Analysis

Which American Presidents Served In The Military?

   DailyWire.com
Washington Crossing the Delaware (by Emanuel Leutze, American, 1816 - 1868), 1851. The painting documents Washington's crossing of the Delaware River on the night of December 25-26, 1776, as part of a sneak attack at the Battle of Trenton during the American Revolutionary War. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Oil on canvas.
GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

According to the United States Constitution, the President of the United States is commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces.

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” – Article II Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution

While 15 presidents served in the Army or Army Reserve, 9 in state militias, 6 in the Navy or Naval Reserve and 2 in the Continental Army, military experience is not a prerequisite for the role of President of the United States.

Here is a list of past presidents, alongside their military service prior to becoming commander in chief.

1) George Washington

Service: Virginia militia, Continental Army, and the United States Army.

Rank: General of the Armies of the United States.

Active Service: French and Indian War, American Revolutionary War.

2) John Adams

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: Chairman of the Continental Congress’ Board of War (1776 – 1777), equivalent to today’s Secretary of Defense and Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee. Was also a semi-participant in a naval engagement between a British and American ship during the American Revolution.

3) Thomas Jefferson

Service: Virginia militia

Rank: Colonel

Active Service: Commander of Albemarle County Militia at the start of the American Revolution (did not see action).

4) James Madison

Service: Virginia militia

Rank: Colonel

Active Service: Commander of the Orange County Militia at the start of the American Revolution (did not see action). Commanded troops during the Battle of Bladensburg in the War of 1812.

5) James Monroe

Service: Continental Army

Rank: Major

Active Service: American Revolutionary War (wounded at the Battle of Trenton).

6) John Quincy Adams

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None

7) Andrew Jackson

Service: Tennessee State Militia, Continental Army, United States Army

Rank: Major general

Active Service: American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Creek War, First Seminole War

8) Martin Van Buren

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None

9) William Henry Harrison

Service: United States Army

Rank: Major general

Active Service: Northwest Indian War, War of 1812

10) John Tyler

Service: Virginia militia

Rank: Captain

Active Service: War of 1812

11) James K. Polk

Service: Tennessee State Militia

Rank: Colonel

Active Service: Cavalry unit in Tennessee Militia (Captain), later appointed a Colonel on the staff of Governor William Carroll.

12) Zachary Taylor

Service: United States Army

Rank: Major general

Active Service: War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Second Seminole War, Mexican-American War

13) Millard Fillmore

Service: New York State Militia

Rank: Major

Active Service: New York Militia, organized Union Continentals home guard unit in Buffalo, New York during the American Civil War.

14) Franklin Pierce

Service: United States Army

Rank: Brigadier general

Active Service: New Hampshire Militia, Mexican-American War (commanded Infantry Brigade at Battle of Contreras, Battle of Churubusco, and the Assault on Mexico City. Injured at the Battle of Contreras).

15) James Buchanan

Service: Pennsylvania State Militia

Rank: Private

Active Service: War of 1812

16) Abraham Lincoln

Service: Illinois State Militia

Rank: Captain

Active Service: Black Hawk War

17) Andrew Johnson

Service: United States Army

Rank: Brigadier general

Active Service: Tennessee Militia, American Civil War, served as Military Governor of Tennessee.

18) Ulysses S. Grant

Service: United States Army

Rank: General

Active Service: Mexican-American War, American Civil War.

19) Rutherford B. Hayes

Service: United States Army

Rank: Major general

Active Service: American Civil War (23rd Ohio Infantry); wounded at the Battle of South Mountain; also served at the Battle of Antietam and in the Valley Campaigns of 1864.

20) James A. Garfield

Service: United States Army

Rank: Major general

Active Service: American Civil War (commanded an Ohio infantry brigade at the Battles of Shiloh and Corinth; served as chief of staff for General William Rosecrans at the Battle of Chickamauga).

21) Chester A. Arthur

Service: New York State Militia

Rank: Brigadier general

Active Service: Judge Advocate General, Second Brigade of the New York Militia. American Civil War (served as Engineer-in-Chief on the Governor’s staff, Quartermaster General and Inspector General of the New York Militia).

22/24) Grover Cleveland

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None (hired a substitute to serve in his place during the American Civil War).

23) Benjamin Harrison

Service: United States Army

Rank: Brigadier general

Active Service: American Civil War (commanded an infantry brigade at the Battles of Resaca, New Hope Church, Kennesaw Mountain, Marietta, Peachtree Creek and Atlanta; also commanded a brigade during Sherman’s March to the Sea).

25) William McKinley

Service: United States Army

Rank: Brevet major

Active Service: American Civil War (Battle of South Mountain, Battle of Antietam, and Valley Campaigns of 1864).

26) Theodore Roosevelt

Service: New York Army National Guard, United States Army

Rank: Colonel

Active Service: New York National Guard, Spanish-American Civil War.

27) William Howard Taft

Service: Connecticut Home Guard

Rank: None

Active Service: None

28) Woodrow Wilson

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None

29) Warren G. Harding

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None

30) Calvin Coolidge

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None

31) Herbert Hoover

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None (helped guide US Marines in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion).

32) Franklin D. Roosevelt

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None (resignation from Assistant Secretary of the Navy during WWI to enter uniformed service not accepted).

33) Harry S. Truman

Service: Missouri Army National Guard, United States Army Reserve

Rank: Colonel

Active Service: Stateside National Guard service in Missouri (1905-1911), World War I (France, 1917-1918).

34) Dwight D. Eisenhower

Service: United States Army

Rank: General of the Army

Active Service: World War I (stateside service), Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II (1942-1945).

35) John F. Kennedy

Service: United States Naval Reserve

Rank: Lieutenant

Active Service: World War II

36) Lyndon B. Johnson

Service: United States Naval Reserve

Rank: Commander

Active Service: World War II

37) Richard Nixon

Service: United States Naval Reserve

Rank: Commander

Active Service: World War II

38) Gerald Ford

Service: United States Naval Reserve

Rank: Lieutenant commander

Active Service: World War II

39) Jimmy Carter

Service: United States Navy

Rank: Lieutenant

Active Service: Sea duty and stateside service from 1946 to 1954. Sea duty off the coast of China during Korean War.

40) Ronald Reagan

Service: United States Army Reserve, United States Army Air Forces

Rank: Captain

Active Service: World War II (stateside service), Army Reserve (1937 – 1942).

41) George H. W. Bush

Service: United States Naval Reserve

Rank: Lieutenant (junior grade)

Active Service: World War II

42) Bill Clinton

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None

43) George W. Bush

Service: Texas Air National Guard

Rank: First lieutenant

Active Service: Vietnam War (stateside service as pilot)

44) Barack Obama

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None

45) Donald Trump

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None

46) Joe Biden

Service: None

Rank: None

Active Service: None

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

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