Thursday, January 28, 2010

Super Bowl Football
The first Super Bowl football game was played 43 years ago. Each year after 1967, it got bigger and better. These teams who play in the Super Bowl are the very best because they were winners in each league during the season.

I remember the first Super Bowl very well, but I did not see it. After filming a Ford commercial for the game at Lake Placid, New York, and while the game was being played on Jan. 15, 1967, I was driving my new 1965 Ford Mustang convertible to Hollywood, Calif. for a new assignment.

Super Bowl 44 will be played on Sunday, Feb. 7. It will be played in Miami between the Colts and Saints. Both quarterbacks like to throw the ball and the score will be much higher than Super Bowl I.

Read about Super Bowl I. Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi with his quarterback Bart Starr showed Kansas City Chiefs how to play the game.

Super Bowl I
The First AFL-NFL World Championship Game in professional American football, later known as Super Bowl I and referred to in some contemporary reports as the Supergame, was played on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.

The National Football League (NFL) champion Green Bay Packers (14-2) scored 3 second-half touchdowns en route to a 35-10 win over the American Football League (AFL) champion Kansas City Chiefs (12-21). Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with 1 interception, was named Super Bowl MVP.


The First AFL-NFL World Championship Game was established as part of the June 8, 1966 merger agreement between the NFL and the AFL. However, Los Angeles was not awarded the game until six weeks prior to the kickoff. The date of the game was also not set until around that time. Since the AFL Championship Game was originally scheduled for Monday, December 26 and the NFL Championship Game for Sunday, January 1 (the reverse of the situation in 1960), it was suggested the game be played on Sunday, January 8, 1967. It was eventually decided to hold an unprecedented TV doubleheader on January 1, 1967, with the AFL Championship Game in Buffalo starting at 1 p.m. and the NFL Championship Game in Dallas starting at 4 p.m.

Coming into this first game, there was considerable animosity between the two rival leagues, with both of them putting pressure on their respective champions to trounce the other and prove each league's dominance in professional football. Still, many sports writers and fans believed that the game was a mismatch, and that any team from the long-established NFL was far superior to the best team from the upstart AFL.The 2 teams that played were the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers ended up winning 35 to 10.

Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs entered the game after recording an 11-2-1 mark during the regular season. In the AFL Championship Game, they beat the Buffalo Bills, 31-7.

Kansas City's high powered offense led the AFL in points scored (448) and total rushing yards (2,274). Their trio of running backs, Mike Garrett (801 yards), Bert Coan (521 yards), and Curtis McClinton (540 yards) all ranked among the top ten rushers in the AFL. Quarterback Len Dawson was the top rated passer in the AFL, completing 159 out of 284 (56 percent) of his passes for 2,527 yards and 26 touchdowns. Wide receiver Otis Taylor provided the team with a great deep threat by recording 58 receptions of 1,297 yards and 8 touchdowns. And tight end Fred Arbanas, who had 22 catches for 305 yards and 4 touchdowns, was one of 6 Chiefs offensive players who were named to the All-AFL team.

The Chiefs also had a strong defense, with All-AFL players Jerry Mays and Buck Buchanan anchoring their line. Linebacker Bobby Bell, who was also named to the All-AFL team, was great at run stopping and pass coverage. But the strongest part of their defense was their secondary, led by All-AFL safeties Johnny Robinson and Bobby Hunt, who each recorded 10 interceptions, and defensive back Fred Williamson, who recorded 4. Their Head Coach was Hank Stram.

Green Bay Packers
The Packers were an NFL dynasty after being a losing team eight years earlier. The team had posted an NFL-worst 1-10-1 record before legendary head coach Vince Lombardi was hired in 1959. But Lombardi was determined to build a winning team. During the offseason, he signed Fred "Fuzzy" Thurston, who had been cut from 3 other teams but ended up becoming an All-Pro left guard for Green Bay. Lombardi also made a big trade with the Cleveland Browns that brought 3 players to the team who would become cornerstones of the defense: linemen Henry Jordan, Willie Davis and Bill Quinlan.

Lombardi's hard work paid off, and the Packers improved to a 7-5 regular season record in 1959. Then, they surprised the league during the following year by making it all the way to the NFL Championship Game. Although the Packers lost the game, 17-13, to the Philadelphia Eagles, they had sent a clear message that they were no longer losers. Green Bay went on to win NFL Championships in 1961, 1962, 1965, and 1966.

