Compendium of U.S. Marine Actions in the Civil War
Compiled by David Ekardt
October 18, 1859: 1st Lt. Israel Greene and 86 US Marines under the command of US Army Col. Robert E. Lee attack John Brown’s men at Harper’s Ferry, capturing him and rescuing his hostages.
January 5, 1861: Forty US Marines from the Washington Navy Yard commanded by Captain Algernon Taylor man Fort Washington on the Maryland side of the Potomac River to protect the capitol.
January 9, 1861: First Lt. Andrew Hayes and thirty Marines from the Washington Navy Yard garrisoned Fort McHenry at Baltimore until relieved by the Army.
January 12, 1861: A force of Florida and Alabama militia under the command of William Henry Chase, the man who had overseen the construction of the forts around Pensacola before he had retired, headed for the Naval Yard. At a pre-arranged time, secessionist naval officers forced the Marine guards at the gate to allow the rebel force to enter the facility. Chase and his officers met with Captain James Armstrong, commander of the base, who surrendered the facilities. Marine Captain Josiah Watson was summoned to Armstrong’s office and was ordered to have his men surrender their weapons. The Marines were not in favor of surrendering their weapons and accouterments and did so only after much persuasion and direct orders from Armstrong. Eventually they stacked arms. The militia forces gathered on the parade deck after securing the Marines in a warehouse. They had been advised to lock them up prior to lowering the U. S. flag. Chief William Conway was ordered to lower the flag. However, when he was chastised by one of the sailors for giving consideration to obeying that order he refused to do so. The militia raised a flag that was described as “a yellow rag with one star”, which was replaced a few days later with a flag fashioned from a U.S. flag. The blue field with stars was removed and replaced with a blue field with one large white star.
For his action, Chief Conway was later honored for his refusal to lower the national colors. Conversely, two months later, Commodore Armstrong was court-martialed for surrendering the Navy Yard. He was convicted of neglect of duty, disobedience of orders, and conduct unbecoming an officer. He was suspended from duty for five years with loss of pay for half of that period.
The next day, the Marines and sailors were permitted to leave on the U.S.S Supply which had been transferring supplies from the Yard to Fort Pickens before the takeover. Captain Watson and his wife departed for Mobile to take the land route to Washington DC, while his men went aboard the USS Supply bound for Washington. Army Lt. Slemmer’s family was permitted to gather their belongings and board the ship also. That same day, a deputation requested Lt. Slemmer to surrender Fort Pickens, which he adamantly refused to do. Lt. Slemmer was in charge of the Army troops that were maintaining forts McRee, Barrancas, the advanced redoubt around the naval yard, and Fort Pickens opposite the yard on Santa Rosa Island. He had pulled his troops to Pickens on the 10th, after dumping 25,000 pounds of gun powder into the bay when militia troops threatened McRee. With the USS Wyandotte, the USS Brooklyn, and the USS Macedonian standing by, there was enough force to prevent an armed attempt to take the fort.
President Buchanan and Florida Senator Stephen Mallory reached an agreement on January 21, 1861, to prevent bloodshed. As long as the Federal government did not land troops on Santa Rosa Island to reinforce Fort Pickens, no attempt would be made by the militia to take the fort by force. The situation stayed amiable enough for the occupants of the fort to get supplies from the naval yard stores, and even go into town for supplies, mail and to use the telegraph. The same agreement covered the re-supply of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.
January 14, 1861: Marines manned howitzers to protect the Washington Navy Yard.
January 22, 1861: The USS Brooklyn sails for Pensacola with Marines and soldiers for the relief of the small force at Fort Pickens opposite Pensacola. They are under orders not to land unless the fort comes under attack.
February 1, 1861: Marines at the Washington Navy Yard placed under arms to protect the facility.
February 12, 1861: Marines are posted at the US Capitol Building.
April 12, 1861: After a flurry of contradictory orders, the Marines of the USS Brooklyn, USS Sabine, USS Wyandotte, and the USS St. Louis, numbering about one hundred-twenty were ordered to go ashore to bolster the defenders of Fort Pickens. In his exuberance to be the first ashore, Marine drummer George Gardner stepped overboard when he thought they were in shallow water. Surprised to be in over his head, he held his drum tight, used it as a float and as he kicked his way to shore.
April 17, 1861: The USS Powhatten along with the transport ship the Atlantic, arrived on the scene. Colonel Harvey Brown of the Army and approximately one thousand men were ferried ashore. The Marines were sent back to their ships until April 23rd, when Brown, after seeing movements of a number of rebel ships, hastily called for the Marines, believing that there was an imminent attack on his position in the offing. The Marines stayed for a month helping to improve the defenses of the garrison. Until May 27th, they pitched in, each man having to fill and place forty sandbags a day.
