Were members of the U.S. Cavalry given retirement pay?

Were members of the U.S. Cavalry given retirement pay?

Paul Gordon

St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada

In the mid-1800s, the U.S. had no system for retirement pay. To establish a retirement system, most congressmen felt, would set a dangerous precedent and would “eventually lead to retirement for civil service.”

Thus, the ranks of the army were burdened with ancient and worn out officers unable to perform their duties (of the 19 regimental commanders in 1860, 11 were veterans of the War of 1812). Officers commonly spent 20-30 years on duty before reaching the rank of major. Finally, in 1861, Congress authorized a voluntary retirement plan for officers. By 1882, age 64 became the mandatory retirement age.

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