Packers veteran quarterback Bart Starr was the top-rated quarterback in the NFL for 1966, and won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award, completing 156 out of 251 (62.2 percent) passes for 2,257 yards, 14 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions. His top targets were wide receivers Boyd Dowler and Carroll Dale, who combined for 63 receptions for 1,336 yards. Fullback Jim Taylor was the team's top rusher with 705 yards, and also caught 41 passes for 331 yards. (Before the season, Taylor had informed the team that instead of returning to the Packers in 1967, he would become a free agent and sign with the expansion New Orleans Saints. Lombardi, infuriated at what he considered to be Taylor's disloyalty, refused to speak to Taylor the entire season.) The team's starting halfback, Paul Hornung, was injured early in the season, but running back Elijah Pitts did a good job as a replacement, gaining 857 combined rushing and receiving yards. And the Packers offensive line was also big reason for the team's success, led by All-Pro guards Jerry Kramer and Thurston, along with Forrest Gregg.

Green Bay also had a superb defense, which displayed its talent on the final drive of the NFL Championship Game, stopping the Dallas Cowboys on 4 consecutive plays starting on the Packers 2-yard line to win the game. Lionel Aldridge had replaced Quinlan, but Jordan and Davis still anchored the defensive line, linebacker Ray Nitschke excelled at run stopping and pass coverage, while the secondary was led by defensive backs Herb Adderley and Willie Wood. Wood was another example of how Lombardi found talent in players that nobody else could see. Wood had been a quarterback in college and was not drafted by an NFL team. When Wood joined the Packers in 1960, he was converted to a free safety and he went on to make the All-Pro team 9 times in his 12 year career.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Roy Benavidez
United States Army

Raul (Roy) Perez Benavidez (August 5, 1935 - November 29, 1998) was a member of the highly classified Studies and Observations Group of the United States Army. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in eastern Cambodia on May 2, 1968.

Childhood and early life
Raul (Roy) Perez Benavidez was born on August 5, 1935 in Lindenau near Cuero, Texas in DeWitt County. His parents were of Mexican and Yaqui Indian descent. At the age of two, Benavidez's father died from tuberculosis and his mother remarried. At the age 7, Benavidez's mother died, also from tuberculosis, leaving Roy and his younger brother Roger to move to El Campo, where they lived with their grandfather, uncle, and aunt, along with eight cousins whom he was raised with as his brothers and sisters.

During Benavidez's adolescent years in El Campo, he shined shoes at the local bus station, worked on various farms in Texas and Colorado, and worked at a tire shop in El Campo. He was enrolled in school sporadically, but by the age of 15 he dropped out in order to work full-time to help support his family.

Military career
In 1952, Benavidez joined the Texas National Guard, and in June 1955 he enlisted in the regular United States Army. Benavidez married Hilaria "Lala" Coy in 1959. That same year, Roy completed airborne training, and was posted to the 82nd Airborne Division at
Fort Bragg. In 1965 he was sent to Vietnam, where he was made an advisor to an ARVN infantry unit. While serving with the Vietnamese, Benavidez stepped on a land mine and was evacuated back to the United States, where he was told by military doctors at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) that he would never walk again. Despite his severe spinal injury, Benavidez walked out of BAMC under his own power in July 1966, his wife at his side.

Later that year, Benavidez returned to Fort Bragg to begin training for the elite Studies and Observations Group (SOG). Despite the agonizing pain caused by his back injury, he became a member of the 5th Special Forces Group and was reposted to Vietnam in January 1968. On the morning of May 2, 1968, a reconnaissance squad under Benavidez's command was surprised and quickly overwhelmed by NVA and Viet Cong troops in the area.

Benavidez voluntarily boarded an evacuation helicopter bound for the hot zone, and once there "distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely glorious actions...and because of his gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men." (see medal citation below)

Sergeant Benavidez received the Distinguished Service Cross in 1968. After the May 2 action, he was evacuated back to BAMC where he would recover from his wounds. In 1973, after more detailed accounts of what had happened became available, Special Forces commander Lieutant Colonel Ralph R. Drake insisted that Benavidez receive the Medal of Honor. By then, however, the window of time in which to bestow the medal had expired. An appeal to Congress by a Texas congressman and a representative of the Army created an exemption for Benavidez's case, but every time it was reviewed by the Army Decorations Board, the Medal of Honor was denied. The Decorations Board required an eyewitness account from a squad member who was on the ground during the action, but to Benavidez's knowledge, no other soldiers were left alive who had been at the "Six Hours in Hell."

