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Confederate States Marine Corps

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by NFB22, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

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    Awhile back I was on looking for information on the C.S.M.C. as there isnt much written about them or the United States Marine Corps for that matter during the ACW. After having various books and websites recommended I thought I would share some of the general information I came across.

    On March 16, 1861 the provisional Confederate gov't authorized a Confederate States Marine Corps. It's leadership for a great majority of the war consisted of the following:
    Commandant - Colonel Lloyd J. Beall
    Asst Commandant - Lt. Col Henry B. Tyler
    Quartermaster - Maj Algernon S. Taylor
    Paymaster - Maj. Richard T. Allison
    Adjutant - Maj. Israel Greene
    SgtMaj of C.S.M.C. - SgtMaj Edwin Wallace

    There were 6 companies of Marines (A,B,C,D,E, & F) and the HQ staff. None of the companies ever reached full strength and the entire C.S.M.C. never numbered more than size of a standard regiment however they did serve the length of the war and in a number of engagements from 1861 through 1865.

    The C.S.M.C. was headquartered at Camp Beall, Drewy's Bluff, VA
    Marine Barracks were located at various naval stations around the CSA including:
    Norfolk, Richmond, Savannah, Wilmington, Mobile, Charleston, and Pensacola.

    This is a incomplete list of some of the Confederate vessels Marines served aboard during the war
    CSS Atlanta CSS Morgan CSS Sumter
    CSS Baltic CSS Nashville CSS Virginia
    CSS Charleston CSS North Carolina CSS Virgina II
    CSS Chicora CSS Palmetto State CSS Shenandoah
    CSS Drewy CSS Patrick Henry CSS Chickamauga
    CSS Fredricksburg CSS Raleigh CSS Tallahassee
    CSS Gaines CSS Resolute CSS Georgia
    CSS Huntress CSS Richmond CSS Stonewall
    CSS Jamestown CSS Sampson CSS McRae
    CSS Macon CSS Savannah CSS Tennessee

    Multiple times Confederate Marines were involved in land engagements or land to ship engagements including:
    Bombardment of Ship Island, Mississippi - July 9, 1861
    Battle of Port Royal, SC - November 7, 1861
    Bombardment of Pensacola, FL - November 22-23, 1861
    1st and 2nd Battles of Drewy's Bluff - May 15, 1862/May 9-16, 1864
    Defense of Charleston - 1863 to 1865 and the fall of the city
    Defense of Mobile Bay - 1864
    Siege of Savannah - 1864
    Battle of Fort Fisher - Dec 64-Jan 65
    Battle of Sayler's Creek - April 6, 1865
    Battle of Fort Blakely - April 2-9, 1865

    This is not to mention the various naval actions of the war involving Marines aboard Confederate vessels however I'll just list some of the more significant of these actions:
    Battle of Hampton Roads - March 8-9, 1862
    Battle of New Orleans - April 24, 1862
    Battle of Wassaw Sound - June 17, 1863
    Capture of the USS Underwriter - February 2, 1864
    Capture of the USS Water Witch - June 3, 184
    Battle of Mobile Bay - August 5, 1864

    One battle CS Marines were inconspicuously absent from on the high seas was the battle between the USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama. Only one CS Marine was aboard the Alabama and that was Semmes' personal friend 1LT Becket K. Howell who had been the Marine guard detachment commander aboard the CSS Sumter.

    Towards the end of the war as Confederate forces disintegrated so did the C.S.M.C. various Marines surrendered as ships fell, battles were lost, and forts surrendered. It appears the last Marines were those aboard the CSS Shenandoah when it finally returned to port on Nov 6, 1865 and its crew paroled by British authorities.

    Sources:
    The Confederate States Marine Corps: The Rebel Leathernecks
    By Ralph W. Donnelly, White Mane Publishing Co. 1989

    American Civil War Marines 1861-1865
    By Ron Field, Osprey Publishing 2004

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederate_States_Marine_Corps
    http://csmc-photos.org/
    http://www.wargame.ch/wc/acw/Newsletters/March04/confederate_states_marine_corps.htm
    http://www.civilwarhome.com/marines.htm

    I'll also include the link to my book review on Donnelly's work and the original thread when I first inquired about the Confederate States Marine Corps.

    Book review - http://www.civilwartalk.com/threads...es-marine-corps-the-rebel-leathernecks.74423/

    Original Thread - http://www.civilwartalk.com/threads/confederate-states-marine-corps.73973/
     

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  3. reading48

    reading48 1st Lieutenant

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    Nice piece of Info.....
     
