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THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
BY CAPTAIN WILLIAM E. PARKER
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
"An' after I met 'im all over the world, a-doin' all kinds the oldest branch of our naval establishment;
of things Like landin' 'isself with a Gatlin' gun to talk to them
for, having, on the 8th of June, 1775, voted 'eathen kings;
to dissolve the compact between the people 'E sleeps in an 'ammick instead of a cot, an' 'e drills with
of Massachusetts Bay and the Crown, the . the deck on a slew; There isn't a job on the top of the earth the beggar don't Continental Congress, on November 10, know nor do.
1775, “ Resolved, that two Battalions of MaYou can leave 'im at night on a bald man's 'ead, to paddle 'is own canoe ;
rines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two 'E's a sort of a bloomin' cosmopolouse-soldier and sailor Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors and other too."
officers as usual in other regiments ; that T is probably true that the majority of they consist of an equal number of privates our citizens know so little of our naval with other battalions ; that particular care be
and military establishments that they fail taken that no persons be appointed to offices to discriminate between the United States or be enlisted into said battalions, but such marine and the United States bluejacket or as are good seamen or so acquainted with sailor. This is in part due to the fact that maritime affairs as to be able to serve by sea the Marine Corps is comparatively a small when required; that they be enlisted and corps, and in part to the fact that its opera- commissioned to serve for and during the tions are so intimately associated with those present war with Great Britain and the coloof the navy as a whole that they often pass nies, unless dismissed by order of Congress ; without special emphasis in press despatches, that they be distinguished by the names of just as reports of army operations often omit First and Second Battalions of American Madetailed accounts of the parts played by its rines.” various arms.
On December 13, 1776, Congress directed But while the Marine Corps is a co-ordi- that thirteen ships of war be built, and on nate branch of the naval service, it is none the 22d day of the same month passed a the less a separate and distinct organization, resolution declaring Esek Hopkins Comwith its own officers, both line and staff. mander-in-Chief, and appointed officers for
Although the marine is essentially an infan- all vessels in the service. tryman, the attribute which especially distin- This was the first step taken toward the guishes him is the fact that he is amphibious— creation of the navy which has won imperequally at home on land or sea; he has been ishable glory for the United States, and called the "web-footed soldier.” And this em- these are the facts upon which is based the ployment of infantry as a part of the regular claim of the Marine Corps that it is the complement of war-vessels may be traced “ oldest in the service." back to remote antiquity.
In February, 1777, a battalion of three The distinction between the sailor and the hundred marines under the command of marine appears to date from about 500 B.C., Major Nichols was landed from Commodore when, with the progress of naval science and Hopkins's fleet on the island of New Provithe increase in size and difficulty of manage- dence in the Bahamas, assaulted and capment of biremes and triremes, it became ex- tured the English forts and took a large pedient to enlist for naval service two dis- quantity of cannon and military stores. tinct classes of men—the rowers, or seamen This, the first battle of the American navy, proper, who had the management of the ves- was won by the marines. sel and sails, and the marines or fighting men. From this small beginning the Marine
In 1664 the corps of British marines was Corps has grown to its present strength of organized, and in 1740 three regiments which over ten thousand officers and men, and it were raised in America were assembled in has in all our wars, foreign and civil, mainNew York under the command of Colonel tained the prestige of its Grecian, Roman, Spotiswood, of Virginia, for service in the and British predecessors for valor, loyalty, colonies. This organization was the proto- and discipline. type of our present Marine Corps, which is The rather common, though false, idea that
our sailors aboard ship are in some way subordinated to the marines is due to two facts : first, because the latter do the sentry duty, enforce police regulations, and thus exercise a certain authority aboard ship over marines and seamen alike ; and, second, because of certain historical facts connected with the conduct of marines on the occasions of several serious mutinies in the British navy. In the days of “wooden ships and iron men” the sailors had many grievances, which were doubtless largely shared by the marines, but such was the esprit de corps and discipline of the latter that in nearly every instance they remained loyal to their officers and aided them in suppressing the mutiny.
Happily for us, our seamen have never been driven to mutiny, nor has there ever existed a condition of serious antagonism between them and the marines, though the latter have ever jealously regarded their historic traditions as a military body par excellence as distinct from the seaman branch of the service. As evidence of the spirit of mutual co-operation which exists between our sailors and marines of the present day, the Secretary of the Navy, in his last annual report, referring to the active preparations in Nicaragua in 1912, said: “A most commendable feature during the campaign was the
perfect harmony and comradeship which existed between the enlisted men [sailors) and marines. They worked together in perfect accord under trying hardships, and showed a spirit of eagerness and readiness to face the dangers before them."
Throughout the Revolutionary War the marines were in the front rank of our country's defenders, and were zealous participants, on land and sea, in practically every expedition or action in which our naval forces were engaged.
The army, the navy, and consequently the Marine Corps, were all disbanded at the end of the Revolution, leaving nothing behind save the records of their suffering and glorious deeds; but on April 30, 1798, the Navy Department was formally created, and on July 11, 1798, the Marine Corps was again established.
During the war with Tripoli, in 1803, the Marine Corps figured prominently in a re markable march of nearly six hundred miles across the desert from Alexandria to Derna, where, upon their arrival, they stormed and captured the native fortifications, hauled down the Tripolitan flag, and, for the first time in our history, hoisted the American flag over a fortress of the Old World. Thereafter the word “ Tripoli” was inscribed on the banners of the Corps.
