April 19, 2005


When Lincoln made Ulysses S. Grant a three-star general in 1864, he was the first man to carry the rank of lieutenant general since George Washington. This according to the Ken Burns' Civil War documentary.

What's up with that?

First off, a rank of lieutenant general pretty much shows that you're gonna have the rank of general, right. But the Army's just holding onto that fourth star up until ... when exactly? I mean, if frickin' George Washington can be a four-star general, honestly, who's up for the job.

On the other hand though, maybe the Army just didn't need that organizational level until 1864. If that's the case, I've seriously got to applaud the military's foresight here. That's some serious capacity planning to invent ranks you're not even gonna need for a hundred years.

(And, yeah, I know that the American army didn't really invent anything so much as straight up steal it from the British, but still.)

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