In 1980, Brian O'Connor, a radioman in Benavidez's unit, provided the Army with a ten-page account of the events of his patrol. This report was the final piece of evidence necessary to convince the Army to award the Medal of Honor to Benavidez. O'Connor had been severely injured (Benavidez had believed him dead), and was evacuated from Vietnam before his superiors could fully debrief him. O'Connor only learned that Benavidez was alive by chance - he had been living in the Fiji Islands and was on holiday in Australia when he read a newspaper story about Benavidez, published by Roy's hometown paper in El Campo. The story had been picked up by the international press and found its way to Australia, where it was read by O'Connor. When O'Connor saw the story he was amazed to learn that Sergeant Benavidez had survived his wounds. He soon contacted his old friend in Texas. Shortly thereafter he submitted his account, confirming the previous accounts already accumulated by others and providing the one element that had been missing - an American eyewitness on the ground. Soon thereafter, Roy Benavidez received his Medal of Honor.

On February 24, 1981, President Ronald Reagan presented Benavidez with the Medal of Honor. As he awarded the medal to Benavidez, Reagan reportedly turned to the gathered press and said: "If the story of his heroism were a movie script, you would not believe it", whereupon he read the official citation.

Benavidez is one of 43 Hispanic Americans to have received the Medal of Honor, out of 3,447 recipients since the decoration was established in 1861.

Medal of Honor citation
Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed with additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez' gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army

Despite the severe life-threatening injuries Sergeant Benavidez sustained in Vietnam, he continued his service with the Army and was later assigned to posts at Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Devens, Massachusetts; and Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where in August 1976 he received an honorable discharge and retired from the United States Army as a Master Sergeant.

Upon his retirement, Benavidez, his wife, and their three children returned to El Campo, Texas.

After receiving the Medal of Honor, Roy devoted the remainder of his life to the youth of America and speak to them about the importance of staying in school and receiving an education. Roy's message, "An education is the key to success. Bad habits and bad company will ruin you," was simple and people listened.

In 1983, Benavidez came forward to say that the Social Security Administration planned to cut off disability payments he had been receiving since his retirement, as well as the disability payments for thousands of Veterans. He went to Capitol Hill on behalf of his fellow Veterans and pleaded with the Select Committee on Aging convincing them to rescind from making these changes which they eventually honored.

As the years went by, Roy was in great demand to speak to members serving in all branches of the United States Armed Forces, schools, military and civic groups, and small to large businesses. He traveled across the United States and abroad to foreign countries such as, Greece, Panama, Korea, and Japan where he had the pleasure of visiting our military personnel stationed in these countries and going out in the field with them for their field exercises. He was honored throughout the country and received letters from students, service personnel, and citizens throughout the world.

Benavidez penned two autobiographical books related to his life and military experience. In 1986, he published The Three Wars of Roy Benavidez, which described his struggles growing up as a Mexican-American youth, his military training and combat in Vietnam, and the efforts by others to get recognition for his actions in Vietnam. Benavidez later wrote Medal of Honor: A Vietnam Warrior's Story in 1995.

On the afternoon of November 29, 1998, Roy P. Benavidez died at Brooke Army Medical Center from complications of diabetes. Two days after his passing, Roy's body was escorted back to El Campo one more time for one final worship at St. Robert Belleramine's Catholic Church. This is the church where in 1959 he married his beloved Lala, where his three children were married, where he would worship on Sundays, and where since his passing all of his grandchildren have received the Sacrament of Baptism.

After a final good-bye in El Campo, Roy's body returned to Ft. Sam Houston's Main Chapel where another viewing would take place. On the morning of December 3, now retired Archbishop Patrick Flores of the San Antonio Dioceses presided over the Catholic mass for Roy's funeral at San Fernando Cathedral located in downtown San Antonio, Texas. Afterward, Roy was buried with full military honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

Roy enjoyed his life in the rural community of El Campo, Texas.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

1914 - Marines landed in Haiti
The 2d Marines was originally activated on 19 June 1913 as the 1st Advance Base Regiment at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles G. Long. The unit became part of the Advance Base Brigade in December 1913 and was redesignated the 1st Regiment, Advance Base Brigade, on 18 February 1914.

