United States Marine Corps
During the Civil War

January 7, 1859 - Col. John Harris is appointed to be the Commandant of the Marine Corps upon the death of Brig. Gen. Archibald Henderson. At 66 years of age, Col. Harris is the oldest officer to ever become Commandant of the Marine Corps.

October 18, 1859 - Eighty-six U.S. Marines under 1/Lt. Israel Greene make a successful hostage rescue attempt and arrest John Brown at Harpers Ferry, VA.

March 1, 1860 - Forty U.S. Marines and seamen from the sloop USS Marion landed at Kissembo, Angola, Portuguese West Africa, to protect American lives and property during a period of local unrest.

May 14, 1860 - A Marine Detachment, commanded by Capt. Algernon S. Taylor, from the Washington Navy Yard, participated in the ceremonies that welcomed the first Japanese Embassy personnel to Washington.

January 5, 1861 - Secretary of the Navy Touncey ordered that Ft. Washington, on the Maryland side of the Potomac River just south of Washington, DC, be garrisoned "to protect public property." Forty U.S. Marines from the Washington Navy Yard, fully equipped for 15 days, under the command of Capt. Algernon S. Taylor, were sent to the fort, a vital link in the defense of the Nation's Capitol, by either land or water.

Four officers and 250 enlisted U.S. Marines boarded the chartered steamer Star of the West at New York City, bound for the relief of Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

January 9, 1861 - Thirty U.S. Marines from the Washington Navy Yard, under the Command of 1/Lt. Andrew Hayes, garrisoned Baltimore's Fort McHenry, until the Army could relieve them.

January 10, 1861 - {Bvt.} Col. Harvey Brown, U.S. Army Artillery, arrived at Fort McHenry. Under the orders of Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott, Col. Brown took command of the post, along with the Marine Detachment. The following day, Col. Harris, the Marine Commandant, sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy Touncey, pointing out that Gen. Scott's order placing Col. Brown of the Army in command of U.S. Marines was in direct violation of the Act of 1834, Sec. 2-Marines were only to be placed under Army orders at the direction of the President.

January 12, 1861 - Capt. Josiah Watson, USMC, of the Pensacola Navy Yard receives orders from Capt. James Armstrong, USN, to form up his U.S. Marines at the main gate, ready for immediate service, fully armed and equipped. Pro-Secessionist Navy Officers, stationed at the Pensacola Navy Yard, orders the Marine Guard to let the rebel forces pass and take procession of the Yard.

January 14, 1861 - U.S. Marines manned howitzers preparatory to the defense of the Washington Navy Yard.

January 16, 1861 - Capt. Algernon S. Taylor, in command of Fort Washington, wrote Marine Commandant Col. John Harris, regarding the "defenseless and pregnable" condition of the fort. Taylor requested reinforcements, commenting that he did "not wish to be placed in a position to detract form the high character of my Corps."

January 22, 1861 - The Secretaries of War & Navy ordered that the U.S. Marines and Army troops on board the USS Brooklyn, in route to Pensacola FL, not be landed to reinforce Fort Pickens, unless that work was taken under attack by the Confederates. The Marine Detachment, Brooklyn Navy Yard is placed under arms to protect the Brooklyn Navy Yard from a possible riot of secessionist sympathizers.

February 1, 1861 - U.S. Marines of the Washington Navy Yard were assigned the defense of the Washington Navy Yard's main gate.

February 6, 1861 - 2/Lt. J. Howard Rathbone, USMC, is the first of 22 Marine Officers who resign their commission to "Go South."

February 12, 1861 - Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott orders U.S. Marines to protect the U.S. Capitol Building from possible rioters.

April 12, 1861 - Under secret orders from Sec. of the Navy Welles, Ft. Pickens, FL, was reinforced by landing troops of the 1st U.S. Artillery and one hundred and ten U.S. Marines, commanded by 2/Lt. John C. Cash

April 20, 1861 - Gosport Navy Yard, in Norfolk, VA, is partially destroyed by sailors and U.S. Marines to prevent the Gosport Navy Yard facilities from falling into Confederate hands. Fifty U.S. Marines, commanded by Captain Hiram Paulding, from the Washington Navy Yard, sailed on the sloop USS Pawnee to reinforce the Gosport Navy Yard, Norfolk, VA.

April 20, 1861 - USS Anacostia was ordered to patrol off Kettle Bottom Shoals, VA, to prevent the obstruction of the channel at that point; the crew was augmented by 20 U.S. Marines from the Washington Navy Yard.

May 24, 1861 - An amphibious expedition, including U.S. Marines, secretly embarked at the Washington Navy Yard and occupies Alexandria, VA.

June 6, 1861 - Forty Marines and seamen from the sloop USS Pawnee landed at White House, Virginia, to protect a survey party.

July 21, 1861 - Battle of Bull Run - A U.S. Marine Battalion, commanded by Maj. John G. Reynolds, was a part of the Federal Army of Northern Virginia's First Brigade. This battalion, consisting of 12 officers and 353 enlisted U.S. Marines who had been in the service an average of less than 3 weeks, fight Stonewall Jackson's Brigade on Henry House Hill. Although they broke and ran 3 times under heavy cavalry and infantry attacks, they reformed each time, until there was a general Union rout. Some Marines later fought a rear guard action at the intersection of the Sudley/New Market Road and the Warrenton Turnpike for some 45 minutes, allowing fleeing Union soldiers to return to Washington DC. Total Marine Losses were 9 killed, 19 wounded, and 6 missing.

