This is a list of the highest-ranking general and flag officers (generals and admirals) who have served in the armed forces of the United States. Only those holding a rank equivalent to the modern rank of five stars or more, or four stars at a time when such rank was extraordinary, are listed. The highest rank held by anyone in the U.S. armed forces since 1981 is four stars, or a pay grade of "O-10". There are dozens serving with this rank at the present time. Ranks higher than this are usually awarded only in times of large-scale mobilization and warfare.
The ranks General of the Armies and Admiral of the Navy (held by the top three on this list) have been essentially honorary ranks as all recipients were given these ranks for their service. Titles such as "general-in-chief", "chief of staff", and "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff" are military assignments, not ranks, and thus do not affect the contents of this list, although these assignments did affect the status of seniority and/or chain-of-command when they were serving in these positions. Listed by rank then seniority (date appointed to the rank)
List of United States military leaders by military rank
General of the Armies of the United States
|1||General of the Armies
of the United States
|George Washington||4 July 1776||French and Indian War and American Revolutionary War, also took part in Quasi War, served also as the Senior Officer of the Army|
|John J. Pershing||3 September 1919||Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War, Pancho Villa Expedition & World War I|
|1||Admiral of the Navy||George Dewey||2 March 1899||American Civil War and Spanish-American War|
General of the Army / Fleet Admiral / General of the Air Force (5 stars)
|4||Fleet Admiral||William D. Leahy||15 December 1944||Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II|
|5||General of the Army||George C. Marshall||16 December 1944||World War I and World War II|
|6||Fleet Admiral||Ernest J. King||17 December 1944||Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II|
|7||General of the Army||Douglas MacArthur||18 December 1944||World War I, World War II, and Korean War|
|8||Fleet Admiral||Chester W. Nimitz||19 December 1944||World War I and World War II|
|9||General of the Army||Dwight D. Eisenhower||20 December 1944||World War I Era, World War II, and Korean War Era|
|10||General of the Army
General of the Air Force
|Henry H. Arnold||21 December 1944
7 May 1949
|World War I and World War II|
|11||Fleet Admiral||William F. Halsey||11 December 1945||World War I and World War II|
|12||General of the Army||Omar N. Bradley||20 September 1950||World War I Era, World War II, and Korean War Era|
General of the Army / General / Admiral (4 stars) (O-10)
|13||Admiral||David G. Farragut||25 July 1866||War of 1812, Mexican War, and American Civil War|
|14||General of the Army||Ulysses S. Grant||25 July 1866||Mexican War and American Civil War|
|15||General of the Army||William T. Sherman||4 March 1869||Mexican War, American Civil War, and Indian Wars|
|16||Admiral||David D. Porter||17 October 1870||Mexican War and American Civil War|
|17||General of the Army||Philip H. Sheridan||1 June 1888||American Civil War and Indian Wars|
Lieutenant General (O-9)
|18||Lieutenant General (Brevet)||Winfield Scott||1855||War of 1812, Mexican War, American Civil War (opening months)|
|19||Lieutenant General||John Schofield||1895||American Civil War, Indian Wars|
|20||Lieutenant General||Nelson A. Miles||1900||American Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War|
- List of United States Presidents by military rank
- List of active duty United States four-star officers
- List of United States Army four-star generals
- List of United States Navy four-star admirals
- List of United States Air Force four-star generals
- List of United States Marine Corps four-star generals
- "U.S. Army Five-Star Generals". United States Army Center of Military History. http://www.history.army.mil/html/faq/5star.html.
- The office of general was revived in 1919 by the title of "General of the Armies of the United States" when General John J. Pershing was appointed to that office on 3 September 1919; accepted the appointment on 8 September 1919, was retired with that rank on 13 September 1924, and held it until his death on 15 July 1948. No other officer has occupied this office. General Pershing held the grade of General of the Armies of the United States under the provisions of the Act of US Congress of 3 September 1919 (Public Law 45). Washington was posthumously appointed General of the Armies of the United States under s:Public Law 94-479. Under s:Order 31-3, the effective promotion date was on 4 July 1776. Congress specified that no officer of the United States Army should outrank Lieutenant General George Washington on the Army list. While promoted to a lieutenant general only a year before his death, he was the most senior officer and the only lieutenant general in the army. The same is true of Ulysses S. Grant, who was the second person to permanently hold this rank. (Winfield Scott was a brevet lieutenant general for his service in the Mexican-American War.) Washington was referred to as "commander in chief" of the Continental Army, a title that since the adoption of the constitution has been reserved for the (civilian) President
- Patterson, Michael Robert. "John Joseph Pershing, General of the Armies". Michael Robert Patterson. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/johnjose.htm.
- Arnold was made General of the Army on 21 December 1944. The Air Force was created in 1947 and Arnold was made the first, and so far only, General of the Air Force on 7 May 1949.
- Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan wore four stars and held ranks equivalent to current four-star (O-10) generals and admirals, one step higher than Grant's wartime rank of lieutenant general. The special version of the title General of the Army of the United States, Act of US Congress July 25, 1866, indicated that Congress intended only one person to have it at a time. See General of the Army (United States).
- Winfield Scott would later be "outranked" by four- and five-star generals of later wars and eras, but his seniority in the military is recognized as the second person in United States history, after George Washington, to hold the rank of Lieutenant General.
- John Scofield was General-in-Chief after Sheridan.
- Nelson Miles would later be "outranked" by four and five-star generals of later wars and eras, but his seniority in the military is recognized as the sixth person in United States history, after George Washington, Winfield Scott, and the three Civil War-era Lieutenant Generals (who later received promotions to General of the Army), to hold the rank of Lieutenant General. He was the only active duty Lieutenant General in American history prior to the World War I era, other than Schofield in 1895.
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