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The Confederate States Marine Corps

        The Confederate States Marine Corps (CSMC) was established by an act of the Confederate Congress 16 Mar. 1861. Corps strength was authorized at 46 officers and 944 enlisted men but actual enrollment never came close to that number. (A figure for 30 Oct. 1864 lists only 539 officers and men.) Though the officers were mostly former U.S. Marine officers, the head of the corps, Commandant-Col. Lloyd J. Beall, was a former U.S. Army paymaster with no marine experience.
        The CSMC was modeled after the U.S. Marine Corps, but there were some differences: the Confederates organized themselves into permanent companies, replaced the fife with the light infantry bugle, and wore uniforms similar to those of British marines. Ashore they provided guard detachments for Confederate naval stations at Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, Charlotte, Richmond, and Wilmington and manned naval shore batteries at Pensacola, Hilton Head, Fort Fisher, and Drewrys Bluff. Seagoing detachments served aboard the various warships and even on commerce destroyers.
        Confederate marines saw their first naval action aboard the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) off Hampton Roads, Va., 8-9 Mar. 1862, and near wars end were part of the naval brigade that fought at Sayler's Creek, Va.
        Despite desertions and even near-mutinies, most marines served well and deserved Navy Sec. Stephen R. Mallory's praise for their "promptness and efficiency." The corps weakness was due largely to internal squabbles over rank, shore duty, and administrative assignments. And, with no funds for bounties, the corps could not easily enlist recruits. Until 1864 the monthly pay of enlisted men was $3 less than that of equivalent army grades. Only late in the war were the marines allowed to draw from army conscripts to augment their ranks.

The United States Marine Corps

        The United States Marine Corps (USMC) was not utilized to full advantage during the Civil War. Already weakened by the resignations of many of its best officers, the USMCs morale suffered further as a result of feuding between staff and line officers and senior officers who regarded themselves administrators rather than field commanders. Another blow to morale was the practice of appointing new junior officers by patronage.
        In 1861 Congress authorized the United States Marine Corps to be enlarged to 93 officers and 3,074 enlisted men, and Abraham Lincoln increased that number by another thousand. However, recruiting was hindered by a lack of funds for bounties and longer terms of enlistment than for men in the volunteer army. By 1863 negative feelings toward the USMC resulted in a congressional resolution that would have transferred the corps to army control. The resolution was defeated, however, and when Marine Commandant-Col. Jobn C. Harris died in 1864, Sec. of the Navy Gideon Welles retired several senior officers to appoint Maj. Jacob Zeilin his successor. Zeilin, at 59, was a combat veteran of the Mexican War and an officer of proven ability.
        Harris had governed the corps by carefully following all naval regulations and by staying clear of army operations, and Zeilin continued this policy. As a consequence, marines did not play a major role in expeditions and amphibious operations during the war. Both Harris and Zeilin failed to recognize the possibilities of amphibious assault, regarding such operations as a responsibility of the army. Some 400 marines did participate in the navy's unsuccessful landing operation against Fort Fisher, 13-14 Jan. 1865; the army landing finally won the battle there.
        During the war marines continued their traditional role as ship guards, also manning batteries and participating in limited operations ashore. They did not always perform well, as at First Bull Run, where a marine battalion of mostly raw recruits was routed. But other marines distinguished themselves during landing and gunboat attacks and especially as members of gun crews. 17 marines received the Medal of Honor for conspicuous bravery; 13 of these were sergeants and corporals serving as gun captains and gun-division commanders.
        Marine recruiting improved by 1864 with changes in the conscription laws and with bounty money finally available. When the war ended, the corps was at full strength. A total of 148 marines were killed in action, while 312 more died from other causes.

Source: Historical Times Encyclopedia of the Civil War

Recommended Reading: American Civil War Marines 1861-65. Description: The part played in the Civil War by both the Union and Confederate Marine Corps is overshadowed by the confrontations of the great armies. Nevertheless, the coastal and river campaigns were of real importance, given the strategic significance of Gen. Winfield Scott’s Anaconda Plan, the Federal blockade of southern ports, and the struggle for the Mississippi River. Continued below...

Marines wearing blue and grey fought in many dramatic actions afloat and ashore – ship-to-ship engagements, cutting-out expeditions, and coastal landings. This book offers a comprehensive summary of all such battles, illustrated with rare early photographs, and meticulously researched color plates detailing the often obscure minutiae of Marine uniforms and equipment. “A welcome addition for buffs, military historians, and anyone remotely interested in studying the Marine Corps.”

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Recommended Reading: Civil War Small Arms of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps (Hardcover). Description: Acclaimed author John D. McAulay delivers the first reliable and comprehensive guide to the firearms and edged weapons of the Civil War Navy and Marine Corps. This fascinating book starts during the 1850s, and then proceeds to cover each of the war years in surprising detail, listing specific weapons used on specific ships and in specific engagements. The variety of weapons covered is amazing. Continued below...

Arms inventories for nearly 400 vessels are carefully transcribed for your use, showing guns, swords pikes, knives and accoutrements. 216 black and white photos, coated paper and cover art by famous nautical artist Tom Freeman. See why Norm Flayderman calls this "a highly significant addition to the lore of American arms history...the cornerstone for understanding this subject."