The regiment had participated in a number of training maneuvers in Puerto Rico, Florida, and Louisiana when political conditions began to deteriorate in Mexico. Marine Corps forces were ordered to land at Veracruz after President Woodrow Wilson received word that a German merchant ship was going there with a cargo of arms.

On 22 April 1914, the 1st Regiment landed at Veracruz and joined other forces in clearing the city. Two of the regiment’s officers, Major Smedley D. Butler and Lieutenant Colonel Wendell C. Neville, who would later become 14th Commandant of the Marine Corps, received Medals of Honor for distinguished conduct in the battle. The regiment remained there as part of an occupation force for the next seven months, but with the advent of a new and stable government, left Veracruz on 23 November for Philadelphia.

On 3 December 1914, the Advance Base Brigade was reorganized. The 1st Regiment, the fixed defense regiment, was assigned a fire control unit and eight companies, which included four 5-inch gun companies, a searchlight company, a mine company, an engineer company, and an antiaircraft company. The increase of firepower inherent in this reorganization strengthened the regiments capabilities for the further developments of the Marine Advance Base Force.

By the summer of 1915, internal disorder and revolution in the Republic of Haiti had become critical, jeopardizing American lives and property. On 15 August, the 1st Regiment landed at Cap Haitien, to begin a long period of occupation and “bush” warfare.

The regiment carried out extensive patrolling into the interior of the country, in search of Caco bandits. Gunnery Sergeant Daniel J. Daly received his second Medal of Honor for his outstanding contribution to the success of these operations.

The Marines had many encounters with the Haitian rebels. These included the attack and capture of Fort Riviere on 17 November 1915, where Major Butler received his second Medal of Honor. Marines assaulted the old French bastion, located on the summit of Montagne Noir, and overwhelmed the enemy in the fort during a vicious hand-to-hand fray.

After the capture of Fort Riviere and other forts, Haiti became relatively stable. Even as the regiment continued to garrison a number of Haitian towns, some of its rifle companies were sent to the neighboring Dominican Republic. During the early months of 1916, internal disorders there had threatened American lives and property. After order had been restored, the regiment was redesignated as the 2d Regiment, 1st Brigade, on 1 July 1916. Its primary activity then shifted to training of the newly formed Haitian Constabulary; as well as its own Marines.

With the decrease in bandit activity, the 2d Regiment spent the World War I years in routine barracks duty in the tropics. By March 1919, however, rebellions had erupted again in Haiti. The 2d Regiment took to the field, as the native gendarmerie failed to contain the increasing disorder. During May, the regiment mounted a concerted drive to clear the country of bandits. Within a few months, it had mopped up most rebel strongholds.

The next decade in Haiti was relatively peaceful. The 2d Regiment continued to perform duties that included training and supervising the native constabulary, patrolling and mapping, and quelling political disturbances.
On 1 January 1933, as part of a Marine Corps-wide redesignation of units, the 2d Regiment was redesignated as the 2d Marines and assigned to the 1st Brigade. Slightly more than a year later, the 1st Brigade left Haiti, and the 2d Marines was disestablished on 15 August 1934.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

James L. Jones
'One Mind, Any Weapon' Gen. James L. Jones perceived a problem with Marines' fighting image when he became Marine Corps commandant in 1999. As a young officer during the Vietnam War, he had heard that the North Vietnamese were more fearful of the Republic of Korea's marines than they were of his U.S. Marines. A rumor had spread among the communists that all Korean marines knew tae kwon do. Gen. Jones decided that the Marine Corps would develop its own martial-arts program, in part so that the enemy would know that American Marines are as adept at fighting with their hands and feet as they are with rifles and mortars.

In 1999, he turned to the director of the Marine Corps' training and education division -- Major Gen. Thomas S. Jones (no relation) -- to start a fighting school. "I thought he was flippin' crazy," the latter Gen. Jones said during a MCMAP graduation ceremony in late October.
"With all the things going on in the Marines, why do we need a martial-arts program?" But in creating the MCMAP curriculum, Gen. Jones quickly realized its value. And as the commanding general of the Training and Education Command, he impresses that value on all who take the course. "Shame on any of you here if all you care about is the belt you wear," he told the graduating class of black-belt students. More than belts "It's not about the belt. It's not about the physical training. We got enough tough guys and gals in the Marine Corps to sustain that. "What we need to do is put the physical skills together with the mental skills and emotional skills and character development."

