United States Presidents Who Served In The Army

Do you know how many of our United States Presidents served in the Army. I doubt you can name them all without cheating, and for those of you who said all of them, you may be partially correct since the President of the United States is the Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces. But, we are talking about actually serving without being elected in to the position.

It is this writer’s opinion that it should be a stipulation that every candidate for President should have at least served in a branch of the Armed Forces for a minimum of 2 years. But, that is just my opinion. The reason I say this is: if someone is going to be the Supreme Leader of the military, he/she should know the how, what and why of the military, and the only way to truly know that is to serve.

Well, enough of my opinion. Let’s find out the United States Presidents who served in the Army.

1: George Washington

If you didn’t know that President Washington served in the U.S. Army, you better get tutored from the first 3rd grade student you can find. George Washington was a part of the British Military and then became the Commander of the Virginia Regiment. When Congress created the Continental Army, Washington was made Commander In Chief. He was so all throughout the Revolutionary War. In 1798, Washington was retired, but President Adams offered him the job of senior commander of the U.S. Army. He accepted and kept the position until he died.

2: James Monroe

President Monroe fought right with his Commander, General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. James Monroe was a Major in the Continental Army from 1775 until 1777. Monroe was seriously wounded with a musket ball and nearly died because of it.

3: Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was a Colonel in the Tennessee Militia. He was soon promoted to Major General. It was during the War of 1812 that Jackson became a Commander over other units than just the Tennessee Militia. He led units as a Major General in the United States Army. As a leader in the Army, he was strong, powerful and many feared him.

4: William Henry Harrison

At just 18 years old, Harrison was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Army. He fought and led other soldiers in multiple Indian Wars and Battles. In 1798, Harrison resigned from the Army and began a political career. When Tecumseh started raising Indians against the white settlers, Harrison was given a position as a General in the Army. He led soldiers in the Battle of Tippecanoe and the War of 1812 had Harrison at the position of Major General. Harrison resigned because of mistreatment by the Secretary of War and Congress investigated, awarding the future President a gold medal for his achievements in the War of 1812.

5: Zachary Taylor

Taylor was a career officer in the United States Army. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1808. In 1811, he took command of Fort Knox. He fought bravely in the War of 1812, and was given the rank of Major. He served in many Indian Battles and also the Mexican/American War and rose to the rank of Major General before being elected the 12th President of the United States.

6: Franklin Pierce

When the Mexican/American War began, Pierce immediately volunteered and was given a Commission and a Command. He soon rose to the rank of Brigadier General and only served just over 1 year with the U.S. Army. This was because of getting seriously sick and also suffering a knee injury, and the resignation he was approved made him a very unpopular person in politics, but it still did not stop him from gaining the Presidency.

7: Andrew Johnson

It was during the Civil War that Johnson was a Brigadier General in the Union Army. As such, he was also the Military Governor of Tennessee. Johnson became President when as Vice President to Abraham Lincoln, the President was assassinated and Johnson took the helm.

8: Ulysses Grant

He was General of the Army during the Civil War, but he also served during the Mexican/American War where this great military strategist gained respect as a master at Army leadership. Many will say that if not for this great Army General and U.S. President, the Union may have not won the Civil War.

9: Rutherford Hayes

It was during the Civil War that Hayes joined the United States Army. His leadership skills had him rise to the rank of Brevet Major General. He was seriously wounded when shot, but kept leading his men. He was a marvelous leader and no injury would stop him. He stayed until just before Lee surrendered the Southern Rebel Army. When we read and study Hayes’ Presidency, he should be remembered as a great, even though he made many enemies.

10: James Garfield

Garfield joined the United States Army during the Civil War via the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. As a great leader who recruited many other soldiers, Garfield rose quickly in rank. He left the Army as a Major General to pursue political aspirations.

11: Benjamin Harrison

Harrison commanded the 70th Regiment Indiana Infantry, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, XX Corps during the American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln nominated Harrison to be promoted to Brevet Brigadier General, and Congress approved. While in the Army, Harrison was also given a political position in Indiana. In 1865, he was mustered out of military service and pursued the career in politics.

12: William McKinley

McKinley was the last President to serve in the Civil War. He started as an enlisted Private and was even led by Rutherford Hayes. At the end of the War, this future President had achieved the rank of Brevet Major. McKinley was a great soldier and a fabulous leader. McKinley was the President who led the U.S. in victory during the Spanish/American War, and he helped prosper the nation economically.

13: Theodore Roosevelt

It was this future President’s Army service that saw us have victory in the Spanish/American War. Roosevelt ended his Army career as a Colonel, and he is the only United States President to be awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor. Who can forget Roosevelt and the Rough Riders?

14: Harry Truman

Harry Truman first entered the Missouri National Guard in 1905 and served with them until 1911. When the U.S. entered World War I, Truman rejoined and was given Officer status. Sent to France, Truman had become full Army and was promoted to Captain. Even while President of the United States, Harry Truman was a Colonel with the Army Reserve.

15: Dwight Eisenhower

He was one of the greatest Generals in the Army. Dwight Eisenhower served with the U.S. Army from 1915 to 1953 and again from 1961 to 1969 after being President. He reached the level of General of the Army which has 5 stars. Dwight Eisenhower served in both World War I and World War II. He was also the Supreme Allied Commander.

16: Ronald Reagan

In 1937, Reagan enlisted in the Army Reserve and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. In 1942, he was ordered to active duty. He was transferred to the Army Air Force and promoted to 1st Lieutenant and was a part of the Provisional Task Force Show Unit. After that, he was promoted to Captain as a part of the First Motion Picture Unit. It was in this position that Captain Reagan was instrumental in the discovery of actress Marilyn Monroe. He was part of developing nearly 400 training films for the Army Air Force.

16 Presidents Served In The Army

There you have it…Those were the Presidents that served in the United States Army, but also keep in mind that there were others who served in State Militias or the National Guard. These are they who served in those areas:

  • Thomas Jefferson Virginia State Militia

  • James Madison Virginia State Militia

  • John Tyler Virginia State Militia

  • James Polk Tennessee State Militia

  • Millard Fillmore New York State Militia

  • James Buchanan Pennsylvania State Militia

  • Abraham Lincoln Illinois State Militia

  • Chester Arthur New York State Militia

  • William Taft Connecticut Home Guard

  • George W. Bush Texas Air National Guard

There were a few who served in other branches and some who did not ever serve in any military capacity.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you think a candidate for the United States Presidency should have some military service?

You can post your comments or questions below. Thank you for visiting.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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3 thoughts on “United States Presidents Who Served In The Army”

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