At the start of the Revolutionary War, the colonial troops consisted of various New England militia companies that had banded together. They were without a unified chain of command and were paid and equipped by the colonies that they came from. In the spring of 1775, this ragtag group was set to take on the British in Boston. In order for them to stand a chance, reorganization was necessary. The Massachusetts Provincial Congress asked the Second Continental Congress, which was based in Philadelphia, to take the reins of the army. On June 14, 1775, the American Continental Army formed, in order to present a unified opposition against Britain.
Because of the need for secrecy at the time, there aren't many public accounts from the day of the formation of the Army. There is a record of Congress forming a committee "to bring in a draft of rules and regulations for the government of the Army" and appropriating $2 million to support the troops around Boston and New York City. Congress also authorized the formation of ten companies of "expert riflemen" in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. These became the first soldiers raised directly for the Continental Army, and they were directed to Boston to support the soldiers that were already there.
On June 15, George Washington was unanimously chosen and appointed as "General and Commander in Chief" of the Continental Army. He took command in Boston on July 3. On June 16, other senior officers were authorized for the Army, with generals being appointed in the following days. By the third week in June, there were close to 15,000 Continental Army troops in Boston, and by the first week in July there were close to 20,000. By the third week in July, Boston had 22,000 troops and New York City had 5,000. Washington led the Continental Army to victory over the British; independence was solidified and the newly-formed country endured.
Following the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army was supplanted with the United States Army, which was created in June 1784. The Army is the land warfare branch of the Armed Forces. It is the oldest branch, and one of eight uniformed services. Along with the Navy and Air Force, it is part of the Department of Defense. It is the largest military branch: as of 2017 over one million members made up the combined forces of the Regular Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve.
How to Observe
Observe the day by thanking those who have served in the Army for their service. If you have been thinking about joining the Army, this may be a good day to do so. You could spend the day learning more about the Army by reading a book about its history or specifically about the Continental Army. Another idea is to watch a film that focuses on the Army.