Significant Battles in Marine Corps History

a. The BATTLE OF BLADENSBURG: In August of 1814, 103 Marines and 400 sailors made a vain attempt to block a force of 4,000 disciplined British troops from advancing on Washington. The Marines stopped three headlong charges before finally being outflanked and driven back. The British then moved down Bladensburg Road to Washington where they burned a number of public buildings before retiring to their vessels in the Chesapeake Bay.

b. The BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS: In January of 1815, Marines under the command of General Andrew Jackson soundly defeated British Forces that were attacking the city of New Orleans. The British lost approximately 2,000 men while American losses were less than 100.

c. The BATTLE OF BELLEAU WOOD: Marines fought one of their greatest battles in history at Belleau Wood, France, during World War I. Marines helped to crush a German offensive at Belleau Wood that threatened Paris. In honor of the Marines who fought there, the French renamed the area "the Wood of the Brigade of Marines." German intelligence evaluated the Marines as "storm troops" -- the highest rating on the enemy fighting scale. In reference to the Marine's ferocious fighting ability, German troops called their new enemy "Teufelhunden" or "Devildogs," a nickname in which Marines share pride.

d. The BATTLE OF WAKE ISLAND: In 1941, following the air attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese struck Wake Island on 8 December. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Marines mounted a courageous defense before finally falling on 23 December. This small force of Marines caused an extraordinary number of Japanese casualties and damage to the invading force.

e. The BATTLE OF GUADALCANAL: On 7 August 1942, the 1st Marine Division landed on the beaches of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and launched the first United States land offensive of World War II. This battle marked the first combat test of the new amphibious doctrine, and also provided a crucial turning point of the war in the Pacific by providing a base to launch further invasions of Japanese-held islands. Amphibious landings followed on the remaining Solomon Islands including New Georgia, Choiseul (Feint), and Bougainville.

f. The BATTLE OF TARAWA: The Gilbert Islands were the first in the line of advance for the offensive in the Central Pacific. The prime objective was the Tarawa Atoll and Betio Island which had been fortified to the point that the Japanese commander proclaimed that it would take a millon Americans 100 years to conquer it. On 20 November 1943, Marines landed and secured the island within 76 hours, but paid a heavy price in doing so. Because of an extended reef, landing craft could not cross it, and Marines were offloaded hundreds of yards from the beaches. This led to heavy losses from enemy fire. Additionally, many Marines drowned while attempting to wade ashore.

g. The BATTLE OF THE MARIANA ISLANDS: Due to the need for airfields by the Air Force and advanced bases for the Navy, the Marianas were invaded. This was accomplished by landings on the islands of Saipan, Guam, and Tinian. During June and July of 1943, Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith led a combined invasion force of Marines and soldiers that totaled over 136,000. This was the greatest number of troops, up to that time, to operate in the field under Marine command.

h. The BATTLE OF IWO JIMA: On 19 February 1945, Marines landed on Iwo Jima in what was the largest all-Marine battle in history. It was also the bloodiest in Marine Corps history. The Marine Corps suffered over 23,300 casualties. The capture of Iwo Jima greatly increased the air support and bombing operations against the Japanese home islands. Of the savage battle, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz said, "Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

i. The BATTLE OF OKINAWA: In April of 1945, Marines and soldiers landed and secured the island of Okinawa. This marked the last large action of World War II. Due to the death of the Army commander, Major General Roy S. Geiger assumed command of the 10th Army and became the only Marine officer ever to have commanded a field Army.

j. The BATTLE OF THE CHOSIN RESERVOIR: After pushing far into North Korea during November of 1950, Marines were cut off after the Chinese Communist Forces entered the war. Despite facing a 10-division force sent to annihilate them, Marines smashed seven enemy divisions in their march from the Chosin Reservoir. The major significance of this retrograde movement was that Marines brought out all operable equipment, properly evacuated their wounded and dead, and maintained tactical integrity.

k. The SECOND BATTLE OF KHE SANH: In January of 1968, Marines defended the firebase at Khe Sanh from an attack force of two North Vietnamese Army (NVA) divisions. Despite heavy bombardment, the Marines held out for over two and a half months before finally forcing the enemy forces to withdraw.

l. The BATTLE OF HUE CITY: During the Vietnamese holiday of Tet in January of 1968, Communist forces launched a surprise offensive by infiltrating large numbers of their troops into the major population centers of Hue City, South Vietnam. A near division-size unit of NVA troops occupied the city of Hue and the Citadel. Marines fought in built-up areas for the first time since the Korean War foregoing the application of heavy arms to minimize civilian casualties. Fighting was house-to-house with progress measured in yards. The city was secured on 25 February 1968.