Friday, May 23, 2008

(The photo is Tun Tavern, birthplace of the Marine Corps.)
a. The United States Marine Corps is a direct descendent of the British Royal Marines, who were founded in 1664. Many Americans served in the ranks of the British Royal Marines before the American Revolution. In 1741 King George II ordered the formation of several British Marine Regiments; four of those regiment were formed from men of the colonies. They were commanded by the governor of Virginia, William Gooch. For this reason, they were known as "Gooch's Marines." They fought against pirates and in Britain's was with Spain. These Marines were also often used to settle territorial disputes. Although Royal Marines and American Marines were to meet in opposition on the field of battle, close ties remain as we often serve together throughout the world.

b. Before the formation of the Union, individual states maintained their own navies, whose ships were augmented with early colonial Marines. As England's rule became more oppressive, the colonies banded together and war became inevitable.

c. When the second Continental Congress drew plans for a Navy, it also established a Continental Marine Corps. On 10 November 1775, Congress resolved that, "two battalions of Marines be raised... and that care be taken, that no persons appointed to that office, or enlisted into said battalions, but such are good seaman, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required." All members of the Continental Marines had to have extensive prior service in the Merchant Marines or aboard a ship to qualify for enlistment.

d. Thereby, on 10 November 1775 the Continental Marine Corps was established and that is the birth date of the United States Marine Corps.

e. Samuel Nicholas, a Philadelphia merchant, was commissioned a Captain and ordered to raise the required number of Marines to form the battalions. He was the senior officer of the Continental Marines. Today he is known as the first Commandant of the Marine Corps.

a. Tun Tavern is considered the birthplace of the Marine Corps. Located in Philadelphia, it was established as the recruiting headquarters of the newly formed Marine Corps. As these new recruits were to form the Corps, each man had to bring his own rifle with him in order to enlist.

b. Robert Mullen, who was the owner of Tun Tavern, was such a successful recruiter that he too was commissioned a Captain. Captain Robert Mullen, is known as the first Marine Recruiter in the history of the Marine Corps.

c. For the next several months Captain Nicholas and Mullen worked to recruit and train enough men to fill the ranks of the two Marine battalions. In February 1776, the call to arms was given and Captain Nicholas and his Marines to be the first to bring the war for independence to British soil. The Marines became the "First to Fight" for the freedom of our Nation.

d. The attack on New Providence was the first engagement the Continental Marines would be committed to and also the first amphibious landing in the history of the Corps. The need for ammunition and supplies to support General Washington's new army was critical. General Washington did not have the minimum amounts of ammunition needed to mount an attach on Trenton against the British.

e. Eight vessels under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins set out with a battalion of Marines commanded by Captain Samuel Nicholas for the British Island of New Providence, Bahamas.

f. The forts located on New Providence were to know to have a larger quantity of badly needed gun powder. That gun powder, of course, belonged to the British.

g. On 3 March 1776, the Marines made their first amphibious assault at New Providence. Bahamas, taking the British defenders completely by surprise. The British withdrew from Fort Montague and the Marines captured the fort without firing a shot. Unfortunately, the British had moved the majority of gun powder to their main fort at Nassau.

h. The Marines spent the night at Fort Montague, confident that the next morning would bring a great victory. During the night, the British governor evacuated most of Fort Nassau's gun powder by ship to avoid capture by the Marines.

i. The morning of the fourth, after setting sail and arriving at Ft. Nassau, Nicholas demanded and received from the governor of New Providence, the surrender of the fort. The fortress yielded only twenty-four barrels of gun powder, which was a disappointment to the victorious Marines. However, the Marines stripped the island of cannon and ordnance supplies before departing. On their way back they were engaged by a British ship. After some fire exchange, contact was broken and each went on its own way.

j. At New Providence the Marines set the pattern for the future of the Corps. With the first amphibious assault, the Marines accomplished their mission with confidence and discipline. These traits would follow the Marine Corps throughout history.

k. During the Revolutionary War Marines fought mostly on ships, however, they did take part in land engagements even this early in their history.

l. When the victorious Marines returned home the recently promoted Major Nicholas worked on acquiring additional Marines for the battalions. As the Marines were recruited and trained, they were sent to ship's detachments and to Marine companies that protected different Naval installations.

m. A battalion of Marines was present for the decisive victory at the second battle of Trenton. Marines were also present to defend Fort Mifflin (below Philadelphia) from the onslaught of Admiral Howe. FOr 24 days the Marines held out against a numerically superior force, until the fort was completely leveled and undefendable.