A reporter from the New York Times present for the early days there reported on the Marines:
“The Marine Guard of the Wyandotte gunboat has been sent ashore on Rosas Island to do picket guard for the tired-out garrison there. Let me here name one bright spot in the Navy. It is the Marine Corps. Extra loyalty in trying times seems to be a characteristic-I had nearly said peculiarity-of Marines everywhere….America should call them ‘National’ because when every other branch of the country’s service has black spots in it, the Marines loom out in moral grandeur-true, unreproachable and brave. I am delighted to see the papers, and to learn from private letters that the corps at home is just as its representatives are here. Oh, that we had ten thousand Marines!”
April 20, 1861: Marines and sailors at the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia set fire to the facilities to prevent the capture of naval stores by the Confederates. They were aided by Marines and sailors from the USS Cumberland, USS Pawnee, and the USS Pennsylvania.
April 20, 1861: Twenty extra Marines were assigned to the USS Anacostia to patrol the Kettle Bottom Shoals, Virginia to prevent the obstruction of the shipping channel.
May 24, 1861: Marines from the Washington Navy Yard land and occupied Alexandria, Virginia captured some railroad cars and raised the US flag over the Customs House.
June 1-2, 1861: Marines helped man the guns of the USS Pawnee, and the USS Thomas Freeborn engaged shore batteries at Aquia Creek Virginia.
June 6, 1861: Marines and sailors from the USS Pawnee land at White House, Virginia to protect a survey party.
July 21, 1861: Major John Reynolds, USMC leads the Marine battalion from Washington for the Battle of Bull Run. His force includes 12 officers and 353 enlisted men, most of whom were in uniform, less than three weeks. The fought against Stonewall Jackson’s troops on Henry House Hill. There along with the Red-Shirted Fire Zouves from New York, and another militia unit, they assaulted and fell back from the hill twice before having to retreat when the other units ran. Jackson’s physician upon treating the wounded noted that the Union troops drove the Virginians back into the woods, yet all dead and wounded Union troops lay outside the wood line, however he found Marine dead and wounded inside the wood line, proving they advanced further against Jackson than anyone. Casualties were 9 dead Marines, 19 wounded and 6 missing. The Marines fought a rear guard action at the Sudley-New Market toad and Warrenton Turnpike intersection for nearly an hour allowing retreating soldiers to retreat to Washington City.
August 3, 1861: Five boats of Marines and sailors rowed out from the USS Colorado and USS Niagara to attempt to burn the Judah, a schooner that was being fitted out at the Pensacola Navy Yard. The Confederate guard was alert and gave the alarm when the boats were spotted. Several rockets and an illumination balloon were sent aloft illuminating the area. The boat crews pulled off, and returned to the ships without casualties.
August 19, 1861: Major Reynolds and 200 Marines from the Washington Navy Yard boarded ships of the Potomac River Fleet, the USS Pawnee, USS Freeborn and the USS Resolute. They landed at Port Tobacco to search for Confederate arms and war materials. They found nothing and returned on board.
August 27-28, 1861: Fleet Marines of Flag Officer Stringham’s Squadron along with sailors and other troops land in surf-boats at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina under cover of naval gunfire. Marines of the USS Pawnee and the USS Susquehanna did not participate in the landing however manned the guns firing on the forts. The Marines were the first to enter the fort and raised the colors. Many of the boats broke up in the heavy surf; however the Confederates withdrew from Fort Clark. The next day, Fort Hatteras was shelled into submission.
August 28, 1861: The steamboat Philadelphia transports 400 Marines and sailors to Alexandria, Virginia for the defense of Fort Ellsworth. Thirty more Marines followed the next week.
September 2, 1861: The rebels occupying the Pensacola Navy Yard tried to move a floating dry dock which became grounded in the bay between the Navy Yard and Fort Pickens. A night time raiding party rowed out to the dry dock and set it ablaze as they were afraid that the Confederates would arm it and turn it into a floating artillery battery.
September 13, 1861: The officers of the fleet at Pensacola decided to make another attempt at attacking the rebels. They tried to convince Colonel Brown, commander of the army forces at Fort Pickens to join in a night time attack on Fort McRee. Brown was constantly in fear of an attack on his fort, and would not allow his troops to join in the attack. The Naval officers then decided to make another attempt at destroying the Judah and the largest gun the Confederates had at the Navy Yard, a 10-inch Columbiad. Four boat loads of Marines and sailors under the command of Lt. John Russell USN, and 1st Lt. Edward Reynolds USM set off on the night of September 13th. Silently they rowed past the encampment of Braxton Bragg’s 6,000 man army.
The force split up with two boat loads going towards the Judah, while the other two made for the big gun. The boats approaching the Judah were just yards from the ship when the alarm was raised. Men on board the ship and shore sprang to life, as the first shot was fired from the six-pounder in the lead boat. The attackers threw flaming tar balls onto the deck of the ship and fought their way on board. In the ensuing close combat, they drove off the defenders. Under heavy fire from the wharf, the raiders spread turpentine-soaked wood shavings around the ship and set it ablaze.