Ever since Vietnam, the Pentagon has sought to enhance the image of its enlisted personnel, as perceived inside and outside the military. Although they lead the world's best-equipped fighting force, senior U.S. commanders have wanted to ensure that underneath the Kevlar and microchips beats the heart of a fighter who can prevail with little more than bare hands. "I want the Marines who take this course and then return to duty feeling, 'Now people are safer because I'm here," Col. Shusko says. The motto "One Mind, Any Weapon" is emblazoned on the T-shirt of every instructor at MCMAP, which teaches 184 fighting techniques and more than 60 character-building lessons. Like traditional martial-arts disciplines, MCMAP uses a belt-ranking system: tan, gray, green, brown and black.

Every Marine is required to become a tan belt, and the highest rank is the sixth-degree black belt. The Corps currently has more than 217,000 active and reserve Marines serving today, and there are 10,000 green-belt instructors, who are qualified to teach and test tan- and gray-belt students. About 1,300 black-belt instructors are capable of testing students up to black belt. Col. Shusko, MCMAP's director since 2003, believes his is the largest martial-arts school in the world, with more than 150,000 students across the range of tan through black belts. He personally has seen about 11,000 Marines go though MCMAP training. Those who graduate then share their expertise with comrades at bases and camps from South Carolina to Okinawa to Djibouti.

James Logan Jones Jr. (born December 19, 1943) is the current United States National Security Advisor and a retired United States Marine Corps four-star general.

During his military career, he served as Commander, United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM) and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) from 2003 to 2006 and as the 32nd Commandant of the Marine Corps from July 1999 to January 2003. Jones retired from the Marine Corps on February 1, 2007, after 40 years of service.

