadline the Seminoles demonstrated that they would not go peaceably. In the afternoon of 28 December 1835 a party of warriors attacked a column of regulars under Major Dade and massacred all but two men who were severely wounded.+ Click here to expand
The Second Seminole War had begun. The War Department sent General Winfield Scott to take command, but he was unable to come to grips with any sizable force of Indians. Over the next six years, other commanders tried and failed to drive the Seminoles out of their dismal bogs and palmetto swamps. In May 1841 Colonel William J. Worth brought about a radical change. He conducted offensive operations in the summer, usually a time when they had been suspended because of the prevalence of fever and dysentery. He thereby prevented the Indians from raising and harvesting crops to sustain themselves during the winter's fighting. By waging stern and unceasing war in all seasons, he was able to end the war officially by May 1842.
Supplying the Regular Army dress uniform coat and cap to the troops in Florida was stopped soon after the beginning of the Second Seminole War. Enlisted men in Florida throughout the conflict were provided with the Army undress or fatigue uniform. The officers, who bought their own clothing, wore whatever they liked.
In the right foreground is a company officer in a fringed leather frock, linen or cotton trousers, and the issue forage cap. His only indication of rank is his red silk sash around his waist. In the left foreground is a friendly Indian scout in typical dress.
In the background, the enlisted men wear the white cotton summer jacket and trousers, or the light blue cloth winter equivalent with its collar laced with white binding, or any combination of the two. These uniforms were worn day and night and soon became ragged and dirty. All of the white leather belting was blackened, and metal trimmings such as cap numbers and buttons were either removed or allowed to tarnish in order to make the wearer inconspicuous. The soft leather forage cap, introduced in 1833, was worn at night with the strap buckled under the chin, in order, as a hospital steward said, "to keep out of our ears, ear-wigs, centipedes, cockroaches, etc."- Click here to close
The use of riverboats, steamships, and railroads during the Civil War greatly increased the mobility of armies. However, armies in the field required still another type of transportation. Wagon trains not only had to accompany troops on active operations but also had to be employed to distribute stores brought in bulk to railway terminals and steamer wharves. The Army wagons and harness had been perfected by long years of experience and operation on the western plains.+ Click here to expand
The wheels, axles, and other principal parts were made to standard measurements to permit interchangeability of parts. Early in the war the Army procured both horses and mules for use with trains, but experience later convinced quartermasters that mules were far superior to horses for such service.
In the foreground is a sergeant of cavalry in the dark blue cloth uniform jacket prescribed for all enlisted men of the cavalry and light artillery. His unit and arm are recognizable by the yellow metal insignia on his kept, the yellow lace trimmings on the collar and cuffs, and around the edge of the jacket. The first sergeant's yellow worsted binding chevrons and lozenge, the stripe on his trousers seam, and the red sash show his rank, while the half-chevron on his lower sleeve testifies to faithful service. His light blue overcoat is strapped in front of the pommel and he is using the dark blue saddle blanket with an orange stripe adopted in 1859.
In the left center is a major of ordnance in the dark blue, double-breasted cloth frock coat, with two rows of seven buttons worn by all field grade officers. The dark blue ground of his shoulder straps shows that he is a member of the General Staff or Staff Corps, and the gold oak leaves show his rank as major. The Ordnance Corps insignia on the front of his forage cap is a gold embroidered shell and flame on a black velvet background, and on the gilt, convex buttons on the frock coat are crossed cannon and a bombshell, with a circular scroll over and across the cannon, containing the words Ordnance Corps.
In the background is an Army train manned by civilian teamsters and composed of white covered wagons with "bluish tinted" bodies and wheels "of Venetian red darkened to a chocolate color."- Click here to close
During the two years and eight months prior to U.S. entry into World War I the Medical Department of the Army together with the American Red Cross laid the foundation for the successful operation of the Department during the war. The base hospitals, hospitals, and ambulance units then organized later formed the backbone of the hospital service in France and other theaters of war.+ Click here to expand
In the right foreground is a Medical Department lieutenant colonel in the olive drab uniform adopted in 1902 and worn with later changes, notably those of 1911, during World War I. On is collar he has the letters U.S. and the caduceus, both in dull bronze. His overseas cap, with a maroon piping also designating his branch, his Sam Browne belt, and the trench coat he carries are all modeled on those worn by the British and adopted by the United States Army. His cordovan undress boots are laced on the instep and closed with a strap on the top.
In the center foreground is an Army nurse in navy blue worsted military overcoat and velour hat, and high tan shoes prescribed in August 1917. On the collar of the overcoat she wears the metal letters U.S. and the caduceus, also in metal, with the letters A.N.C. superimposed.
