Survival of the Marine Corps

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The Marine Corps historical characteristics after the Civil War could be based in part on survivability and the need for the Marine Corps to prove its worth to the United States as a Military Force. The Marine Corps part in the Civil War had been small and not altogether impressive. Both the Army and the Navy did not regard the Marine Corps as useful. This paper will in effect touch on the Marine Corps history from after the Civil War to World War I. It will then converge on a discussion with regards to the fight against the disestablishment of the Marine Corps. (Simmons/Moskin 1998) The Marine Corps found its mission in the amphibious landings of several countries "to protect American lives and property". Some of these countries included China, Formosa, Japan, Korea, Samoa, Hawaii, Panama, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Haiti, and Egypt. The United States, having conquered much of North America, was expanding overseas. Marines made small-scale landings in response to real or perceived affronts to U.S. diplomatic or economic interests. (Simmons/Moskin 1998) In 1883 the motto of the Marine Corps, "Semper Fidelis" ("always faithful"), was adopted as the official motto of the Marine Corps. Since 1812 the motto, although unofficial, had been "Fortitudine" ("with courage"). The Marine Corps adopted this motto in part because of the fact that there has never been a mutiny, or even the thought of one, among U.S. Marines. (Website For Young Marines, Online) When America became involved in the "splendid little war" against Spain when they landed in Cuba. The Marine Corps involvement was again modest with their major feat being the taking of a coaling station for the Navy. (Simmons/Moskin 1998) The day after the war with Spain ended, August 12, American troops began the occupation of Manila. Two battalions of Marines were involved in the attacking the fortified town of Novaleta. After a third battalion arrived in December the pacification of the Philippines continued. (Simmons/Moskin 1998) The Marine Corps continued to justify its means through World War I. The Marine Corps was involved in the Boxer Rebellion in China, Columbia, Cuba, Nicaragua and once again in the Philippines. Although most were minor scuffles, Marines were about to make their first significant mark in World War I. (Simmons/Moskin 1998) The United States declared war against Germany on 6 April 1917. By 14 June the Marine Corps recruited enough Marines to make up three oversized battalions which became the 5th regiment commanded by Colonel Charles A. Doyen. They were joined by the 6th regiment and in March of 1918 were subsequently fed into the fighting front near Verdun, now a quiet bit of the front. (Simmons/Moskin 1998) This set the scene for one of the most famous Marine battles of WWI. The German Offensive was too much for the tired French Divisions and only thing between the Germans and the road to Paris was the Fourth Marine Brigade (made up of the fifth and sixth regiments) and the 2nd Infantry Division. It was also the sight for one of the most famous quotes in Marine Corps History. (Simmons/Moskin 1998) The 2d Battalion, 5th Marines had just arrived at its position when an automobile skidded to a stop and a French officer dashed out and approached the commanding officer. He explained that a general retreat was in progress and that orders were for the Marines to withdraw. The Marine officer, Captain Lloyd Williams exclaimed in amazement, "Retreat Hell! We just got here!" (Website For Young Marines, Online) Soon after the Germans learned a lesson in marksmanship they would not forget. A line was formed across the road to Paris along a wooded area known as Belleau Woods. As the Germans approached, they came under rifle fire that was accurate at ranges beyond their comprehension, up to 800 yards. The deadly fire took the heart out of the German troops, and the...
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