icon MCG Battle History: 1775-1865

Articles about Marines from 1775 to 1865, including about: the American Revolutionary War, the Quasi-War, the Barbary Wars, the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars, the Mexican-American War, the Second Opium War, John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and the American Civil War.

1775-1783 – The American Revolutionary War

1776 – New Providence

First American Flag to Fly Over Foreign SoilMaj Edwin N. McClellanMCG May 1933“The ‘Signals for the American Fleet by day,’ prescribed on February 17, 1776, referred to an ‘ensign,’ a ‘pendant,’ a ‘broad pendant,’ a ‘white pendant,’ a ‘red pendant,’ ‘The Standard,’ and a ‘striped jack and ensign.’ A ‘St. George’s ensign with stripes,’ as a signal ‘for the Providence to chase,’ was also included.”
Battles Before World War IIPrepared by Maj Carl W. HoffmanMCG November 1950“Two hundred Marines and 50 sailors under Capt Nicholas embarked in the two sloops with a Trojanhorse scheme of remaining hidden below decks until they had moved close to the forts in New Providence’s harbor, at which time they would move ashore quickly and surprise the defenders.”
The United States Marine CorpsBGen Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)MCG November 1973“If there was to be a Continental Navy, then there must be Continental Marines. Marines were as much a part of a man-of-war’s furniture as its spars or sails or guns.”
The Cover Story ‘Landing at New Providence, 3 March 1776’AnonymousMCG February 1975“The Continental Marines, in their first amphibious assault, captured Fort Montagu in a battle as “bemused as it was bloodless.” After resting the night in their prize, the invasion force completed the job of securing the, island by taking Fort Nassau and arresting Governor Montfort Browne the next morning.”
The daring sloop ProvidenceCharles R. SmithMCG July 1976“As one of the first ships of the Continental Navy of the United Colonies, and one of the ships to take part in the first Marine amphibious invasion of enemy territory, the Continental sloop Providence played no small role in the winning of independence for the United States.”
The First LandingAnonymousMCG December 2011 (Originally published in LNK March 1948)“The governor of the island sent a messenger to [Samuel Nicholas] requesting that he state his intentions. The Marine captain replied that only military supplies on the island were wanted, and if they were surrendered no harm would be done to the inhabitants.”
The First of ManyCapt Scott A. HolmesMCG November 2019“The Marines’ first amphibious assault on New Providence.”

1777 – Saratoga

Revolutionary History: Review of Saratoga by Richard M. KetchumReviewed by LtCol Horace S. Mazet, USMCR(Ret)MCG December 1998Mazet reviews “Saratoga: The Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War” by Richard M. Ketchum.

1781 – Yorktown

Of Landpowers and SeapowersMartin BlumensonMCG March 1983“Washington and Rochambeau reached the scene, invested Yorktown, and in mid-October, with the French still in temporary and local control of the sea, obtained Cornwallis’ surrender.”
Operational DesignLtCol Andrew StraleyMCG June 2011“The Yorktown campaign offers a textbook example of the successful execution of operational design.”


THE UNITED STATES MARINES IN THE PENOBSCOT BAY EXPEDITION, 1779RADM Colby M. Chester, USN (Ret)MCG December 1918“The Marines were first set on shore on the beach, some musket shots were fired at us from the brow of the hill, but we were at too great a distance from them to receive any damage.”
AMERICAN MARINES IN THE BATTLES OF TRENTON AND PRINCETONMaj Edwin N. McClellan & Capt John H. CraigeMCG September 1921“Under these discouraging conditions Washington rallied his shattered Army with desperate energy, sending a call to Philadelphia for all available reenforcements to join him in the most urgent haste.”
The Marine Regiment Of Marblehead FishermenMaj Frederick S. AldridgeMCG January 1950“Col [JOHN GLOVER] was commanding officer of the 14th Regiment of Foot in the Continental Line during the early years of the Revolutionary War.”
The Battle of VALCOUR BAY: A Victorious Defeat2ndLt Rouald H. GreathouseMCG November 1958“[VALCOUR], situated on the port side of Lake Champlain, lies virtually parallel to the shore. The northern tip is almost connected to the mainland, forming a narrow channel and making it difficult for even small boats to pass.”
Anatomy of DefeatPhilip N. PierceMCG November 1968“Many historians consider the Penobscot Expedition one of the chief glories of Marines in the Revolutionary War, outranked only by the successful Nassau landing.”
Royal Marines: Soldiers from the seaCol T. J. Saxon, Jr., USMC (Ret)MCG March 1976“The first combat for both the British and Dutch Marines was against each other, during the Dutch Wars from 1665-1674.”
The Power of the Man in the Arena: Review of Men of War by Alexander RoseReviewed by Col Eric L. Chase, USMCR(Ret)MCG October 2015Chase reviews “Men of War: The American Soldier in Combat at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima” by Alexander Rose.

