The U.S. Marine Corps consisted of less than 2,000 officers and enlisted men in 1861. That number was further reduced when many chose to follow the Confederacy. Corporal John F. Mackie, a native of New York City, stayed with the Union. A few days before, he had reported for duty aboard the newly commissioned USS Galena. He was joined by 11 other loyal Marines.
On board the Galena, Corporal Mackie and his Marines resolutely returned fire. Suddenly a huge round hit the deck of the Galena, wiping out an entire gun crew. Mackie, nearby, jumped up and shouted, "Come on, boys. Here’s a chance for the Marines." His stunned men rallied, clearing the decks of dead and wounded.