Continental Army

The Continental Army was the army formed by the Americans during their revolt against Britain in the late 1700’s. This army, led by George Washington and consisting of one hundred percent volunteers, fought nobly and boldly for the freedom of their families and homes.

Infantry, Continental Army
Public domain image.

The Continental Army had volunteer soldiers from all of the 13 colonies. At the start of the war, there was not actually an official army, however many people banded together in their states and form make-shift militia, formed by part-time citizen soldiers who defended their own colonies. Some colonies had even gone so far as to create little regiments within themselves.

After the Intolerable Acts, the training of the militia greatly increased. People started to get serious about the threat of war. It was suggested to the First Continental Congress to form a national militia, however they thought that action was premature and turned the suggestion down.

After this, small provincial committees began to get more organized with their militia. They had their volunteers sign contracts, began formal training, and began to assign formal rankings to their officers.


George Washington
Public domain image.

On June 15, 1776 the Second Continental Congress embraced the inevitability of the war that had really already come, and elected war veteran George Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Newly elected Commander Washington rode out that same week to unite the regiments of the 13 states into 26 companies of the Continental Army.

George Washington commanded the Continental Army all through the Revolutionary War. The Continental Army remained all volunteers through the end of the war. This is the American army that appears in all of the stories of the American Revolution’s Battles.

After the War

This painting depicts the forces of British Major General Charles Cornwallis, surrendering to French and American forces after the Siege of Yorktown.

After the Revolutionary War, a few men still signed on to be a part of the United States militia. They remained on standby, until June 3, 1784. There was a lot of debate as to whether or not America should even have an army. Some men such as Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Nasson felt there was no need for a standing army during peacetime, but others such as Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton felt that having protection in the case of an emergency would be wise.

Congress created the official United States Army, and they were granted a military base and training grounds. From there the new American Army grew and eventually formed into the military we have today.

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