During the War of 1812, in the glorious Islands, and in Paraguay protecting the lives victory of the Constitution over the Guer- and property of foreign residents from mob rière, the first officer killed was Lieutenant violence. The next year, 1859, they distinBush, commander of the Marine Guard; guished themselves at Harper's Ferry, West and in all the naval battles of that war the Virginia, where, under the orders of Colonel Marine Corps rendered distinguished service. Robert E. Lee, then an officer of the United
While marines have generally served in States army, they captured John Brown and conjunction with purely naval forces, they quelled the insurrection of which he was the have on many occasions been attached to the leader. army for work ashore, for the time being During the Civil War marines had their having no occasion for exercising their dis- share of service ashore and afloat, from the tinctively maritime characteristics. Thus dur- first Battle of Bull Run, in which a full bating the war with Mexico several detachments talion participated and lost forty-four killed of marines served under the command of and wounded, to the capture of Captain General Scott and General Taylor. The Semmes, of the Confederate cruiser Alabama, battalion assigned to General Quitman's in 1865; but, generally speaking, they won division was among the first troops who tri- their laurels in those operations and engageumphantly entered the City of Mexico and ments which were essentially naval in their unfurled the Stars and Stripes over the character. Palace; this completes the explanation of Marines were employed in fighting savages the inscription since found on the banners of in Formosa in 1867 and 1870 ; leading the the Corps, “ From the shores of Tripoli to advance against the natives of Korea in the halls of the Montezumas."
1870 ; landing in Alexandria, Egypt, to preThese identical Mexican heroes were in serve order and prevent pillage in 1882 ; in 1853 seen marching through the streets of Panama to keep transportation open across Yeddo, Japan, as the military escort of Com- the Isthmus in 1885; in Valparaiso to promodore Perry on his celebrated expedition tect the American Consulate, and in the which opened the Land of the Rising Sun Bering Sea to suppress seal poaching in to the commerce of the world.
1891; in Honolulu during the Hawaiian We next see marines in 1858 engaged in revolution of 1893 to protect American ina fierce conflict with natives of the Fiji terests and to protect American lives in
Korea and China, where they were sent in augment our forces already at the Imperial 1894, and again in 1897.
city; and again in 1912 the marines were In the Spanish-American War a small called upon to occupy Nicaragua and quell a detachment of marines successfully held serious revolution, the most notable event of Guantanamo Bay as a naval base against an which was the assault and capture of the overwhelming force of the Spanish army, hitherto impregnable rebel position known as and in the naval engagements at Manila and Coyotepe Hill. In this, the final action of a Santiago they distinguished themselves by three months' active campaign, four marines their display of marksmanship at the second were killed and many wounded. ary batteries, which, in fact, inflicted more This brief summary of the deeds of the damage to the Spanish ships than did the Marine Corps is here given to explain why great guns.
the globe, which is its " theater of operaDuring the Boxer uprising of 1900 in tions,” forms a part of its corps device, and China marines rendered conspicuous service to indicate in a general way its extremely at the siege and capture of Tientsin and the varied and often little appreciated activities. march of the allied forces to the relief of the be- I say little appreciated because in many sieged Legations at Peking, while the conduct instances the timely employment of our naval of the Legation guard of marines during the forces has accomplished the solution of serimany weeks when all reliable communication ous foreign situations, which, had they not with the outside world was cut off added one been wisely dealt with in their incipiency, of the brightest pages to the recent history of would have later been written large in history our navy.
instead of being scarcely recorded outside the There is probably no incident in the annals official Government archives. It is for this of the Corps which for novelty is more strik- reason more than any other that the general ing than the diplomatic mission on which, in public knows so little of the Marine Corps, 1903, a representative of our Department of who, as the infantry branch and landing State was sent for a conference with King force of the navy, are the first men on the Menelik. What could be more incongruous ground and the first to smell powder in case than the spectacle presented by our repre- of trouble with foreign Powers. sentative's military escort, a company of " sea- In 1809 the strength of the Marine Corps going ” marines mounted (as were also their was increased to 1,300 men, and thereafter stores) on camels, and navigating the uncharted gradually until at the outbreak of the Spanish wastes of the Abyssinian Desert ?
American War it was over 2,500 strong, and The same year marines were again sent for many years it enjoyed the anomalous to protect the American Legation at Seoul, distinction of being the largest military orKorea, and in 1906 to Panama to supervise ganization under the command of a colonel. what promised to be a turbulent election. In May, 1898, Congress increased the per
Throughout the second military occupa- manent strength of the Corps to 3,073 men, tion of Cuba a regiment of marines served authorized the enlistment of 1,500 men to for over two years as an integral part of the serve during the war, and elevated the rank Army of Cuban Pacification. Detachments of the commandant to Brigadier-General. of marines had, however, been landed from The Corps was again increased in 1908 and our war-ships at the outbreak of the revolu- the rank of the commandant raised to Majortion in September, 1906, and had completed General, and a further increase in 1912 the disarmament of the insurrectos before brought the Corps up to its present authorthe army was called upon to guarantee the ized strength of 342 officers and 9,921 men, permanent tranquillity of the island, and to including its staff officers, adjutants, and inestablish an effective and stable civil govern- spectors, quartermasters and paymasters. ment.
Every well-balanced fleet must include in In 1908 marines were once more sent to its organization a land force properly trained Panama to police the polls during a riotous and equipped to defend adequately an adelection which seriously threatened the over- vanced position against the sorties of a strong throw of that country ; in 1909 and 1910 to and alert enemy. This need in our navy is Nicaragua to guard threatened American prop- fully met by the Marine Corps, which as an erty ; in 1910, during the revolution which expeditionary force furnishes not only infanmarked the advent of China into the grow- try companies, but, in addition, batteries of ing family of republics, marines were sent to field artillery, engineer troops, and signalmen