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History of the U.S. Marine Corps Chronology-Part 1

From the War for Independence to the invasion of Iraq, the Marine Corps has been the first to enter many conflicts in an attempt to bring stability to struggling parts of the globe. Marines today are intensively trained and equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, primarily to attack in combined land, sea, and air operations.

Conflicts Other Events Inclusive Date(s) Explanation
American Revolution began
April 19, 1775
War began as British troops fired on Minutemen on Lexington, Massachusetts, Common.

The birthday of the Marine Corps
November 10, 1775
The Continental Congress passed a resolution stating that "two battalions of Marines be raised." This marked the birth of the United States Marine Corps (USMC).

Captain of Marines
November 28, 1775
Samuel Nicholas commissioned as Captain of Marines.
First amphibious raid
March 3, 1776
The Corps' first amphibious raid on foreign soil occurred in the Bahamas, under the command of Capt. Nicholas.

Declaration of Independence
July 4, 1776
Congress approved the Declaration of Independence.
Fort Nassau captured
January 27, 1778
Capt. Nichols and 26 marines captured Fort Nassau in the Bahamas.
Assault on Fort George
July 28, 1779
Capt. John Welsh and 13 marines killed in assault on Fort George at Penobscot Bay, Maine.
Battle between Bonhomme Richard and Serapis
September 23, 1779
John Paul Jones' French-Irish marines participated in epic battle.
Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia
October 19, 1781
Off shore, the French fleet effectively blocked aid from reaching Cornwallis, while Gen. George Washington made life unbearable for the British troops with three weeks of shelling.

Treaty of Paris (1783) / Marines disbanded
October 4, 1783
The 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the War for Independence, and as the last of the Navy's ships were sold, the Continental Navy and Marines were disbanded.

Naval Act of 1794
March 27, 1794
The Naval Act of 1794 re-established the US Navy and the USMC. The Constitution had 55 Marines assigned as part of its 450-man crew. The first detachment arrived at Edmond Hart's Shipyard in Boston.
Shores of Tripoli Marine Corps Band established
July 11, 1798
"The President's Own" US Marine Band was established by an Act of Congress, and is America's oldest professional musical organization. The band was comprised of one Drum Major, one Fife Major, 32 drums and fifes.

Navy Yard at Charlestown, Massachusetts, is established
The first detachment of marines took up guard details and established one of the oldest marine barracks in the U.S. The yard is part of the Boston National Historical Parks system.
First Barbary War
April 27, 1805
Lt. Presley O'Bannon and seven marines led attack against Derna, Tripoli. One of two wars fought with the North African empire of Morocco and the Barbary States.
War of 1812 began
U.S. declared war against Great Britain. Marine troop strength June 30, 1812: 10 officers, 483 enlisted men; June 30, 1815: 8 officers, 680 enlisted men.

1st Lt. Gamble and First Marines
On board the Essex, 1st Lt. John Marshall Gamble commanded the first marines in the Pacific.
Oliver Perry defeated British fleet
September 10, 1813
Marine Lt. John Brooks was killed when Oliver Perry defeated British fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie.

Marine levels undermanned
April 1814
The authorized level for marines was set at 2,700. Recruiting was a continuing problem and authorization levels of marines were never reached.
Battle of Bladensburg
August 24, 1814
Also known as the Bladensburg Races, after American forces fled through the streets of Washington, D.C. British forces defeated U.S., which allowed Britain to capture and burn the capitol.

War of 1812 Treaty
December 24, 1814
Great Britain and U.S. signed treaty attempting to end the War of 1812.
Marines helped defeat British at New Orleans
January 8, 1815
Andrew Jackson, including marines under Maj. Daniel Carmick, defeated British at Battle of New Orleans.
Marines assisted in Constitution victory
February 20, 1815
Capt. Archibald Henderson led marines in "Old Ironsides" victory over Great Britain's Cyane and Levant off the coast of Africa.

Marine Commandant appointed
October 17, 1820
Henderson appointed Commandant, held position for 38 years, until his death.
Marines quelled prison riot
March 12, 1824
Brevet Maj. Robert D. Wainwright and marines from Boston quelled riot in state prison. Story in McGuffey's Reader spread marines' fame.
Capture of Quallah Battoo, Sumatra (Indonesia)
March 12, 1824
Brevet Capt. Alvin Edson led attack at Quallah Battoo, Sumatra. Sailors and marines from the Potomac captured the city against stiff opposition.
Second Seminole War
1835 to 1842
In 1835, the massacre of a U.S. Army detachment in Florida, led by Seminole Chief Osceola, dictated use of naval and marine forces against the renegades.