In the left foreground is a Red Cross nurse identified as such by her cap. She wears the gray indoor uniform with white collar and cuffs under a white apron worn by all American nurses in the AEF or serving with the British and French armies. This gray uniform had been adopted after it was found that the white indoor uniform formerly worn was impracticable for use in France.
In the left and center background are two military policemen in the regulation olive drab uniform with puttees or woven spiral leggings, and brown, sheepskin leather jerking. Their steel helmets, adopted in 1917, are modeled on those used by the British. On their right arm they wear blue denim brassards with the letters MP outlined in blue thread.
In the right background is a Medical Department enlisted man, his white brassard bearing a red cross on it.- Click here to close
World War I, after an initial period of mobility, soon settled down to a stalemate, costly in lives and equipment. The warring powers in western Europe faced each other across trenches in stabilized defensive lines. It was a war of artillerymen and infantrymen, neither of whom was able to force a decision. To help break this stalemate the British developed a secret weapon, an armored fighting vehicle, the tank.+ Click here to expand
Tanks were fiat used by the British in World War I in September 1916. Both sides recognized the impetus given to the attack by the use of tanks, and the Allies and the Germans had employed them in 91 engagements by the end of World War I.
Development of both armored tactics and materiel marked the period between the two world wars. After a short-lived experiment aimed at establishing a mobile mechanized force at Fort Eustis in 1931, the Cavalry took over the role of developing such a force at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in 1933. In early 1938 two cavalry regiments, the 1st and the 13th, and other Fort Knox units were used to form the 7th Cavalry Brigade, with the then Brigadier General Daniel Van Voorhis in command. Later that year he was succeeded by Col. Adna R. Chaffee, a brigadier general by November 1938.
In the right foreground is Brigadier General Adna R. Chaffee. Known as the "Father of the Armored Force," he dedicated his career to the development of armor. General Chaffee is wearing the summer khaki service shirt, with the silver metal star insignia of his rank on the shoulders/rap, and a black four-in-hand cravat. His ribbons are for the Distinguished Service Medal, the Cuban Pacification Medal, and the World War I Victory Medal. His undress riding boots are of cordovan leather, and his pistol belt, magazine pockets, and fiat aid pouch are ribbed, woven, olive drab web. He wean the standard khaki field cap authorized only for personnel of the Air Corps and for tank or mechanized units from 1933 to 1939. The patch on the field cap bearing the insignia of rank was distinctive to armored organizations. In General Chaffee's case, it is black velvet, denoting a general officer. Other officers wore a patch the color of their basic arm, yellow for cavalry, scarlet for artillery, or light blue for infantry. In the left foreground is a sergeant, also in the khaki summer service uniform, with the insignia of grade on his shirt sleeves, three olive drab chevrons. He wean a tanker's helmet, the regulation laced field boots, and laced breeches. In the background are officers and enlisted men and vehicles of the Cavalry Brigade.- Click here to close
Two powerful Japanese air attacks on 7 December 1941 on Pearl Harbor and on the U.S. airfields on Luzon all but crippled American striking power in the Pacific. After this initial success the Japanese moved south, east, and west. Refusing to succumb, the U.S. and its Allies continued to resist and by early summer 1942 began striking back.+ Click here to expand
In two and a half yearn of hard fighting, island by island, Allied forces commanded by General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester A. Nimitz drove the enemy back thousands of miles and were set for the reconquest of the Philippines.
Experiences in the South and Southwest Pacific established a pattern of island warfare that represented one of the major tactical developments of war. First, air and naval forces isolated an objective and softened its defenses. Simultaneously other forces would attack or feint toward other islands to deceive the Japanese. Whenever practicable, small units occupied neighboring islands as sites for land-based artillery. Under cover of these supporting fires, the landing forces moved from ship to shore in echelons or waves, rocket-firing landing craft in the lead and amphibian tanks and tractors following to carry the assault troops directly onto the beaches and inland. Finally came landing craft with more infantry and with tanks, artillery, and support troops. Supplies followed rapidly as the assault forces secured and expanded the beachhead.
