Army First LieutenantO-2 Commissioned Officer, U.S. Army
History of the Army First Lieutenant Rank
The history of the rank of lieutenant is shared between that of first and second lieutenants.
General George Washington introduced what would become the rank of Lieutenant to the United States Army in an order he published on July 23, 1775. This order established all the officer ranks for the Army, all of which are still used today, as well as the initial insignia for recognizing these ranks.
At that time, the rank that would become Lieutenant was known as subaltern, and it subsumed the titles of lieutenant, ensign, and coronet.
This system of ranks was, and by extension remains, based on the military of the United Kingdom (UK).
Interestingly enough, the name for the junior officer rank, lieutenant (or “left-tenant” as it is pronounced in the UK), in the both the British and American armies derives from French.
“Lieu” in French means “place,” while “tenant” means “holding.” Thus a lieutenant in England, and subsequently America, was a “place-holding” officer, given responsibility only until a more senior officer could come and provide better leadership.
In 1800, the US Army abolished the rank of subaltern and formally introduced the rank of Lieutenant in its place.
In that same year, the rank of First Lieutenant came about with the establishment of the rank of Second Lieutenant.
A second lieutenant stands the most junior officer in the Army, assigned only the smallest responsibilities until they prove themselves worthy of more, receiving the higher rank of First Lieutenant and accordingly more responsibility.
Since that date, the ranks of Second and First Lieutenant as the first two officer ranks in the US Army has held.
Want to learn more? Read about the Army's First Lieutenant 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.