Recommended Viewing: The History Channel - The Battle History of the United States Military (2005) (Number of discs: 5) (766 minutes). Description: A mighty compendium of America’s five major military branches--Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard--THE BATTLE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY trumpets the myriad strengths of one of the world’s greatest military powers. Plunge headlong into the great battles fought on land, sea, and air. Marvel at the arc of musket to missile. Meet the key figures and lesser-known heroes who have shaped the organization, the strategy, and the future of the United States armed forces. Continued below...

 Encompassing over two centuries of courage and conquest, THE BATTLE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY marches through America’s military development from its earliest Coast Guard days to the technological wonders of the Gulf War. With official government documents, extensive combat footage, and commentary by historians and decorated veterans, THE BATTLE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY is a full-scale, full-dress salute to the men and women who give and have given to America’s fight for freedom. DVD Features: Downloadable Historical Documents; Branch Heraldries; Bonus Film: "Pageantry of the Corps"; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection.

Recommended Reading: The Confederate States Marine Corps: The Rebel Leathernecks. Reviewer: "The Rebel Leathernecks" has a great deal of intriguing detail within its pages. Few other books have ever been so interesting to me as this one. I mean, a book on the CS Army- you can find that almost anywhere that books are sold. A book on the CS Navy? A little harder, but still not but so hard. But the Confederate States Marine Corps? For the vast majority of my twenty years, I had no idea such a thing as the CSMC had ever existed. Books on these leathernecks in gray are not easy to come across. Continued below...
So there you have it. This is a good book. Sturdily built hardcover- I am unaware of there being any paperbacks and I wouldn't recommend them if there were- and possessive of more than enough information to greatly increase one's knowledge of the CSMC. If you had an ancestor serve in the Confederate Marines, especially as an officer or senior NCO, this book may prove invaluable. But no matter what, you've got to consciously decide that you *are* interested when you sit down to read it. Rebel Leathernecks is just one of the most interesting books I have read recent years telling the story of the Confederate States Marine Corps in detail I never knew existed. I found the statistics very useful in my own personal research. I recommend this book if you are interested in the Civil War and the Marine Corps in particular. It gives insight on a side of the Corps many Marines themselves are not aware of.

Recommended Viewing: The World at War (30th Anniversary Edition) (1357 minutes) (A&E). Description: Sir Jeremy Isaacs highly deserves the numerous awards for documentaries he has earned: the Royal Television Society's Desmond Davis Award, l'Ordre National du Mérit, an Emmy, and a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. His epic The World at War remains unsurpassed as the definitive visual history of World War II. Continued below...

The Second World War was different from other wars in thousands of ways, one of which was the unparalleled scope of visual documents kept by the Axis and Allies of all their activities. As a result, this war is understood as much through written histories as it is through its powerful images. The Nazis were particularly thorough in documenting even the most abhorrent of the atrocities they were committing--in a surprising amount of color footage. The World at War was one of the first television documentaries that exploited these resources so completely, giving viewers an unbelievable visual guide to the greatest event in the 20th century. This is to say nothing of the excellent, comprehensible narrative. Some highlights:

• A New Germany 1933-39: early German and Nazi documentation of Hitler's rise to power through the impending attack on Poland

• Whirlwind: the early British losses in the blitz in the skies over Britain and in North Africa

• Stalingrad: the turning point of the war and Germany's first defeat
• Inside the Reich--Germany 1940-44: one of the most fascinating documentaries that exists on life inside Nazi Germany, from Lebensborn to the Hitler Youth
• Morning: prior to Saving Private Ryan, one of the only unromanticized views of the Normandy invasion
• Genocide: this film is one of the most widely shown introductions to the Holocaust
• Japan 1941-45: although The World at War is decidedly focused more on the European theater, this is an important look into wartime Japan and its expansion--early 20th-century history that lead to Japan's role in World War II is superficial
• The bomb: another widely shown documentary of the Manhattan Project, the Enola Gay, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki

The World at War will remain the definitive visual history of World War II, analogous to Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. No serious historian should be missing The World at War in a collection, and no student should leave school without having seen at least some of its salient episodes. Rarely is film so essential. --Erik J. Macki

Recommended Viewing: Ken Burns Award Winning Series, "The Civil War." Editorial Review: The most successful public-television miniseries in American history, the 11-hour "Civil War" didn't just captivate a nation, reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. This documentary has definitely raised the standard...

Recommended Reading: Lincoln's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization, 1861-65 (Hardcover). Review: Naval historian Donald L. Canney provides a good overview of the U.S. Navy during the Civil War, describing life at sea, weapons, combat, tactics, leaders, and of course, the ships themselves. He reveals the war as a critical turning point in naval technology, with ironclads (such as the Monitor) demonstrating their superiority to wooden craft and seaborne guns (such as those developed by John Dahlgren) making important advances. Continued below...

The real reason to own this oversize book, however, is for the images: more than 200 of them, including dozens of contemporary photographs of the vessels that fought to preserve the Union. There are maps and portraits, too; this fine collection of pictures brings vividness to its subject that can't be found elsewhere.

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