Why don't Americans have field marshals?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Dennis Nicholls, Jun 11, 2003.

  1. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    This is an odd historical question. In most countries, the most senior and special generals hold the rank of field marshal, e.g. Montgomery and Alexander in the UK and Zukov in the USSR. Here we promote 4 stars to 5 stars on rare occasion (Eisenhower). Is our 5 star rank equivalent to a field marshal? Why don't we adopt the term?
     
  2. Jason Merrick

    Jason Merrick Supporting Actor

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    The United States only promotes Generals to 5-star rank during times of war. Not sure why they didn't choose the term Field Marshall, but yes it is the equivalent. The term used is "General of the Army".

    ---------

    EDIT: Found this page with more info.

    The terms "General of the Armies of the United States" and "General of the Army of the United States" are commissioned officer grades of the Army of the United States.

    Prior to 14 December 1944 there were, since the formation of the United States, but four Generals of the Army or of the Armies of the United States (both phrases being held to mean the same thing): Generals Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Pershing. The temporary grade of "General of the Army" or "Fleet Admiral" (Five-Star insignia), was provided for by Public Law 482, 78th Congress, on 14 December 1944 and the following named officers served on active duty during World War II in that temporary grade until 23 March 1946 when it was made permanent under the provisions of Public Law 333, 79th Congress:

    -General of the Army George C. Marshall, appointed 16 Dec 44. Deceased Oct 59.
    -General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, appointed 18 Dec 44. Deceased Apr 64.
    -General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, appointed 20 Dec 44. Deceased Mar 69.
    -General of the Army Henry H. Arnold, appointed 21 Dec 44. Deceased Jan 50.
    (General Arnold redesignated General of the Air Force pursuant to PL58, 81st Congress, dated 7 May 49.)
    -Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, appointed 15 Dec 44. Deceased Jul 59.
    -Fleet Admiral Earnest J. King, appointed eff 17 Dec 44. Deceased Jun 56.
    -Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, appointed eff 19 Dec 44. Deceased Feb 66.
    Officers appointed after World War II:
    -Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, confirmed by the Senate 4 Dec 45 and took oath of office on 11 Dec 45. Deceased Aug 59.
    -General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, appointed 22 Sep 50. Deceased Apr 81.
    (General Bradley appointed pursuant to PL 957, on 18 Sep 1950.)
     
  3. Julian Reville

    Julian Reville Screenwriter

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    And, that funny looking hat MacArthur wore all during the war and afterwards was actually a Phillipines Field Marshall's hat, as he held the post of Commander of the Phillipine Armed Forces, prior to the war.

    My theory is that after dealing with Montgomery, we wanted to stay as far away from Field Marshalls as possible.

    Just kidding, you Anglophiles. [​IMG]
     
  4. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    Gee, I thought Field Marshalls was a department store. [​IMG]
     
  5. andrew markworthy

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  6. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

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  7. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    How do the French pronounce "lieutenant"? That word always looks French to me. One would think their pronunciation would be dispositive.
     
  8. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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  9. andrew markworthy

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    BrianB Producer

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  15. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Ok guys, then why don't we call captains 'tenants'?

    Glenn
     
  16. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    LOL - my daughter wonders the same thing after each spelling test ! And how come so many aliens speak it ?
     
  17. Jay Taylor

    Jay Taylor Supporting Actor

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    Let's not forget the posthumus promotion of George Washington to six star "General of the Armies of Congress"

    George Washington

    Jay Taylor
     
  18. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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  19. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    And then, of course, there's colonel, which is pronounced KER-nal in all English-speaking armies. That's a particularly whacky one because the (then) novel rank was just gaining acceptance on the Continent when the English learned of it through two sources: written reports from Italy, and oral reports from recent visitors to France. Somehow the word entered the English tongue with the French pronunciation and the Italian spelling and it has stayed that way ever since. [​IMG]

    As for Marshalls (and later, Field Marshalls): Prior to the American Civil War no Army every operated in the United States that needed a rank as high as Marshall. George Washington was a Lt. General - the first and only one this country ever saw until the rank was revived for U.S. Grant when he assumed command of the Union Armies in the east.

    We made it through the War of 1812, the Mexican War and various intermittent rebellions without ever commissioning anybody more than a Brigadier or - in a pinch - a Major General. (A Major General is outranked by a Lt. General, by the way. That's because all "general" officer ranks were ad-hoc designations based on the old company ranks, used when several companies banded together under a single command. The overall commander was Captain-General, his top aide Lt. General, the next in command the Sergeant-Major-General. When the regimental system was introduced and both organization and rank structure became more formalized and permanent, the "Sergeant" was dropped from Major-General.)

    Between that time and the opening of the Civil War, when truly huge American armies would emerge for the first time, the world's second modern republic had been replaced by the tyrrany of Napoleon, and the French Army - with its Marshalls - turned loose on Europe. I suspect that the more-republican-than-thou Americans of the time found Napoleon and everything associated with him pretty distasteful, and therefore never warmed up to the rank of Marshall, much less Field Marshall. (Of course, McClellan probably would have loved the idea - he fancied himself another Napoleon - but someone as level-headed as Grant - who habitually wore a private's unadorned uniform blouse - would have laughed at the notion.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  20. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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