Going as far back as to the American Revolution, a resolution was agreed upon by the Continental Congress stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” to be used as landing forces for the newly assembled Continental Navy. Future U.S. president John Adams and taken up in Philadelphia, a resolution brought about the Continental Marines and is today honored as when the United States Marine Corps was born. However, many do not know the history regarding why the Marines were formed in the first place or that there was a time when they were actually disbanded with no thought of ever needing them again.
Throughout the Revolutionary War, the first U.S. Marines separated themselves through a variety of important operations that served on both sea and land. The first landing of Marines on a dangerous shore happened when under the command of Captain Samuel Nicholas, took a group of Marines to take control of New Province Island that resides in the Bahamas on March of 1776 that was under British control. Captain Samuel is known as the first officer that was commissioned in the Continental Marines and is also recognized as the first Marine commandant. The Continental Navy demobilized and its’ Marines went their separate as a result of America achieving their independence in 1783.
With growing conflict occurring at sea with Revolutionary France a decade later, the U.S. Congress decided to formally create in May of 1798 the U.S. Navy. President John Adams signed the bill a mere two months later on July 11th that designated the U.S. Marine Corps as a fixed military force that would fall under the authority of the Department of the Navy. During the beginning of the 19th century, U.S. Marines were involved in the so-called Quasi-War with France and later battled against the Barbary pirates in North Africa. After that, Marines have been involved in the United States wars and in a majority of times were the first soldiers to engage the enemy. Today, more than 300 landings on hostile shores have been executed by Marines.
With the expansion of the United States’ population over the centuries, the amount of enlisted Marines has increased as well. Presently, the number of reserve and active-duty Marines totals over 200,000. They are stationed into three divisions with one being in Camp Pendleton, California; another at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and the last at Okinawa, Japan. Strategically placed, each division has a minimum or more than one expeditionary unit that when given at least two weeks’ notice, they will be prepared to go ahead with important operations no matter where they may be needed in the world. Expeditionary units of Marines are completely self-reliant as they use their own air force, tanks and artillery. Semper Fidelis is the motto of the Marines in Latin and translated into English means “Always Faithful.”