Meanwhile the other two boat crews found their objective virtually unguarded. One defender was killed as they landed. The attackers spiked the Columbiad, removed its tompion as a trophy and shoved off into the night. As they withdrew under heavy fire from the Navy Yard, they kept up a spirited return fire from the boat guns, cutting into the defenders with grape shot. Two sailors died and a total of twenty sailors and Marines were wounded. An undetermined amount of Confederates were killed and wounded. The raid was a success, and the Judah was totally destroyed. This also was one of the times that Marines of both sides fought each other.
September 16, 1861: Marines and sailors of the USS Pawnee landed on Beacon Island, North Carolina and destroyed guns and fortifications. This closed Ocracoke Inlet, along with Hatteras Inlet effectively forcing blockade runners to find other ports to work out of.
September 17, 1861: A landing party of Marines and sailors of the USS Massachusetts took possession of the fort on Ship Island, Mississippi.
September 20-October 12, 1861: Marines on board the USS Richmond, USS Preble, USS Water Witch, and USS Vincennes had running battles with Confederate ships including the ram, CSS Manassas at the Head of the Passes on the Mississippi River. They engaged their counterparts the CS Marines on the enemy ships.
November 2, 1861: The transport vessel USS Governor with the Marine Amphibious Battalion sinks. Fortunately the Marines and crew were transferred to other ships prior to the sinking in a storm. The battalion was part of DuPont’s fleet assembling of Hampton Roads Virginia. Seven Marines drown and most of the Marines’ gear went down with the ship.
November 7, 1861: Fleet Marines and sailors of Flag Officer DuPont’s fleet bombard Fort Walker on Hilton Head Island, and Fort Beauregard on Bay Point, South Carolina. Commander John Rogers along with a landing party of sailors and Marines go ashore and raise the flag over the quickly deserted Fort Walker. The next day Fort Beauregard is captured when the Confederates evacuate it. The US Marines had fought against CS Marines during the engagement. This completed the capture of Port Royal Sound, South Carolina.
November 7, 1861: Marines and sailors of the USS Santee after an engagement with the Confederate ship General Rusk, seized and sunk the Confederate ship, Royal Yacht off of Galveston, Texas.
November 8, 1861: Captain Wilkes of the USS San Jacinto intercepts the British steamer Trent. He sends a boarding party on board including Marines and takes two Confederate citizens, James Mason and john Slidell into custody. They were Confederate envoys to Great Britain and France. The incident almost provoked the British government into joining the war on the side of the South. The two men were later released and given passage to Europe.
November 24, 1861: Commander John Rogers leads a landing party of sailors and Marines from the USS Flag, USS Seneca and USS Pocahontas, landing on Tybee Island, Georgia, and raises the flag on the light house.
December 12, 1861: USS Isaac Smith embarked on a reconnaissance in the Ashepoo River, South Carolina, with Marine detachment, scattered Confederate troops by gunfire and landed Lieutenant J. W. A. Nicholson with the Marines to destroy their quarters.
December 16, 1861: Commander Percival Drayton with the Marines of the USS Pawnee and a party of sailors landed at the Edisto River town of Rockville. The Confederates had abandoned their camp leaving a large quantity of supplies including forty Sibley tents that DuPont gave to the Marine Battalion.
December 26, 1861: Marines of the USS Dale skirmished with rebel troops at the mouth of the South Edisto River, South Carolina. The firefight broke out at the house of former South Carolina Governor William Aiken. The Confederate force was driven away by the combined musket and boat howitzer fire of the Marine landing party.
January 13, 1862: Marines from the USS Hatteras lands at Cedar Keys, Florida to destroy rebel war materials. Cedar Keys is a critical port for the Confederacy.
January 16, 1862: Marines and sailors with covering gunfire from the USS Hatteras destroy a Confederate battery, 7 vessels loaded with cotton and turpentine, the railroad depot (the terminus of the cross Florida railroad between the port of Cedar Keys and Fernandina on the east coast), wharf and telegraph office at Cedar key, Florida. They also captured a number of rebel troops.
January 17, 1862: Sailors and Marines of the USS Susquehanna leave Port Royal to perform picket duty and exploration of the New River waterways and assisted n the construction of batteries on Venus and Bird Islands.
January 20, 1862: The USS Cuyler chased a schooner to shore where the crew jumped onto the beach after running her aground. A boarding party sent to haul the schooner off came under fire from a group of men on shore. They were dispersed by Marine gunfire and cannon fire. Problems arose when a tow line snapped and became entangled in the Cuyler’s propeller. The Marines then kept up covering fire as the cannon was unable to be brought to bear on the enemy. Additional sailors and Marines from the USS Potomac and USS Huntsville aided in bringing off the rebel schooner by Mobile, Alabama.
