Army ColonelO-6 Field Officer, U.S. Army
History of the Army Colonel Rank
The rank of Colonel derives from Roman times and the Latin word “columnus” meaning “column.”
A column of soldiers had an officer who stood in charge of it, known as the commander of the column. A column in the Roman Army subsumed several companies.
This relationship formed the basis for the modern English usage of the word Colonel as an officer rank for a soldier in charge of a large collection of soldiers.
The first use of the word that became the English word Colonel was by the French during the professionalization of their Army in the 1500’s.
The French used the French word “Colonel” to refer to an officer who stood in charge of a group of soldiers that number up to 5000.
The English Army adopted the rank, title, and capacity of Colonels with the professionalization of their Army.
In turn, the United States adopted the rank, title, and capacity of Colonels with the establishment of the state after the revolutionary war and the breaking away from England.
The rank and title of Colonel was held in this capacity in the US Army from then until modern times.
Want to learn more? Read about the Army's Colonel rank on Military-Ranks.org.
History of the Army
The Army is the oldest and most senior among the branches. The Army's heritage is traced back to the Revolutionary War, when each State of the Union had its own Army, lended to the command of General George Washington. Almost 250 years have passed, but the organizational structure and naming is largely the same. The Army is still divided into Divisions, Brigades, Regiments, Battalions, Companies, and Platoons.