Marine Corps History

From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli....

Born in Tun Tavern Philidelphia, Pennsylvania 10 November 1775, the United States Marine Corps is older than the nation it protects. The history of this proud organization is a story of triumph and glory, and tragedy and pain. The call first went out in 1775 when the Continental Congress authorized then Commandant, Cpt. Samuel Nicholas to raise a brigade of Marines. The Marines of Commandant Nicholas's brigade were stout seamen, who brought their own rifle, and knew how to use them. These Marines helped protect American shipping interests prior to the Revolutionary War.

During the Revolutionary War, the call again went out to America's youth. The Revolutionary War saw the Marines take their place as America's soldiers on the sea, as well as the birth of many of the Marines symbols and traditions. For example, the term leather neck comes from leather collars worn by Marines to help hold their heads erect and protect them from slashes by sabres and cutlasses. The quatrefoil, a braided cross of gold cord worn by officers, was originally used by Marine sharpshooters to help tell friend from foe. The sharpshooters would climb into the rigging of American ships and when the Marines boarded an enemy ship, the sharpshooters would rain death and destruction upon the enemy while sparing the Marines who wore the cross of rope upon their covers.

The blood stripe worn on the dress blue trousers of officers and non-commissioned officers is in memory of the battle of Chapultepec, during the Mexican-American war. During that battle, 90% of the Marine Officers and NCO's died taking the Mexican stronghold. The battle is further commemorated in the Marines' Hymn in the line "From the Halls of Montezuma".

The War to end all Wars, WWI was another proving ground for the Marine Corps. Although the Marines won many honors, the horrors experienced by all the allied troops was a heavy price to pay. Among the honors won were 3 French Croix de Querres, Frances highest military honor. The third Croix de Querre was won at the battle of Belleau Woods, now called La Boix de la Brigade des Marines, the Woods of the Marine Brigade. In honor of the three Croix de Querres, the Fifth and Sixth Marine Regiments are authorized to wear the French Fouragere, a braided cord, symbolizing the their units famed past. Another distinction to come out of WWI was the phrase First to fight , which came from recruiting posters of that era. The one award which the Marine Corps is most proud of from this period of strife did not come from our allies, rather it came from the hated enemy the Germans. It was during WWI in Belleau Woods when Dan Daily said, " Retreat hell! We just got here!" that the Marines won their most prized honor. For it was during this battle that the Germans first started to use the term Tuefle Hunden. After classifying the Marines as Shock Troops, a classification given only to the most elite military units, the Germans gave us our name, DEVIL DOGS.