The Rank of General in the United States

By | Jul 25, 2010

The military rank of 5 Stars was not known until World War II. It has only been given to 9 men. Four of these were Army Generals George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight David Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. Four were given to Naval Fleet Admirals William D. Leahy, Ernest J. King, Chester W. Nimitz and William F. Halsey. The 9th man to receive it was Henry H. Arnold who carried the rank first as an Army General and then beginning on May 7, 1949 as General of the Air Force.

This rank currently is not used by the Military and is in reality a rank thought as only needed during time of a congressional declared war.

After the Civil War Congress created the rank of General of the Army of the United States. This rank was for Ulysses S. Grant. This was considered a 4-star rank and could only be held by one person.

When Grant retired the rank was given to William T. Sherman. He was succeeded by Philip H. Sheridan, the last person to hold this rank.

The United States has also had a rank called General of the Armies, which is considered the most senior of all officers. This rank has never been held officially by an active duty officer and has only been given to two men. John J. Pershing received this rank after World War I.

George Washington was posthumously given the rank in 1976 during the Bicentennial. In history, George Washington, as the Colonial Commander was the only active person to have this rank. The 1976 resolution stated that “considered fitting and proper that no officer of the United States Army should outrank Lieutenant General George Washington on the Army list”.


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