July 25, 1861 - An Act of Congress increased Marine Corps' authorized strength to 93 officers and 3,074 enlisted men.

August 19 - 21, 1861 - Asst. Sec. of the Navy Fox ordered 200 U.S. Marines to report to Washington Navy Yard for duty aboard ships of the Potomac River flotilla for the purpose of scouting the Maryland countryside, especially Port Tobacco, for locations suspected of being Confederate depots for provisions and arms to be used for invading Maryland.

August 28, 1861 - Flag Officer Stringham's Squadron began bombardment of Fort Hatteras and Clark; U.S. Marines and troops were landed from surf-boats above the forts under the cover of naval gunfire. The Navy's heavy cannonade forced the Confederates to evacuate Fort Clark.

August 28, 1861 - Four Hundred U.S. Marines and seamen were sent on the steamboat Philadelphia to Alexandria, VA, to report to Brig. Gen. William B. Franklin for the defense of Fort Ellsworth.

September 3, 1861 - Thirty U.S. Marines from the Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., were ordered to reinforce the garrison at Fort Ellsworth, Alexandria, Virginia.

September 14, 1861 - Twenty-nine Marines and seamen, commanded by Captain Edward M. Reynolds, from the frigate USS Colorado, rowed into the harbor of Pensacola, Florida, to board and burn the Confederate privateer, Judah.

September 16 - 17, 1861 - A Landing Party from the USS Pawnee, including U.S. Marines, destroyed guns and fortifications on Beacon Island, closing Ocracoke Inlet, NC. Adm. D. D. Porter later wrote: "The closing of those inlets {Hatteras and Ocracoke} to the Sounds of NC sent the blockade runners elsewhere to find entrance to Southern Markets, but as channel after channel was closed to smugglers, their chance diminished."

September 17, 1861 - Confederate troops evacuated Ship Island, MS, a Landing Party, including U.S. Marines from the USS Massachusetts, took possession of the Fort.

November 2, 1861 - The U.S. Transport Governor carrying the U.S. Marine "Special Amphibious Battalion," under Maj. John G. Reynolds, sinks off Georgetown, SC.

November 7, 1861 - Naval forces, including U.S. Marines, under Flag Officer Du Pont, captured Port Royal Sound.

November 7, 1861 - U.S. Marines and seamen from the frigate USS Santee, after being repulsed by the Confederate steamer General Rusk, succeeded in seizing and sinking the Confederate ship Royal Yacht at Galveston Bar, Texas.

November 22, 1861 - The Marine Corps is authorized by Congress to enlist an additional 500 Privates and a proportionate number of NCO's.

December 12, 1861 - U.S. Marines from the US Sloop Dale boarded the steamer USS Isaac Smith, landed at Fenwick's Island Fort, NC, for reconnaissance purposes, and later burned Confederate buildings at Mosquito Creek Junction, North Carolina.

December 26, 1861- U.S. Marines from the sloop USS Dale skirmished with Confederate troops at the mouth of the South Edisto River, SC.

January 13, 1862 - Marines from the USS Hatteras landed at Cedar Keys, Florida to burn Confederate stores.

January 16, 1862 - Gunfire and boat crews, including U.S. Marines from the USS Hatteras, destroyed a Confederate battery, 7 small vessels loaded with cotton and turpentine ready to run the blockade, a railroad depot, wharf, and the telegraph office at Cedar Keys, FL. A small detachment of Confederate troops was taken prisoner.

January 31, 1862 - By the time General U. S. Grant, in command of the Federal Army of the West, was prepared to advance up the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers in 1862, seven river gunboats were available to participate in the campaign, and a number of others were in the process of construction at St. Louis. The first contingent of U.S. Marines to be assigned to this flotilla consisted of one second lieutenant and twenty-seven enlisted men, and joined the flagship of the flotilla, the St. Louis, on January 31, 1862. These river gunboats supported Grant's army in the successful attacks on Fort Henry and Fort Donelson.

Cairo, Illinois, was selected as the base for the river flotilla, and its development began during 1862. A Marine guard of 4 officers and 88 enlisted men transferred from Headquarters, Washington DC, during November of that year for the purpose of maintaining the usual Naval Station guard at Cairo and furnishing detachments for a few of the ships of the flotilla. A detachment of one officer and thirty-eight U.S. Marines went aboard the USS Black-Hawk. A sergeant's guard was maintained at various times on one or two of the river vessels. The Marine Detachment, Cairo, IL, was maintained throughout the remainder of the war; its strength was augmented to 158 officers and men during the spring of 1864. In May of that year it was removed to Mound City, Illinois, a few miles to the north of Cairo, where practically all naval property had been placed.

February 2, 1862 - U.S. Marines assisted Army troops in the seizure of Confederate positions on Roanoke Island, NC.

February 10, 1862 - The Marine detachments of 14 United States vessels took part in the pursuit of a Confederate naval fleet up Croatan Sound from Roanoke Island, NC, and in the occupation of Fort Cobb and Elizabeth City, NC.