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  4. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Major Forum Host

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    Nice high-level overview. The CSMC is definitely one of the least-known facets of the entire war.
     
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  5. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Major Forum Host

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    Incidentally, the CSMC Adjutant, Israel Greene, was the actual commander of the US Marine detachment that stormed John Brown's "fort" at Harper's Ferry before the war. Since Col. Robert E. Lee was in overall charge, he's usually listed as leading the Marines... a little unfair to Lt. Greene, who personally engaged and apprehended John Brown with his saber (Brown was armed with a firearm reported to be a carbine). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Greene
     
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  6. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

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    Thanks for pointing that out Mark, In my research Greene was always mentioned as the Marine detachment commander at Harpers Ferry. However he was not the ranking Marine present when they stormed the engine house. Major William W. Russell was also there but because he was a USMC HQ staff officer (he served as paymaster) he could not assume command so that honor fell to Greene. People also forget JEB Stuart was also at Harpers Ferry during the Brown Raid.
     
  7. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

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    2.jpg The officers of the CSS Sumter sometime before it went to sea in 1861. Lt Becket K. Howell CSMC stands at the far right. When the Sumter was laid up at Gibraltar and most of the crew transferred to the CSS Alabama Lt Howell stayed with the command however the rest of his Marines were disbanded and he was the only Marine to serve on the Alabama. Howell served as a gun commander during the battle with the USS Kearsarge.
     
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  8. tmh10

    tmh10 Major

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    That is a darn good picture. I have not run accross it before. Thanks for posting it.
     
  9. tmh10

    tmh10 Major

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    I think it a very interesting Photo. There are a lot of pictures of the Union units but anything like this from the Confederate side is pure gold.
     
  10. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

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    I came across it during my CSMC research and thought it was a very interesting photo. I know there were plenty of photos taken like these aboard Confederate vessels but only a small percentage survive today.
     
  11. tmh10

    tmh10 Major

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    True, It is a shame. I cringe to think of the history lost when a lot of these photos were destroyed and lost.
     
  12. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

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    It's the same reason I struggled finding even the basic information I posted to start this thread with. 90% of all CSMC official records were lost or burnt when the Confederate Gov't collapsed.
     
  13. tmh10

    tmh10 Major

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    You did a good job finding what you did. For an example a confederate sword is worth more than a Union sword just because they are harder to find as a lot of them were destroyed.
     
  14. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

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    I feel like I could write a book with all the info I've found between the internet and various books and documents. Maybe many years from now when I'm retired and have nothing to do. I barely scratched the surface and feel like I could dedicate pages to each of the actions and Marines I mentioned above. Not to mention weapons, uniforms, plus many many other Marines and battles
     
  15. tmh10

    tmh10 Major

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    Sign me up for a copy.:smile:
     
  16. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

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    Ha, could be quite awhile but I already have folders upon folders of information I've collected. So I'm well on my way in the research stage.
     
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  17. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Major Forum Host

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    Well, as I've said, Donnelly's book is the standard... but there's more to the story than he covered, so there's certainly a need for more scholarship and writing on the topic!

    BTW, a side note on the photo... it's not quite as obvious since it's in black and white, but all of the Confederate officers are wearing dark-blue uniforms. There was some commentary on this in the book of John Mercer Brooke's journal and letters that I just read; Brooke was (unhappily) part of a committee to draft the regulations for the Confederate Navy (and Marine) uniforms... the Confederate Army managed to convince the Confederate Navy Department to make the official uniform color gray, but Confederate naval officers were almost unanimously opposed to it (as one said, "Whoever heard of a gray sailor, no matter what nationality?"). Although most naval officers complied with the new regulations, throughout the war there were exceptions, and the only naval station where the gray uniform regs were strictly enforced appears to have been the Mobile squadron (where Admiral Franklin Buchanan, although privately opposed to the color change, was a stickler for following the regulations).

    (The photo of the Sumter's officers was taken prior to the regulation color change, so they're not out of uniform. It's just an interesting detail.)
     
  18. ConfederateVolunteer

    ConfederateVolunteer Private

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    Thanks for putting together this overview. Great information.
     
  19. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

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    Its like you said when we first got on the topic of the book way back when. Donnelly is a great researcher and he did a wonderful job getting all the information together but his work is not the most elegantly written book. So basically there is room for improvement.
     
  20. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Major Forum Host

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  21. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

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    The downside to that for Sullivan would be that fact then when researching the USMC you have the Corps records readily available. Thats why he was able to not only write about the USMC but write an entire book about them for each year of the war. I dont think that would be possible when dealing with their Confederate counterparts when you consider most of their records were destroyed in 1865.
     
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