The Appomattox campaign

After the collapse of the Richmond-Petersburg line the Marine field battalion at Drewry's Bluff joined in the general retreat towards Appomattox on April 2, 1865. As part of the Naval Bde commanded by Cdrejohn R.Tucker, they were assigned to the rearguard of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia during the withdrawal. Four days later the Federal army intercepted and cut off the rear of Lee's army, which resulted in the battle of Sayler's Creek. During this action Tucker's brigade was the only...

Capture of the Wafer Witch

A Marine detachment of unknown size from Co E stationed at Savannah took part in the capture of the side-wheel steamer USS Water Witch on May 31. One of the Federal squadron operating in the waters below Savannah, the Water Witch was boarded from both sides, and a bloody hand-to-hand combat lasted for about ten minutes before the crew were overcome. Among those who distinguished themselves was Marine Pte Thomas Veitch, who had earlier been captured aboard the Atlanta in June 1863. Meanwhile,...

The occupation of New Orleans

Farther south, Flag Officer David C.Farragut, commanding the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, had forced the mouth of the Mississippi six Marines died and 22 were wounded as his fleet fought its way past Forts St Philip and Jackson to threaten New Orleans. Men from the remainder of the 333-strong Marine battalion at Farragut's disposal played a vital role in the final capture of the Crescent City. Thirty Marines from the USS Pensacola, under 2nd Lt John C.Harris (nephew of the Marine...

The siege of Savannah

Sherman's march through Georgia during December 1864 brought Federal troops to the outskirts of Savannah, and all available Confederate forces, including Marines, were required to take their place in the defenses. The Marines available to Capt John R.F.Tattnall consisted of about 50 men of Co E, who were assigned to the trenches near King's Bridge on the Little Ogeechee River west of the city. Resisting stubbornly for 12 days, they withdrew with other Confederate troops when the city was...

Battle for Mobile

Following the capture of New Orleans, Adm Farragut planned to attack the port of Mobile on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, but events conspired against this. Forts Morgan and Gaines, guarding the narrow entrance to Mobile Bay, were protected by obstructions in the channel which prevented warships from getting close enough to reduce them the Army had to be involved, but insufficient troops were available. Farragut therefore turned his attention back to the Mississippi, and the capture of Port Hudson...

The Ship Island expedition

In June 1861 the whole crew of the CSS McRae, plus its Marine Guard, were involved in the successful action on Ship Island in the Gulf of Mexico, about 12 miles south of Biloxi, Mississippi. This island was the site of the construction of a Federal fort begun in 1859, but little had been completed of what became known as Fort Massachusetts by the beginning of the Civil War. A plan to occupy and fortify Ship Island for the Confederacy was conceived by MajGen David E.Twiggs during May 1861. In...

Enlisted men

The full dress for enlisted Marines consisted of a dark blue, double-breasted frock coat with two rows of seven Marine buttons. The high standing collar bore two loops of yellow worsted lace, with a small A sergeant of the Marine Guard aboard the USS Miami wears the pullover fatigue sack prescribed for seagoing duty at the beginning of the Civil War -see Plate B3. (Detail from Naval Historical Center photo NH 60873) ABOVE RIGHT April 1865 a Marine sentry aboard USS Montauk guards Lewis Paine,...

The sinking of the Alabama

The Commandant of the US Marine Corps, the 73-year-old Col John Harris, died of fatigue and old age on May 12, 1864 and after a month of deliberation, Secretary Welles decided to retire all Marine officers past the legal age, and to recommend the appointment of Jacob Zeilin as Harris' replacement. By now recovered from his illness and serving as commanding officer of the barracks at Portsmouth, NH, Zeilin became the new Commandant on June 10, 1864. On the same date, Marines participated in one...

Officers

Marine Corps Civil War Uniforms

The uniform worn by the US Marine Corps in the Civil War was adopted on January 24, 1859, although it was mid-1861 before all Marines were supplied with the new outfit. William H. Parker wears the full dress for USMC lieutenants. His rank is indicated by two gold loops on each cuff flap, and bullion fringing one-eighth inch in diameter on his epaulettes. The red feather fountain plume on his cap indicates that this is a late-war image. (National Archives 127-N-517102) OPPOSITE Excellent study...