February 19, 1862 - The Marine detachments from ships of the Atlantic Squadron took part in the Battle of Winston, NC.

March 4, 1862 - A battalion of U.S. Marines, commanded by Major John C. Reynolds, landed from the transport McClellan to occupy the town of Fernandina, FL. A company of U.S. Marines from the sloop USS Mohican occupied Fort Clinch, GA.

March 8, 1862 - CSS Virginia, formerly the USS Merrimac, destroyed USS Cumberland off Hampton Roads, VA. The Virginia rammed the Cumberland below her waterline, but the USS Cumberland continued firing her guns as long as they were above the water. The U.S. Marine crewed gun was the last gun fired from the Cumberland, firing as the main deck became awash.

March 11, 1862 - A Landing Party, including U.S. Marines, from the USS Walbash, occupied St. Augustine, FL, which had been evacuated by Confederate troops in the face of the Union naval threat.

March 12, 1862 - The Marine detachments of United States gunboats took part in a combined Army/Navy expedition up Slocum's Creek, NC, to capture the towns of New Bern and Washington, NC.

March 14, 1862 - A joint amphibious operation captured Confederate batteries on the Neuse River and occupied New Bern, NC. The landing force, including U.S. Marines, took "an immense depot of army fixtures and manufactures, of shot and shell..."

March 26, 1862 - The Marine detachment of the steamer USS New London participated in action with the Confederate steamers Oregon and Pamlico at Pass Christian on the Gulf of Mexico.

April, 1862 - The U.S. Marine Amphibious Battalion returns to the Washington Navy Yard from Bay Point, SC.

April 16, 1862 - U.S. Marines from the steamer USS Pocahontas and a detachment of the Third New Hampshire Volunteers reconnoitered Seabrook Island, Edisto River, SC.

April 25, 1862 - On the night of April 24th, Captain David G. Farragut's 17 ship Squadron fought their way past Forts Jackson and St. Phillip at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The next day, having destroyed a Confederate river flotilla, Farragut lay off New Orleans.

The following morning, a detachment of thirty U.S. Marines, under 2nd/Lt J. C. Harris from the USS Pensacola, landed and marched through the crowds to the U.S. Mint, lowered the Confederate flag, and replaced it with the flag of the Union. Soon afterward the remainder of the squadron's U.S. Marines formed into a 300-man battalion, landed under the command of Marine Capt. J. L. Broome. Capt. Broome led his battalion through the narrow streets, first to the Customhouse, then to the City Hall. At each place he raised the national colors and left a guard. For three days Broome's battalion held New Orleans until General Benjamin Butler's soldiers arrived and the Army took control of the city. On May 1st the U.S. Marines withdrew from New Orleans and returned to the vessels of the squadron.

May 8, 1862 - A Landing Party, including U.S. Marines from the USS Iroquois, seized an arsenal and took possession of Baton Rouge, LA.

May 9, 1862 - The Marine detachments of the steamers USS Susquehanna, USS San Jacinto, USS St. Lawrence, and USS Mount Vernon, as well as the sloops USS Dakota and USS Seminole, took part in the bombardment of Sewell's Point, Virginia, with Norfolk surrendering two days later to the Army.

May 10, 1862 - Pensacola, Fl, is occupied by U.S. Army and Naval Forces.

U.S. Marines manned secondary guns aboard the Union flotilla that repelled an attack by Confederate ships off Fort Pillow, Tennessee.

May 12, 1862 - U.S. forces, including 200 U.S. Marines, under the command of Gen. Wool reoccupy the Gosport Navy Yard, Norfolk, VA.

May 15, 1862 - The James River Flotilla encountered obstructions sunk across the river and at close range hotly engaged sharpshooters and strong Confederate batteries, manned in part by Confederate sailors and C.S. Marines, at Drewy's Bluff. For his part in the action Cpl. John B. Mackie, a member of the USS Galena's Marine Detachment, was awarded the U.S. Marines' first Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor Recipient

Cpl. John F. Mackie, U.S. Marine Corps

John F. Mackie, Corporal on U.S.S Galena
Born in New York City 1835

Born in New York, NY. Cpl Mackie enlisted in the Federal Marine Corps on Aug. 23 1861. He was the first Marine to be awarded the Navy issue Medal of Honor. His citation reads: "On board the USS Galena in the attack on Fort Darling at Drewry's Bluff, James river, on May 15, 1862.

As enemy shellfire raked the deck of his ship, Corporal Mackie fearlessly maintained his musket fire against the rifle pits along shore and, when ordered to fill vacancies at guns caused by men wounded and killed in action manned the weapon with skill and courage."

After receiving his Medal of Honor on 10 July 1863, the Corporal was transferred to the Norfolk Navy Yard and was subsequently posted to the nine-gun sloop USS Seminole as "Orderly Sergeant in Charge." For the remainder of the war Mackie served aboard this ship. He was discharged from the Corps 24 August 1865 in Boston, after having completed four years and four months of service with the Marines.

He later married and settled in the Philadelphia P.N., area. Mackie died in 1910.