After retiring from the Marine Corps, Jones remained involved in national security and foreign policy issues. In 2007, Jones served as chairman of the Congressional Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, which investigated the capabilities of the Iraqi police and armed forces. In November 2007, he was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of State as special envoy for Middle East security. He served as chairman of the Atlantic Council of the United States from June 2007 to January 2009, when he assumed the post of National Security Advisor.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Civil War Marines
Early in 1861, the Union Navy lost most of its bases in the southern states. Notably, Floridian authorities leading an Alabama militia unit took over the Pensacola Navy Yard in Florida on January 16 and forced Marine Captain Josiah Watson to sign a pledge not to bear arms against the state of Florida. Other Floridian troops took control of all of Pensacola's forts except Fort Pickens. In April 1861, Marine Lieutenant John Cash and 110 Union Marines and assorted Union Infantry occupied Fort Pickens and held it until a larger garrison could take control of it. The Union controlled Fort Pickens throughout the Civil War.
The secession of Virginia from the Union forced Marines from the Cumberland, the Pawnee, and the Pennsylvania to destroy the Norfolk Navy Yard. Other battalions were deployed quickly to the Brooklyn and Philadelphia Navy Yards for guard duty, and another battalion provided security for the recaptured Norfolk Navy Yard in May 1862.
The last such battalion, a small unit of only 112 men commanded by Major Addison Garland, suffered the most embarrassing Marine defeat during the Civil War. Sent to Mare Island Navy Yard near San Francisco, the entire unit was captured by Captain Raphael Semmes commanding the Confederate ship Alabama off the coast of Cuba on December 7, 1862. Semmes forced the Marines to sign promissory notes not to bear arms against the Confederacy and sent them on their way.
The relatively minor role the Union Marines played during the Civil War was partially due to the small size of the Corps. On January 1, 1861, the U.S. Marine Corps numbered only 1,892 officers and men. To compensate for various losses, 38 new officers were appointed early in 1861. In July, Congress increased the size of the Corps by another 28 officers and 750 men, and President Lincoln authorized two 500-man increases in 1861.
Commandant Harris understood the primary role of the Marine Corps to be shipboard service, much as it had done during the War of 1812. The main strategy of the Union was to force the surrender of the Confederacy by blockading the Atlantic coast, a task for which the Marine Corps would be well suited.
In addition, the Union sought to capture the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. This task was given to Major General Irvin McDowell, who left Washington on July 16, 1861, at the head of some 35,000 troops. Included in this force was 1 small Marine battalion consisting of 12 officers and 336 men. Commandant Harris assigned Major John Reynolds, whose career stretched back to the Seminole War and who was one of the few veteran officers remaining in the Union Marine Corps, to command the battalion. Brevet Major Jacob Zeilin, another experienced commander, volunteered to command one of the battalion's four companies. The other officers and enlisted men in the battalion had little experience, however.
Five days later, on July 21, the Union Army was confronted by a Confederate brigade under the command of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The Marines were assigned to support an artillery battery during the confrontation and soon found themselves caught in the midst of the Battle of Bull Run. The artillery battery the Marines were supporting changed hands three times during the battle until Confederate reinforcements appeared and tipped the battle in their favor. The Union Army, and the Marine battalion with it, dissolved. Bull Run was the only land-based battle in which the Marines participated during the Civil War. For the rest of the conflict, the Marine Corps performed its traditional role of supporting naval actions and engaging in amphibious assaults.
In December 1861, Marines destroyed a Confederate headquarters near Charleston, North Carolina, after the Dale had bombarded it. In January 1862, the Marine detachment from the Hatteras landed and burned Confederate stores at Cedar Keys, Florida.
By the end of December, 1864, Wilmington was the Confederacy’s only remaining Atlantic port. Wilmington itself was stuated on the Cape Fear River some 10 miles inland. The mouth of the Cape Fear River was guarded by the impressive Fort Fisher situated on a peninsula. One wing of the fort bisected the peninsula while a second wing turned perpendicular to the first and stretched along the Atlantic face of the peninsula. The landward face of the fort, the face that bisected the peninsula, mounted some 20 cannons. Fifty feet in front of the gun emplacements was a palisade of sharply pointed logs driven into the earth, and 500 feet in front of the palisade was a minefield controlled by electric detonators. A small battery had been emplaced at the point of the peninsula to prevent enemy ships from entering the Cape Fear River and attacking the fort from behind.
A Union fleet approached Fort Fisher on January 12, 1865, commanded by Rear Admiral David Porter. Union troops began landing on the peninsula on January 13 and started erecting gun emplacements. The next day, the fleet and the landed guns began bombarding Fort Fisher, and by mid-afternoon on January 15, all but one of the fort's guns had been disabled, the wires controlling the minefield had been severed, and the palisade had been breached.
Union forces launched two separate attacks against the landward face of Fort Fisher. Major General Alfred Terry led the Army Infantry along the riverbank while a naval brigade under Lieutenant Commander K. R. Breese, Porter's chief of staff, attacked along the seashore. The naval brigade included 1,600 sailors from the fleet led by their officers and a 400-man Marine battalion under the command of Captain Lucian Dawson. The Marine battalion advanced along the seashore with the intention of occupying successive trenches as it went and laying down covering fire for the advance of the sailors.
Dawson's battalion barely reached the second of three trenches when Breese sent him new orders, however. Believing that the slope of the beach provided sufficient cover, Breese Joined Dawson there and then ordered the entire brigade, sailors and Marines both, to charge 600 yards down the beach at Fort Fisher. The Confederate defenders fired into the charging mass as quickly as they could and managed to break the rush about 50 yards from the fort.
Captain Dawson caught up to the leading Marine companies just as the charge faltered and ordered two companies to take cover and fire at the parapet as the rest of the brigade, including two Marine companies, fled. Once the rest of the naval brigade was out of range, Dawson and the remainder of his Marines withdrew. Breese later blamed the failure of the assault on the "absence" of the Marine battalion, though he was generous enough to comment that its absence was due to poor planning rather than cowardice. Nevertheless, although some of the Marines fled, Dawson had been able to rally many of his men and performed an important role in the withdrawal of the brigade. Of the 351 casualties suffered by the naval brigade, the Marine battalion lost 16 men killed or missing and 41 wounded. Dawson and seven other Marine officers received brevet promotions and seven enlisted men were awarded Medals of Honor.
The battle for Fort Fisher raged for five hours, until another Union brigade arrived to reinforce the assault, and the defense began to crumble. While the naval attack was unsuccessful, the Army assault was able to capture the fort from the landside. The Union had captured Fort Fisher and with it control of the Cape Fear River, effectively isolating Wilmington.