January 31, 1862: The first contingent of US Marines joins the Mississippi flotilla assigned to General Grant. They were assigned to the flagship of the armed river boats, the USS St. Louis and participated in the attacks on Fort Henry and Fort Donaldson.
February 2, 1862: Marines and Army troops seized more Confederate positions on Roanoke Island, North Carolina.
February 10, 1862: Marine detachments from fourteen US vessels took part in the pursuit of an enemy fleet up the Croatan Sound from Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and occupied Fort Cobb and Elizabeth City, NC.
February 19, 1862: Marine detachments of the Atlantic Squadron participate in the Battle of Winton, NC.
February 28 1862: Admiral DuPont headed his fleet south consisting of the Mohican, Ottawa, Ellen, Seminole, Pawnee, Flag, Florida, James Adger, Beinville, Alabama, Keystone State, Seneca, Huron, Pembina, Isaac Smith, Penguin, Potomska, and the Henrietta. He had the Marine Battalion under Major Reynolds embark on the armed transport McClellan, and the 97th Pennsylvania troops under General Wright embark on the Empire City, Marion, Star of the South, Belvedere Boston and George’s Creek. The fleet headed out to sea for Florida.
March1, 1862: Marines of the USS Hartford, USS New London landed at Biloxi, Mississippi to investigate possible enemy actions and violations of the terms of surrender. Nothing was found.
March 4, 1862: The Marine Battalion of Major John Reynolds from the transport McClellan lands at Fernandina, Florida and occupies the town. A company of Marines from the USS Mohican occupies Fort Clinch, Florida marking the first recapture of a federal fort. Other Marines land opposite the fort on Columbia Island, Georgia, and chase off retreating Confederate forces.
March 8, 1862: In the battle with the Merrimac and accompanying vessels at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and 14 Marines on board the USS Cumberland were killed, and 2 were wounded. 1 Marine on board the USS Congress was killed and 2 wounded and 5 reported missing. The next day the Monitor took up the fight against the Merrimac saving the rest of the wooden Union ships.
March 9, 1862: Marines and sailors of the USS Pocahontas occupied St. Simon’s Island, Georgia and the next day accompanied by the Marines of the USS Mohican, capture Brunswick and land on Jekyl Island which they find all the fortifications deserted.
March 11, 1862: Marines landed from the USS Wabash at St. Augustine, Florida, occupy the town and Fort Marion. They are welcomed by the Unionist residents of the area.
March 12, 1862: Marine detachments of gunboats took part in a combined Army/Navy expedition up Slocum’s Creek, NC to capture New Bern and Washington, NC.
March 14, 1862: Marines and soldiers captured Confederate batteries on the Neuse River and occupied New Bern, NC. They captured a depot of military supplies.
March 14, 1862: Captain John Broome and 27 Marines land and occupy Pilot Town, Louisiana.
March 24, 1862: A landing party of Marines and sailors of the USS Mercedita land and demand the surrender of the town of Apalachicola, Florida. The citizens that met with them decided that they did not have authority to surrender. Again on April 3, 1862, Captain Stellwagen along with Orderly Sgt. John Dwyer and his Marine Guard rounded up the citizenry again and demand their surrender. After they again decided they had no authority to surrender, Captain Stellwagen lectured the citizens not to obey the orders of the Confederacy.
March 26, 1862: Marine detachment of the USS New London were involved in action with Confederate steamers Oregon and Pamlico at Pass Christian, Mississippi on the Gulf of Mexico.
April 16, 1862: Marines of the USS Pocahontas and a detachment of the 3rd New Hampshire Volunteers reconnoitered Seabrook Island, Edisto River, South Carolina.
April 19-25, 1862: Marines of Captain David Farragut’s Squadron manned some of the guns as the fleet fought their way past Forts Phillip and Jackson on the Mississippi River. The Squadron defeated the Confederate flotilla and anchored off New Orleans. During the raging battle between ships and forts and ship to ship combat, Confederate and Union Marines faced off again. Altogether, six Marines died and 22 were wounded.
April 26-29, 1862: 2nd Lt. J. C. Harris and his thirty Marines landed at New Orleans, marched through an angry crowd to the U.S. Mint. They lowered the Confederate flag, and hoisted the Stars and Stripes. The rest of the fleet’s Marines formed a 300 man battalion commanded by Marine Captain J. L. Broome. He led them through the narrow streets and crowds, to the Custom House and City Hall, placing detachments at each after raising the American flag at both. The Marines held the city until Army General Benjamin Butler and his troops arrived to occupy the city. The Marines withdrew on May 1st.
April 25, 1862: Marines and sailors of Commodore Goldsborough’s fleet bombarded and forced the surrender of Fort Macon at Beaufort, North Carolina.
May 8, 1862: Orderly Sgt. Aaron Gilbert and the Marine Guard of the USS Iroquois are sent ashore at Baton Rouge, Louisiana and raised the flag over the city arsenal to force the surrender of the city.
