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Army Celebrates 249 Years

Here's a brief history lesson about the formation of the United States Army, which just celebrated its 249th year, written by Susan Thompson, CECOM Command Historian.

Battle of Monmouth Courthouse ~ "The Army celebrates its birthday in recognition of when the Second Continental Congress, sitting in Philadelphia, adopted the New England Militia as the 'Continental Army' on June 14, 1775 – one year before the country’s independence. When the fight for freedom began at Lexington on April 19, 1775, the Colonies were still ununited. There was neither an army nor a flag – only militia units with local banners.

The New England Militia had congregated around Boston in response to the events at Lexington and Concord, mobilizing popular support for the patriots and marking the transition from intellectual to armed rebellion. The Second Continental Congress appointed a committee to bring in 'a draft of rules and regulations for the government of the army.' On the same day it authorized the enlistment of riflemen from the Middle Atlantic States to serve as light infantry under the command of the chief officer of the Army before Boston.

A resolution to raise ten infantry companies read: “Resolved that six companies of expert riflemen be immediately raised in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two in Virgina; that each company consist of a captain, two lieutenants, four corporals, a drummer or trumpeter and sixty-eight privates. That each company, as soon as completed, 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.” On June 15 the Congress appointed 43-year-old George Washington as the first commander-in-chief of the new Army.

Our community is linked in perpetuity to the foundations of the Army, as Fort Monmouth’s permanent name was a reference to the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse in late June 1778, fought to a draw by Washington’s Continental Army after a series of losses and blunders. This was the last major battle of the Revolution to be fought in the north and heralded the beginning of a better-trained Army, implementing the hard-taught lessons of Baron von Steuben, and positioned to begin the long march toward victory in 1781.

It would be almost eighty years after the end of the Revolutionary War until the Signal Corps was established on June 21, 1860. Just as von Steuben set the stage for the establishment of a successful Continental Army, the Signal Corps would help usher the Army into success in the realms of technology and scientific advancement. Today, CECOM carries on in the best traditions of the Army and the Signal Corps, sustaining communications and electronics equipment to ensure that the American Solider is the best trained and equipped in the world." ~

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