1798-1800 – The Quasi-War

THE NAVAL WAR WITH FRANCEMaj Edwin N. McClellanMCG December 1922“Secretary [Stoddert] had proceeded to Washington, and on June 23rd he wrote to the Commandant that ‘a thousand reasons plead for you being at once in the City instead of stopping at Bladensburg;’ that the ‘place languishes for want of a little spirit of exertion;’ and that ‘upon the whole I think you had better hold yourself in readiness to leave Philadelphia with all your dependencies in a few days, but not to move until you hear again from me.’ Three days later Burrows replied…”

1801-1816 – Barbary Wars

1801-1805 – First Barbary War

1805 – Derna

TRIPOLIAnonymousMCG November 1965“The story of O’Bannon, the first to plant the Stars and Stripes on foreign soil.”


O’Bannon and companyTrudy J. SundbergMCG July 1976“Perhaps being born in 1776 had something to do with O’Bannon’s well-deserved place in Corps history.”
Cultural IntelligenceCol Michael M. Walker, USMC(Ret)MCG February 2016“In June 1803, a frustrated President Thomas Jefferson authorized a land attack and appointed Eaton, an experienced North African diplomat, as commander (Naval Agent for the Barbary Regencies). […]sailors, the most alien and profitable contingent, were able seamen recruited from anywhere and, if not Muslim, became converts.”

1812-1815 – War of 1812

1814 – Bladensberg

Marines and Sailors Defend WashingtonMaj Frederick S. AldridgeMCG March 1950“An Account of the Battle of Bladensburg.”
BLADENSBURGAnonymousMCG Nov 1965“British troops en route to burn Washington were delayed by a band of determined Marines.”
Bravery at BladensburgScott StablerMCG November 2012“The Marine Corps in 1814.”


ECHOES OF THE WAR OF 1812AnonymousMCG September 1917“Captain [Joshua Barney] was in command of a Flotilla, equipped by the government to protect the waters of the Chesapeake against the British advance.”

1817-1858 – Seminole Wars

The Seven Years WarCapt Philip N. Pierce & Capt Lewis MeyersMCG September 1948“Lt [Chambers] and the mounted Alabamans made a rapid charge and captured the horses and baggage of the enemy, in addition to 25 prisoners, mostly women and children.”
THE UNFINISHED WARJ. B. HilliardMCG November 1965“The first battalion, commanded by Colonel [Archibald Henderson], assembled on 2 June 1836 at Fortress Monroe, Virginia and was composed of Marines from Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Norfolk.”

1846-1848 – Mexican-American War

1846 – San Pasqual

THE CONQUEST OF CALIFORNIAMaj Edwin N. McClellanMCG September 1923“Lieutenant Colonel [Jose Maria Flores] and Don [Andres Pico] were the leaders. The first attack was made on [Archibald H. Gillespie] in Los Angeles on September 23, 1846.”
From Siesta to BayonetAnonymousMCG September 1943“The Story of Camp Joseph H. Pendleton.”
California Beachhead-1847Capt Lewis MeyersMCG January 1947“San Pasqual is down near Escondido, and the rebel leader in the battle was Capt Andres Pico of the Santa Margarita Ranch. The captain’s property is now familiar to all marines as Camp Pendleton; on it still stands the sycamore under which the commanders of the California advance guard conferred before the clash at San Pasqual.”