An interesting after note on the action which earned him his Medal of Honor, Drewry's Bluff, and the Confederate Fort which the Union was attacking was a major training base and post for the small Confederate Marine Corps. It was never taken from the river, but was eventually outflanked during the Federal push on Richmond. Today it is a National Park with several of the revetments still in evidence.

Rank and Organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 1836, New York, N.Y. Accredited To: New York. G.O. No.: 17, 10 July 1863.


"On board the U.S.S. Galena in the attack on Fort Darling at Drewry's Bluff, James River, on 15 May 1862. As enemy shellfire raked the deck of his ship, Corporal Mackie fearlessly maintained his musket fire against the rifle pits along the shore and, when ordered to fill vacancies at guns caused by men wounded and killed in action, manned the weapon with skill and courage."

June 24, 1862 - Sixty U.S. Marines from the steamers USS James Adger, USS Keystone State, and USS Albatross boarded the gunboats Hall and Andrew to act as sharpshooters in raids up the Santee and Wahamau Rivers, South Carolina.

June 28, 1862 - The Marine detachments aboard the USS Hartford, the USS Brooklyn, and the USS Richmond served secondary guns in action against Confederate batteries at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

June 7, 1862 - Marines served aboard ships of the Union flotilla which destroyed three Confederate ships on the Mississippi River, dispersed the remainder, and obtained the surrender of Memphis, Tennessee.

July 17, 1862 - Congress passed an act which established that "every officer, seaman or Marine, disabled in the line of duty, shall be entitled to receive for life, or during disability, a pension from the United States. . . "

July 17-18, 1862 - Twenty-eight U.S. Marines and sailors from the USS Grey Cloud, under 1/Lt. George Collier captured or destroyed a steamer and 2 schooners rumored to be loaded with cotton, and destroyed telegraphic communications between Pascagoula and Mobile.

August 8, 1862 - Ninety-five U.S. Marines, commanded by 1st Lt. H.B. Lowry, from the USS Wabash and the USS New Ironsides, took part in setting up guns on Morris Island, SC.

August 22, 1862 - R/Adm. Farragut instructed Lt. Cdr. Phillip C. Johnson, commanding the USS Tennessee, that "you will stop at Pilot Town [LA] and bring Lt. McClain Tilton and the Marine guard, together with all the stores you can [to the Pensacola Navy Yard]." Earlier in the year the U.S. Marines had garrisoned the town.

August 23, 1862 - A force of U.S. Marines, commanded by Captain David M. Cohen, from the Brooklyn Navy Yard quelled a riot among Army recruits of General Spinola's "Empire Brigade".

September 8, 1862 - A Landing Party from the USS Kingfisher destroyed salt works at St. Joseph's Bay, FL, which could produce some 200 bushels of salt a day. Three days later, similar works at St. Andrew's Bay were destroyed by a Landing Party from the USS Sagamore.

October 4, 1862 - A Landing Party from the USS Thomas Freeborn entered Dumfries, VA, and destroyed the telegraph office and wires of the line from Occoquan to Richmond via Fredericksburg.

October 4, 1862 - A Landing Party from the USS Somerset and Tahoma destroyed the salt works at Depot Key, FL.

October 31, 1862 - A Landing Party from USS Mahaska destroyed Confederate gun positions on Wormley's Creek and at West Point, VA.

December 21, 1862 - A detachment of U.S. Marines, commanded by Captain McLane Tilton, garrisoned Pilot Town, LA.

December 27, 1862 - A company of U.S. Marines, commanded by Major Addison Garland, arrived on the USS Independence as a garrison for Mare Island, CA.

January 10, 1863 - The 18-man Marine guard of the USS Wachusett took charge of the captured Confederate iron-clad steamer Virginia to sail her from Jajores Island, Yucatan, Mexico, to Key West, Florida, for disposal.

March 14, 1863 - The Marine Detachments of the USS Hartford, the USS Richmond, the USS Mississippi, and the USS Monongahela, took part in the attack on Port Hudson, Louisiana.

March 19, 1863 - The Marine Detachment aboard the USS Hartford participated in the bombardment of Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

March 26, 1863 - The Marine Detachments aboard ships of Admiral David G. Farragut's Union squadron took part in engagements with Confederate batteries at Warrenton, below Vicksburg, Mississippi.

April 2 - 9, 1863 - Sailors and U.S. Marines from the USS Fort Henry, reconnoitered Bayport FL.

April 20, 1863 - A Landing Party under Lt./Cdr. George U. Morris, USS Port Royal, captured cotton awaiting transportation at Apalachicola, FL.

July 6, 1863: A battalion of U.S. Marines, serving aboard ships from the South Atlantic Squadron, reinforced Army troops operating on Morris Island, South Carolina, in an unsuccessful attempt to take Fort Wagner, protecting Charleston, South Carolina.

July 13 - 16, 1863 - When the Federal Draft Law went into effect, serious rioting broke out in New York City. A Naval Brigade was organized at the Brooklyn Navy Yard under the command of Lieutenant Commander R. W. Meade. A two-company battalion of about 180 U.S. Marines under Captain J. C. Grayson joined the brigade. It proceeded to the City Hall, and Grayson's battalion was distributed to different localities, where they kept the streets clear and assisted police in making arrests and otherwise suppressing the rioters. The U.S. Marines also patrolled the more disorderly districts and guarded public buildings and property. The naval brigade withdrew from the city on July 20, having won for itself the approbation of the city authorities as well as that of the orderly element of the city's inhabitants.

