|hen it came to military experience Continental Army officers reflected a background more diverse than any European army. They ranged in age from young men in their early twenties to grandfathers. Some officers had served in the colonies or in Europe. Others had never fired a shot in anger. Politics rather than ability often determined rank. Congress appointed all general officers, special corps officers, and most staff officers. Regimental officers were selected by their states.
fficers purchased most of their own uniforms and equipment. This expense, combined with the loss of civilian income, caused severe financial hardships. Unlike common soldiers, officers usually carried swords, halberds, or spontoons. Edged weapons played a critical role in eighteenth century warfare. It was cold steel on the battlefield that usually determined victory or defeat.
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