n. Marines participated in several more naval engagements and amphibious landings before peace and independence was secured for the colonies. As the war ended the new nation could no longer afford a Navy or Marine Corps. Major Nicholas returned to his business in 1785 but the need for Marines was ever present, and the Marines born in battle would soon respond again to the call of war.

a. The Quatrefoil (the cross-shaped braid atop officers frame type "barracks" caps) have been worn ever since 1859. The design of French origin, is a distinguishing part of the Marine officer's uniform. Popular belief tells us that in the mid 1800's, cross pieces of rope were sewn to the top of the officers covers so that sharpshooters in the ship's riggings could easily identify them.

b. The Marines long-standing nickname "Leatherneck", goes back to the leather stock, or neckpiece, which was worn to protect the neck from enemy sword blades and was part of the Marine uniform from 1775-1875. The leather bands around their throat were intended to ensure that Marines kept their heads erect. Descended from the leather stock is the standing collar, hallmark of the Marines blues, whites and evening dress. Like its leather ancestor, the standing collar regulates stance and posture, and thus proclaims the wearer as a modern "Leatherneck."

c. The Marine Corps is selected to provide a Band that plays exclusively for the President of the United States, it became known as "The President's Own." In 1798, Congress re-enacted the Marine Corps as a separate military service. In 1801, war began with the Barbary Pirates from Tripoli.

a. In 1801, the rules of Libya located on the northern coast of Africa, declared war on the United States because of our refusal to pay restitution money in the sum of approximately $10,000.00 a year for the protection of the United States' shipping in the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. felt that enough protection was provided for their ships by the presence of Marines. The fighting waged for four years with little gained by either side.

b. In 1805 Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon, with a force of seven Marines, joined the rightful rule of Libya, Prince Hamet, in Egypt and planned the attack on Derna, Libya. The Marines, with 400 of Prince Hamet's men, crossed the 600 mile Libyan Desert and attacked the city. This aggressive action caused the defenses of the city to fall, and for the first time the "Stars and Stripes" were raised over a captured fortress in the Old World.

c. As a token of gratitude, Prince Hamet presented his Mameluke sword to Lieutenant O'Bannon. A replica of that sword was adopted for use and is carried by all Marine Officers today. Furthermore, the following would be inscribed into the Marine Corps Colors, "TO THE SHORES OF TRIPOLI." (MCCS.02.03a)

5. WAR OF 1812
a. During the War of 1812, the Marine Corps' primary mission was fighting aboard naval ships. Once again, the Marines utilized their sharp shooting ability to clear the decks of British frigates during many sea engagements. Probably the most important land engagements the Marine Corps participated in, were the battles of Bladensburg in the defense of our capital, Washington, D.C., and the battle of New Orleans.

b. It was near the town of Bladensburg, just 6 miles from our nation's capital, that 114 Marines and sailors completely halted the advance of 4,000 seasoned British troops. This small American force repelled the British attach three times. Eventually by sheer weight of numbers, the British overran the Marines and sailors position. The Commanding Officer of the British reported, "They have given us our only real fight."

c. As the British burned the capital and White House in Washington, D.C., the Commandant's house was left untouched. The reason is unclear; however, many believe it was the British admiration for the Marines courageous stand at Bladensburg.

d. The Marines again met the British troops on land during the battle of New Orleans. This battle took place after the war was over however, neither side at New Orleans knew it was over because word had not gotten to them yet. Over 2,000 British would become casualties compared to less than 100 Marine casualties. The Marines were again commended for their bravery and fighting spirit.

a. On October 17, 1820, the fifth Commandant of the Marine Corps was appointed to office. He would pass away at the age of 76 on January 6, 1859, after serving as commandant for 38 years, the longest period of time in our history, earning him the title "The Grand Old Man of the Marine Corps." His name was Archibald Henderson. On October 16, 1823, Commandant Henderson, age 40, found time to court a lovely lady by the name of Anne Marie Casenove, only 19 years old. Together they had nine children. Four of those children would later become Marine officers and would eventually, during the civil war, resign their commission and fight for the confederate states.

b. Colonel Henderson first demonstrated that the Marine Corps was truly a "Force in Readiness" by volunteering two battalions of Marines to fight in the Creek and Seminole Indian War.

c. The Creek and Seminole Indians were on the war path, resisting deportation from their homelands in Florida to a reservation beyond the Mississippi. The Commandant quickly volunteered his Marines to take charge of the matter. Colonel Henderson tacked a note to his office door when he left to lead Marines in battle with the Indians. The note read, "Gone to fight the Indians, be back when the war is over."