July 15, 1863 - Landing Parties from the USS Stars and Stripes and Somerset landed at Marsh's Island, FL, and destroyed some 60 bushels of salt and 50 salt boilers.

July 15, 1863 - The Marine Detachments aboard Union Ships manned secondary guns in action against the Confederate ram Arkansas above Vicksburg, MS.

July 16, 1863 - The Marine detachment of the sloop USS Wyoming took part in the action when the Wyoming was fired upon by shore batteries and was attacked by ships of the Prince of Magato in the Straits of Shimonoseki, Japan.

July 17, 1863 - R/Adm. Dahlgren, preparing to attack Ft. Wagner, wrote Sec. of the Navy Welles about the critical shortage of men in his squadron. Men were being required to bombard by day and blockade by night. The Admiral asked for 500 U.S. Marines: ". . . there will be occasion for them."

July 23, 1863 - Marine Commandant Col. John Harris informs Secretary of the Navy Welles that he could assemble a battalion of 400 U.S. Marines from various stations, which he envisioned being divided into 4 companies, each with a Captain and 2 Lieutenants. The Battalion was to be assembled in New York, and the Commandant hoped that they would be ready to sail aboard the US Coast Survey Schooner Arago on the last day of July.

July 28, 1863 - Secretary of the Navy Welles informed Adm. Dahlgren that the USS Aries had departed Boston with 200 men and upon her return from Charleston would bring 200 more sailors from New York to him. He added; "A battalion of Marines, about 400 in number, will leave New York on the steamer Arago on Friday next."

August 5, 1863 - 257 U.S. Marines arrived at Charleston Harbor to augment Union forces. R/Adm. Dahlgren quickly cut the number of U.S. Marines aboard the ships of his squadron to a minimum and sent the balance to the Battalion under Maj. Jacob Zeilin at Morris Island. Dahlgren ordered the 502 man Marine Battalion to be ready "to move on an instant notice; rapidity of movement is one of the greatest elements of military power."

The Marine Battalion was among the Army and Navy personnel assigned for the assault on Battery Wagner, and placed in support of a battery of the 1st US Artillery. This battery came to be known as the "Marine Battery".

This Marine Battalion was assigned to assault Battery Wagner's rear - between Battery Wagner and Battery Gregg. The U.S. Marines were spared this dangerous assignment when Battery Gregg was evacuated by Confederate forces on the night of September 6.

August 10, 1863 - A Marine battalion, commanded by Major Jacob Zeilin, joined U.S. Marines from the South Atlantic Squadron on Morris Island, SC, to provide artillery support for forces ashore.

September 8, 1863 - Cdr. Stevens led an assault on Ft. Sumter, comprising more than 30 boats and some 400 sailors and U.S. Marines. The 100 U.S. Marines, under Capt. E. McDonald Reynolds, participated in the night-time assault. The assault force was loaded into launches and towed by the tug Daffodil. As far as possible, the Marine Officers were distributed evenly throughout the various Marine boats. In the assault, the U.S. Marines were to follow behind the boats of the sailors so that they might provide covering fire for the landing. The attack was repulsed, and over 100 men (including 30 U.S. Marines) were captured. In spite of the failure of the assault, Adm. Dahlgren commended the U.S. Marines for their services and all 5 Marine officers who survived the assault received brevet promotions.

September 1863 - Lt. Col. John G. Reynolds arrives to take command of the Marine Battalion, owing to the illness of Maj. Zeilin. The U.S. Marines were transferred to a camp on Folly Island, and was subsequently used as a replacement pool for the USS Pawnee, Marblehead, and C.P. Williams, as well as other vessels of the Squadron.

October 31, 1863 - The U.S. Marine Battalion at Folly Island has a strength of 170 U.S. Marines, partly due to illness, and demands on the Battalion's manpower. By the end of the year, the Battalion is demobilized, and the Battalion's remaining U.S. Marines are returned to the Washington Navy Yard.

December 28, 1863 - A detachment of U.S. Marines and seamen from the steamer USS Marblehead landed at Stono, South Carolina, to capture and destroy a Confederate supply depot.

January 1, 1864 - A detachment of 30 U.S. Marines and seamen from the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron landed at Murrell's Inlet, Charleston, South Carolina, and sank a Confederate schooner.

February 20, 1864 - Forty U.S. Marines, commanded by First Lieutenant Richard S. Collum, reported to guard ordnance stores at Mound City, Illinois.

April 18, 1864 - A Landing Party from the USS Commodore Reed destroyed a Confederate base together with a quantity of equipment and supplies at Circus Point, on the Rappahannock River, VA.

April 19, 1864 - U.S. Marines were serving aboard the steam frigate USS Wabash off the Carolina coast, when a boat carrying a spar torpedo attacked her.

May 6, 1864 - U.S. Marines aboard the USS Metabesett, the USS Myalusing, the USS Sassacus, and the USS Whitehead took part in the action against the Confederate ram Albemarle in the coastal waters off North Carolina.

May 12, 1864 - U.S. Marine Corps Commandant, Col. John Harris dies.

