November 10: the Birthday of the Marine Corps

  • Jack Collins
Photo Courtesy of USMC archives

In late Fall of 1775, the Founding Fathers recognized their fledgling nation’s need for an armed contingent of ship-bound soldiers. So on November 10, the Second Continental Congress – the same group that issued the Declaration of Independence, with such illustrious members as John Adams, James Monroe, and George Washington – formed the Continental Marines. Today, we recognize November 10 as one of the most significant birthdays in the annals of the US military: the birthday of the Marine Corps.

November 10: Birthday of the Continental Marines

When the Marines first formed in Philadelphia, they consisted of five companies and about 300 men. While the Marines were armed, they did not originally receive uniforms. The Marines’ original tasks included manning cannons and acting as sharpshooters on the top of Navy masts. The Marines also provided security for the captain and officers of a ship, ensuring that crews never got too rambunctious and mutinied. The first Standard of the Marines was the Gadsden Flag.

The Continental Marines got their trial by fire in March of 1776, when they attacked Nassau in the Bahamas. Years later, a contingent of Continental Marines even raided British soil under the command of John Paul Jones in 1778. They continued operations through the Revolutionary War, until the newly-independent United States disbanded them in 1783 after the cessation of hostilities. We still observe November 10 as the founding of the US Marine Corps to honor the original Continental Marines.

Marines at the Corps’ birthday celebration in 2021.

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