21 Anniversary

For more information:

The Establishment of the Continental Army - This Day in History - June 14, 1775

Posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Related Posts


On This Day in History, June 14, 1775, The Continental Army was Established by the Second Continental Congress

Independence Hall - Where the Continental Army was Created

After adjourning the First Continental Congress in late October of 1774, the delegates agreed to reconvene in Philadelphia in May 1775 if King George III and the British Parliament did not acquiesce to the Colonists' demands. Just prior to the scheduled meeting of the Second Continental Congress, a major complication arose when the Battles of Lexington and Concord erupted on April 19, 1775 just outside of Boston.

As the delegates met at Independence Hall for the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775, they had a major decision before them.  Would the other Colonies join Massachusetts in open rebellion against Great Britain or would they follow through on their plan of trying to work with the British?

In the end, the delegates could not settle on a single strategy. Colonists wanted to support those fighting in Massachusetts and ensure they were prepared for a prolonged fight with the British, but at the same time, they did not want to rush headlong into war if it wasn't necessary. The Olive Branch Petition was written to make clear that while colonists were taking up arms, they were only doing so because they had been left with no other choice. The Oliver Branch Petition was deeply critical of the actions of Parliament and accused Parliament of stripping American Colonists of freedoms that had been their birthright, but at the same time, it reaffirmed that America remained loyal to Great Britain and petitioned King George to rein in Parliament and avoid unnecessary bloodshed. 

In order to support those fighting in Massachusetts it was decided that the Continental Congress would raise its own army. Massachusetts had already begun to raise an army after the Battles of Lexington and Concord and had already assembled forces in excess of 20,000 soldiers. On June 14, 1775 the Continental Congress officially created the Continental Army which was to be comprised of the soldiers already in Massachusetts and plans were made to quickly add thousands of additional soldiers to the Army from the other American Colonies. General George Washington was appointed commander-in-chief of the new Continental Army and traveled North from Philadelphia to meet his Army outside of Boston.

As time went on, it became clear that there would be no peaceful resolution with the British. Independence was declared by the Continental Congress in July of 1776 and the Continental Army would continue to fight the British for eight long years until America was able to emerge from the Revolutionary War victorious. With the war over and the country deep in debt, the vast majority of the Continental Army was disbanded in 1783. There were however a few regiments that continued to serve in peacetime. In 1791, now President George Washington and Congress reorganized the few remaining regiments of the Continental Army into the newly formed Legion of the United States which was to serve as a permanent professional Army of the United States of America. By 1796 the Legion of the United States was renamed the United States Army.

Because the Continental Army was never completely disbanded and was eventually formed into the United States Army, June 14, 1775, is not only considered the date the Continental Army was founded, it also considered the birthdate of the United States Army.

Visit the Spirits of 76 Ghost Tours