Majors rank above lieutenants but major generals rank below lieutenant generals. What’s up with that?
In medieval times, the commander of the army was the vassal lord and his basic unit was the company.
The company was comannded by the captain which comse from the Latin capitaneous meaning chief.
Eventually one captain was placed in general command during operations and he became known as “captain general” and eventually just general.
The captain’s assistant was his lieutenant which come from the French words lieu which means “place” and “tenant” which means holding. The lieutenant held the place for the captain in his absence.
As the lords and kings found palace life more to their liking than the battlefield, the big boss became known as lieutenant du roi (holding the place of the king). The evolved into lieutenant general as the big bosses appear to have been mistaken once too often for the captain’s assistant.
Sergeant comes from the French “sergant” which means servent. Military sergeants were those assigned to protect superior officers and be their valets. Some rose to command positions and were called sergeant majors. These were officers above captains but below colonels. This title was eventally shortend to major.
The sergeant major for the lieutenant general i.e. became known as sergeant major general. This was eventually shortened to major general.
So lieutenant general evolved from the title for the one who acted in place of the king while the major general evolved from the title for the general’s servent.
Now you know.