1st Lt. Archibald Gillespie's secret orders
October 30, 1845
President James K. Polk sent Marine 1st Lt. Archibald Gillespie to California with secret orders.
Mexican War
May 13, 1846
U.S. Congress declared war on Mexico
Marines landed at Santa Barbara, California
July 30, 1846
lst Lt. Jacob Zeilin led marine detachment ashore at Santa Barbara. Two weeks later Cdre. Robert Stockton, with 360 marines and sailors, entered Los Angeles.
Marines landed ashore in Mexico.
March 9, 1847
Capt. Alvin Edson led marine battalion ashore with Army forces at Veracruz, Mexico. Battles occurred at San Gabriel and La Mesa.
Marines occupied Halls of Montezuma
September 13, 1847
In Mexico City, marines helped to seize fortress of Chapultepec, and the next day, occupied the National Palace at the site of the Halls of Montezuma.
Capture of the Chinese barrier forts
November 20, 1856
50 Marines helped capture four barrier forts along the Pearl River guarding the way to Canton, China. Landing parties were from the Portsmouth, Levant, and San Jacinto.
John Brown captured by Marines
October 18, 1859
86 Marines, under 1st. Lt. Israel Green, USMC, and Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee, U.S. Army, captured abolitionist at Harper's Ferry, Virginia.
U.S. Civil War began
April 12, 1861
Confederate shore batteries fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor.
Battle of Bull Run
July 21, 1861
Battalion of 365 marines led by Brevet Maj. John G. Reynolds fought in Battle of Bull Run.

First navy-issued Medal of Honor for marine
May 15, 1862
Cpl. John F. Mackie, on board the ironclad Galena in the attack on Fort Darling at Drewry's Bluff, James River, was the first Marine to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Emancipation Proclamation
January 1, 1863
President Abraham Lincoln issued Emancipation Proclamation.
Marines took city hall
April 26, 1863
250 Marines under Capt. John L. Broome seized New Orleans custom house and city hall.
Battle of Gettysburg
July 1 - July 3, 1863
Battle of Gettysburg, watershed of the Confederacy.
Marines landed ashore in North Carolina
January 15, 1865
365 marines in naval landing force attacked Fort Fisher at Wilmington, North Carolina.
Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomatox Courthouse
April 9, 1865
Marines assisted in the collapse of the Confederates. Negotiations for surrender between Lee and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant took place in the McLean House near the courthouse.
Marines attacked Korean soil
June 10, 1871
Capt. McLane Tilton led 109 marines in naval attack on Han River forts in Korea.

17th leader of Marine Band
October 1, 1880
John Philip Sousa appointed 17th leader of the Marine Band.
Marines landed in Panama
June 18, 1885
Marines landed in Panama to protect trans-isthmus railroad.
Maine destroyed
February 15, 1898
28 Marines among 250 Americans were killed when cruiser Maine was blown up in Havana harbor.
First battle of the Spanish-American War
May 1, 1898
Adm. George Dewey destroyed Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. Marines occupied Cavite Naval Station.
Marines landed at Guantanamo Bay
June 10, 1898
1st Marine Battalion led by Lt. Col. Robert W. Huntington landed in Cuba. Sgt. John Quick signaled under Spanish fire to save marine unit; received Medal of Honor.

Spanish-American War came to an end
December 10, 1898
U.S. and Spain signed Treaty of Paris.
Marines attacked at Novaleta
October 8, 1899
Marines attacked Filipino insurgents at Novaleta.
Marines defended against Boxer Rebellion
May 31, 1900
Marines reached Chinese capital to defend Legation Quarter from Boxer rebels.
Marines lifted siege of Peking
August 4, 1900
Marines in International Relief Force marched out of Tientsin to lift siege of Peking. Marine Pvt. Dan Daly won first of two Congressional Medals of Honor.
Marines received some "pay-back" for Army slaughter
September 28, 1901
Major "Tony" Waller took out 314 marines to destroy Filipino insurgents who slaughtered U.S. Army company on Samar.
Marines defended Panama
November 5, 1903
Maj. John Lejeune landed his marine battalion to ensure Panama's independence from Colombia.
Marines landed at Havana
September 28, 1906
Provisional marine brigade of 2,800 men landed at Havana; marines stayed until 1909.

Marines banned from warships
November 12, 1908
President Theodore Roosevelt removed marines from warships, but six months later President Taft restored them.

1st Marine Division was born
March 8, 1911
The 1st Marine Division came into existance at Guantanamo Bay; now the oldest, largest active-duty, and most decorated division-sized unit in the USMC.

First Marine pilot
May 22, 1912
1st Lt. Alfred Cunningham was the first Marine aviator.
Marines landed in Nicaragua
August 14, 1912
Maj. Smedley D. Butler led marines ashore, beginning intervention in Nicaragua.
Marines fought at Coyotepe, Nicaragua
October 4, 1912
The Marines quelled a potential rebellion against the Nicaraguan government as Gen. Mena and Gen. Zeledón joined forces. The conflict was resolved after only one hour of battle.
Marines landed at Veracruz, Mexico
August 14, 1912
Marine regiments landed at Veracruz, Mexico, to keep German guns from Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz.

