List of United States military leaders by rank

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This is a list of the highest-ranking general and flag officers (generals and admirals) who have served in the armed forces of the United States. Only those holding a rank equivalent to the modern rank of five stars or more, or four stars at a time when such rank was extraordinary, are listed. The highest rank held by anyone in the U.S. armed forces since 1981 is four stars, or a pay grade of "O-10". There are dozens serving with this rank at the present time. Ranks higher than this are usually awarded only in times of large-scale mobilization and warfare.

The ranks General of the Armies and Admiral of the Navy (held by the top three on this list) have been essentially honorary ranks as all recipients were given these ranks for their service. Titles such as "general-in-chief", "chief of staff", and "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff" are military assignments, not ranks, and thus do not affect the contents of this list, although these assignments did affect the status of seniority and/or chain-of-command when they were serving in these positions. Listed by rank then seniority (date appointed to the rank)

List of United States military leaders by military rank[edit]

General of the Armies of the United States[edit]

Rank
order
RankNameDateActive service
1General of the Armies
of the United States
George Washington[1][2]4 July 1776French and Indian War and American Revolutionary War, also took part in Quasi War, served also as the Senior Officer of the Army
2General of the Armies
of the United States
John J. Pershing[3][1]3 September 1919Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War, Pancho Villa Expedition & World War I

Admiral of the Navy[edit]

Rank
order
RankNameDateActive service
2Admiral of the NavyGeorge Dewey2 March 1899American Civil War and Spanish-American War

General of the Army / Fleet Admiral / General of the Air Force (5 stars)[edit]

Rank
order
RankNameDateActive service
4Fleet AdmiralWilliam D. Leahy15 December 1944Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II
5General of the ArmyGeorge C. Marshall16 December 1944World War I and World War II
6Fleet AdmiralErnest J. King17 December 1944Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II
7General of the ArmyDouglas MacArthur18 December 1944World War I, World War II, and Korean War
8Fleet AdmiralChester W. Nimitz19 December 1944World War I and World War II
9General of the ArmyDwight D. Eisenhower20 December 1944World War I Era, World War II, and Korean War Era
10General of the Army
General of the Air Force
Henry H. Arnold[4]21 December 1944
7 May 1949
World War I and World War II
11Fleet AdmiralWilliam F. Halsey11 December 1945World War I and World War II
12General of the ArmyOmar N. Bradley20 September 1950World War I Era, World War II, and Korean War Era

General of the Army / General / Admiral (4 stars) (O-10)[edit]

Rank
order
RankNameDateActive service
13AdmiralDavid G. Farragut25 July 1866War of 1812, Mexican War, and American Civil War
14General of the ArmyUlysses S. Grant[5]25 July 1866Mexican War and American Civil War
15General of the ArmyWilliam T. Sherman[5]4 March 1869Mexican War, American Civil War, and Indian Wars
16AdmiralDavid D. Porter17 October 1870Mexican War and American Civil War
17General of the ArmyPhilip H. Sheridan[5]1 June 1888American Civil War and Indian Wars

Lieutenant General (O-9)[edit]

Rank
order
RankNameDateActive service
18Lieutenant General (Brevet)Winfield Scott[6]1855War of 1812, Mexican War, American Civil War (opening months)
19Lieutenant GeneralJohn Schofield[7]1895American Civil War, Indian Wars
20Lieutenant GeneralNelson A. Miles[8]1900American Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "U.S. Army Five-Star Generals". United States Army Center of Military History. 
  2. ^ The office of general was revived in 1919 by the title of "General of the Armies of the United States" when General John J. Pershing was appointed to that office on 3 September 1919; accepted the appointment on 8 September 1919, was retired with that rank on 13 September 1924, and held it until his death on 15 July 1948. No other officer has occupied this office. General Pershing held the grade of General of the Armies of the United States under the provisions of the Act of US Congress of 3 September 1919 (Public Law 45). Washington was posthumously appointed General of the Armies of the United States under s:Public Law 94-479. Under s:Order 31-3, the effective promotion date was on 4 July 1976. Congress specified that no officer of the United States Army should outrank Lieutenant General George Washington on the Army list. While promoted to a lieutenant general only a year before his death, he was the most senior officer and the only lieutenant general in the army. The same is true of Ulysses S. Grant, who was the second person to permanently hold this rank. (Winfield Scott was a brevet lieutenant general for his service in the Mexican-American War.) Washington was referred to as "commander in chief" of the Continental Army, a title that since the adoption of the constitution has been reserved for the (civilian) President
  3. ^ Patterson, Michael Robert. "John Joseph Pershing, General of the Armies". Michael Robert Patterson. 
  4. ^ Arnold was made General of the Army on 21 December 1944. The Air Force was created in 1947 and Arnold was made the first, and so far only, General of the Air Force on 7 May 1949.
  5. ^ a b c Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan wore four stars and held ranks equivalent to current four-star (O-10) generals and admirals, one step higher than Grant's wartime rank of lieutenant general. The special version of the title General of the Army of the United States, Act of US Congress July 25, 1866, indicated that Congress intended only one person to have it at a time. See General of the Army (United States).
  6. ^ Winfield Scott would later be "outranked" by four- and five-star generals of later wars and eras, but his seniority in the military is recognized as the second person in United States history, after George Washington, to hold the rank of Lieutenant General.
  7. ^ John Scofield was General-in-Chief after Sheridan.
  8. ^ Nelson Miles would later be "outranked" by four and five-star generals of later wars and eras, but his seniority in the military is recognized as the sixth person in United States history, after George Washington, Winfield Scott, and the three Civil War-era Lieutenant Generals (who later received promotions to General of the Army), to hold the rank of Lieutenant General. He was the only active duty Lieutenant General in American history prior to the World War I era, other than Schofield in 1895.