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Always Faithful; The United States Marine Corps

Always Faithful; The United States Marine Corps

The United Armed Forces has eight uniform service branches, one of which is the United States Marine Corps. The Marine corps, which is also known as the USMC or the marines, is a military service that sits within the U.S. Department of the Navy. This section is not only responsible for conducting services on land and in the air, working with the naval campaigns, but is also in charge of providing naval vessels with security forces for shore missions.

Marine corps lined up in their navy blue uniform holding rifles

In addition to working as a sister sector with the Navy, the Marine Corps also specializes in ambiguous landings, one of the most well-known ones being the Japanese-held islands in the Pacific which occurred during World War II.

 History, Where the Marines Began

On November 10th, 1775, the Marine Corps was founded. It appears as though the roots can be traced all the way back to the Continental Marines of the American Revolutionary War. The captain during this time, Samuel Nicholas, had asked Congress to raise two battalions of marines.

Upon this proposition, Nicholas was asked to spearhead the two battalions and find the men who were to be a part of this mission himself. By the middle of December 1775, Samuel had found 300 voluntary men for this new force, all of whom resided in his city: Philadelphia.

It wasn’t long before the Marines were then sent away to sea on their first mission under the watch of Commodore Esek Hopkins. Though they deployed in January, it wasn’t until March that they served in their first battle, the Battle of Nassau, located in the Bahamas.

The battle of Nassau

Almost a year later, on January 3rd, 1777, the marines took on their second battle, known as the Battle of Princeton, where they were led by General George Washington. A month before the marines took part in this battle, Washington had sent out a drastic call for help from veteran soldiers. They were losing the battle and retreating through New Jersey under desperate measures.

With this call for help, Nicholas and his Marines became attaches to the Continental Army, assisting in the Battle of Princeton. This was the first land combat that the marines took part in, in which over 130 members of this branch were present.

After the American Revolution

In April 1783, the American Revolution had come to an end and the Continental Marines, as well as the Continental Navy were both disbanded. But it wasn’t long before Congress called the Marine Corps back, enlisting them in the War Department. The year was 1798 and the United States was preparing for the Quasi-War with France, and so the U.S. needed the Marines to provide “naval armament.”

The marines fighting during the American Revolution

It was during this war that the Marines has their most famous action. It was throughout the First Barbary war during the years of 1801-1805. William Eaton and his First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon led 8 Marines and 500 mercenaries in a battle aimed at capturing Tripoli, where they were pinned against the Barbary pirates. Unfortunately, the Marines did not reach their goal as they only made it as far as Derna, though their act and participation throughout this battle was quite memorable.

War of 1812

Next came about the war of 1812 in which the Marines assisted the Navy ships in what was some of the most frigate duels. During this time, the Marine’s most impactful contribution to the war was holding their position and line during the Battle of New Orleans during 1815. This battle was a major battle of the war and is known to be one of the most one-sided engagements that occurred.

It was also during this time that the Marines had made a name for themselves as the marksmen, especially when it came down to ship-to-ship battles. They had contributed and held their position through multiple battles including the 1813 defense of Sacket’s Harbour, 1814 defense of Plattsburgh and the battle that occurred in New York and Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia.

Marine Corps After the War of 1812

When the war of 1812 ended the Marine Corps were appointed a new leader; Archibald Henderson, who served as the fifth commandant in the year of 1820. Throughout these years, the Marine Corps were sent on expeditionary duties that took place within the Caribbean, Key West, Africa, Sumatra, and the Falkland Islands.

The war of 1812 battle

During the 1820’s President Jackson attempted to combine the Marine Corps with the Army, however Commandant Henderson thwarted this attempt. So, in 1834, Congress decided to pass the Act for the Better Organization of the Marine Corps in which this branch of the United Armed Forces was placed as part of the Department of the Navy. In fact, the Marine Corps were seen as a sister service to the Navy.

This was the first of very many attempts in which the independent existence of the Marine Corps was challenged.

Marines and the American Civil War

The Civil War took place from 1861 to 1865 in which the Marine Corps played a small but significant role in the war. Their most prominent role was blockade duty, which is the act of preventing a country or a region from sending or receiving their supplies. This is inclusive to food, weapons, communications, people, and any other supplies that would come in handy.

During this time a great deal of Marines (to be exact about a third) left the United States to join the Confederacy and form the Confederate States Marine Corps. This troop played a very little part in the war.

Gold sword on top of the American flag with the marine's uniform beside it

Marines and the 19th Century

The rest of the 19th century was an interesting time for the Marine Corps. Throughout the years their strength and introspection about the mission for this branch declined. The Navy was also transitioning from sail to steam, which put a need for the Marines to be on a ship in question.

All and all, the Marines continued to play their part and serve as a resource for American interests overseas. The Marines were involved in 28 separate interventions, all of which occurred from the end of the American Civil War, all the way to the end of the 19th century.

It wasn’t until Commandant Jacob Zeilin’s tenure took place that Marine customs and traditions really started to take shape. In 1868, the Marine’s adopted the emblem and it was during this time in which “The Marines’ Hymn” was first sung. Then, in 1883, the Marine’s adopted their current motto; “semper fidelis” which means Always Faithful.

Marine’s Today; in the 21st century

Throughout the past few decades, the Marines have served and helped fellow armed forces branches throughout various missions and campaigns, including the Iraq campaign, the Afghanistan campaign, the Global War on Terrorism, and the Vietnam War.

In 2006, the Marine Corps transferred overall command to the Navy, in which the Marines continued to operate in the Horn of Africa into 2007.

Today, the Marine Corps continues to assist in various campaigns and duties across the world, standing tall, proud, and strong for their country.

Marine Facts and Other Information

The Marine Corps is a fascinating and interesting section of the United States Armed Forces. To further explain this division, take a look at some of these facts:

United States Marine Corps badge on top of the American flag

The Marines have participated in every single war in which the United States has been a part of. They are usually among the first to fight.

The Marines have served in every single major U.S. naval action since the year of 1775.

The emblem that was mentioned previously for the Marine Corps is the Western Hemisphere superimposed on a foul anchor and surmounted by a spread eagle.

Marine Corp's emblem

The Marine Band is the oldest musical organization in the US’s armed forces and is known as the President’s Own because it their privilege of preforming at the White House.

The official colours of the Corps are scarlet and gold. Though, sometimes forest green is seen and receives recognition. This is due to the green uniform that was introduced for this branch.

The Marines are sometimes referred to as “leathernecks” because of their tall leather neckpiece that was a part of the 18th and 19th century uniform.

In 1912, the Marines had their forest green uniforms presented and introduced.

All four of the Marine Corp's uniforms

Throughout naval formations, the Marines are able to form on the right of the line or at the head of the column. This signifies honour and seniority.

The Marine corps are part of two operating forces: the Fleet Marine Force and the Fleet Marine Force Atlantic. Both are a supporting establishment for training, supply and logistics, schools, and installations.

Women have served in the Marine Corps since 1918. Opha May Johnson was the first woman to enlist.

In 2017, three women were able to join the infantry battalion at Camp Lejeune.

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