The Confederate Congress established its own Marine Corps on March 16, 1861. Initially, it was planned that the Confederate Marine Corps would consist of 6 companies, each of which would be made up of a captain, first and second lieutenants, 8 noncommissioned officers, 2 musicians, and 100 men. After Richmond became the capital of the Confederacy, the Confederate Corps was increased to 10 companies - 46 officers and 944 men - and a headquarters unit consisting of a commandant with the rank of colonel, a lieutenant colonel, a major, an adjutant, a paymaster and quartermaster, a sergeant major, a quartermaster sergeant, and two musicians was established. The Confederate Corps never realized these authorized strengths, however.
Twenty U.S. Marine Corps officers left the Union and joined the Confederacy, 19 of whom accepted commissions in the Confederate States Marine Corps - the twentieth joined the Confederate Army. These men represented some of the most experienced officers then on active dury, including the adjutant officer and inspector of the Marine Corps, Major Henry Tyler, a 38-year veteran and commander of the Washington Barracks; Captain George Terrett, the hero of Chapultepec; Captains Algernon Taylor and Robert Tansill, who had been recognized for their valor during the Mexican War; Captain John Simms, who had led the assault on the Barrier Forts in China; and First Lieutenant Israel Greene, who had led the assault against John Brown's raiders at Harper's Ferry. Tyler was commissioned as the Confederate Corps's lieutenant colonel and Terrett as its major. Taylor was commissioned as quartermaster and Greene as the Corps's adjutant officer. Lloyd Beall was commissioned as Commandant Colonel of the Confederate Marine Corps. Beall probably owed this privilege to his acquaintance with Confederate President Jefferson Davis, whom he had met at West Point, the U.S. Military Academy, and with whom he served in the 2nd Dragoons before accepting a position as paymaster major, the post he resigned when the Civil War began.
The Confederate Marine Corps enlisted the first Marines in March 1861, and by July, three companies of Marines had been raised. Marine Guard detachments were raised for the CSS Sumter and the gunboat McRae as well. Confederate Marines saw their first action in July, occupying Ship Island off the coast from Biloxi, Mississippi.
Confederate marines played more than a defensive role during the Civil War. In February 1864, the Confederates launched a combined assault on a Union base on the Neuse River near New Bern, North Carolina. The Confederate Navy and Marine Corps were responsible for dealing with any Union Navy ships that might come to the aid of the Union Army when the Confederate Army attacked.
John Taylor Wood, who held commissions as a colonel in the Confederate Army and as a commander in the Confederate Navy, commanded the Confederate naval forces for the assault on New Bern. His command consisted of 115 naval officers and men from the James River Squadron, 10 midshipmen from the Naval Academy, and 25 Marines from Company C stationed at Camp Beall.
The attack began on February 1, 1864, but the Confederate Army's assault broke down almost immediately. Wood decided to continue with the naval side of the operation and sought out Union gunboats. very early on the morning of February 2, Wood's boats found the Union gunboat Underwriter and closed with it. The Confederate Marines exchanged heavy fire with the Underwriter and then boarded her and captured her after a vicious melee. Four Confederate sailors and one Marine were killed in the action, and another seven sailors and four Marines were wounded. Nine Union sailors were killed, another nineteen were wounded, and twenty-three managed to escape. Union forces on the shore began shelling the captured gunboat, and Wood decided to set the gunboat on fire and abandon it.
The fall of Fort Fisher essentially ended the participation of Union Marines during the American Civil War, but the war was not yet over for the Confederate Marine Corps. Charleston, South Carolina, finally gave in to Sherman's Army on February 17, 1865. Commodore John Tucker, the commander of the Charleston Squadron, scuttled his ships and led his sailors and Marines north to Richmond, where he incorporated the remaining Marines at Drewry's Bluff to form Tucker's Naval Brigade. Captain Tattnall led Marine Company E into North Carolina where it remained for the rest of the war.
On April 2, 1865, the Union Army broke through Confederate lines just south of Petersburg. Facing a two-to-one disadvantage, General Lee recommended to President Davis that Richmond be evacuated. Tucker's Naval Brigade joined Lee's Army as it marched south. Union cavalry easily kept pace with the retreating Confederate Army and attacked its flank and rear, slowing the Confederate column enough for Union Infantry to engage it in combat. Captain Terrett and a unit of Confederate Marines were captured in just such an engagement at Amelia Court House on April 5, 1865. ***
Union harassment compelled Lieutenant General Richard Ewell's Corps, including Tucker's Naval Brigade, to halt along Saylor's Creek. The Union artillery bombarded the ridge on which Ewell's troops were positioned, and then the Infantry advanced across the creek and up the slope. As the Union Army started up the slope, Ewell gave the command to counterattack, and the regiment, including Tucker's Naval Brigade with its Marine battalion, now commanded by Captain Simrns, charged down the slope and pushed the Union Army back.
Despite such a heroic effort, Ewell's regiment was enveloped by two other Union divisions, and Ewell reluctantly surrendered. Tucker's Naval Brigade, unaware of the Union envelopment and Ewell's surrender, withdrew farther south, where it was able to secret itself in a densely wooded ravine. A Union general accidentally discovered the brigade that evening and returned under truce to inform Tucker of his situation. Tucker, too, reluctantly surrendered when he learned that he was surrounded by Union forces.
Captain Simms, 6 other Marine officers, and approximately 45 Marines were captured along with Tucker's Naval Brigade. A few Confederate Marines had managed to escape capture on April 6, and so 4 Marine officers and 25 Marines, including First Lieutenant Richard Henderson, accompanied General Lee when he signed the surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 6.
The remnant of the James River Squadron, too, had been ordered to join Lee's march south. Admiral Semmes, the commander of the squadron, scuttled his ships on April 2 and then led his 500 sailors and Marines to join Lee, only to find the Army had already left. Semmes organized a train at the railroad station in Richmond and proceeded to Danville, Virginia, arriving there on April 4 to find the Confederate government already established in the little town. On April 5, Semmes's men were organized into an artillery brigade, and Semmes was given command of it as a brigadier general of the Confederate Army. On April 10, however, news arrived that Lee had surrendered at Appomattox, and the Confederate government fled farther south. Semmes's brigade was attached to the Army of North Carolina for the rest of April, but surrendered at Greensboro on May 1.
Confederate Marine Company C; had managed to survive the battle at Mobile Bay and continued to serve in the defense of the city of Mobile from March 27 until April 12, when the city fell to Union forces. It retreated up the Mobile River with the remnants of the Mobile Squadron to Nanna Hubba Bluff, where the squadron surrendered on May 10. The Civil War ended for the Confederate Marines with the surrender of the few Marines attached to the Mobile Squadron.
The Union Marine Corps had lost 77 men dead, 131 wounded, and 142 captured during the Civil War. Another 257 died of causes unrelated to combat. Two hundred fifty Confederate Marines are known to have been captured, but the lack of records prevents an estimation of other casualties on the Confederate side.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Archibald Henderson
5th Commandant of the Marine Corps

