Highest-Ranking Officers in U.S. History

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

General and Commander-in-Chief1

General George Washinton. Source: Library of Congress.
  • George Washington (1732–1799), b. Westmoreland County, Va., unanimously voted by Congress on June 15, 1775, to the rank of general and commander-in-chief (of the Continental army).

General of the Armies2

  • John Joseph Pershing (1860–1948), b. Linn County, Mo., made permanent general of the armies, 1919.

General of the Army, General of the Air Force

  • George Catlett Marshall (1880–1959), b. Uniontown, Pa., promoted Dec. 1944.
  • Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964), b. Little Rock, Ark., promoted Dec. 1944.
  • Dwight David Eisenhower (1890–1969), b. Denison, Tex., promoted Dec. 1944.
  • Henry Harley Arnold (1886–1950), b. Gladwyne, Pa. Arnold had the unique distinction of being a five-star general twice—in 1944 as general of the army, and in June 1949 as general of the air force. He is the only air force general to have held the five-star rank.
  • Omar Nelson Bradley (1893–1981), b. Clark, Mo., promoted Sept. 1950.

Admiral of the Navy

  • George Dewey (1837–1917), b. Montpelier, Vt., promoted March 1899.

Fleet Admiral (Five-Stars)

1. On March 15, 1978, George Washington was promoted posthumously to the rank of General of the Armies of the United States—which had been created in 1919—to make it clear that Washington was the army's senior general.
2. General Pershing was given the option of five stars but he declined. Source: Department of Defense and U.S. Army Historian, Research and Analysis Center.

Military PersonnelThe Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)
Sources +