VA -- Quantico -- Natl Museum of the Marine Corps -- Gallery: Defending the New Republic (1775-1865) (except Civil War):
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Defending the New Republic
"Resolved, that two battalions of Marines be raised... so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea."
-- Continental Congress, 10 November 1775
The Marines created a presence early in the Revolutionary War to form an armed service patterned after the British Royal Marines. When 200 Continental Marines splashed ashore in the Bahamas, making the first combat landing in American history, the Declaration of Independence still lay three months in the future. Marines fought as sharpshooters on warships and led boarding parties onto British decks during the Revolution and the War of 1812. In 1805, Lt. Presley O'Bannon and his men wrestled a stronghold from Barbary pirates on "the shores of Tripoli." Marines joined in storming Chapultepec castle -- "the halls of Montezuma" outside Mexico City in 1847. When civil war fractured America in 1861, U.S. Marines fought former southern comrades who created the Confederate States Marine Corps.
After 90 years of service, though never more than 4,000 strong, Marines had won distinction fighting their country's battles around the globe.
MCM177_230113_036.JPG: Defending the New Republic, 1775-1865
MCM177_230113_204.JPG: Mexican War Marine Corps Colors, circa 1847:
This flag was reportedly carried by the Marine battalion attached to Gen. Winfield Scott's army in Mexico. The battalion was with Quitman's Division on the Tacubaya Road during the storming of Chapultepec and accompanied the Marines as they marched into Mexico City through the Belen Gate on 14 September 1847.
MCM177_230113_215.JPG: Staff Sergeant Tom Lovell
General Quitman and Marines Enter Mexico City, 1847
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Description of Subject Matter: Defending the New Republic
The Continental Congress authorized the establishment of two battalions of Marines on 10 November 1775. According to legend, Captain Samuel Nicholas began recruiting men on that date at Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern. It is here that visitors begin their journey with the Marine Corps: from their humble beginnings in a tavern during the American Revolution on through the long years of a Nation divided by civil war.
In early 1776, Marines aboard Navy ships sailed to the Bahamas in search of supplies and munitions. Once in the Bahamas, Captain Nicholas led 234 Marines in the Marine Corps’ first amphibious landing. A series of crises on the high seas—resulting in ships lost to piracy—prompted President Thomas Jefferson to send the Marines to fight Barbary pirates off the northern coast of Africa—on the shores of Tripoli—in the early 19th century.
During the War of 1812, U.S. Marines fought the British again, on the seas and closer to home. Navy ships with embarked Marines helped suppress the slave trade along the west coast of Africa and sailed to the far reaches of the Pacific and Antarctica on a series of global expeditions. Commandant Archibald Henderson led Marines against Seminole Indians in Florida in 1836. In the 1840s during the Mexican War, Marine detachments executed a series of landings on both coasts and fought all the way to the “Halls of Montezuma,” Mexico City.
When the Civil War—America’s national tragedy—wrenched the country apart in the 1860s, it also splintered the Marine Corps. Visitors explore the Civil War through the eyes of both Union and Confederate Marines, understand the importance of noncommissioned officers, and conclude with the story of one Marine who accompanied President Abraham Lincoln to Gettysburg where Lincoln delivered his memorable address.
After their first 90 years of service, and never more than 4,000 strong, Marines won distinction fighting their Country’s battles both at home and abroad. This gallery provides visitors with a glimpse of life aboard a fighting ship and rare Marine Corps artifacts—swords, flags, muskets, powder horns, broad axes, bugles, and more—from these early operations.
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