May 8, 1862: With President Lincoln present, Marines and sailors of the USS Susquehanna, USS San Jacinto, USS Seminole USS Dacotah, USS Naugatuck and USS Monitor bombard the enemy positions at Sewell’s Point into submission.
On May 9, 1862: In the dead of night the remaining Confederate troops that had not been siphoned off from the defense of the Navy Yard and Pensacola, Florida, set fire to what was left of the buildings and supplies before marching out of town.
The next morning, Marine Lt. Mclane Tilton and eighteen Marines were sent ashore to reconnoiter the situation. They found the Navy Yard and gun emplacements abandoned and burning. Other sailors and Marines were sent ashore along with some of the troops from the Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island opposite the Navy Yard to try to extinguish the flames.
May 10, 1862: Marines man several of the guns of the Union Flotilla battle Confederate ships off of Fort Pillow, TN.
May 11, 1862: Goldsborough’s ships attack Confederate positions along the Elizabeth River advancing on the Gosport Naval yard. Marines of the USS San Jacinto led by 1st Lt. Robert Kidd land and occupy Fort Fairfax.
May12, 1862: Goldsborough’s ships steam into Norfolk, Virginia and land the President and party to survey the city of Norfolk accompanied by the Marine drummers of his ships and other troops. US forces reoccupy the Gosport Navy Yard, Norfolk, Va.
May 12, 1862: The Marine guards of the USS Iroquois and USS Oneida land at Natchez, Mississippi and accept the surrender of the city.
May 15, 1862: the James River Flotilla engages Confederate batteries at Drewey’s Bluff. Confederate Marine sharpshooters and sailors manning the guns, battle their US counterparts. Marine Corporal John Mackie of the USS Galena takes over the aft gun and crew, clearing wreckage to keep the gun in action and returns fire at the enemy with the aft 100 pound Parrott gun. For his actions he is the first Marine to be awarded the new decoration, the Medal of Honor. *****
May 22, 1862: Marines on board the USS Somerset assist in the shelling of Confederate positions on Way Key, Florida. A few weeks later they along with the Marines of the USS Tahoma land at St. Marks, Florida and assist in the destruction of the Confederate barracks and battery.
May 23, 1862: Marines of the USS Port Royal and USS Maratanza return musket and gun fire and drive off Confederate attackers at City Point on the James River.
May 25, 1862: A force of 200 Marines land at Gosport Navy Yard to take over from the Army forces that had occupied it after Confederate forces evacuated.
June 13, 1862: Marines and sailors of the USS Brooklyn went ashore and destroyed the telegraph station at Bayou Sara.
June 24, 1862: Sixty Marines transfer from the USS James Alger, USS Keystone State and USS Albatross to the gunboats Hall and Andrew for raids on the Santee and Wahamau Rivers, South Carolina.
June 26, 1862: Marines and sailors were landed at Blake’s Plantation on the Santee River after the ships were fired upon. They burned the buildings and destroyed several thousand bushels of rice. They were eventually driven back to the waiting gunboats when reinforcements arrived to drive them off.
June 28, 1862: Marine detachments on the USS Hartford and USS Brooklyn and USS Richmond manned guns battling the Confederate batteries of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
July 2-3, 1862: Marines and sailors of the USS Dacotah went ashore to destroy the abandoned guns of Fort Huger and Boykin on the James River.
July 4, 1862: At Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, the USS Maratanza exchanges fire with the CSS Teaser, exploding the Confederate ship’s boiler. Marines captured a large supply of underwater telegraphic wire used to detonate mines, and a hot air balloon which was to be launched from the deck of the Teaser.
July 17-18, 1862: Twenty-eight Marines and sailors of he USS Grey Cloud, under the command of 1st Lt. George Collier captured or destroyed a steamer and two schooners loaded with cotton and destroyed telegraph communications between Pascagoula and Mobile, Alabama.
July 18, 1862: Orderly Sgt James Buckner along with the Marine Guard of the USS Mahaska land and set fire to fortifications at Fort Powhatten, Virginia after bombarding it.
August 1, 1862: Marines under O. Sgt. Thomas Sweeney on board the USS Cimarron manning the 100-pounder Parrott gun battled Confederate field batteries at Coggin’s Point on the James River across from Harrison’s Landing. They destroyed and drove the Confederates from the field.
August 7, 1862: The transport ships Sallie Robinson and St Charles were fired upon at Donaldsonville, Louisiana. The ships opened fire on the town as promised for all the attacks from that town. Marines went ashore to drive off Confederate forces and assisted in burning public buildings.
August 8, 1862: Ninety-five US Marines commanded by 1st Lt. H.B Lowry form the USS Wabash and USS New Ironsides, took part in setting up guns on Morris Island, South Carolina.
August 23, 1862: US Marines commanded by Captain David Cohen from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, put down a riot among Army recruits of General Spinola’s Empire Brigade.
