Organization and recruitment

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 major, a quartermaster, a paymaster, an adjutant, a sergeant-major, and a quartermaster sergeant. This act also legislated for a battalion of six companies, each to consist of a captain, a first lieutenant, a second lieutenant, four sergeants, four corporals, two musicians and 100 men. The decision to use a company-based organization followed more closely that of the British Royal Marines than the US Marine Corps.

The first officer appointed to the Confederate Marine Corps was Reuben T.Thom, a Virginian, and Quartermaster General of Alabama prior to the war. He received the rank of captain on March 25, 1861; and on the same day he established a recruiting office in the then-Confederate capital of Montgomery, Alabama, and recruited the first three enlisted Marines: Jacob E.Scholls, R.E.Smyley and James A.Baxter. The former was a veteran of the US Marine Corps who had served from 1844 until 1852, seeing action in the Mexican War.

On May 20, after an enlargement of the Confederacy with the secession of Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina, an Amendatory Act increased the CS Marine Corps from battalion to regimental strength of 46 officers and 944 enlisted men. Three days later Lloyd J.Beall was appointed colonel and Commandant of the Corps, and he would serve in this capacity until the end of the war. A Marylander, Beall had no previous experience as a Marine, but had served as a lieutenant in the 1st US Infantry from 1830 until 1836; he had then transferred to the 2nd US Dragoons, where he was promoted to captain and fought in the Seminole War, 1837-38.

The Amendatory Act also provided for a lieutenant-colonel, a major, an adjutant and inspector-general with the rank of major, and two (principal) musicians. Appointed on June 18, the lieutenant-colonel was Henry B.Tyler Sr, who occupied this post until the end of the war. Born in Virginia, he had been appointed a second-lieutenant in the US

First Lieutenant Francis Hawkes Cameron

Francis Hawkes Cameron received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Confederate States Marine Corps on September 20, 1861. When photographed in January 1862 he was still wearing the dark blue coat he had acquired as a member of the US Coast Survey, 1859-61, though the Austrian-style sleeve knots were added after he joined the Confederate Marines - see Plate E3. (National Archives photo 127-G-515827)

Marine Corps in 1823 and reached the rank of captain by 1845. After the secession of his home state Tyler resigned his commission to "join his fortunes with the Noble Sons of the South." The adjutant was none other than Israel Greene, who had led the US Marines who captured John Brown at Harper's Ferry in 1859. This New Yorker had entered the Corps in 1847 and served with distinction until the outbreak of Civil War when - married to a Virginian - he cast his lot with the South.

On June 1 the tiny Virginia Marine Corps was added to the ranks of the CS Marine Corps. Established on April 27, 1861, the Virginia Marines consisted often officers but only about nine enlisted men; some of them may have seen limited action at the Sewell's Point Battery on May 19, before they came under Confederate authority.

The recruitment of enlisted Marines began in earnest in New Orleans during April 1861. Commissioned on March 29, by April 7 Capt George

Holmes was in that city, where he established an office on the corner of "Chartres and St Philip's st[reet]s - upstairs." Captain Alfred C.Van Benthuysen had opened another office by the next day at 39 Front Street. In an advertisement in the Daily Delta, "Able-bodied soldiers" were offered a $10 bounty, plus "many fine advantages - little work, and excellent food, clothing, and pay." By June 29, a total of 194 men had been recruited, many of them perhaps deserters from regular US Army units based in Texas. By April 26 a company of 100 Marines, under Capt Van Benthuysen, was already manning a heavy batter)- facing Fort Pickens, off Pensacola, and were being drilled in the use of heavy guns as well as small arms; they also performed duties as Harbor Police. A contingent of 12 men under Lt David G.RaneyJr was assigned as a guard aboard the steamer Time in Pensacola harbor on June 19; a further 23 men under Lt Richard H.Henderson were assigned to shipboard duty on the CS Steamer McRae, which subsequently took part in the unsuccessful defense of New Orleans in 1862. Another contingent of 21 Marines, under Lt Becket K.Howell, formed the guard aboard the CSS Sumter, the first Confederate Navy raider.

A newspaper recruitment notice for the Confederate States Marine Corps, published in the Daily Dispatch of Richmond on May 8, 1862. (Author's collection)


ABLE BODIED IflJaN, to at Naval Station»* and on board of ct«am th« movrced (.?©»federal tmta»t "Virginia.*' &ad on board of iroa-d d gaaboiits and otfaer Teasels of tfee Wavy. Thar will b« «»tUI#d to reeeiv-« » boimty of • * ■ FIFTY DOhhAMB

PJUJtS MOti£i\

i'Kg'ifed m Ux© capture or *is3kiE« of »oy of tba an «nay's craft—or «Ten a« «rimes*** is tbe actio® by wfeicb *acii durable resqiu jaay b« obtained»

Si«1», saiiafele for cob - coromUsioead offi..'«rs pirUouMurly wwatinl.

»©at of tbfir pamnu #r guardian«, as iwrmrti el Hjasic.

tsf iwo&ellxm will 3»« girm t© any p&r&oa wbo will prta»nt a recruit, to tb* Bacraitiug ^ffl.-eer for anli&tm«nt« after he b^beanexamiced ' d race! v#d a s a marl ua. «

Uood eiotbisig and »wbaiiteace wili be far« disked by tba

For further particulars apply at tauameiH tuadar tba Q, bar tana aster's Office«, iI5 B oad sSTeat. GMT if. lURbXH*

. ; tTaptaic and Escruitiag Officer ap-SG-^vr

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