• American Soldiers 1782: 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. 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. (CMH ,The American Soldier, Set 3).

    American Soldiers 1782

    American Soldiers 1782: 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...

  • The American Soldier, 1814: The War of 1812 was the cradle of the Army's general staff. Staff departments and staff procedures comparable to the best available in European armies were developed. 

A general staff officer stands in the left foreground in the single breasted blue coat with black herringbone false buttonholes on chest and cuffs and gold bullet buttons. The uniform was adopted in 1813 and worn for the next two decades. Behind him is a mounted general officer, whose saddle with its bearskin covered pistol holsters rests on a blue saddlecloth with a wide gold lace border ordered for general and staff officers. Both men wear the high military boots allowed only to general and general staff officers. 

An old American institution, the rifle regiment, reappeared on the rolls of the Army in the years leading up to the War of 1812. So well liked was this type of unit that three more regiments of riflemen were created during the war. 

In the right foreground is a rifle regiment field grade officer in the gray dress uniform adopted for those regiments in March 1814 and later also worn by the 26th Infantry Regiment; the officer's shako is of the same shape worn by the light artillery; with the distinctive round rifle capplate and the green rifle plume. 

A detachment of riflemen in their fringed, green summer linen rifle frocks, the only reminder of the green uniform formerly worn by the rifle regiment, are seen in the background. They are flanked by a rifle sergeant in a gray dress coatee with yellow epaulettes and a red sash of his grade and by a company musician, known by the black collar and cuffs on his gray coatee, who has a bugle instead of the fife or drum carried by the musicians of the rest of the foot troops. (CMH, The American Soldier series).

    The American Soldier, 1814

    The American Soldier, 1814: The War of 1812 was the cradle of the Army's general staff. Staff departments and staff procedures comparable to the best available in European armies were developed. A general staff officer stands in the left foreground...

  • The American Soldier, 1863: 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. 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." 
  (CMH, The American Soldier series).

    The American Soldier, 1863

    The American Soldier, 1863: 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...

  • The American Soldier, 1918: The standard field uniform of both officers and enlisted men of the American Expeditionary Forces—the AEF—in France was the wool olive drab uniform introduced into the Army during the first decade of the 20th century. The vast amounts of this material required in World War I led to the color being anything between mustard green and brown. Another item of equipment widely used in the AEF was the British "basin" pattern steel helmet painted a drab color. 

In the front center is a lieutenant colonel of artillery with the silver leaf of his rank on his shoulder strap, and the bronzed crossed cannon of artillery and the block-style letters U.S. on the high standing collar. The color of his uniform and the distinctly British cut of his blouse are a sign that it was tailored in England or France—a common practice among the officers under General Pershing's command. Two other distinctive features of his officer's rank are the brown braid on his sleeve and his brown leather Sam Browne belt, adopted by the officers of the AEF from the British and retained in the post-World War I Army. He wears a drab web pistol belt with two magazines of ammunition for the .45-caliber automatic in its brown leather holster, while his drab canvas gas mask pouch, supported by a web belt, hangs over his right shoulder. The colonel also wears the high, brown boots prescribed for officers, a pattern much favored by the mounted men of that period. 

The machine gun company first sergeant in the left foreground wears an issue olive drab uniform with the wrap-around "putters" adopted by the AEF during the war when production difficulties slowed procurement of the canvas leggings formerly worn. His grade is indicated by the three stripes and diamond on his sleeve, the chevrons now pointed toward his shoulder rather than toward his hand as in previous times. His branch of service is shown on the round, bronze collar device, and his unit is made known by the ivy leaf insignia of the AEF's 4th Division painted on his helmet. His drab canvas gas mask pouch is slung around his neck and his drab web cartridge belt is supported by suspenders of the same material. 

In the background is a French 75-mm. field gun, part of the officer's command, with its artillery field telephone crew representative of the Army's artillery-machine gun-infantry close support team that ended the stalemate of the European battlefields of World War I. (CMH, The American Soldier series).

    The American Soldier, 1918

    The American Soldier, 1918: The standard field uniform of both officers and enlisted men of the American Expeditionary Forces—the AEF—in France was the wool olive drab uniform introduced into the Army during the first decade of the 20th century...

  • The American Soldier, 1945: Men of the 5th Infantry and 4th Armored Division, who fought as teammates in Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.'s Third Army, show the combat uniform worn in the European theater in early 1945. The continued trend toward protective coloration and simplicity of style can be seen in these uniforms. All are olive green, varying only in the design of the individual pieces of apparel, which were adapted to the differing needs of the various branches of the service. 

In the center foreground and right background are two infantrymen, a major and his radioman. They are wearing wool trousers, the latest style cotton cloth field jacket, wool scarves, and leather gloves, but they are still using the old natural leather field shoe with the buckle top added. The covers worn over their steel helmets show adaption for varying combat conditions —dark for field and forest activities and white for winter conditions. The major's rank is indicated by the gold oak leaves on his shoulder straps and the oak leaf painted on his helmet cover. The radioman's grade, private first class, is shown by the single chevrons on his sleeves. Both men wear the divisional shoulder sleeve insignia, the Red Diamond. The major is armed with a .30-caliber M1 carbine in addition to the .45-caliber automatic pistol prescribed for his rank and duty, while his radioman is armed with a .30-caliber M1 rifle, the basic infantry weapon of World War II. The radioman wears his drab canvas musette bag slung over his right shoulder, and the major carries his brown leather map case in his right hand. 