September 8,1862: A landing party including Marines from the USS Kingfisher destroyed salt works at St. Joseph’s Bay, Florida. These works produced over 200 bushels a day. Three days later another large salt works was destroyed by a combined Marine and sailor landing party of the USS Sagamore at St. Andrew’s Bay, Florida.
October 1-3, 1862: Marines of the USS Paul Jones and USS Cimarron were landed under covering fire at St. John’s Bluff on the St. John’s River, Florida to meet up with Army troops to take the Confederate batteries on the bluff. They returned to the ships after marching through 8 miles of swamp to await the arrival of the Army and the troops never showed up. They went ashore again to await the arrival of the troops. They never showed up. When there was no more firing from the Confederate fortifications, the Marines entered the works to find that the rebels had abandoned their works without even spiking the guns or destroying their ammunition.
October 4, 1862: A Marine and sailor landing party from the USS Thomas Freeborn, entered Dumfries, Virginia and destroyed the telegraph office and wires cutting off communications between Occoquan to Richmond via Fredericksburg, Virginia.
October 4, 1862: Marines and sailors from the USS Somerset and USS Tahoma destroyed the salt works at Depot Key, Florida near Cedar Keys.
October 7-8, 1862: Captain Collins of the USS Wachusett decides to defy international law and attack the Confederate commerce raider, the CSS Florida in Bahia Harbor, Brazil. He runs past the Brazilian ships, his Marine guard under O. Sgt James Fitzgerald exchange shots with them. The Wachusett rams the Florida, fires two guns at her at which point the crew surrenders. A boarding party of sailors and Marines go on board, secure tow ropes and the prize is towed to open sea.
October 6, 1862: The Marines of the USS Paul Jones and USS Cimarron went ashore at Jacksonville, Florida to search the city for war materials. They confiscated a large supply of arms and ammunition.
October 9, 1862: Galveston, Texas is captured; Marines of the USS Clifton go ashore and raise the US flag over the government buildings. They are joined by the Marines of the Westfield, Owasco, Harriet Lane, and the mortar boat number 19 who occupy the evacuated barracks and guard against land attack.
October 20, 1862: Marines and sailors of the USS Cimarron transferred to the USS Governor Milton and went ashore at Cedar Point, Florida. They destroyed a large salt works including many large cast iron cauldrons, pans and a seventeen foot boiler along with the furnaces.
October 31, 1862: Marines and sailors from the USS Mahaska destroyed Confederate batteries on Wormley’s Creek and West Point, Virginia. The next day assisted by sailors, they attack Confederate pickets and destroy fortifications near West Point, Virginia.
November 8, 1862: In the Western theater, a naval supply depot was established at Cairo, Illinois. A Marine detachment of four officers and eighty-eight enlisted men transferred there from the Headquarters, Washington, DC.
December 7, 1862: A company of Marines under Major Addison Garland on board the USS Ariel bound for Mare Island, California are taken prisoner when the ship is captured by the CSS Alabama. Garland had formed up his Marines to repel boarders on the unarmed transport vessel, but conceded the futility of the effort when the Alabama fired a shot that hit the foremast. To prevent the injury to women and children on board, the vessel was surrendered the ship was released after the surrender of all the Marines weapons and a bond was set for $261,000.00 to be paid to the Confederacy. The paroles signed for the Marines not to take up arms against the Confederacy were considered void by Washington. The Marines arrived at San Francisco on December 27.
December 12, 1862: Mahaska’s Marines and sailors along with soldiers and cavalry men Advance on Mathew’s Court House Virginia and engaged enemy troops, and drove them off.
January 9, 1863: Marines and sailors of the USS Mahaska along with Army troops advanced to the Richmond and York River Railroad past West Point, destroyed the bridge, cut telegraph wires and tore down the telegraph poles.
January 10, 1863: Marine guard numbering 18 Marines of the USS Wachusett took charge of the captured Confederate iron-clad steamer Virginia and sailed her from Jajores Island, Yucatan, Mexico to Key West Naval Station.
March 15, 1862: Marines and sailors under the command of Lt. Commander Paul Shirley acted on intelligence provided by the customs collector and seized the Cyane a rebel vessel in the harbor of San Francisco, California. The Cyane was loaded with arms and ammunition.
March 14, 1863: Marine detachments of the USS Hartford, USS Richmond, USS Mississippi and the USS Monongahela made up part of the landing party that attacked Port Hudson, Louisiana. Marine Sgt Pinkerton Vaughn of the USS Mississippi is awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the engagement. *****
March 19, 1863: The USS Hartford’s Marine detachment manned guns during the bombardment of Grand Gulf, Mississippi.
March 26, 1863: Marine detachments on board ships of Farragut’s squadron manned guns in engagements against Confederate batteries at Warrenton, near Vicksburg, Mississippi.
