ABSTRACT

Brief History of the Army Reserve   [open pdf - 104KB]

Whereas the National Guard evolved from the tradition of the decentralized colonial or State controlled militia system, the Army evolved from the reality that a significant portion of the nation's military reserve must be centrally controlled in times of peace and war by the Federal Government. The concept for an American Federal reserve force was first proposed by General George Washington, Generals Frederick von Stueben, Henry Knox, and Alexander Hamilton during the formative years of the United States military establishment (1783-92). Due to the lack of a visible threat to national security, combined with the young republic's regional focus, only a paramilitary structure for Army reserve officer training materialized during the nineteenth century. The private military academy, Norwich University, founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge for training citizen-soldiers as officers, is considered the origin of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). Initially, in 1908, Congress established the Medical Reserve Corps. Then, using its constitutional authority "to raise and support armies," Congress passed legislation in 1916 and 1920 creating the Organized Reserve Corps, which included the Officers Reserve Corps, the Enlisted Reserve Corps, and the ROTC. One of Roosevelt's New Deal programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), placed young men in barracks and military-style organizations to work in national forests and other outdoor projects. In the year that followed, the number of Reserve officers on active duty rose from less than 3,000 to more than 57,000.

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