It was a cold day in November 1775 when the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia to discuss strategies for destroying an important British naval base in Halifax in Nova Scotia. Congress was convinced it was necessary to send marines to fight at sea and engage military operations ashore to destroy the base and secure provisions and supplies.

On November 10th, 1775, Congress directed the Naval Committee to raise two marine battalions: Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.

Now they had to find a few good men for the job.

Less than three weeks after the resolution, Congress issued the first commission to Captain Samuel Nicholas on November 28. Nicholas was well known in the community not for his work per se, but for his leadership in two local clubs for fox-hunters and sport fishermen. His family were tavernkeepers.

Legend has it, Nicholas and Captain Robert Mullan organized their first recruiting event at a pub, the Tun Tavern, and enticed potential recruits with pitchers of beer and the promise of adventures on the high seas.

Historians say the most likely location of that first meeting was instead a pub owned by Nicholas’ family called the Conestoga Wagon. But the Tun Tavern has made its way into legend, and the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia even has a restaurant with that name.

(For those curious, a “tun” is an English unit of liquid volume used for measuring wine, oil, honey – or beer. Think of it like a keg).

The very first amphibious Marine Corps landing wasn’t in Halifax, but in the Bahamas.

On March 3, 1776, a force under Captain Samuel Nicholas stormed the beaches of the British-held island of New Providence. The 220 Marines sailed to the Caribbean with a Continental Navy flotilla in search of military supplies. Even though the British governor managed to ship more than 150 barrels of gunpowder out of the town before the Marines arrived, the Marines successfully seized several brass cannons and mortars that were later put to use by George Washington’s Continental Army.

After the American Revolution, the Corps was briefly disbanded, but was revived in July 1798 and sent into action against the Barbary pirates.

These pirates were a group of North African corsairs who had spent years raiding American merchant ships and demanding costly ransoms.

(Hm. History repeats itself).

With the help of a bombardment by U.S. Navy ships, the Marines participated in a daring assault that successfully seized the city of Derna, (in modern-day Libya) and its fortifications. The victory was the first-ever battle fought by the United States on foreign soil and helped lead to a peace deal in the Barbary War.

The famous line in the Marines’ Hymn, “to the shores of Tripoli,” commemorates that battle.

Since then, the United States Marine Corps has served in nearly every conflict in United States history. The Corp really attained prominence when its theories and practice of amphibious warfare formed a cornerstone of U.S. strategy in the Pacific during World War II.

By the early 20th century, the Marine Corps had become one of the dominant theorists and practitioners of amphibious warfare. Its ability to rapidly respond to expeditionary crises has made it one of the most lethal fighting forces on the planet.

The U.S. Marine Corps prides itself on being America’s 911 force—a fire brigade that the president can call upon to fight the nation’s battles in an emergency – as it was in 1775 and still is today.

Happy 245th birthday to the U.S. Marines, and Semper Fi!

OORAH.

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