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The United States Marine Corps in 1812
The organization of the Marine Corps in 1812, like today, was under the command of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. At that time the Commandant was to have the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and, as the Commandant does today, lives at the Commandants House at Marine Barracks, Washington D.C. and under the direct command of the Secretary of the Navy.
Franklin Wharton, a member of a prominent Philadelphia family was mas Lt. Colonel Commandant of the United States Marine Corps in 1804. By the year 1812 he had led the Marine Corps into a larger, more professional and better organized force. He, like Commandants after him, had to fend off attempts by politicians to abolish or severely curtail the Marine Corps. Now, as war approached, Wharton was in command of an undersized force that he knew would have ever increasing responsibilities.
The Marine Corps was to provide all the traditional duties of Marines and, as the war progressed, adapt to the needs of their nation. The traditional duties of providing a trained, sea-born, small arms units on board the ships of the United States Navy and provide security at the young nations fledgling Navy Yards were expected but in the war to come they found themselves as infantry, artillery, public safety and public administration. One flummoxed Marine Corps officer
wrote to Commandant Wharton, "What other branch of military science the government may next require of the Marines to perform I am at a loss to conjecture unless it be engineering."
In the war with Great Britain and the other events of the years 1812-1815 the Marine Corps would face many challenges and they would meet them all.
In the "1812 U.S. Marine Library" you will find a concise history of the Marine Corps during the War of 1812 as well as other works containing historical information and data relating to the U.S.M.C. at the time and the War of 1812 itself.
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