Corps Lore


The Beginnings

On November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, adopted a secret resolution that formally established a military organization whose fame and tradition was destined to achieve prominence in the annals of American warfare.  Drafted by John Adams and sponsored by the Nova Scotia Committee, the resolution created the Continental Marines and is now observed as the birth date of the United States Marine Corps.  The resolution reads:

Resolved - That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, two majors and officers as usual in other regiments; That they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office or inlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with Maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea, when required.  That they be inlisted and commissioned for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; That they be distinguished by the names of the 1st and 2d Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number, which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.

A Sampler of Marine Recruiting Slogans since 1775

  • First to Fight

  • A Few Good Men

  • Tell it to the Marines

  • Let's go, U.S. Marines

  • An Opportunity to see the world

  • The Few, The Proud, The Marines

  • We didn't promise you a rose garden

  • If you want to fight, Join the Marines

  • The Marines are looking for a few good men

  • No One Likes to Fight, But Someone Should Know How

Daily Ration Allowance in 1775, Continental Marines

  • 1 pound bread

  • 1 pound meat

  • 1 pound potatoes or turnips, or halve pd pease

  • Half pint rum

Unusual Customs and  Traditions of the Marine Corps
  • Marines take the right of the line or head of the column when in formation with elements of the other sea services (i.e., the Navy and the Coast Guard, not to mention NOAA).

  • All Marine posts have a bell, usually from a decommissioned ship of the Navy.

  • In the US Navy, when "Abandon Ship" is ordered, the last person to leave the vessel before the captain is his Marines orderly.

  • On a warship, Marines do not man the rail.

  • Whatever the regulations say, Marines do not use umbrellas.

  • The Marine Hymn is the oldest official anthem of the U.S. military service.

  • The Marines always stand at attention during the playing of the Marine Hymn

  • The Marine Corps March, "Semper Fidelis" by J. P. Sousa, is the only march authorized by Congress for a particular service.

  • The "Mameluke" Sword, first adopted in 1826, is the weapon with the longest continued service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

  • In the Marines, the phrase "I wish..." or "I desire..." uttered by a senior is considered an order.

  • The crowns of Marine officer's service caps are decorated with an embroidered quatre foil, a heritage of the days when such designs helped Marines in the rigging identify their officers on deck below.

  • Since 1850 Marine sergeants have been the only NCOs in the U.S. armed Forces to have the privilege of carrying swords on ceremonial occasions, a weapon of a pattern that makes it the second oldest weapon.

  • Officers and NCOs of the Marine Corps wear scarlet piping on their trousers, said to honor the blood shed by the Marines who stormed Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City on 13 September 1847, and traditionally called the "Blood Stripe".

  • In combat Marines never leave behind wounded comrades, and attempt to recover their dead as well.

11 General Orders for Sentries

General Order 1
To take charge of this post and all government property in view.

General Order 2
To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.

General Order 3
To report all violationsof orders I am instructed to enforce.
General Order 4
To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guardhouse than my own.
General Order 5
To quit my post only when properly relieved.
General Order 6
To receive, obey and pass on to the sentry who relieves me all orders from the commanding officer, officer of the day, and officers and noncommissioned officers of the guard only.
General Order 7
To talk to no one except in the line of duty.
General Order 8
To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.
General Order 9
To call the corporal of the guard in any case not covered by instructions.
General Order 10
To salue all officers and al colors and standards not cased.
General Order 11
To be especially watchful at night, and during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.

The Articles of the Code of Conduct

Article I:
I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life.  I am prepared to give my life in their defense.
Article II:
I will never surrender of my own free will.  If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.
Article III:
If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available.  I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape.  I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.
Article IV:
If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners.  I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades.  If I am senior, I will take command.  If not, I will obey lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them in every way.
Article V:
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth.  I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability.  I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country or its allies or harmful to their cause.
Article VI:
I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free.  I will trust in my God and in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

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This page was created on 20Aug02 and was last updated on 03-Nov-2014
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