November 10, 1775: The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is founded. Originally a totally separate entity, two battalions of Continental Marines were formed on this day in Philadelphia to act as an infantry force capable of fighting for independence both on land and at sea. The USMC as been a component of the US Navy since 1834. The men of the newly formed Corps were placed aboard navy ships and were responsible for the security of the ship, both from invading forces and from sailors who might wish to mutiny against the ship’s officers. They were strategically stationed with their rooms between the enlisted men and the officers’ quarters. They were also part of the raiding parties, both at sea and when troops were sent ashore.
The first USMC amphibious assault took place on March 3, 1776 when troops went ashore and the Marines gained control of Fort Montague and Fort Nassau – a British ammunition depot and a naval port in New Providence in the Bahamas. The conclusion of the Revolutionary War ended with an American victory and both the Continental Navy and the Continental Marines were disbanded in April 1783. As the young nation prepared for the Quasi-War with France, Congress resurrected the Marines on July 11, 1798. Marines were enlisted by the War Department as early as August 1797 in order to staff the frigates that would be used for what is also sometimes called the Undeclared War with France.
During the First Barbary War (1801-1805), the Marines saw action against Barbary pirates. It was during this time that William Eaton and First Lt. Presley O’Bannon led eight Marines and 500 mercenaries with the goal of taking Tripoli. They only reached as far as Dema, but the action is reflected in the USMC Hymn as well as the Mameluke Sword carried by Marine officers. After the War of 1812, things quieted down until Archibald Henderson became the fifth Commandant in 1820. Under his leadership, the USMC took on expeditionary duties and it was he that kept the Marines from being affiliated with the US Army and put them under the Department of the Navy.
Today is the United States Marine Corps’ 240 birthday. They take part in amphibious, expeditionary, and aerial warfare. There are approximately 194,000 active duty Marines and another 40,000 reservists. They have a fleet of 1,166 aircraft. Their current list of responsibilities was codified in the National Security Act of 1947 and is threefold. They are tasked with 1) the seizure or defense of advanced naval bases; 2) development of tactic, techniques, and equipment to be used during an amphibious landing (in coordination with other branches of the US military); and 3) such other duties as directed by the US President. In addition to these primary duties, they are also directed to support the White House and the State Department. The Marine Band is sometimes called the “President’s Own” and they play for state functions at the White House. They guard presidential retreats as well as American embassies throughout the world in over 140 posts. Semper fi.
There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion. – Gen. William Thornson
Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share. – Ned Dolan
Why in hell can’t the Army do it if the Marines can. They are the same kind of men; why can’t they be like Marines. – Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing
Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They’re aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They’ve got really short hair and they always go for the throat. – RAdm. “Jay” R. Stark
Also on this day: Brought to You by the Letters J and H and the Number 1 – In 1969, Sesame Street came to PBS, bringing along a whole cast of characters.
Winning – In 1928, Notre Dame played Army at Yankee Stadium.
War Criminal – In 1865, Henry Wirz was hanged.
Shut Up – In 2007, two heads of state got into an argument.
Smooth Operators – In 1951, the North American Numbering Plan went into effect.