All of the infantrymen shown on this plate wear herringbone twill suits, webbing, and belting in olive drab shade No. 7 adopted in 1943. These two-piece suits originally adopted as fatigue clothing later became the accepted summer combat clothing. They were used primarily in the Pacific areas rather than in the European Theater of Operations, where winter combat clothing was worn the year round. With the two-piece suit they wear the flesh-out leather shoe and dismounted canvas leggings used until replaced by the combat boot. All have on the M1 steel helmet and helmet liner adopted in 1941 in place of the World War I "tin hat." The soldier in the right foreground is armed with a carbine, .30-cal., M1; the soldier in the center foreground with a Thompson submachine gun, .45-cal., M1; and both have the holstered .45-car. pistol, model 1911, Al. The soldiers in the background are armed with the rifle, .30-cal., M1.- Click here to close
A North Korean force of about 10 divisions invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950 and drove the South Korean Army to the south. Stunned by this deliberate Communist aggression, the free world turned to the United Nations. The U.N. Security Council demanded immediate cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of the North Koreans. When that demand failed, the Security Council urged United Nations members to furnish military assistance to the South Korean Republic.+ Click here to expand
The United States and other United Nations members soon responded. President Truman appointed General of the Army Douglas MacArthur to lead the new United Nations Command, and in turn General MacArthur assigned command of ground troops in Korea to the U.S. Eighth Army.
American forces entered Korea piecemeal to trade space for time. During July, American and South Korean troops steadily fell back to the southeast under constant North Korean pressure. Alarmed by the rapid shrinkage of U.N.-held territory, Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker, the Eighth Army commander, early in August abandoned the strategy of trading space for time and ordered a final stand along a 140-mile perimeter around Pusan. While the North Koreans were losing irreplaceable men and equipment during repeated attempts to crack Eighth Army's defenses, the U.N. forces grew in combat power and acquired an offensive capability. The results were seen in September when General Walker's forces acting in concert with an amphibious landing at Inch'on drove the North Koreans facing them out of South Korea.
All of the troops in this painting wear summer combat clothing that had been supplied to U.S. Army forces in the Pacific theater by the end of World War II. These were the herringbone-twill, two-piece summer combat or fatigue uniform, the M1 steel helmet, and the flesh-out leather combat boot. These stocks of apparel had been shunted from one Pacific island to another after World War II and finally into Japan. The troops are members of the 2d Infantry Division (Indian Head) as shown by their shoulder patches, an Indian Head on a white star, superimposed on a black shield.
In the right foreground is an automatic rifleman armed with a Browning automatic rifle, .30-cal., M1918A2. In the left foreground his assistant carries extra ammunition for the automatic rifle and is armed with a rifle, .30-cal., M1 as is the KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to the United States Army) soldier directly behind them.
In the right background is a multiple .50-car. machine-gun motor carriage M16, and in the left background is a medium tank, M26.- Click here to close
The U.S. Army fighting in Vietnam in 1965 used new tactics, techniques, and weapons. Divisions and separate brigades built fortified base camps from which they launched extensive search and destroy operations and also carried out security and pacification missions in neighboring districts. At times, U.S. units shifted far afield, there to construct a temporary base camp and forward fire-support bases for their operations.+ Click here to expand
On many of these missions, particularly in the thick jungles of the highlands and the flooded rice fields of the delta, companies and battalions were wholly dependent upon the helicopter for support, resupply, and evacuation. Airmobility, flexible fire support, vastly improved signal communications, and an unprecedented network of logistical bases were the developments characteristic of the new type of fluid combat in Vietnam.
All of the troops in this painting wear the two-piece olive green, rip-stop cotton poplin, tropical combat uniform, developed in the early 1960's, and the mildew-resistant tropical combat boots with direct-molded soles, model 1956.
In the right foreground is a first lieutenant of the 5th Special Forces Group (Abn) as shown by the black flash with yellow and red stripes and the distinctive black and silver crest, both worn on his green beret, and by the teal blue and gold Special Forces shoulder patch authorized in 1954. The black airborne tab is worn above the shoulder patch. He is armed with the .556-cal., M16 rifle and carries both M16 yellow smoke and M26 fragmentation grenades.
In the center foreground is a major of 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, as indicated by the insignia on his collar, crossed sabers with a superimposed "7." On his left sleeve he wears the subdued 1st Cavalry Division insignia, the horsehead and bar in black with the normally yellow background a dark gray.
Above it is the Ranger shoulder tab. He is armed with a carbine .30-cal., M2, and M26 fragmentation grenades. He carries a bottle of mosquito repellent in the camouflage band of his helmet and on his right wrist is a brass wristlet obtained from the Rhade tribe of Montagnards, worn by many troops as a good luck charm.
In the left foreground is a captain, an Army aviator carrying his flier's helmet. All of his insignia are of the subdued type adopted by troops in Vietnam. He is wearing a utility cap and is armed with a .45-cal. pistol, model 1911, Al.
In the background are troops loading into CH-47A (Chinook) helicopter.- Click here to close