Today In History – Congress Establishes the Rank of “General of the Army of the United States” for General Ulysses S. Grant

On July 25, 1866, the U.S. Congress established the rank of “General of the Army of the United States” for General Ulysses S. Grant, making him the first four star General in U. S. history.  His pay was “four hundred dollars per month, and his allowance for fuel and quarters” except “when his headquarters are in Washington, shall be at the rate of three hundred dollars per month.” When appointed General of the Army, Grant wore the rank insignia of four stars and coat buttons arranged in three groups of four.

Unlike the World War II rank with a similar title, the 1866 rank of General of the Army was a four-star rank.  This rank held all the authority and power of a 1799 proposal for a rank of “General of the Armies” even though Grant was never called by this title.

Unlike the modern four-star rank of general, only one officer could hold the 1866–1888 rank of General of the Army at any time.

After Grant became President, he was succeeded as General of the Army by William T. Sherman, effective March 4, 1869. In 1872, Sherman ordered the insignia changed to two stars with the coat of arms of the United States in between.

By an Act of June 1, 1888, the grade was conferred upon Philip Sheridan, who by then was of failing health. (The cover of Sheridan’s autobiography was decorated with four stars within a rectangle evocative of the four-star shoulder strap worn by Grant.)  The rank of General of the Army ceased to exist with Sheridan’s death on August 5, 1888.

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Sources:  Wikipedia; Granthomepage.com

 

About Von Howze

Von is a Vice President, Human Resources at a major Fortune 100 Company in Northern New Jersey, where she has worked for 30 years. Von, a resident of New Jersey, has been a self proclaimed "information geek" since childhood. While she was interested in World History in high school and college, it wasn't until about 15 years ago that her interests turned to American History. Von felt that her passion for research and new found interest in American History was a perfect combination since she felt that the American History taught in schools while she was growing up was diluted. This would provide her an opportunity to show that American History consists of the good, the bad and the ugly. The purpose of learning about it is to learn from it and it should not be revised, distorted nor hidden in order for others to push their own personal agendas. Our history shows us who we have been, who we are and who we could be.

About the Author
Von is a Vice President, Human Resources at a major Fortune 100 Company in Northern New Jersey, where she has worked for 30 years. Von, a resident of New Jersey, has been a self proclaimed "information geek" since childhood. While she was interested in World History in high school and college, it wasn't until about 15 years ago that her interests turned to American History. Von felt that her passion for research and new found interest in American History was a perfect combination since she felt that the American History taught in schools while she was growing up was diluted. This would provide her an opportunity to show that American History consists of the good, the bad and the ugly. The purpose of learning about it is to learn from it and it should not be revised, distorted nor hidden in order for others to push their own personal agendas. Our history shows us who we have been, who we are and who we could be.