In the left background is a Sherman medium tank with a 76-mm. gun and members of its crew. The tankers all wear the hard composition helmet prescribed for armored troops. The tank guard wears a field jacket of suiting lined with wool and with knitted cuffs, collar, and waistband over his tanker overalls and he also wears the new all laced combat boot. His 

technician 5th grade classification is shown by the two olive green chevrons with a "T" underneath on a black background on each sleeve. On his right shoulder is the red, yellow, and blue triangular shoulder sleeve insignia, common to all armored divisions, with the numeral 4 in black on it denoting the 4th Armored Division. The tank guard is armed with a .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, a vehicular weapon intended for use in just the fashion illustrated. 


(CMH, The American Soldier series).

    The American Soldier, 1945

    The American Soldier, 1945: Men of the 5th Infantry and 4th Armored Division, who fought as teammates in Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.'s Third Army, show the combat uniform worn in the European theater in early 1945. The continued trend toward...

  • The American Soldier, 1950: 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. 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. (CMH, The American Soldier series).

    The American Soldier, 1950

    The American Soldier, 1950: 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...

  • The American Soldier, 1965: 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. 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. (CMH, The American Soldier series).

    The American Soldier, 1965

    The American Soldier, 1965: 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...

  • The American Soldier, 1975: Army Nurse Corps members in clinical specialties from psychiatric and mental health to pediatrics and medical-surgical provide in-patient care at medical treatment facilities worldwide. Advanced training in many special aspects of nursing is available at larger US Army medical facilities. This training is vital in maintaining readiness to fulfill requirements placed on the Army Nurse Corps in peace and war. 

The Army Nurse Corps comes to the attention of the general public when its members provide patient care during international relief operations. These assignments are unique to the Nurse Corps because civilian nurses do not accompany emergency relief operations overseas. When the United States aids a stricken nation, Army Nurses provide direct patient care. 

Operation New Life occurred during the spring and summer of 1975. With the collapse of South Vietnam, more than 130,000 Southeast Asian refugees were evacuated to the United States. Over 90,000 received some type of medical care provided by Army nurses who helped staff facilities at stations of the trip. 

In the foreground, as concerned relatives look on, an Army nurse checks an injured Vietnamese. The scene is typical of many long evenings in tents set up as emergency medical stations on Guam, the first stop for the refugees. The nurses are dressed in two-piece tropical combat uniforms of olive-green, rip-stop cotton poplin. The male medical orderly setting up the plasma bottle also wears a two-piece olive green uniform of cotton poplin. (CMH, The American Soldier series).

    The American Soldier, 1975

    The American Soldier, 1975: Army Nurse Corps members in clinical specialties from psychiatric and mental health to pediatrics and medical-surgical provide in-patient care at medical treatment facilities worldwide. Advanced training in many special...

  • American Soldier of 1991: Aca,!A"DonAca,!a,,ct mess with the 101st.Aca,!A? Desert Storm Art by SFC Peter G. Varisano.
CMH Works from selected Army artists.

    American Soldier of 1991

    American Soldier of 1991: Aca,!A"DonAca,!a,,ct mess with the 101st.Aca,!A? Desert Storm Art by SFC Peter G. Varisano. CMH Works from selected Army artists.

Through 144 articles published in the "This Week in Army History" series we have told the story of the Army, "One Soldier at a time." These stories cut across the full breadth of United States Army history. Among our presentations we've read of inventors, actors, film directors, musicians, poets, rocket scientists, and librarians. All of which represent jobs and careers that we do not normally associate with the military and the Army. Yet, each was part of a tale somehow intertwined with the history of the Army.

Among these tales one feature remains constant; the Soldier. These stories from our past have introduced us to Generals, junior officers, Sergeants and Privates. We've read of Continental Soldiers in the Carolinas (1780), military explorers traversing the great expanses of the Louisiana Purchase (1806), and Army camel drivers in the arid regions of the southwest (1856). Great figures from the Army's first century of service have appeared: Washington, Scott, Grant, and Lee. Renowned leaders from the great wars such as Pershing, Marshall, Eisenhower, and Patton are reflected upon among the lines.

The Army story is not solely represented by the great and famous among those who have served. It is the story of all American Soldiers; the Militia and the Continentals, Doughboys and Flyboys, Infantrymen and Cavalry troopers, Engineers and Airborne, WAC's and GI's. Called by some, the "common soldier," yet each an individual who led anything but a common life. We have journeyed with those in the first wave at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. We followed others who trained under the tough hand of a Prussian Baron at a place called Valley Forge. We have read of the uncommon gallantry of recipients of the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross. We learned of uncommon devotion to duty through the stories of career Soldiers. Appearing in the stories have been MPs, tankers, cadets, gunners, pilots, troopers, and WACs; all Soldiers, and all citizens, and all "uncommon."

As we enter the New Year we will still "tell the Army story, one soldier at a time." Our feature articles will continue to cover the full range of the past 237 years of the existence of the United States Army. We will look at lessons learned, lessons long lost, gallantry in action, and devotion in the ranks. There will be stories of battles, equipment, weapons, long marches, cold winters, and hot days. Most of all, there will be the history of the American Soldier!

ABOUT THIS STORY: Many of the sources presented in this article are among 400,000 books, 1.7 million photos and 12.5 million manuscripts available for study through the U.S. Army Military History Institute (MHI). The artifacts shown are among nearly 50,000 items of the Army Heritage Museum (AHM) collections. MHI and AHM are part of the: Army Heritage and Education Center, 950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle, PA, 17013-5021.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16