Saturday, September 15, 2007


There has not been much information on the role of the Marines in the Civil War. Their traditional role, ship security, small scale land missions, and fighting at sea, was not called for in the major land battles of the war. Still, Marines played a part in the eventual Union victory.


In 1861 the US Marine Corps consisted of the Commandant, usually a Colonel, a Major who had the dual jobs of Adjutant and Inspector, another Major who was the Paymaster, a Quartermaster, another Major, and an Assistant Quartermaster, a Captain, making up the Command Section.
Operations consisted of a Lieutenant Colonel, four Majors, 13 Captains, 20 First Lieutenants, 20 Second Lieutenants, 101 Sergeants, 137 corporals, and 1347 Privates.
This was soon raised to include one additional Colonel, one additional Lieutenant Colonel, one additional Assistant Quartermaster, seven more Captains, 10 more First Lieutenants, and 10 more Second Lieutenants. A total Enlisted strength of 220 more corporals, and 2500 privates was also authorized.

The US Marine Corps was the size of almost three standard Civil War regiments.

The US Marines had already played a role in pre-Civil War tensions; it was a detachment of Marines, led by US Army Colonel Robert E. Lee, who put down John Brown’s Revolt in 1859.

The raise in Marines was done after a detachment of 13 Officers and 336 Enlisted were among those running from the battlefield at First Bull run (Manassas, VA). Some of these additions were also for replacing officers who resigned their commissions and joined a newly created Confederate States Marine Corps.

Two noted missions that the Marines were a part of was an assault on Fort Sumter, Charleston, SC on 8 September, 1863, which failed, an engagement at Honey Hill, SC in 1864, and the assault on Fort Fisher, 15 January 1865 as part of a sailor/Marine force.

Marine uniforms were a little bit different then the Army’s. The headgear was the traditional kepi with a badge consisting of an “M” set in a red oval. The blouse was the same as the Army’s and was colored the same shade of blue. The trousers were white instead of sky blue. Enlisted rank was noted as upward pointing red chevrons while the officer rank was marked by the use of Russian Knots instead of the rank badges the Army used.


The CS Marine Corps was initially made up of six companies officered by former US Marine officers. The Corps was soon commanded by a Colonel, with a Lieutenant Colonel, three Majors (adjutant, paymaster, and quartermaster), a Sergeant Major, a Quartermaster Sergeant, and two Musicians in the Command Section.
Operation were conducted at the company level with 10 Captains, 10 First Lieutenants, 20 Second Lieutenants, 40 Sergeants, 40 Corporals, and 840 Privates.

The companies were assigned thus:

Company A: formed at New Orleans in 1861 and was assigned to Richmond in 1862.

Company B: formed at New Orleans in 1861 and was assigned to Richmond in 1862.

Company C: formed at New Orleans in 1861 and was assigned to Richmond in 1862.

Company D: formed at Memphis and Mobile, assigned to Mobile.

Company E: formed at Savannah, assigned to Charleston in 1864 and sent a detachment to Wilmington.

Company F: formed at New Orleans, moved to Mobile after New Orleans fell.

Parts of these companies were detached to ship duty aboard the following: CSS Atlanta, Baltic, Charleston, Chicora, Columbia, Dalman, Drewry, Fredericksburg, Gaines, Gallego, Huntress, Indian Chief, Isondiaga, Jamestown, Macon, McRae, Morgan, Nashville, North Carolina, Palmetto State, Patrick Henry, Raleigh, Resolute, Richmond, Sampson, Savannah (both the steamer and the ironclad vessels), Tennessee, Time, United States, Virginia, Virginia II, Tallahassee/Olustree, Shenandoah, Georgia, Rappahannock, Stonewall, Artic, and Georgia.

The first CS Marines fought during the attack of CSS Virginia on the Federal blockade on 8-9 March, 1862. Their last engagement was at Saylor’s Creek on 6 April, 1865.

CS Marine uniforms almost copied the US Marine model, except that the overblouse was gray and the enlisted chevrons were brown. It is not known if the kepis had any ornamentation, as records were destroyed in 1865. The same white trousers were used.

Weapons for either side would be the standard rifled muskets and sidearms, but specially treated to prevent corrosion while at sea.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]