These photos show what our veteran presidents looked like in uniform

Twenty-six of the 44 American Presidents served in the Armed Forces of the United States. Most served in the Army or Navy, and they all looked pretty sharp in uniform.

1. George Washington: Revolutionary War (Continental Army)

You wish you were that stoic.

You wish you were that stoic.

Washington’s greatness stems from his precedents. He set the standard for civilian control of the military by resigning as General of the Army before becoming President. Photography wasn’t invented during Washington’s lifetime, but you can rest assured that the image of the man was larger than life.

2. James Monroe: Revolutionary War (Continental Army)

President Monroe also served during the Revolution and was the last founding father to serve as president. Unfortunately, no photos of him exist, either in uniform or out. The foreign policy laid out by Monroe still bears his name. The Monroe Doctrine states that any effort by European nations to colonize or interfere with affairs in the Western Hemisphere would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention.

3. Andrew Jackson: War of 1812, Seminole War (Army)

78yo_Andrew_Jackson

This photo may not be of President Jackson in uniform, but is it not amazing that there is a photograph of Andrew Jackson at all? Jackson’s legendary defeat of the British at the Battle of New Orleans propelled him into the White House.

4. William Henry Harrison: Indian Campaigns, War of 1812 (Army)

The same reason that a photo of President Jackson in uniform doesn’t exist applies to William Henry Harrison, as well as President John Tyler. When they served, photography just wasn’t invented yet. Harrison subdued the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. During the War of 1812, Harrison pushed the British out of Ohio and Indiana, recaptured Detroit and successfully invaded Canada.

William_Henry_Harrison_daguerreotype_edit

5. John Tyler: War of 1812 (Army)

Amazingly, daguerreotypes (a kind of early photography which used silver and mercury) exist of some early presidents, including Harrison and Tyler. Tyler organized a militia to defend Richmond, Virginia during the War of 1812 if a British attack ever came. It didn’t, but the British were in nearby Hampton, threatening Richmond.

Tyler_Daguerreotype_(restoration)

6. Zachary Taylor: War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Second Seminole War, Mexican-American War (Army)

Gen. Taylor served the U.S. in a number of wars. It was almost a given that someone who served so masterfully that the press compared him to George Washington and Andrew Jackson would also be President like those generals before him.

zachary_taylor_president

7. Franklin Pierce: Mexican War (Army)

Pierce was a Brigadier General in Winfield Scott’s army fighting in the Mexican-American War. His experience in the Battle of Contreras was less-than-stellar, however. His horse tripped and he was thrown groin-first into his saddle. The horse fell onto Pierce’s knee, giving him a permanent injury.

Half-plate-daguerreotype-of-Franklin-Pierce-in-uniform-as-a-general-in-the-Mexican-American-War-1852.

8. Abraham Lincoln: Black Hawk War (Indian Wars) (Army)

Unfortunately, the nascent technology of photography couldn’t capture Abraham Lincoln in his Illinois Militia uniform. He was 23 at the time. The first known photo of Lincoln is below. The then-36-year-old was just elected to a two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Young_abraham_lincoln

9. Andrew Johnson: Civil War (Army)

Johnson was made a Brigadier General when President Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee. He did not have full control of the state until 1863. There are very few images of Johnson in uniform, and no photographs exist.

Johnson

10. Ulysses S. Grant: Mexican War and Civil War (Army)

Grant was the architect of the Confederacy’s final defeat. Just a year after President Lincoln gave Grant control of all Union Armies, Grant oversaw the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. He gave generous terms to all rebels and began the long Reconstruction of the South.

blog_grant_photo

11. Rutherford B. Hayes: Civil War (Army)

Hayes joined the Union Army after the shelling of Fort Sumter and was commissioned a Major. One of the Privates under his command was a young William McKinley. He served honorably throughout the war, garnering attention from General Grant, who wrote:

“His conduct on the field was marked by conspicuous gallantry as well as the display of qualities of a higher order than that of mere personal daring.”

Hayes_Civil_War

12. James A. Garfield: Civil War (Army)

Garfield had no military training but still received a colonel’s commission and was tasked with raising a regiment of Ohioans to drive the Confederates out of Eastern Kentucky. Garfield was so successful, he was promoted to General and later fought at the Battle of Shiloh.

General_James_Garfield_-_Brady-Handy

13. Chester A. Arthur: Civil War (Army)

Arthur was appointed Quartermaster General of the State of New York. He was in charge of provisioning and housing New York troops.

chester-a-arthur-in-uniform

 

14. Benjamin Harrison: Civil War (Army)

Harrison was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in 1862 and rose to Brig. Gen. by 1865. He led armies with Gen. William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.

USA --- Brigadier General Benjamin Harrison in uniform. --- Image by © CORBIS

15. William McKinley: Civil War (Army)

McKinley, unlike most of the men on this list, started his career as an enlisted Private. He was promoted to Commissary Sergeant before his regiment was sent East. He fought at the Battle of Antietam, where his actions earned him a commission to 2nd Lieutenant.

Major McKinley

16. Theodore Roosevelt: Spanish-American War (Army)

Theodore Roosevelt served in the New York National Guard, quickly becoming his unit’s commanding officer. When war broke out in Cuba, Roosevelt resigned from his civilian job and quickly raised the 1st U.S. Volunteer Regiment. His actions in Cuba earned Roosevelt the Medal of Honor, the only president to receive it.