May 26, 1864 - Illustrative of the global demands put on the Navy and U.S. Marines was the request of Robert H. Pruyn, Minister to Japan, that the USS Jamestown, be brought to the port of Kanagawa, which the Japanese threatened to close.

June 9, 1864 - With the death of U.S. Marine Commandant Col. John Harris, [on May 2,] Secretary of the Navy Welles decided "to retire the Marine officers who are past the legal age, and to bring Zeilin as Commandant of the Corps." Retirement of over-age Naval and Marine Officers was one of the most difficult administrative problems of the war.

June 10, 1864 - Lt./Col. Jacob Zeilin is appointed seventh Commandant of the Marine Corps.

June 10, 1864 - Marine gun crews participated in one of the Navy's finest hours in the Civil War. U.S. Marines manned one of the USS Kearsarge's heaviest guns when the sloop-of-war sank the Confederate raider Alabama off the coast of France.

July 3, 1864 - Thirty U.S. Marines, with two light howitzers, took part in an Army skirmish with Confederates on Dawho River, White Point, South Carolina.

July 11, 1864 - A Marine battalion, commanded by Captain James Forney, was part of a naval brigade from the Philadelphia Navy Yard that reopened the Washington-Baltimore railroad at Havre de Gras, Maryland.

August 1-4, 1864 - A Landing Party under Cdr. George M. Colvocoresses, composed of 115 officers and men, raided a meeting of civilians forming a coastal guard at McIntoch Court House, GA. Colvocoresses marched his men overland after coming ashore during the night of August 2nd, destroyed a bridge to prevent being cut off by Confederate cavalry, and captured some 26 prisoners and 22 horses before making his way sagely back to the USS Saratoga. R/Adm. Dahlgren, amused at the circumstances of the expedition and pleased with its results, reported to the men of his squadron: "Cdr. Colvocoresses having been favored with a sight of the notice in a Savannah paper, and feeling considerable interest in the object of the meeting, concluded that he would attend it also, which he did, with a number of United States citizens serving at the time on board the USS Saratoga as officers, seamen, and Marines."

August 5, 1864 - U.S. Marines serving as gun crews blasted away at the ram Tennessee and Confederate gunboats when Farragut damned the torpedoes and plunged into Mobile Bay. Eight U.S. Marines won Medals of Honor for their conduct in this single battle. The U.S. Marines on the USS Lackawanna were able to furnish substantial protection to their ship during its fight with the Tennessee by effective delivery of small-arms fire through the gun ports of the enemy vessel. Major Heywood was brevetted Lieutenant Colonel for his gallant and meritorious conduct in this battle.

August 6, 1864 - Twenty-five U.S. Marines, commanded by Bvt. Lt. Col. Charles Heywood, from the USS Hartford and the USS Richmond, occupied Fort Powell, Mobile, Alabama.

November 24, 1864 - A Naval Brigade, sometimes referred to as the Fleet Brigade, composed of 350 sailors and 150 U.S. Marines from ships of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and commanded by Cdr. George H. Preble. The Marine component of the Fleet Brigade was placed under the command of 1st Lt. George G. Stoddard, formerly of the USS New Hampshire.

The Fleet Brigade's U.S. Marines were dispatched aboard the sidewheel gunboat Pontiac and sent to an assembly area at Bay Point on Phillips Island, Port Royal Bay. Stoddard was charged with seeing that the U.S. Marines were instructed in Battalion drill and equipped for service in the field. A levy of "contrabands" was detailed to perform the cooking and fatigue duties of the assembling Fleet Brigade, so that they not be distracted from their drill. The U.S. Marines were to form the role of Infantry, while one battalion of "sailor infantry" operated as skirmishers and another formed an artillery component.

Adm. Dahlgren stressed to his Battalion commanders that the drill utilized should be as simple as possible, indicating the "the evolutions (should) be simply from the order of march to action, and the reverse." It was expected that the U.S. Marines would operate in skirmish order and would protect the 2, 4 gun batteries of naval howitzers.

Lt. Stoddard was the only Marine Officer assigned to the brigade. The other officers assigned to the Marine Battalion were Acting Ensign Woodard Carter, and Admiral's Clerk, J.R. Stanley, who served as the Battalion's Adjutant. A Marine Sergeant served in the role of Captain for each company.

November 28, 1864 - The Marine Battalion of the Fleet Brigade embarked on the USS Sonoma for the trip up the Broad River, to join in an Army action at Honey Hill, near Georgetown, SC. In order to aid Gen. W.T. Sherman in his march toward Savannah, Maj. Gen. Foster had proposed to R/Adm. Dahlgren a campaign up the Broad River to cut the Charleston-Savannah Railway and establish contact with Sherman.

Cdr. Treble organized 1 artillery and 2 naval infantry battalions to operate with the Army and they were landed at Boyd's Landing on November 29th.

November 29, 1864 - The Fleet Brigade, under Cdr. Preble landed at Boyd's Landing, and at 07:30 the Marine Battalion began their advance. Driving back Confederate pickets along the way, the Fleet Brigade advanced up the Boyd's Landing Road until they reached a dead end at the Coosawhatchie Savannah Railroad line. Cdr. Preble chose to take the right hand route, taking him away from his objective, the Grahamville Road. Cdr. Preble realized his error, after marching 3 miles and was forced to countermarch 4 miles to reach the army contingent. This counter-marching was especially difficult on the artillery batteries, since they had no horses for their limbers and were forced to haul their pieces by hand.

