In most armies, a body of troops headed by a colonel and divided into companies, battalions, or squadrons. French cavalry units were called regiments as early as 1558. In early U.S. service, as in European armies up to that time, the usual number of companies in a regiment was 10. Early in the 19th century, Napoleon divided the regiments of the French army into three battalions each, and in 1901 the U.S. Army adopted the three-battalion infantry regimental system.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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