5th Marine Division was born
July 13, 1914
The 5th Marine Division was created in Vera Cruz, Mexico.
World War I began
August 2, 1914
World War I began. Shortly thereafter, the Panama Canal opened for traffic.
Marines landed in Haiti
July 28, 1915
Marines landed in Haiti, beginning their longest Caribbean intervention.
Butler received second Medal of Honor
November 18, 1915
Maj. Butler led marines in attack on Fort Riviere in Haiti, awarded his second Medal of Honor.
Marines gained ground in Haiti
May 15, 1916
Marine battalion began occupation of Dominican Republic.
United States declared war on Germany
April 6, 1917
With World War I well underway, the United States declared war on Germany.

Marines deployed for Europe
June 6, 1917
5th Marine Regiment sailed for France.

7th Marine Division was born
August 7, 1917
The 7th Marine Division activated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

11th Marine Division was born
January, 1918
The 11th Marine Division was formed in Quantico, Virginia.
Marines advanced into Belleau Wood
June 6, 1918
Marines advanced into the forest against German machine guns. They emerged with the German nickname Teufelhunden, or "devil dogs," after breaking through the front lines.
Marines landed at Siberia
June 29, 1918
Marines from Brooklyn went ashore at Vladivostok, Siberia.
Marines collided with "Krauts"
July 18, 1918
Marines in vast Allied counter-offensive met Germans south of Soissons.
Haitian rebels began revolt against Marines
September 3, 1918
In Haiti, native leader Charlemagne Peralte starts revolt of Cacos against Marine rule.
Marines began German offensive in France
September 12, 1918
In France, 2nd Division, including Marine Brigade, began offensive in Saint Mihiel salient.
Marines made German offensive in the French Alps town of Mont Blanc.
October 3, 1918
4th Marine Brigade assaulted Blanc Mont in fierce fighting. Next day was Marines' bloodiest.

Marine airmen Talbot and Robinson won Medal of Honor over France
October 14, 1918
Marine fliers 2nd Lt. Ralph Talbot and Gunnery Sgt. Robert G. Robinson won the Medal of Honor when attached to Squadron C, 1st Marine Aviation Force.
Marines completed successful reconnaissance againt Germans
November 10, 1918
5th Marines made night crossing of the Meuse River against German resistance.

Allies and Germany called for a cease fire
November 11, 1918
Armistice between Germany and Allies. Date honored as Veteran's Day, a national holiday.
Marine snipers took down Peralte
October 31, 1919
Marine Sgt. Herman Hanneken and Cpl. William Button sneaked into "Cacos" camp and killed Haitian extremist Charlemagne Peralte.

U.S. Senate rejected Versailles Treaty
November 19, 1919
Because of an incomplete agreement for peace, the U.S. Senate failed to ratify the Versailles Treaty.

Marines pulled out of Dominican Republic
July 12, 1924
Marine Brigade left Dominican Republic.
Marines began second Nicaraguan conflict
January 6, 1927
Marines began second Nicaraguan intervention, fought Augusto Sandino in the mountains.
4th Marines landed at Shanghai
March 16, 1927
The 4th Marines sailed to Shanghai, in February 1927, to protect American citizens and property in Shanghai's International Settlement.

Communist Josef Stalin began his dictatorship
December 27, 1927
Josef Stalin assumed control of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Marine pilot assisted marines in Nicaragua
January 6, 1928
1st Lt. Christian Schilt began 10 flights to aid besieged Marine patrol at Quilali, Nicaragua.
Marine pilot searches the Coco River for Sandino
March 8, 1928
Capt. Merritt A. Edson began a Coco River patrol to hunt for elusive Augusto Sandino.

Puller won Navy Cross
July 25, 1930
Lt. General "Chesty" Lewis Puller won first of five Navy Crosses chasing Sandino guerrillas in Nicaragua.

Japanese Army occupied Manchuria
September 18, 1931
Extremist officers in Japan's Kwantung Army took steps intended to dampen Nationalist enthusiasm by assassinating the Chinese warlord ruler of Manchuria.

Marines pulled out of Nicaragua
January 3, 1933
5th Marine Regiment departed from Nicaragua.

Adolf Hitler was named chancellor of Germany
January 30, 1933
A man who had spent his entire political career denouncing and attempting to destroy the German republic, was now its leader. On January 30, Hitler was sworn in.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated as president
March 4, 1933
As the 32nd president of the United States, Roosevelt became America's president in March 1933, to face The Great Depression.

Marines at Quantico, Virginia, began work on a new field operations manual
November 14, 1933
A cooperative effort from all sectors of the Corps led to the creation and issuance of the Tentative Landing Operations Manual.

Marines ended occupation in Haiti
August 15, 1934
12 Haitians were killed when marines opened fire on rioters in Cayes, leading to a pullout in conjunction with a "Haitianizing" of treaty services, including command of the Gendarmerie (police force).
Japanese and Chinese clashed at Marco Polo Bridge outside Peking
July 7, 1937
A clash occurred between Chinese and Japanese troops near the Marco Polo Bridge and the conflict escalated into full-scale warfare, lasting until 1945.

Marine Capt. Carlson traveled to Yenan
December 7, 1937
Marine Capt. Evans Carlson traveled to Yenan to observe Communist Chinese armies in action.
Germany invaded Poland
September 1, 1939
Great Britain and France declared war on Germany.