November 30, 1864 - The Army troops along with the Fleet Briigade, under Cdr. Preble, advanced on the Charleston-Savannah Railroad. After an advance of about 5 miles, they collided with Confederate cavalry, under Col. Charles Clock, and mixed units of the GA Militia under Confederate Gen. G. W. Smith. At about 09:15 the first artillery shell exploded over the advancing Federals and the Battle of Honey Hill began.

The Federal column pushed back the Confederate detachments for about 4 miles, until it confronted the main Confederate defenses, a line of entrenchment's over a mile long. The Fleet Brigade was in the rear of the Federal column, and was not engaged until 13:00 when Gene Foster ordered the Marine Battalion to the far right of the Federal line, supported by the 55th Mass. The U.S. Marines advanced slowly through the swamp and woods and fell into line at the "double quick," relieving the 144th NY. After this formation change, the Marine Battalion exchanged fire with the Confederate line for about 3 hours. The U.S. Marine Battalion's acting Quartermaster-Sergeant, Sgt. J. Cogley, braved heavy Confederate fire to keep his U.S. Marines supplied with ammunition from the rear.

Around 14:00, Ens. Carter took 20 U.S. Marines and attempted to feel out the Confederate left flank. Unfortunately, after moving some 200 yards without finding the flank, Carter led his small detachment back to its starting point. Lt. Stoddard's U.S. Marines could only see a portion of the battlefield, but it was evident that the attempt to push through to the railroad was proving unsuccessful. Unable to break through the entrenched Confederates, the U.S. Marines withdrew with the rest of the Federal troops that evening.

Lt. Stoddard's Marine Battalion helped cover the withdrawal and established itself near its original position, where the U.S. Marines prepared defenses and performed picket duty. Despite the length of the battle at Honey Hill, the day's fighting had left 1 Marine killed, 6 wounded, and 1 missing.

Gen. Foster then decided with Dahlgren, who accompanied his Brigade as far as Boyd's Landing, that the main thrust should come up the Tulifinny River toward Pocotaligo.

December 5 - 9, 1864 - The Naval Brigade under Cdr. Preble participated in heavy fighting around Tulifinny Crossroads, GA, while Federal troops attempted to cut the Savannah-Charleston Railway and join with the advancing forces of Gen. Sherman. The Naval Brigade was withdrawn from Boyd's Landing, Broad River on December 5th, and while Union gunboats made a feint against the Coosawatachie River fortifications, U.S. Marines and sailors landed near Tulifinny River. During the next 4 days, the versatile Naval Brigade participated in a series of nearly continuous heavy actions, though plagued by rain and swampy terrain. Union forces advanced close enough to the strategic railway to shell it, but failed to destroy it.

December 23, 1864 - U.S. Marines were serving aboard ships of the South Atlantic Squadron, manning secondary guns in the bombardment of Fort Fisher, North Carolina.

December 28, 1864 - The military situation having been stabilized in the Tulifinny River area of SC, R/Adm. Dahlgren withdrew the Naval Brigade under Cdr. Preble and returned the sailors and U.S. Marines comprising it to their ships. The 500 man Brigade, hastily brought together and trained in infantry tactics, performed vital service in the arduous 4 week campaign. Maj./Gen. Foster, commanding the Military District of the South, complimented Dahlgren on the Brigade's courage and skill: ". . . its gallantry in action and good conduct during the irksome life in camp won from all the land forces with which it served the highest praises." Although the Savannah-Charleston railroad was not cut by the expedition, it did succeed in diverting Confederate troops opposing Sherman's march across GA.

January 13 - 15, 1865
- Early in the morning of the 13th, the 2nd amphibious assault on Ft. Fisher began. R/Adm. Porter took some 59 warships into action and M/Gen. Terry command 8,000 soldiers. The Naval Landing Party of 2,000 sailors and U.S. Marines would raise the assaulting force to 10,000. Col. Lamb's Confederate defenders numbered 1,500.

The 2,000 man Naval Landing Party, made up of 1,500 sailors and 500 U.S. Marines was instructed to hit the beach when the assault signal was made. Armed with pistols and cutlasses, the sailors were ordered to "board the fort in a seaman-like way. The U.S. Marines will form in the rear and cover the sea face for Fort Fisher."

At 3:00 p.m. the sailors, U.S. Marines and soldiers ashore charged the Confederate fortifications. Because the Army advanced through a wooded area while the Naval Brigade dashed across an open beach, the defenders opened a concentrated fire at point blank range on the naval attack, "polishing lanes in the ranks." Leading the assault, Lt. Samuel W. Preston, one of the war's ablest young naval officers, and Lt. Benjamin H. Porter, Commanding Officer of the flagship USS Malvern, were among those killed. Unchecked, however, the assaulting force under the command of Lt./Cdr. K. Randolph Breese pressed forward. Ens. Robley D. Evans--later to become R/Adm. "Fighting Bob" Evans vividly described the assault: "About 500 yards, from the fort the head of the column suddenly stopped, and, as if by magic, the whole mass of men went down like a row of falling bricks. . . The officers called on the men, and they responded instantly, starting forward as fast as they could go. At about 300 yards they again went down, and this time under the effect of canister added to the rifle fire. Again we rallied them, and once more started to the front under a perfect hail of lead, with men dropping rapidly in every direction." Some 60 men under Lt./Cdr. Thomas O. Selfridge reached and broke through the palisade, but it was the high water mark of the charge. They were hurled back and other recoiled under the withering fire after approaching the stockade and the base of the parapets. "All the officers," Evans wrote, "in their anxiety to be first into the fort, had advanced to the heads of the columns, leaving no one to steady the men in behind; and it was in this way we were defeated, by the men breaking from the rear."

