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Marines in the Revolution: A History of the Continental Marines, 1775-1783


Marines in the Revolution: A History of the Continental Marines in the American Revolution 1775-1783

Note: This is a rare work on the early history of the Marine Corps. Since it originally was published a number of years ago in a much larger format, we had to reduce it to a reasonable 8.5×11 inches. Readers may note some darkening of several page edges from the reduction process. Also, several paintings have been reduced in size. All information has been retained and none of these minor appearance changes impact readability. Please enjoy this wealth if information. (SJP) Marines are as old as naval warfare itself. When Themistocles mobilized Athenian sea power against the invading Persians ¡n 480 B.C., one of his first decrees was to order the enlistment of Marines for the fleet. These men, called Epibatae, or “heavy-armed sea soldiers,” fought in the Greek triremes at Salamis which turned back Xerxes and saved Athens. Later, Rome had what Polybius described as milites classiarii (soldiers of the fleet), a category of Roman soldier organized and specially armed for duty on board warships, usually quinqueremes of the line. During the middle ages, ordinary soldiers were frequently embarked on board ship to provide a fighting backbone, but it was not until the naval wars of the 17th century that the distinct and organized role of Marines was almost simultaneously rediscovered by the British and Dutch, who raised the first two modern corps of Marines ¡n 1664 and 1665, respectively. Americans of the 17th and 18th centuries were notably a maritime people. The British colonies were close to the sea, but scattered along a coast line of more than a thousand miles, so that, in the absence of good roads, intercommunication was almost completely by water. Ocean trade also, chiefly with England and the West Indies, was extensive. Fishing was one of the most important industries, especially of the northeastern colonies, and the handling of small vessels on the Newfoundland Banks during all seasons of the year trained large numbers of men in seamanship. The whale fisheries likewise furnished an unsurpassed school for mariners. A considerable number of colonists, therefore, were at home upon the sea and, more than this, they were to some extent practiced in maritime warfare. England, during the 17th and 18th centuries, was at war with various European powers a great part of the time, and almost from the beginning of the colonial period American privateers and letters of marque scoured the ocean in search of French and Spanish prizes. Large fleets were also fitted out and manned by provincials for various expeditions against foreign-held territories. The first of these expeditions to employ Americans in a capacity as Marines was that launched by Admiral Edward Vernon against the Spaniards in the War of the Austrian Succession. British Marines, after the Peace of Utrecht in 1713, were practically disbanded; only four invalid companies remained. However, with the outbreak of hostilities with Spain in 1739, King George Il took measures to re-establish the Marines. On 15 November, in his address to the House of Commons which opened Parliament, the King stated that the prosecution of the war would require “a number of soldiers to serve on board the fleet,” and he “judged it proper, that a body of Marines should be raised.” The following month, an Order ¡n Council decreed the formation of six regiments of Marines, each with an authorized strength of 1,100. Increases soon followed among them were three regiments organized in the colonies and placed under the command of Colonel Alexander Spotswood of Virginia.

510 pages

Categories: All Books, Miscellaneous, Revolutionary War


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