Hatteras Inlet

The first amphibious landing by Marines in the Civil War occurred on August 28, 1861, when Flag Officer Silas H.Stringham sent a combined battalion of soldiers and Marines ashore in surfboats to capture Forts Hatteras and Clark in Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina. The action began at 6am when Marines from the screw frigate Minnesota, led by Capt William L.Shuttleworth, arrived aboard the steamship Monticello, to be joined shortly afterwards by the Marines from the frigate Wabash. At 11.45am this...

Honey Hill

Debarking from the Sonoma in ship's boats, the Marines quickly deployed as skirmishers and proceeded towards Grahamville, with the battalion of naval infantry marching in column, and the naval gunners bringing up the rear with two four-gun batteries of naval howitzers. An Army contingent, unofficially designated as the Coast Division and amounting to about 5,500 men under BrigGen John P.Hatch, landed at the same place as the main body of the expedition. Meanwhile, the Fleet Bde advanced rapidly...

Introduction

Col John Harris, Commandant of the US Marine Corps 1859-1864. He wears the 1859 full dress uniform for a field officer the dark blue double-breasted frock coat, trimmed on collar and cuff flaps with gold lace loops and scarlet piping. (United States Army Military History Institute) On the night of Sunday, October 16, 1859, the abolitionist John Brown and his 22 followers seized the US Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in a vain attempt to incite an armed slave rebellion in the Southern...

Defense of Fort Fisher

The US Army and Navy planned several assaults on Fort Fisher and the port of Wilmington, NC, but made no attempt until December 24, 1864. After two days of fierce fighting with little result, Federal commanders concluded that the fort was too strong and withdrew their forces. The garrison was reinforced by a number of CS Marines during this action. A detachment under Lt Francis M.Roby served two 7in Brooke rifled guns until they both burst, following which they were assigned to other guns,...

Port Royal

Captain George Holmes arrived at Savannah, Georgia, with Co A of the CS Marines on September 18, 1861, following which he probably supplied ships' guards for the so-called Mosquito Fleet commanded by Flag Officer Josiah Tattnall, which consisted of the converted river steamboat Savannah, the converted tug boat Sampson, the screw steamer Lady Davis, and the transport Resolute. With the approach of the Federal fleet to the bar of Port Royal, SC, on November 4, these four tiny vessels steamed out...

Expedition against the Judah

On the night of September 13-14 the Marines attached to the Culf Blockading Squadron saw action. Moored in the Pensacola Navy Yard in Florida, the schooner Judah was believed to be fitting out as a privateer, and it was decided to destroy both her, and a lOin Columbiad gun manned by Confederate Marines under Capt Van Benthuysen at the southeast end of the yard. The expedition consisted of about 100 sailors and Marines from the US flagship, the screw frigate Colorado. Commanded by Navy Lt...

The Plates

Single Breasted Military Jacket

A US MARINES AT FIRST MANASSAS BULL RUN , JULY 21, 1861 Major John G.Reynolds rallies his Marine battalion at the crossroads near Henry Hill during the latter stages of the battle. Despite the heat the Marines wore full uniforms and carried their Army-issue canteens, although they had dropped off their gray blanket rolls and haversacks at the Sudley Road Church. Major Reynolds right wears the officer's fatigue cap with black ribbed silk braid, and double-breasted undress coat with gold shoulder...

The capture of the Underwriter

Like their Federal counterparts, Confederate Marines were occasionally detailed for special service to cut-out and capture enemy vessels. In February 1864 men from Co C, under apt Thomas S.Wilson, took part in the capture of the side-wheel gunboat USS Underwriter in the Neuse River near New Berne, North Carolina. About 2.30am on February 2, a force consisting of 250 seamen and 25 Marines aboard ten small boats glided up to the Underwriter as she lay at anchor. Discovered too late, the first...

