On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress decreed that two battalions of marines be raised.
Their early duties included such things as repelling attempts by enemies to board the ship, providing assistance of “manning” great guns if needed, serving as the “core” of the landing force, and enforcing regulations among the crew, bulwark against mutiny.
The Corps temporarily ceased to exist after the Revolutionary War, except for the Marine Corps Band. In 1794 newly established US decided to build a Navy again and provided for the Marines. Through their first six decades numbers barely rose above 1,000, until 1835.
In 1801 the rank of Colonel is authorized for the Marine Corps Commandant (William Ward Burrows).
In 1859 the Marines beat Army to Harper’s Ferry under the command of Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee.
The Corps relied on the incentive and daring of its lieutenants and sergeants commanding ships’ detachments, emphasizing small unit leadership to a degree not present in the other services. This would become another hallmark of the Corps.
In this composition the “Chapultepec” is shown, setting the stage for what would later be the well known refrain “from the Halls of Montezuma”. Additional imagery includes the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, men in combat, “by land, by sea and by air”. We see the jungles of Vietnam, the shores of a landing, a corpsman knocking down the door of the Baath party headquarters in Baghdad, also echoing Harper’s Ferry. There is still more to come in finalizing the additional visuals for this painting, notably the contributions of the women in the modern Marine Corps.