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Happy birthday to the Corps

November 10, 2010

Happy birthday Marines

The Marine Corps is 235 years old today.  That’s pretty impressive.  As a former Army infantryman, I don’t hold a ton of love for the USMC, or Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children as we like to call them.  We always considered Marines overdressed embassy guards or rejects from the Navy.  But that is just inter-branch rivalry, and any soldier or marine would take a bullet for each other without question.

In honor of the Marines, I decided to post a little about their early history, with respect to the Marine Corps Hymn.

From the Halls of Montezuma…

In one of the most historic battles of the Mexican War, Marines secured the Halls of Montezuma.

In 1847, Army Gen. Winfield Scott, commanding general, sent American troops to attack Mexico City.

Since Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had massed most of his army south of the city, Scott decided to attack from the west. That side was guarded by the Hill of Chapultepec, which was 600 yards by 200 feet high surrounded by a 12-foot wall. A school that was once a palace topped the hill, making it a fearsome objective to assault. But once they took Chapultepec, the Americans could move on the causeways leading into Mexico City.

On Sept. 13, the Americans launched their attack at 8 a.m. Army Brig. Gen. John Quitman led the 4th Division, which included Marines.

An assault of 120 handpicked Marines and soldiers attacked the hill from the south, fighting hand-to-hand with bayonets as they struggled up the steep hill. Americans reached the castle and raised an American flag over the fortress at 9:30 a.m.

Marine Capt. George Terrett led 1st Lt. John Simms, 2nd Lt. Charles Henderson (son of the Corps’ commandant at the time, Col. Archibald Henderson) and 36 leathernecks in pursuit of enemy troops as they fell back toward the city. Terrett and his Marines raced up the San Cosme causeway under heavy fire. Twenty infantrymen led by Army Lt. Ulysses S. Grant (future general and president) joined them as they fought their way up the causeway toward the city’s heavily defended San Cosme Gate.

Simms and Henderson attacked the gate with 85 men. They found it was too heavily defended, so Simms and Marine Lt. Jabez Rich led seven Marines to attack from the left side of the same gate. Henderson, who was wounded in the leg, simultaneously attacked from the front. Together, they seized San Cosme Gate after taking six casualties.

Once Chapultepec fell, Quitman moved his division under fire up the Belen causeway toward the Belen gate. They were stopped at the gate by the intense Mexican defense. Finally, the Marines and soldiers took the Belen gate in the afternoon, and it was dark when Terrett’s men took the San Cosme Gate. At dawn the next day, Quitman and Worth prepared to assault the two entrances to the city, but Santa Anna had pulled out.

Quitman’s men raced through the crowded streets into the Grand Plaza and took the Mexican National Plaza, where before had stood the Halls of Montezuma. The Marines were stationed to guard the palace, and Scott found the streets secured when he marched into the city.

During the battle at Chapultepec, 90 percent of the Marine officers and noncommissioned officers who fought were killed. After the war, Marine commissioned and noncommissioned officers added scarlet stripes to their blue dress trousers, which are now referred to as “blood stripes,” to commemorate the Marines’ blood shed at Chapultepec.

January 16, 2006
The Lore of the Corps
Marines take historic Halls of Montezuma
By Don Burzynski
Special to the Times from the Marine Corps Times

To the Shores of Tripoli…

Assaulting the fortress at Derna

After marching 500 miles from Egypt, U.S. agent William Eaton leads a small force of U.S. Marines and Berber mercenaries against the Tripolitan port city of Derna. The Marines and Berbers were on a mission to depose Yusuf Karamanli, the ruling pasha of Tripoli, who had seized power from his brother, Hamet Karamanli, a pasha who was sympathetic to the United States.

The First Barbary War had begun four years earlier, when U.S. President Thomas Jefferson ordered U.S. Navy vessels to the Mediterranean Sea in protest of continuing raids against U.S. ships by pirates from the Barbary states–Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, and Tripolitania. American sailors were often abducted along with the captured booty and ransomed back to the United States at an exorbitant price. After two years of minor confrontations, sustained action began in June 1803, when a small U.S. expeditionary force attacked Tripoli harbor in present-day Libya.

In April 1805, a major American victory came during the Derna campaign, which was undertaken by U.S. land forces in North Africa. Supported by the heavy guns of the USS Argus and the USS Hornet, Marines and Arab mercenaries under William Eaton captured Derna and deposed Yusuf Karamanli. Lieutenant Presley O’ Bannon, commanding the Marines, performed so heroically in the battle that Hamet Karamanli presented him with an elaborately designed sword that now serves as the pattern for the swords carried by Marine officers. The phrase “to the shores of Tripoli,” from the official song of the U.S. Marine Corps, also has its origins in the Derna campaign.


Just wanted to give a little history on one branch of our great military.  The Marine Corps has a storied and amazing past, but we must always remember it might be the “corps” but it is composed of men and women who make a conscious sacrifice for the country they love.

God bless our troops.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. JustFacts permalink
    November 10, 2010 7:00 pm

    Hopefully, someday, our Commander-in-Chief will learn how to say corpsman. I wonder if he calls it the Marine Corps (as if it is an underwater body).

    Happy Birthday, Marines. Semper Fi

    • November 10, 2010 7:15 pm

      Yeah, he’s pretty stupid like that. Once is a slip of the tongue, but he said it like 5 times in one speech, that just tells me ignorant.

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