d. By the end of the summer, the Marines had pacified the Creek Indians.

a. Colonel Henderson was still Commandant in 1846 when the United States again found itself at war, this time with Mexico. Throughout the war, Marines served with naval squadrons in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coast of California. They were the first American force to engage the Mexicans in California. In the second year of the war, they joined forces with the Army and landed at Verz Cruz enroute to Mexico City. On top a high plateau was a fortress which dominated the area. The name of this fortress was Chapultepec. The Mexicans had heavily reinforced this fortress, knowing that it was their last line of resistance before Mexico City.

b. The Marines participated in a bloody battle to secure this fortress and were selected to assault the fortress from its most difficult approach, acting mainly as a decoy for the U. S. Army. As the assault began they were met with a murderous hail of cannon and small arms fire. It was mainly through the brave leadership and determination of the officers and NCO's leading the assault that this battle was finally won. Thirteen of the twenty-three Marine officers participating in this battle were decorated for bravery. The red stripe or "blood stripe", is worn today on the dress blue trousers by all officers and noncommissioned officers to commemorate the casualties at the battle of Chapultepec. As the first unit to reach Mexico City, the Marines raised the "Stars and Stripes" over the Mexican National Palace, also known as "The Halls of Montezuma." When General Winfield Scott marched into the National Palace he found that the surrounding streets were guarded by United States Marines.

c. The was with Mexico had settled the dispute over the boundary of Texas and provided the addition of a great state to the nation. According to the best information available, it also provided the Marine Corps with the opening words to the Marines' Hymn. The first verse of the Marines' Hymn was written shortly after the occupation of Mexico City, however, history failed to note the identity of the author. Prior to the war with Mexico the Marine Corps colors bore the inscription, "To the Shores of Tripoli", as a result of Lieutenant O'Bannon's action during the war with the Barbary States. With the capture of Mexico City and the National Palace, known as the "Halls of Montezuma," the inscription was changed to read, "From the Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma." To this day the Marine actions in the wars with Tripoli and Mexico are commemorated in the opening lines of the Marines' Hymn "From the Halls of Montezuma, To the shores of Tripoli."

a. The year 1861 found an entirely different situation in this country. The United States was at war with itself. At the beginning of the Civil War approximately 30% of the Marine Corps Officers resigned their commission to fight for the south. This was not true of the enlisted men since the majority were from the northeastern part of the United States. These were dark days, not only for the nation, but also for the Marine Corps, which was pitted against itself in bitter combat.

b. On May 15, 1862 John F. Mackie was awarded the first Medal of Honor given to a Marine for his services aboard the USS Galena.

c. Marines participated only a few land engagement since their main duties were still at sea. They participated in a number of amphibious landings against confederate forts along the southern ports. The blockade contributed greatly to the defeat of the South. Prior to the Civil War, Marine Officers exchanged the Mameluke sword for a heavier sword. After the Civil War, Marine officers reverted back to the popular Mameluke sword. In 1875 Marines NCOs were authorized to carry the sword used by officers during the Civil War. The sword is known today as the NCO sword. It was a distinct symbol of their authority. Noncommissioned Officers of the Marine Corps are the only NCO's in any branch of the regular Armed Forces who still have the privilege of carrying swords. In addition they have the unique position of being the only NCO's that carry what is basically a commissioned officer's weapon. The sword is the personification of military tradition and has been entrusted to those most responsible for maintaining it. The Marine NCO sword rates as the oldest U.S. weapon still in use. While it's use is limited by regulation to "When in charge of troops on ceremonial occasions," the sword is part of that intangible "Esprit de Corps."

a. After the Civil War, in 1868, the Marine Corps emblem was adopted by the 7th Commandant Brigadier General Jacob Zeilin. The emblem consisted of an eagle with spread wings sitting on top of a globe of the western hemisphere with an anchor in the background. The eagle is the symbol of the nation. The globe stands for worldwide service and the anchor stands for our naval traditions. The Marine Corps emblem has changed it's look many times since 1868, however the emblem we wear today was developed in 1950. It consists of an eagle with spread wings on top of a globe of the western hemisphere with a fouled anchor in the background.

a. In 1883, the 8th Commandant, Colonel Charles C. McCawley officially adopted the Marine Corps motto, "Semper Fidelis", a Latin term which means "Always Faithful." The Marines were to uphold this motto in 1898 when they spearheaded the United States forces against another foe. This time it was the Spanish in Cuba and in the Philippines.