From its beginning in 1746, Princeton University’s history has often paralleled the military history of the nation. The University became a battleground of the Revolutionary War on January 3, 1777 when British troops sought refuge in Nassau Hall as American troops led by General George Washington advanced into Princeton. A few well placed artillery rounds through the front door quickly ended their resistance as the Americans achieved an important strategic and morale victory at the Battle of Princeton. In 1783 the newly formed Congress received General George Washington at Nassau Hall (where our present day commissions take place) and tendered him the Nation’s gratitude for his wartime services.
In 1919, following World War I, the War Department established as one of 125 Army ROTC units, Princeton University Field Artillery Battalion. Stationed at Princeton that year was an instructional staff, which consisted of eight Regular Army Officers and an enlisted detachment of thirty men as well as 90 horses and a battery of four French 75mm guns. While many changes have taken place since its inception in 1919, the Princeton ROTC unit traditionally remained a Field Artillery unit until 1957 when the faculty approved adoption of a General Military Science Program.
Although some 9,972 Princeton men served in uniform in WWII, it was the 2,000 graduates of the ROTC program in the years between the wars that stood in the forefront as battlefield commanders or in key staff positions. The record of Princeton men and women serving in WW II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam, The Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and now in Iraq has proven beyond a doubt the value to the Nation of Princeton ROTC training and its motto “In the nation's service, and the service of humanity.”