Today is Presidents' Day, a national holiday over in the USA. We wanted to do something special for our American fans and colleagues and so here it is - five presidents with the most impressive military records.
26th President of the United States
Whilst he does not top our list, Theodore Roosevelt is the only president to have been awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor, the United States of America’s highest military honor. It was awarded for his action at the Battle of San Juan Hill, where he led his troops in a ‘desperate and gallant charge up San Juan Hill, encouraging his troops to continue the assault through withering enemy fire over open countryside’. The full citation can be read here.
7th President of the United States
American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, First Seminole War
Andrew Jackson’s military career started at age 13 when he served as a courier during the American Revolutionary War, but it is his service during the War of 1812 for which he is best remembered. At the battle of New Orleans he commanded US forces in the defence of the city, beating back a British force that vastly outnumbered his own. Had the British been successful it would have given them a starting point for their westward expansion, but they were spectacularly defeated in a battle that lasted for less than half an hour.
Related Reading: Men-at-Arms 454: The Seminole Wars 1818-1858, Men-at-Arms 345: The United States Army 1812-1815, Essential Histories 41: The War of 1812, Combat 9: Continental versus Redcoat, Warrior 176: Patriot Militiaman in the American Revolution 1775–82
12th President of the United States
War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Second Seminole War, Mexican–American War
Although his presidency was one of the shortest in US history Zachary Taylor boasts one of the most impressive war records, serving from 1808 up to 1847. His illustrious military career has many highlights, among which are undoubtedly his victories at the battle of Palo Alto and the battle of Resaca de la Palma during the Mexican-American War. In both battles the American forces were considerably outnumbered, and Taylor was heralded as a hero for bringing about victory. Further victories saw Taylor increase his reputation as a hardened war hero.
Ulysses S. Grant
18th President of the United States
Mexican–American War, American Civil War
Once nicknamed ‘Useless’ Grant by his neighbours, Ulysses S. Grant went on to become one of the greatest military leaders of the American Civil War, leading Union forces to victory time and time again as he beat back the Confederacy. He came head-to-head with legendary Confederate General Robert E. Lee, eventually accepting his surrender at the Appomattox courthouse on April 10, 1865.
1st President of the United States
French and Indian War, American Revolutionary War
George Washington, one of America’s founding fathers, built an army virtually from scratch and led them to victory against the British in the American Revolutionary War. After his victory at Yorktown the Crown saw that victory in America would cost more than they were willing to pay, leading to them eventually signing a peace treaty on September 3, 1783.
Due to the importance of his actions in the early history of the United States, George Washington was posthumously promoted to the rank of General of the Armies of the United States, the highest possible military rank in the United States Armed Forces.
Related Reading: Command 21: George Washington, Men-at-Arms 273: General Washington's Army (1), Essential Histories 44: The French-Indian War 1754-1760, Combat 9: Continental versus Redcoat, Warrior 176: Patriot Militiaman in the American Revolution 1775–82
Hopefully you've enjoyed our list, and be sure to let us know if you think anyone was more worthy. Happy Presidents' Day!