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5 things you may not know about the U.S. Marine Corps – The First Marine Corps recruitment was carried out in a bar

Ian Harvey

Five Marines with fixed bayonets, and their NCO with his sword at the Washington Navy Yard, 1864. source

Five Marines with fixed bayonets, and their NCO with his sword at the Washington Navy Yard, 1864. source

Created in 1775 after a resolution passed by the Continental Congress agreeing that two battalions of well trained soldiers must be raised to serve as the first landing forces and carrying out the security of shipyards along with other duties for newly formed navy fleet. From this early origin as ‘soldiers at sea’, this elite unit evolved into the spearhead of US operations abroad and have extended its realm into a well formed and fully independent and equipped land , air and sea force. Following are some interesting facts about one of the most legendary branches of US armed forces.

The First Marine Corps recruitment was carried out in a bar

The integral part of Marine tradition, it is believed that the first recruitment of the Marine Corps took place in a famous Philadelphia ‘watering hole’ known as Tun Tavern. The very first commissioned officers after they were assigned the task to hunt for best and most able men for the sea security tasks went to the Tavern and lure young men into joining the forces offering dreams of adventure and better life prospects. Captain Samuel Nicholas and Captain Robert Mullen are said to have carried out the task in the pub and the legend is backed by many historians, though some disagree on the location of the pub. However to this day the Tavern tale is celebrated by the Marine Corps as a humble beginning. In The National Museum of Marine Corps in Virginia, there is a small restaurant named after the legendary pub, the ‘Tun Tavern’.

Bahamas the Marine Corps’ first official Battle

After successfully forming the very first battalion of Marine Corps in the late 1775, Captain Samuel Nicholas carried out the very first amphibious landing of the Corps after a band of 220 soldiers successfully stormed the beaches of British-held island of New Providence. Initially the Marine Corps’ flotilla went out to Caribbean searching for any military supplies, but later decided to hit the vulnerable island and extract whatever it was possible. Anticipating the landing, the governor of the Providence successfully shipped out some 150 barrels of gunpowder, however Captain Samuel’s men were able to take out a handsome number of brass cannons and mortars, which were later put to work by George Washington’s Continental Army.

USMC War Memorial, which depicts the flag-raising on Iwo Jima. The memorial is modeled on Joe Rosenthal's famous Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. source

USMC War Memorial, which depicts the flag-raising on Iwo Jima. The memorial is modeled on Joe Rosenthal’s famous Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. source

The Marine Band’s title ‘The President’s Own’

Since the inauguration ceremony of Thomas Jefferson in 1801, two years after its formation, the Marine Band has famously performed for every American President’s inauguration. It was Thomas Jefferson who nicknamed the band ‘The President’s Own’. The band has since performed for various American Presidents at parades, state dinners and other national level functions. The trademark march of the band is titled ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’, however on a number of occasions the musician also played opera music and other classics on the behest of Presidents according to their individual taste and preferences.

The Fight against the Pirates

After the success of American Revolution, Marine Corps faced a brief period of disbandment since the newly formed congress was busy forming the basic infrastructure of the nascent state. However the corps saw itself in action in July 1798 and soon after this, the rejuvenated Marines were sent on a mission to curb the activities of North African Barbary pirates. This group of pirates had famously been attacking American merchant ships and extorting traders depriving US economy of much needed revenue. The aim was to overthrow the Burbur leader ruling over Tripoli who was actively involved in the piracy activities directly receiving the tributes and ransoms put out by the pirates. A small contingent of US Marines headed by Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon left for Egypt to collaborate with American naval officer William Eaton to form a small mercenary force to mount an attack on Tripoli. After crossing the Derna dessert that took 50-days of scorching heat and hardships, the mercenary army mounted a successful assault on the city in collaboration with US naval bombardment. The famous battle of the Derna is hailed in the legends of Marine Corps and is immortalized in a Hymn with the line ‘to the shores of Tripoli’.

A Department of US Navy

Despite the ‘land, air and sea’ role of the Marine Corps, it officially falls under the US Department of the Navy; the practice that goes all the way back to Marine Corps’ origin to the American Revolution. Most of the Marine operations are launched using naval vessels and other war machines. Marines are often trained alongside sailors and attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Over the period of its existence, Marine Corps has also served under US Army famously in the First World War; Fourth Marine Brigade worked alongside Second Infantry Division during the European theatre of the First World War.