The U.S. Army is about as old as the United States. In fact, long before the Declaration of Independence, groups of settlers arrived in North America from Great Britain. Those Pilgrims were seeking land and religious freedom, but they were still governed by the rulers back in Great Britain.

The U.S. Army is about as old as the United States. In fact, long before the Declaration of Independence, groups of settlers arrived in North America from Great Britain. Those Pilgrims were seeking land and religious freedom, but they were still governed by the rulers back in Great Britain.

The new settlers soon found themselves in a couple of wars. First, with the Native Americans, whose ancestors had lived here for thousands of years. To defend themselves, the settlers formed their own armies called militias, or citizen military forces.

In the 1700s, the settlers went to war to win independence from Great Britain. They created the Continental Army, which became the U.S. Army on June 14, 1775. Its job was to fight the British in North America and General George Washington was the army’s commander in chief.

The war came to be called the American Revolution, or the Revolutionary War. Most soldiers fought on foot. Using rifles called muskets, they lined up in long rows to fire at British soldiers. Then they closed in for hand-to-hand combat using bayonets. Some soldiers called cavalrymen attacked the enemy on horseback.

At first, the army was made up of many local militias. Each militia had its own uniforms and weapons. Some weapons were of poor quality. To create a stronger army, the U.S. government created the Department of War in 1789. This department made sure that the army was well organized.

After the Revolution, the army helped explore the American wilderness. The famous Lewis and Clark were both army officers who led their expedition up the Missouri  River.

 Soon afterward, the U.S. Army fought – and won – a second war with the British, the War of 1812. Then in 1846, the United States went to war with Mexico. The Mexican-American War was fought mainly over control of lands in the American Southwest.

When the Civil War began in 1861, the U.S. Army (fighting for the north) had only about 16,000 troops. So, Abraham Lincoln called for volunteer soldiers and within a few weeks the number of troops rose to 500,000.

The states that seceded formed their own massive Confederate Army. Huge cannons and railroads came into play during this war. The war drug on for four years, but the Union prevailed.

Following the Civil War, settlers by the thousands took over Native American homelands in the Great American West to create their own farms, towns, railroads and ranches. The U.S. Army was called upon to fight off the Indians, and with the exception of Custer’s Last Stand, the U.S. Army won nearly every battle because of their superior weaponry.

In 1898, the U.S Army was called on to help run the Spanish out of Cuba in a conflict called the Spanish-American War. Then, along came World War I and World War II, followed closely by the Korean War and the endless Vietnam War during the 1960s and early ’70s.

The U.S. Army is the strongest military force in the world and it protects U.S. property, ideals and citizens all around the globe, such as our current involvement in the Middle East. The U.S. Army is the largest branch of all military operations, with about 600,000 soldiers on active duty on any given day.

Reference: The U.S. Army by Michael Benson.

A patriotic program honoring veterans of the Revolutionary War through Vietnam will take place at 11:30 a.m. Monday at the Union Cemetery, 227 E. 28th Terrace, Kansas City.