U.S / C.S MARINES DETACHMENT

          U.S Marine Detachment 1861 – 1865   

                                                 Naval Landing Party                                    

                                                        About us.

We were formed in 2005 and portray a naval detachment landing party being largely made up of Marines taking part in different battle scenarios. We are at present the largest U.S Marine American Civil War detachment re-enacting in the U.K  we also on occasions portray Confederate Marines of 1862 as they were recorded at Drewry`s Bluff.  We are always looking for new members to join our friendly laid back run detachment ether as Marines or Sailors. Our Detachment has also been used in a dramatized documentary by Indigo Films, USS Constellation Fight For Freedom and from time to time some of us have portrayed Marines aboard the USS Constellation in Baltimore harbour U.S.A  the last all sail ship left from the civil War still afloat.

 

     An insight into the U.S Marine Corp in the Civil War.

In the mid- 1850s Congress had considered to disband the Marine Corp as a cost saving exercise though this was vigorously contested by the Navy and eventually saved, in 1859 the undress uniform was to change dramatically taking on the appearance of the Federal army frock coat but with a red welt around the collar and seven buttons down the front trousers were to be sky blue with French pockets, though regulations state white drill cotton in the same cut but without French pockets will be issued from the 15th May to the 15th October this may extend if on tropical deployment. There distinct white leather cross belts were to remain but by 1863 different combinations were worn at the Captains pleasure. On the outset of the war in 1861 Congress increased the Marines to 3,074 enlisted men and 93 officers, but during the war the Corp strength did not exceed 3,900 as the war department at the outbreak of war did not realise the potential of an amphibious army. The Marines main duties were mainly aboard ships to maintain order within the ships company and guard the ship when in port. When the ship went into action a detachment of Marines were often assigned to a gun often the large pivot gun fore or aft.

These are some of the many engagements the Marines were involved in.

  At the first battle of Bull Run in Manassas Virginia 353 newly enlisted marines and 12 officers fought Stonewall Jackson`s Brigade on Henry House Hill although they fell back from the Hill three times they were to reform and fight on until the Federal army`s rout where a small number of marines fought the rear guard along the Warrenton Turnpike road letting retreating troops to escape, Marine casualties were 19 wounded 6 missing and 9 dead.

On  8th March 1862 the CSS Virginia engages the USS Cumberland off Hampton Roads V.A the Cumberland having  being rammed by the CSS Virginia commences to sink as her decks become awash, the last gun still firing was the U.S Marine pivot gun aft as she slipped below the waves.

July 1863 The South Atlantic Squadron lands Marines to reinforce the Army on Morris Island S.C in the unsuccessful assault on Ft Wagner on the mouth of Charleston harbour.

In June 1864 the sloop USS Kearsarge corners the Confederate raider the CSS Alabama in the English Channel and engages her, the Marines aboard the USS Kearsarge manning the 30 pdr bow pivot gun had the best tactical view through the smoke continuing to fire on here as she sinks off the French coast.  

  By 1863 marines were being used in small naval landings and raiding parties ashore or to spearhead a larger operation before the main force were deployed, though at Ft Fisher in 1865 the US naval landing force were used more of a decoy for the army making up an assault force of over 10,000 men, when some 400 marines along with 1,500 poorly armed sailors armed only with pistols and cutlasses charged one of the bastions, after being landed by cutters they charged over 800 yards of beach with devastating consequences, it was said that at 500 yards a great hole appeared in the column as a mass of men went down like a row of dominos and about 250 yards they were almost dissolved by canister, by the time the remaining force reached the parapet 61 marines had lost their life along with a large amount of sailors when the fort eventually fell so did the Confederacy closing its last European supply line to WiImington N.C.

 

                  Confederate Marines in the War.

On the outset of the war the Confederate Government could not see any great use for a C.S Marines Corp due to the number of ships it had at the time and by 1863 the blockading of ports by the U.S Navy, the official regulations on uniforms issued have never been found and were probable, destroyed in the burning of Richmond the Confederate capital at the time. There were thought to have been about ten companies three of these were detached to iron clad steamers and another two on armed steamers while the rest were stationed at Navy yards or ports.

As the war erupted some U.S Marines chose to fight for the Confederates and at the time enlisted men were recorded still wearing there blue frockcoats with white trousers though the white trousers were probably only worn due to the federal summer issue at the time of them joining the Confederate states also blue kepi`s were worn in the field at the battle of Drewry`s Bluff in mid-1862 though there famous white cross belts and the kepi corp insignia had been discarded for the British influence in accoutrements and were armed with the Enfield rifle, Officers were expected to purchase their own uniform and side arm.

By mid-war a new standardised uniform was issued for enlisted men a grey frockcoat which survives today in a private collection has a dark blue trim on the top of the collar and nine buttons down the front with the letter “M” on them there are no other markings present this was probably issued sometime in 1862-3 with grey trousers and kepi with a dark blue band round the outside, there accoutrements was to retain the British influence but rifles seem to vary throughout the corp.

If you would like to join us or would like more information please contact Geoff at thelambeths@googlemail.com or click Soskan membership to join us.