Archibald Henderson (January 21, 1783 - January 6, 1859) was the longest-serving Commandant of the Marine Corps, serving from 1820 to 1859. He is often referred to as the "Grand old man of the Marine Corps," serving in the United States Marine Corps for 53 years.
Born in Colchester, Fairfax County, Virginia, Henderson was commissioned in the Marine Corps on June 4, 1806. He served aboard USS Constitution during her famous victories in the War of 1812. He participated in several shipboard engagements and was decorated for bravery.
From September 16, 1818 to March 2, 1819, Henderson was the acting Commandant. On October 17, 1820, at the age of 37, LtCol Henderson was appointed as the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He served in this position for a little over 38 years - the longest of any officer to hold that position.
Henderson is credited with thwarting attempts by President Andrew Jackson to combine the Marine Corps with the Army in 1829. Instead, Congress passed the Act for the Better Organization of the Marine Corps in 1834, ensuring the Marines would remain part of the United States Department of the Navy.
He went into the field as Commandant during the Indian campaigns in Florida and Georgia during 1836 and 1837, and was promoted brevet brigadier general for his actions in these campaigns. Tradition holds that he pinned a note to his door that read, "Gone to Florida to fight the Indians. Will be back when the war is over."
Marines also fought during the Mexican-American War during his tenure as Commandant. The sword presented to Henderson upon completion of the action was inscribed with the words, "From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli" giving the opening words to the Marines' hymn.
General Henderson died suddenly on January 6, 1859. He is buried in the Congressional Cemetery. According to Marine lore, the Colonel Commandant had attempted to will his home - actually government-provided quarters in which he had lived for 38 years - to his heirs, having forgotten that they were government owned.
USS Henderson (AP-1), and Henderson Hall Barracks were named for him.