The US Murine Corps

The US Marine Corps fought on land at First Bull Run and in the taking of Fort Fisher, and in all the actions of the Navy on the high seas and rivers. It was never large, reaching a peak strength during the war of 4,167 all ranks. Of these, 148 officers and men were killed in action.


Marines had a number of uniforms. For dress occasions they wore a double-breasted, dark blue frock coat decorated with yellow braid and scarlet trim, with a standing collar, and gold or yellow worsted cufTlace indicating rank. Musicians' coats were scarlet. There were eight evenly-spaced buttons in each of two rows, except for the commandant, who wore his in pairs. Field officers, sergeant majors, and quartermaster sergeants wore four lace loops; captains and sergeants, three; and

Telegraph Operators Sleeves
A military telegraph battery wagon. The telegraph, under Signal Corps authority, was nevertheless operated by civilians who wore a mixture of civilian and military dress, as do these operators. {Library of Congress)

lieutenants and privates, two. Gold (for officers) or brass with worsted fringe (for enlisted men) epaulettes were worn on each shoulder, the width of the fringe indicating the rank. Non-commissioned grades were also indicated by gold chevrons edged red and worn, points up, above the elbows on each sleeve. These were, for a sergeant major, three bars and an arc; quartermaster sergeant, three bars and a lie; drum major, three bars and a tie with a star in the centre; first sergeant, three bars and a lozenge; sergeant, three bars; and corporal, two bars. The same chevrons were worn on the overcoat cuffs.

Trousers were sky blue with a scarlet welt for officers and a scarlet stripe for senior noncommissioned officers. Staff officers wore dark blue trousers with the scarlet welt. White linen trousers were worn in hot weather. For dress occasions shakos were worn, with a gold net pompon for officers, red worsted for enlisted men. The badge was a gold wreath around a shield bearing an

This sergeant of US Sharpshooters wears the regiment's dark green coat with light green trim, sky blue trousers, dark brown gaiters, and a dark green forage cap. His weapon is the issue Sharps infantry rifle. (Richard Carlile)

infantry horn with an Old English 'M' within its loop.

For undress, officers and men had dark blue frock coats with plain collars. Officers wore double-breasted coats with a gold Russian knot, bearing a silver rank badge, on each shoulder. Enlisted men had single-breasted frocks edged in red on the standing collar. A dark blue chasseur pattern fatigue cap, with the infantry horn and 'M' badge on the front, was worn with the undress uniform. Officers could also wear a waist-length fatigue jackct, decorated with i-in. gold lace. At sea, enlisted men could also wear a pullover blue flannel shirt as an outer garment, over a white cotton shirt. Chevrons were worn on all undress outer garments.

This Veteran Reserve Corps captain wears the unit's sky blue coat and trousers with dark blue velvet collar and cuffs and two dark blue stripes down each trouser leg. His sash is crimson. His shoulder straps arc dark blue edged with gold with two gold bars at each end. (Author's collection)

This Veteran Reserve Corps captain wears the unit's sky blue coat and trousers with dark blue velvet collar and cuffs and two dark blue stripes down each trouser leg. His sash is crimson. His shoulder straps arc dark blue edged with gold with two gold bars at each end. (Author's collection)

Topcoat Velvet Collar

The enlisted overcoat was blue-grey, single-breasted, with seven large buttons and a detachable cape thai reached the upper edge of the cuff. Officers wore the Army officers' dark blue 'cloak coat.' The Army cuff braid system was also used by Marine officers.

Marine Accoutrements and Weapons Enlisted Marines wore white buff leather cross belts, the Army cartridge box being carried on the right rear hip and the bayonet scabbard on the left. A black cap pouch was worn on the front right hip on a narrow white waistbelt fastened with a plain brass rectangular beltplate. The Army's circular shoulder belt plate was worn 011 the cartridge box sling. A distinctive knapsack was worn by enlisted Marines from time to time: this was of black painted canvas, with two carrying straps and an adjustable breast strap across the chest, and was marked 'USM' within an oval on the back. No blanket was worn around the knapsack. Canteens and haversacks were of Army pattern.

Officers wore black leather swordbelts with the Army officer's belt plate, and carried the Army foot officer's sabre. When necessary they carried pistols, usually the 0.36 cal. Colt revolver, although at least one carried a Model 1855 pistol-carbine. For dress, many officers wore a white swordbelt.

The standard Marine longarm was, in 1861, the Model 1855 rifled musket; in 1864 Model 1863 rifled muskets were issued. Non-commissioned officers carried the Model 1850 Army foot officer's sword with a leather grip, and a frog stud on the scabbard instead of the rings.

The Mississippi Marine Brigade

This organisation was created on 1 November 1862 from soldiers who manned the fleet on the Mississippi, since the Navy could not supply Marines for the job. It was to have one infantry regiment, four cavalry squadrons, and one light artillery battery; in practice it never had more than 800 men, in six infantry companies, four cavalry companies, and a battery. The unit was disbanded in August 1864. Officers and men wore whatever they could get from the Army and Navy. There was one unique uniform item, a cap made with a full round top, broad straight peak and wide green band edged with gold. The cap badge featured

Marine Corp Fatigue Caps

These men of the gth Regt., Veteran Reserve Corps photographed in Washington, DC, were part of the group that defended Fort Stevens when Confederates under Jubal Early attacked it in 1864. They wear the standard infantry fatigue dress, with the insignia of their corps of service, regimental number, and company letter on the tops of their forage caps. {Library of Congress)

crossed cannon, fouled anchors and an infantry horn. Arms included revolvers and carbines.

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