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The History of the United States Army
William Addleman Ganoe
Colonel of Infantry, United States Army

The Author and the Work

A 1907 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William Addleman Ganoe, as can be gathered from a close reading of his entry in Cullum's Register and is more explicitly stated in his own self-written obituary in Assembly linked there, made his career to a large extent in writing and teaching history.

To add to what the author says in his own foreword, immediately following — and frankly to amend it somewhat — in The History of the United States Army we have a historical account to be sure, but also an apologia: the reader will see that Col. Ganoe persistently and passionately shows the truth of the old Roman axiom, Si pacem vis, para bellum: If we want peace, we should prepare for war. Time and time again we read how good preparation and training ensured victory, and poor or no preparation exposed the United States to serious danger thruout her history; and his corollary is that when the United States Congress, whether from shortsightedness or a spirit of economy or outright demagoguery, chooses to downplay or ignore military preparedness, we wind up paying for it in lives as well as in far greater financial costs than were temporarily saved.

 p. vii  Foreword

What follows is meant to be neither a study of campaigns and battles nor a treatment of military policy. Those subjects have been covered thoroughly under their own titles. The coming chapters strive to tell a plain, straightforward story of those of our people who have answered our country's voice in its many cries for help and protection. The tale records the homely and the heroic service of the soldier in the sweat of peace as well as in the ruck of war. And there results a life history of that institution which has been the greatest single factor in the building of our nation — the United States Army.

Other countries have long ago told with care and affection the histories of their armies. For us, up until 1924, there had been no collected sketches and few authoritative accounts. No chronological record of the soldier's existence from 1775 to 1942 has ever been set down in any one place.

When the publishers of this book first approached the author with the suggestion of such a work, the prospect, frankly, did not look inviting. But, as that five years of research went along, so much unexplored matter and so many amazing episodes came to light that interest increased in spite of obstacles. As a consequence, there are statements in this volume which have heretofore found little publication; some which have been purposely withheld from general knowledge, and others which have never been published at all. In releasing this material the author has not scrupled to tell the truth, both pleasant and unpleasant, wherever the telling might be constructive.

Naturally, in the limited size of this narrative, many interesting details had to be discarded in order to preserve balance and perspective.

Page references to authorities consulted have not been used because of the fretting interruption to the reader. Instead, the bibliography and dates are carefully given. Most of the bibliography contains secondary sources, the primary sources being found principally in the Old Files and Old Records Sections of the Adjutant General's Office, Congressional Library, and repositories of the Army War College, Washington, D. C. Other original sources were found in the New York, West Point, Boston, Boston Corps of Cadets, Service School libraries and in miscellaneous documents and letters found in the original thirteen states. The most helpful and accurate secondary source was Dr. Justin Harvey Smith's monumental two‑volume history, The War with Mexico.

I thank the public for the chance it has given me to revise this story about the Army and bring it up to date, for two reasons: first, I was not satisfied with the latter part of the history as it was; and second, I have the opportunity to place the seventh vital and immortal builder of our Army and defense in his true light before our country, my original source in this case being himself and his confidences and inspiration to me personally.

W. A. G.


Drab Beginnings


The Army Learns to Walk and Run


The Army Finds Discipline and Success


The Army Flung Aside


The Army in Name


The Army Blazes the Trail


The Army Wins and Widens the Boundaries


The Army Divides and Multiplies


The Army's Dark Ages


The Army's Renaissance
First Phase [1881‑1898]
Second Phase [1899‑1916]


The Army Hustled into World Wars



George Washington


Frederick von Steuben


Soldiers with Arms


Sylvanus Thayer


Winfield Scott


Emory Upton


Arthur Lockwood Wagner


Douglas MacArthur


Technical Details

Edition Used, Copyright

The edition followed in this transcription was that of my own copy of the revised edition, © D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc., 1942. The copyright on the initial 1924 edition was not renewed in 1951 or 1952, as then required by law in order to be maintained; and similarly the copyright on the 1942 edition was not renewed in 1969 or 1970. The work is thus in the public domain; details here on the copyright law involved.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

Although the illustrations were carefully tipped in at appropriate places in the print edition — the pages they face there are given in the table of illustrations on this page — I've moved them to accommodate their presentation on the Web.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The running text of the book was well proofread, with few typographical errors. I marked my corrections, when important (or unavoidable because inside a link), with a bullet like this;º and when trivial, with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

The Bibliography, as printed, was less well proofread: mostly garbled proper names, but also some duplications and miscellaneous errors and inconsistencies. I fixed what I happened to notice, but I don't vouch for every detail, and in particular for the publication dates: tread with caution.

Thruout the book, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

[image ALT: A large doubly-outlined five-pointed star on a hatched background. It is an adaptation of a logo used by the United States Army, and on this site serves as the icon for William Addleman Ganoe's book 'The History of the United States Army'.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is my adaptation of a logo currently used by the United States Army. Its use here merely represents the subject matter of the book, and must in no way be taken to mean that this site has any connection with the Army or the United States government, nor that they endorse this site in any way.

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Site updated: 28 Jul 14