Uniforms Arms Equipment

Css Alabama Model

It wTas hoped by the South that a peaceful separation of the slave states from the Union would be achieved in 1861 hence, the original uniforms chosen by the Confederate States Marine Corps were probably intended to be similar to those adopted by the US Marine Corps in 1859. Some evidence in support of this is to be found in General Order No.2, General Headquarters, Navy Department of the State of Virginia , Richmond, Virginia, April 25, 1861, which stated The uniform of the Officers, Seamen...

Hampton Roads

Upon arrival at Richmond, detachments from Co C were assigned to the gunboats Patrick Henry and Jamestown, while the remainder were ordered to report to Flag Officer French Forrest at the Gosport Navy Yard, near Norfolk. Commanded by Capt Thom, they eventually went aboard the ironclad CSS Virginia, and took part in the battles of Hampton Roads on March 8-9, 1862 see above . With little opportunity to serve as sharpshooters aboard the ironclad, these Marines manned several of the guns, with Capt...

Drewrys Bluff

With the Confederate withdrawal from the Peninsula and the evacuation of Norfolk during early May 1862, the Virginia, Patrick Henry, and Jamestown were forced to withdraw up the James River towards Richmond. As her draught was too deep to negotiate the shoals, the Virginia w as abandoned and burned off Craney Island on May 11. The smaller gunboats steamed up as far as Drewry's Bluff, about eight miles below Richmond, where the Jamestown was sunk to complete the river obstruction, while the...

The Port Royal expedition

During the fall of 1861 it was proposed to capture Port Royal and thereby gain a foothold on the coast of South Carolina and Capt Samuel F.DuPont, USN, requested that a battalion of 300 Marines be attached to his fleet. Nineteen officers and 330 enlisted men were organized under the command of Maj John Reynolds by mid-October taken mainly from the Washington headquarters, plus the Boston and Brooklyn navy yards, these Marines left Hampton Roads in the chartered steamer Governor with the rest of...

Fort Fisher

By the end of 1864 the only Confederate port on the Atlantic coast that remained open to blockade runners was Wilmington, NC, which was defended by the formidable Fort Fisher on Cape Fear. An abortive attack launched on Christmas Eve by MajGen Benjamin F.Butler, commander of the Army of the James, was followed on January 15, 1865, by the greatest amphibious assault of the Civil War, by a force commanded by Gen .Alfred H.Terry'. The US Army's 24th Corps landed to secure the Confederate works...

Organization and recruitment

First Lieutenant Francis Hawkes Cameron

Seventeen days after its establishment on February 4, 1861, the provisional government of the Confederate States of America passed an act to create a Navy Department, with Stephen R.Mallory as Secretary of the Navy. Working closely with Congress, by March 12 Mallory had prepared a budget that provided for the creation of a Navy and Marine Corps. Four days later an Act of the Congress established the Confederate States Marine Corps, and authorized the creation of a headquarters consisting of a...

Tullifinny Crossroads

American Flag Being Raised

Failure to reach the Charleston amp Savannah Railroad via the Broad River prompted Adm Dahlgren and Gen Foster to try a different route. On December 5 the Fleet Bde and a brigade of infantry were transported up the Tullifinny River to Devaux's Neck, where they were to advance inland to destroy the Tullifinny River bridge. Disembarking at Gregory's Landing, the infantry advanced first with the naval brigade following behind. The expedition quickly came into contact with a motley assortment of...

The surrender of the Ariel

Confederate Marines Uniforms

At the end of that year the battalion of 136 Marines under Maj Addison Garland were not so successful. Embarking at New York on the mail steamer Ariel on December 1, they were assigned as a permanent garrison for the new naval base at Mare Island, California. Six days into her voyage the Ariel was off Cape Maysi, on the eastern tip of Cuba, when she was intercepted by the Confederate commerce raider Alabama, commanded by Capt Raphael Semmes. Initially forming his Marines to repel boarders,...