RoughRiders

17. Harry Truman: World War I (Army)

Truman had poor eyesight and couldn’t get into West Point, so he enlisted in the Missouri National Guard. He memorized the eye chart to pass the vision test. Eventually elected Lieutenant, Truman led men in battle in WWI Europe. During one encounter where his men began to run away, Truman let out a string of profanity so surprising his men stayed to fight.

harry-s-truman-wwi

18. Dwight Eisenhower: World War I and World War II (Army)

The Supreme Allied Commander and General of the Army never actually saw combat. He was masterful at strategy, planning, and logistics. It was almost a given that Ike would run for President.

ikeinjeep-14A2E093CF066D02356

19. John F. Kennedy: World War II (Navy)

After his PT boat was struck by a Japanese destroyer in WWII, he and his crew swam to an island three miles away. Kennedy, with an injured back, carried a wounded crewmember to the island via a life jacket strap clenched between his teeth.

John_f_kennedy_in_military_uniform

20. Lyndon B. Johnson: World War II (Navy)

Johnson was on the Staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Australia in 1942. While there, he was also personally reporting to President Roosevelt on the status of the Pacific Southwest.

The White House released this photo October 14, 1966, showing Lt. Cmdr. Lyndon Johnson in the headquarters of Gen. Douglas MacArthur near Melbourne, Australia, in June 1942. The young Navy officer is pointing to New Guinea where he won the Silver Star on a bombing mission. (AP Photo/The White House)

The White House released this photo October 14, 1966, showing Lt. Cmdr. Lyndon Johnson in the headquarters of Gen. Douglas MacArthur near Melbourne, Australia, in June 1942. The young Navy officer is pointing to New Guinea where he received the Silver Star on a bombing mission.

21. Richard Nixon: World War II (Navy)

Nixon was a birthright Quaker and could have been exempted from service and from the draft. Instead, Nixon joined the Navy in 1942. After some time in Iowa, he requested a transfer to the Pacific where he was made Officer in Charge of the Combat Air Transport Command at Guadalcanal and the Solomons.

823d6f97376c2f4629f865f5036ab99f

22. Gerald Ford: World War II (Navy)

Ford signed up for the Navy after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He served aboard aircraft carriers in the third and fifth fleets. He fought at the Philippine Sea, Wake Island, and LeEyte landings, among other places.

GeraldFord1945

23. Jimmy Carter: Cold War-Era (Navy)

President Carter is also a nuclear physicist who helped develop the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine program. He worked on the USS Seawolf, the second nuclear submarine ever built. Carter is the only president to qualify for submarine duty, which is why the Navy deemed it appropriate to name a submarine the USS Jimmy Carter. 

Jimmy Carter is pictured in his 1947 class portrait from the U.S. Naval Academy yearbook, the "Lucky Bag." Carter completed the accelerated wartime program and graduated on June 5, 1946 with distinction and obtained his commission as ensign. (AP Photo/A.A. Bradley)

Jimmy Carter is pictured in his 1947 class portrait from the U.S. Naval Academy yearbook, the “Lucky Bag.” Carter completed the accelerated wartime program and graduated on June 5, 1946, with distinction and obtained his commission as ensign.

24. Ronald Reagan: World War II (Army Air Corps)

Originally landing in the Army Cavalry, he was transferred to the Army Air Forces’ First Motion Picture Unit and sent to the Provisional Task Force Show Unit called “This Is the Army.” He also managed the Sixth War Loan Drive in 1944.

30dd1abc3b855ada6d470093c74b22ab

No wonder we elected this guy twice.

25. George H.W. Bush: World War II (Navy)

Bush joined the Navy shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. At age 19, he was the youngest naval aviator to date. Bush was a brave bomber pilot and was shot down after hitting Chichijima. He flew 58 missions over the Philippine Sea and received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to his ship, the USS San Jacinto.

Lt. George H.W. Bush

Lt. George H.W. Bush

26. George W. Bush: Vietnam War era (Texas Air National Guard)

The younger Bush was commissioned in 1968. He flew F-102 Convair Delta Daggers. He was honorably discharged in 1974.

42

TOP ARTICLES
SpaceX launching a third top-secret satellite

SpaceX is launching a secretive mission this month. The mission, shrouded in secrecy, has some considering it may be for the CIA or the NSA.

This is how the Air Force will use prop planes on high-tech battlefields

The Air Force is looking toward a light-attack aircraft program, known as OA-X, to produce a plane that meets its needs and gets the job done.

A retired SEAL commander on how to stop thinking and 'get after it' every day

This former Navy commander has some excellent advice on how to jump start your day, and "get some" in order to make it as productive as possible.

Marines return to battle in 'old stomping grounds'

The Marines recall their "old stomping grounds" as they return to Fallujah and the surround areas of Al Anbar Province to battle a new enemy.

How Chinese drones are set to swarm the global market

China has stepped up it's drone game, and even though United States technology can still compete, China's drones are kind of really in demand.

That time two countries' Special Forces squared off in combat

In an area the size of the Falkland Islands, British and Argentine special operators were bound to run into each other at some point – a lot.

5 times pilots got in trouble for having fun in the sky

When pilots decide to do some fancy flying in their high-performance fighters, it can land them in trouble once they're back on the ground.

This is why Nazis dubbed these paratroopers 'devils in baggy pants'

"American paratroopers – devils in baggy pants – are less than 100 meters from my outpost line. I can’t sleep at night," wrote one German commander.

9 ISIS weapon fails that you have to see to believe

Many bad guys just want record themselves laying rounds down range for social media purposes — and we're glad they did. Laugh away, America!

US Army recruitment campaigns, ranked from worst to best

Advertising can really impact recruitment for the military. For better or for worse, here are some of the Army's most memorable slogans...