More than 35 sailors and U.S. Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism in this action that closed the Confederacy's last supply line from Europe.

February 26, 1865 - Six companies of U.S. Marines, commanded by First Lieutenant George G. Stoddard, occupied Georgetown, South Carolina.

March 16-18, 1865 - A naval party, including 70 U.S. Marines and sailors sailed up the right fork of Mattox Creek, VA, where it destroyed 4 guns and 3 schooners.

April 15, 1865 - With the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of the Navy Welles sent a telegram to Commodore John B. Montgomery, Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard: "If the military authorities arrest the murderer of the President and take him to the Yard, put him on a monitor and anchor her in the stream, with strong guard on vessel, wharf, and in yard. Call upon the Commandant of the Marine Corps for guard. Have vessel immediately prepared to receive him at any hour, day or night, with necessary instructions. He will be heavily ironed and so guarded as to prevent escape or injury to himself."

April 16, 1865 - U.S. Marines from the Washington Navy Yard guarded the body of John Wilkes Booth after Abraham Lincoln's assassination.

The Medal Of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for bravery that can be given to any individual in the United States. In judging men for receipt of the medal, each service has established its own regulations. The deed must be proved by incontestable evidence of at least two eyewitnesses; it must be so outstanding that it clearly distinguishes the recipient's gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery; it must involve the risk of his life; and it must be the type of deed which, if he had not done it, would not subject him to any justified criticism.

The idea for the Medal of Honor was born during the Civil War as men fought gallantly and oftentimes displayed great heroism. George Washington originated the Purple Heart in 1782 to honor brave soldiers, sailors and Marines. From that time until the Civil War, Certificates of Merit and a "brevet" system of promotions were used as military awards. The first military decoration formally authorized by the American Government as a badge of valor was the Medal of Honor for enlisted men of the Navy and Marine Corps. It was authorized by Congress, and approved by President Abraham Lincoln on 21 December 1861. The medal for the Army and Voluntary Forces was authorized on 12 July 1862.

The medal is awarded "in the name of the Congress of the United States" and for this reason, it is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor. It is only on rare occasions, however, that Congress awards special Medals of Honor. An Executive Order, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt on 20 September 1905, directed that ceremonies of award "will always be made with formal and impressive ceremonial" and that the recipient "will, when practicable, be ordered to Washington, D.C., and the presentation will be made by the President, as Commander in Chief, or by such representative as the President may designate."

Since 1862, 294 Marines have been awarded the Medal of Honor. The first recipient was Corporal John F. Mackie, who during the attack on Fort Darling at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia, "fearlessly maintained his musket fire against the rifle pits on shore, and when ordered to fill vacancies at guns caused by men wounded and killed in action, manned the weapon with skill and courage." Sixteen other enlisted Marines were awarded the medal during the Civil War. Another 63 Marines would receive the Medal of Honor in the 1871 Korean Campaign, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion. Marine and Navy officers were first declared eligible for the award in 1913, and in the next year nine medals were awarded to officers for the landing at Vera Cruz, Mexico. The "Banana Wars" saw a total of another 13 medals conferred on enlisted Marines and officers. Only two Marines, Major General Smedley D. Butler and Sergeant Major Daniel Daly were awarded Medals of Honor for two separate actions: Vera Cruz (1914) and Haiti (1915) for Butler, and Peking (1900) and Haiti (1915) for Daly. Although only 7 Marines received the medal for actions during World War I, 82 medals were given to Marines during World War II, and another 42 were awarded for the Korean War. It was during the Vietnam War that the last Medals of Honor were awarded to Marines. A total of 57 were awarded during that conflict.

There have been four major variations in the Navy Medal of Honor since its inception, the most distinctive change being the "Tiffany Cross" which was instituted in early 1919 and used until the current medal was re-established in 1942. The Navy Medal of Honor is made of bronze, suspended by an anchor from a bright blue ribbon, and is worn about the neck. The ribbon is spangled with a cluster of 13 white stars representing the original States. Each ray of the five pointed star contains sprays of laurel and oak and is tipped with a trefoil. Standing in bas-relief, circled by 34 stars representing the 34 states in 1861, is Minerva who personifies the Union. She holds in her left hand the fasces, an ax bound in staves of wood, which is the ancient Roman symbol of authority. With the shield in her right hand, she repulses the serpents held by the crouching figure of Discord. The reverse of the medal is left blank, allowing for the engraving of the recipient's name and the date and place of his deed.

Click here to see a list of
Medal Of Honor Recipients

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