THE HALLS OF MONTEZUMAAnonymousMCG November 1965“A hill is taken by Marines and a song is born.”

1856-1860 – Second Opium War

THE CAPTURE OF THE BARRIER FORTS IN THE CANTON RIVER, CHINAMaj Edwin N. McClellanMCG September 1920“The Kum Fa having returned to the anchorage with the force from Canton, I ordered Commander Bell to take command of the Levant…”

1859 – John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry

THE CAPTURE OF JOHN BROWNIntroduction by Capt John W. Thomason, Jr., U.S.M.C.MCG September 1929“A Letter written by First Lieutenant Israel Green, U.S.M.C., appearing in The North American Review, of December, 1885.”
Colonel Lee and the Marines at Harper’s FerryA. Eric BubeckMCG December 1949“Coming out of the hills from the direction of Kennedy’s Farm. Brown’s band seized the unsuspecting watchman at the federal arsenal’s bridge across the Potomac, cut the lines of communication, and took possession of several points along the river.”
…AT ALL TIMES READYBernard C. NaltyMCG October 1959“The Marines at Harper’s Ferry.”

1861-1865 – American Civil War

1862 – Drewry’s Bluff

Battle of Drewrey’s BluffAnonymousMCG November 1970“The Corps’ first Medal of Honor winner, a 27-year-old corporal, received his award from President Abraham Lincoln.”

1863 – Chickamauga

“Fog of War”Roxanne BakerMCG August 2015“Leadership lessons at the Battle of Chickamauga.”

1863 – Gettysburg

THE MARINES AT GETTYSBURGCapt John H. Craige, U.S.M.C.MCG September 1922“In [President Harding’s] honor the historic presentation of Pickett’s Charge was first given.”
One of the All-Time Best: Review of The Killer Angels by Michael ShaaraReviewed by Col M. T. Hopgood, Jr.MCG March 1987Hopgood reviews “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara.
FMFM 1-1 and Lee at GettysburgMaj F. G. Hoffman, USMCRMCG January 1991“There is much to be learned from military history, but unless it is studied with care the student may draw the wrong conclusion.”
Lessons From HistoryCapts David R. Breuhan, USA, and Norbert B. Jocz, USAMCG January 1991“Cavalry units that can function as an independent arm, ranging the battlefield to conduct reconnaissance and provide security, could prove as indispensable on tomorrow’s battlefields as they were at Gettysburg.”
Robert E. Lee and Lessons From the Gettysburg CampaignMaj Michael Wisloski, Jr.MCG January 1991“Examining Robert E. Lee’s actions from Chancellorsville to Gettysburg in concert with FMFM 1-1 Campaigning will help Marines distinguish among the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war.”
The Power of the Man in the Arena: Review of Men of War by Alexander RoseReviewed by Col Eric L. Chase, USMCR(Ret)MCG October 2015Chase reviews “Men of War: The American Soldier in Combat at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima” by Alexander Rose.
If Practicable? Exactly!LtCol Timothy E. Grebos, USMCRMCG November 2019“A leadership lesson from the Gettysburg battlefield.”

1864 & 1865 – Fort Fisher

THE CAPTURE OF FORT FISHERMaj Edwin N. McClellanMCG March 1920“Fort Fisher, which kept the port of Wilmington, N. C., open for the Confederates, was captured on January 15, 1865, by a combined force of Soldiers, Bluejackets, and Marines, under the fire of the guns of a large fleet, in seven hours after the attack commenced in earnest.”
THE ASSAULT ON FORT FISHERRobert B. AspreyMCG November 1965“An earlier gunfire gap that resulted in heavy casualties for the landing force.”


FIELD SERVICE IN THE CIVIL WAR: SQUADRON MARINES IN COMBINED OPERATIONSAnonymousMCG September 1916“There were notable cases in the course of the Civil War where the military and naval services fought together, but they were mainly engagements in which the mission was the capture or reduction of fortifications open to assault from both land and water.”