Marine Corps History
On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution stating that "two battalions of Marines be raised" for service as landing forces with the fleet. This established the Continental Marines and marked the birth of the United States Marine Corps. Serving on land and at sea, early Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations, including their first amphibious raid on foreign soil in the Bahamas in March 1776, under the command of the Corps' first commandant, Capt. Samuel Nicholas. The 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War and as the last of the Navy's ships were sold, the Continental Navy and Marines disbanded. Following the formal re-establishment of the Marine Corps on July 11, 1798, Marines fought in conflicts with France, landed in Santo Domingo and conducted operations against the Barbary pirates along the "Shores of Tripoli." Marines participated in numerous operations during the War of 1812, including the defense of Washington at Bladensburg, Md. They also fought alongside Andrew Jackson in the defeat of the British at New Orleans. Following the War of 1812, Marines protected American interests around the world in areas like the Caribbean, the Falkland Islands, Sumatra and off the coast of West Africa, and close to home in operations against the Seminole Indians in Florida. During the Mexican War, Marines seized enemy seaports on both the Gulf and Pacific coasts. While landing parties of Marines and Sailors were seizing enemy ports, a battalion of Marines joined General Winfield Scott's army at Pueblo and marched and fought all the way to the "Halls of Montezuma," Mexico City. Although most Marine Corps service during the Civil War was with the Navy, a battalion fought at Bull Run, and other units saw action with blockading squadrons at Cape Hatteras, New Orleans, Charleston and Fort Fisher. During the last third of the 19th century, Marines made numerous landings around the world, especially in the orient and the Caribbean. Following the Spanish-American War in 1898, Marines fought during the Philippine Insurrection, the Boxer Rebellion in China, in Nicaragua, Panama, The Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico and Haiti. In World War I, Marines distinguished themselves on the battlefields of France, as the 4th Marine Brigade earned the title of "Devil Dogs" for actions at Belleau Wood, Soissons, St. Michiel, Blanc Mont and the final Muesse-Argonne offensive. Marine aviation, which began in 1912, was used for the first time in a close-air support role during WWI. More than 309,000 Marines served in France and more than a third were killed or wounded in six months of intense fighting. During the two decades before World War II, the Marine Corps began to more completely develop its doctrine and organization for amphibious warfare. The success of this effort was proven at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Tarawa, New Britain, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. By the war's end in 1945, the Corps had grown to include six divisions, five air wings and supporting troops, about 485,000 Marines. Nearly 87,000 Marines were killed or wounded during WWII and 82 earned the Medal of Honor. As the Marine Corps attempted to modify the Fleet Marine Force (FMF) for operations in the nuclear age, the Corps began a decade long struggle to save the FMF and, in affect, its own existence. The Marine Corps had peaked in strength in 1945 at nearly half a million men in six divisions and five aircraft wings. The postwar Corps shrank to fit federal budgets rather than adjust realistically to fit the contingency needs of the Cold War era. Available manpower fell to 83,000 men in 1948 and dropped to just over 74,000 by the spring of 1950. About 50,000 men were assigned to the operating forces, but the FMF had only about 30,000 men in the two skeltal divisions and aircraft wings. Fewer than 12,000 Marines comprised FMFPac which included the 1st...
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