Buffalo Soldiers Research Museum

The Old Guard

A History of The Old Guard

The Old Guard
The 3rd Infantry (The Old Guard) is the oldest active infantry unit in the Army.  Created in 1784 as a result of the 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution, The Old Guard served for its first 30 years as the First American Regiment, the Regiment of Infantry, the infantry of the 1st Sub-Legion and the 1st Infantry, becoming the 3rd Infantry in 1815 after the War of 1812.  The 3rd Infantry served on the Niagara frontier in the War of 1812, in Florida during the Seminole War, on the border with the Texas Republic and Mexico before 1846. In 1846, the U. S. went to war against Mexico in a conflict that created most of the enduring traditions of the Regiment. Their gallantry during these battles was exemplified when Army commander, Major General Scott, in what is perhaps the greatest praise he could have given, is said to have turned to his staff as the 3rd Infantry passed and said, “Gentlemen take off your hats to The Old Guard of the Army.” His remark gave the Regiment its modern (and now official) name.

Based at St. John’s Newfoundland, to help protect the North Atlantic convoy routes, The Old Guard was among the first U.S. Army units to be sent overseas in anticipation of US entry into the war, 11 months before Pearl Harbor.  The Regiment deployed to France in March 1945 and when WWII ended, they were in Germany.  The 3rd Infantry sent hundreds of men to Korea from 1957 - 1963 during the Korean War. Two Battalions served in Vietnam between 1967 - 1969, several Battalions were active at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In 2001, the 2nd Battalion was reorganized and reactivated as part of a Stryker BDE (SBCT) at Fort Lewis, Washington. In December 2003, elements of the Old Guard deployed to combat for the first time since Vietnam War, sending a combat unit to the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, in Djibouti, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2003, they deployed to Iraq and returned to the U.S. in 2004.

Historically, The Old Guard assumed guardianship of The Tomb of The Unknowns in 1948. The 3rd Infantry added the U.S. Army Drill Team in 1957, The Fife and Drum Corps in 1960, the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard in 1973, and a Color Guard uniformed as Revolutionary War Soldiers since the 1920s. The 3rd Infantry has the last of the Army’s official horses in its Caisson Platoon, and has a Regimental Museum near its headquarters at Fort Myer, Virginia.

In August 2004, The Old Guard at Fort Myer was reorganized to facilitate the execution of National Capital Region security missions. The 1st Battalion was separated and became the 1-3 Infantry Battalion, subordinate to a Regimental Headquarters. This unit was assigned to a Headquarters Company and Rifle Companies A to D. The second battalion-sized elements consist of Company E, the Fife and Drum Corps and the 289th Military Police Company. These special troops are organized as a battalion, and led by the Regimental Deputy Commander. The Old Guard continues to transform to meet the needs of the nation while remaining fully engaged in superior performances.  In 2oo4, it executed the first full state funeral in over 40 years for President Ronald Reagan.

The Old Guard


In January 2005, The Old Guard was an active participant in the ceremonial and tactical mission of the 55th Presidential Inauguration honoring President George W. Bush.  Over the past two years, The Old Guard has executed 6931 funerals and over 3800 ceremonies. It has promoted over 500 new Non-Commissioned Officers and re-enlisted over 500 soldiers. The Old Guard’s long and distinguished history is made evident during each ceremony in which it participates. Its 51 well-earned battle streamers are ever present atop the Regimental Colors and its Army Superior Unit Award and Army Meritorious Unit Commendation are worn proudly by every serving soldier.

3rd U.S. Infantry
(The Old Guard)
Mission Statement

CSM Craig H. Robertson
CSM Craig H. Roberson
BSRM collections, 2005
Tomb Guard
Tomb Guard
BSRM collections, 2005

The 3rd U.S. infantry Regiment deploys by air or land to conduct operations in an urban environment within the Military District of Washington and Joint Force Headquarters Joint Operational Area. This Regiment provides a regional QRF and Bridge level command and control capability in support of the MDW/JFHQ’s defense of the National Capital Region. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment conducts and supports Official Joint and Army ceremonies, memorial affairs, and special events representing the U.S. Army and the Armed Forces to the highest standard.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is located near the center of Arlington National Cemetery and is one of the most popular tourist’s sites in the Washington DC area.  It contains the remains of unknown soldiers from WWI and II, the Korean Conflict and (until 1998) the Vietnam War.  Each soldier was presented with the Medal of Honor at the time of interment. 

The Tomb is guarded 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.


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