Happy birthday to the United States Marine Corps!
On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution requiring that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” to support the recently organized Continental Navy. The resolution further stipulated that no person be enlisted, except “such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea, when required.”
The first commanding officer of the Marines was Samuel Nicholas. He began recruiting new members immediately, and he reportedly turned to a tavern owner named Robert Mullan for help. As the story goes, the two men set up shop in Mullan’s tavern, the Tun Tavern. Thus, the tavern is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Marine Corps.
I am so sorry to tell you that some dispute whether the tavern was **actually** used. Nicholas owned the Conestoga Wagon, which could just as easily have been used for recruiting purposes.
The purpose of the Marines was to assist the Navy, which had been created about a month earlier. That congressional resolution had authorized the purchase of two warships. (The Navy had 5 ships by the end of the year.) The Navy, aided by the Marines, helped in the Revolution. Their task was a difficult one: The British Navy was the most powerful in the world. Nevertheless, within a few months of their creation, the Marines conducted their first successful amphibious landing. They managed to capture a supply of gunpowder at Fort Nassau in the Bahamas.
According to the website of the U.S. Marines Corps, the new Navy “sent over fifty armed vessels to sea, fought numerous battles against the Royal Navy, and captured over 200 British merchant vessels.” One of these, of course, was John Paul Jones’s famous capture of HMS Serapis.
The Navy was demobilized and the Marines disbanded for a period of time after the Revolution. The Marines were reorganized when a permanent naval force was created by the U.S. Congress in 1798.
Today, of course, the Marines are one of our most respected institutions. We are happy and proud to help celebrate the USMC’s birthday today.
For all of you Marines reading this post: Happy birthday and thank you for your service!
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American Revolution: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection (Spencer C. Tucker, ed. 2018)
John Adams autobiography (Part 1) (reprinted HERE)
John C. Fredriksen, Revolutionary War Almanac (2006)
John C. Fredriksen, The United States Marine Corps: A Chronology, 1775 to the Present (2011)
Journals of the Continental Congress (Nov. 10, 1775)
RP3 Bryan J. Dickerson, Birth of the U.S. Navy (Oct. 13, 2005)