Each of our presidents has also been the Commander-in-Chief of our military forces. This month we are going to list the ones who have actually had military experience.

George Washington served as an officer in the British colonial forces against the French from 1754 to 1763, rising to the rank of colonel. In 1775, Washington was put in command of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He served as President from 1789 to 1797.

Andrew Jackson was famous for commanding militia troops in Louisiana during the War of 1812. He also fought the British during the Revolutionary War and the Seminoles in 1817-1818. Jackson was president from 1829 to 1837.

Zachary Taylor was career-military in the U.S. Army from 1811 to 1848, participating in every conflict from the War of 1812 to the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. His highest rank was colonel, brevetted to brigadier-general. He was president for only a little over a year before dying in office. 

Franklin Pierce served a short stint as an Army officer in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). He was president from 1853 to 1857. 

Abraham Lincoln served as a captain in the Illinois Militia during the Blackhawk War of 1832. This service was thoroughly overshadowed by his time as Commander-in-Chief from 1861 to 1865. 

Andrew Johnson was a brigadier-general during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865. He went directly from military service to vice-president in March of 1865, and became president six weeks later after Lincoln’s assassination.

Ulysses S. Grant graduated from West Point and served in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Grant also served as commanding general of Union forces during the American Civil War (1861-1865). He was president from 1869 to 1877. 

Rutherford B. Hayes served in the American Civil War with the rank of brigadier-general, brevetted to major-general. He was president from 1877 to 1881. 

James Garfield held the rank of major-general and served as a divisional commander in the Army of the Ohio during the American Civil War. His presidential term was cut short by assassination after only 6 1/2 months.

Chester A. Arthur was a brigadier-general in the New York Militia from 1857 to 1863, taking part in the American Civil War. He was president  from 1885 to 1889.

Benjamin Harrison was a colonel brevetted to brigadier-general in the Army of the Cumberland from 1862 to 1865. Harrison was president from 1889 to 1893.

William McKinley was brevet major in the 23rd Ohio Infantry during the American Civil War. He served as president from March 4, 1897 until his assassination on Sept. 14, 1901. McKinley was the last president to have served during the American Civil War. 

This is a much bigger list than I expected; I’m learning this history right along with my readers! We’ll continue with the 20th century presidents next month. 

Houston resident Robert E. Simpson is a retired U.S. Navy chief electronics technician who served from 1969 to 1990. Email gfjjkaa@gmail.com.

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