Important: Be aware that cancellation requests for bullion shoulder straps must be made within 24 hours of placing an order because of the substantial time investment required for the custom hand embroidery process.
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Although it was not officially established as a “basic branch” of the United States Army until the passage of the Army Organization Act in 1950, the Adjutant General’s Corps rightfully points to June 16, 1775 as the official anniversary date of its founding. That was the day that the Continental Congress authorized the creation of the position of Adjutant General on George Washington’s staff. The very next day—the same day that the British earned a Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Bunker Hill—Congress voted to name Horatio Gates as the first Adjutant General, commissioning him as a brigadier general in the process.

Derived from adjutare, an old Latin word meaning to assist, an adjutant was someone who provided assistance and aid across the full spectrum of military operations to a commander. Although the role of Adjutant General eventually became more focused on administrative affairs, at the time of Gates’ commissioning it also involved  commanding guards, assigning details, ensuring the safe transmission of orders, and even forming up infantrymen in lines of battle.

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Gates is now largely remembered as the general of one of the Continental Army's greatest victories of the Revolutionary War—but also one of its most devastating defeats. At the Battles of Saratoga in September and October of 1777, Gates commanded the American forces that stood firm following a tactical defeat at Freeman’s Farm (September 19) and subsequently routed British troops led by General John Burgoyne at the Battle of Bemis Heights (October 7). This triumph, however, was marred by a series of miscalculations on Gates’ part—perhaps the result of hubris fueled by his triumphant reception following his Saratoga victory—at the Battle of Camden in 1780.

But while historians debate just how much Gates’s military skills had to do with the victory at Saratoga or the defeat at Camden, there is no doubt that his organizational efforts as Adjutant General not only helped define the Corps’ mission for many decades to come, but also were a major factor in transforming the disparate militias of the colonies into a single American army with a well-defined structure.

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