April 2-9, 1863: Marines and sailors of the USS Fort Henry, USS Sagamore and the USS St. Lawrence attack and defeat the battery at Bayport, Florida harbor. They also destroyed the sloop Helen. They spent 5 days and nights rowing 75 miles in open boats raiding between the Suwannee River and Anclote River and battling the storms as they went.
April 20, 1863: The landing party of the USS Port Royal led by Lt. Commander George Morris raided Apalachicola, Florida, captured a large quantity of cotton, 25 canister shot, 30 chain shot, and 14 oblong iron bar shot which he kept for his 32-pounder. They also brought off a 90 foot long canal boat which they put to use for coaling the gunboat.
April 23, 1863: The USS Clifton and USS Westfield attack Fort Burton at Butte Ala Rosa, Louisiana. The Marines are landed and they secure the fort.
May 30, 1863: Marines of the USS Brooklyn participated in a raid at Port Isabel, Texas to spike the guns in the battery and capture what they could. Two ships were burned but no prizes taken.
June 15, 1863: Orderly Sergeant Christopher Nugent of the USS Fort Henry, and his six men reconnoitered up Crystal River, Florida in search of the blockade runner Frolic. Several miles up the river, he spotted a fortification on the river bank. Nugent left the boat with two of his men, and with his other four men, attacked the log breastworks. The attack surprised the occupants who ran into the swamp beyond the encampment. There were eleven soldiers and one woman. When the Sergeant saw the woman, he kept his men from firing at the retreating enemy.
‘his gallantry not permitting it as there was a woman among the fugitives.’ as the official report stated.
The Confederate officer fired a shot at the attackers, which hit Nugent in his cap box. The Marines confiscated all the weapons left behind, captured very important documents that named names of several smugglers, and destroyed the camp equipage that they could not take into their boat.
Sergeant Nugent was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Crystal River. The following month, he was noted for bravery again for the rescue one stormy night of three Unionists escaping from Depot Key as their small boat was sinking. ****
July 6, 1863: A Marine battalion assembled from the ships of the South Atlantic Squadron reinforced Army troops on Morris Island, South Carolina in an unsuccessful attempt to take Fort Wagner.
July 9-10, 1863: Ships attack Donaldsonville, Louisiana again due to the continued guerilla attacks on the Union vessels passing by. Marines of the USS Monongahela engage in a firefight with snipers on shore. The USS Essex, USS Kineo and USS Tennessee join in the fry exchanging gun fire with the Confederate batteries on shore until they are silenced.
July 13-16, 1863: A Naval Brigade was organized at the Brooklyn Navy Yard commanded by Lt. Commander R.W. Meade for the purpose of assisting in suppressing the massive draft riots in New York City. Captain Grayson, USMC led the 180 man Marine battalion portion of the brigade. His Marines were spread out through the city in some of the more disorderly districts. They put down the riots, maintained order and protected government buildings and private property. Their service to the citizens of the city were highly praised and appreciated by all.
July 15, 1863: Rear Admiral Paulding recalled a company of Marines from New York City to guard the Brooklyn Naval Yard from rioters.
July 15, 1863: Landing parties from the USS Stars and Stripes, and USS Somerset landed at Marsh’s Island, Florida and destroyed fifty salt boilers and a quantity of salt prepared for shipment.
July 15, 1863: Marine detachments on board ships of the Mississippi Fleet manned guns in action against the Confederate Ram Arkansas above Vicksburg, Mississippi.
July 16, 1863: Marine detachment on board the USS Wyoming took part in the action against the ships and shore batteries of the Japanese Prince of Magato in the Straits of Shimonoseki, Japan. The warlord did not approve of outside contact and attacked the USS Wyoming. He lost his ships in the engagement.
July 23, 1863: Marine Commandant Colonel John Harris orders the assembly of a battalion of 400 Marines with appropriate number of officers to be assembled at the New York Navy Yard by the end of the month.
August 5, 1863: Admiral Dahlgren supplemented the 257 Marines that arrived with Marines of his fleet to form a battalion of 502 Marines under Major Jacob Zeilin at Morris Island. The Marine Battalion augmented the Army and Navy units assigned for an assault on Battery Wagner and Battery Gregg. A battery of the US 1st Artillery was assigned to the Marines. The Confederates evacuated Battery Gregg before the forces made their assault.
September 8, 1863: Commodore Bell commanded the fleet off of Sabine Pass, Texas to land Army troops there for operations ashore. The USS Clifton, USS Arizona, USS Sachem and USS Granite City began shelling the landing area. The Confederates fired back causing damage to the shops. The Marine Guard of the Clifton kept up a steady fire when the ship ran aground and kept up the fight until the ship struck her colors. Some of the Marines fought on until it appeared the ship was about to explode. They were taken prisoner by the Confederates as they swam ashore.
