'Two Battalions of Marines be raised,' Nov. 10, 1775
By Andrew Glass
On this day in 1775, the Second Continental Congress, which convened in Philadelphia the day before, passed a resolution stating that ―two Battalions of Marines be raised∥ to serve with the fleet as an amphibious force in the war with Great Britain. When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the Continental Navy and Marines were disbanded. However, the soon-to-be reconstituted U.S. Marine Corps continues to mark Nov. 10 as its official birthday.
Congress also set up a Marine Committee, which wrote a set of rules governing the new force, including how it should be paid and equipped. In addition to raiding British naval commerce near the American coastline, the lawmakers wanted to deploy the marines to destroy a naval base in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and capture enemy booty. But Gen. George Washington vetoed the plan.
These first Marines, modeled along the lines of the Royal Navy, consisted of about 300 men, divided into five companies. They mounted an amphibious raid into the British-held Bahamas in March 1776, under the command of Capt. Samuel Nicholas. The first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines, Nicholas, later promoted to major, was the senior Marine officer throughout the war. He is viewed today as the first Marine commandant.
According to historian Edwin Simmons, Nicholas probably used his familyís tavern in Philadelphia, the ―Conestoga Waggon∥ as a recruiting post. The Corpsís official records, however, identify its first recruiting post as Tun Tavern in Philadelphia.
Nicholas appointed 10 additional Marine officers. Most of the officers and senior enlistees were small merchants and businessmen ó as was Nicholas. They were commissioned not for their military skills but, rather, because they had a working knowledge of the local taverns and other hot spots where unskilled laborers gathered in Philadelphia and could be recruited to enlist.
SOURCE: ―SOLDIERS OF THE SEA: THE U.S. MARINE CORPS, 1775-1962,∥ BY ROBERT HEINL (1962)