September 8, 1863: Acting on false intelligence that Fort Sumter was only manned by a skeleton crew, Admiral Dahlgren ordered a night time assault on the fort. Commander Stevens led the assault force of 30 boats, 300 sailors and 100 Marines. The assault boats were towed into position by the tug Daffodil. The Marine boats would follow the sailors’ boats so that they could provide covering rifle fire for the landing. The landing went afoul, plus the defenders of around 300 Confederates were alerted and waiting. In the ensuing fight, 100 of the landing force was captured including 30 Marines. Even though the attack failed, Dahlgren commended the Marines and their officers for their service.
September 10, 1863: Lt. Colonel John Reynolds arrived and took command of the Marine Battalion due to Major Zeilin’s illness. The Marines were encamped on Folly Island and supplemented the Marine detachments on the ships of the fleet.
October 14, 1863: Marines and sailors of the USS Potomac and the Pensacola Naval Yard depart in a boat expedition up the Blackwater River and destroyed a bridge and ferry at Milton, Alabama.
December 14, 1863: A sergeant, two corporals and thirteen privates arrived at Mound City, Illinois to guard the new Naval Depot.
December 28, 1863: A detachment of Marines and sailors of the USS Marblehead landed at Stono, South Carolina and attacked a Confederate supply depot.
January 1, 1864: Thirty Marines and sailors from the South Atlantic Squadron landed at Murrell’s Inlet, Charleston, South Carolina and sank a Confederate blockade runner.
February 20, 1864: Forty Marines commanded by 1st Lt. Richard Collum reported to the naval supply depot at Mound City, Illinois to protect the facility.
February 21-22, 1864: The Marine Guard of the USS Mahaska under O. Sgt Edward Green are landed with naval howitzers at Jacksonville, Florida to put up defenses to repel any Confederate attack following the retreat of Army General Seymour from his defeat at Olustee, Florida. The Marine Guard of the USS Pawnee under O. Sgt Frederick Frederickson is also sent ashore with naval howitzers to bolster the defensive line. They in turn are covered by the guns of the warships. They remained on shore to protect the city until April 4, 1864
March 16, 1864: Admiral Porter’s squadron arrived at Alexandria, Louisiana and landed Marines to act as provost guards to keep sailors and Army troops under control for two weeks prior to the Red River campaign.
April 7, 1864: Marines of Admiral Porter’s flagship led by Lt. Frank Church land to guard work parties gathering wood to fuel the ships of the squadron. Armed with Spencer repeating rifles, they drive off guerilla fighters at Campti, Louisiana.
April 12, 1864: Off Blair’s Landing, Louisiana, Porter’s flagship the USS Cricket comes under fire by Confederates on shore. Lt. Church’s Marines engage in a fire fight that is ended when the guns of the Cricket fire are able to be brought to bear on them near Loggy Bottom.
April 13, 1864: Porter’s squadron takes fire from the Confederates hiding along the river. Lt Church and his Marines engage in firefights including one with 100 guerillas and succeeded in driving them off.
April 18, 1864: A landing party from the USS Commodore Reed destroyed a Confederate supply depot at Circus Point on the Rappahannock River, Virginia.
April 19, 1864: US Marines were serving on board the USS Wabash when a boat armed with a spar torpedo attacked her near Port Royal Sound, South Carolina.
April 19, 1864: Marines of the USS Miami participated in an engagement against the CSS Albemarle.
April 25, 1864: Lt Church and his Marines had been transferred to the USS Fort Hindman which along with the other ships of the squadron was attacked by a large force of Confederates armed with 18 pieces of artillery at Deloges Bluff along the Red River. The Marines kept up a steady fire in an attempt to drive off the Confederate gun crews. The squadron managed to run the gauntlet, however most of the ships were damaged. <NMLHA Article>
May 6, 1864: Marines on board the USS Metabesett, the USS Myalusing, the USS Sassacus and the USS Whitehead took part in the action against the CSS Albemarle off of North Carolina.
May 6, 1864: On the James River, Virginia while sweeping the river for torpedoes, the USS Commodore Jones at the mouth of Four Mile Creek is sunk by a torpedo activated by a galvanic battery onshore. Marines of the USS Mackinaw go ashore kill one operator and capture two more members of the Submarine Battery Service waiting to set off more torpedoes.
May 16, 1864: The USS Commodore Jones and the USS Shawsheen are sent down the James River between Bermuda Hundred and Dutch Gap to land Marines and sailors to perform picket duty along the river banks to drive off Confederate troops and prevent any more torpedo attacks. Several engagements with Confederates occurred over the next several days.
May 26, 1864: Robert Pruyn, Minister to Japan requested that the USS Jamestown be sent to the port of Kanagawa which the Japanese threaten to close to foreigners.
May, 1864: Lt. Henry Cochrane with his Mound City, Illinois Marine Guard leads several raids into Kentucky to capture rebels, and military supplies. They had intelligence that troops of Nathan Bedford Forrest were in the area and intended on attacking the Naval Depot at Mound City.
May 26-27, 1864: Marine landing party is put ashore at the former Governor of South Carolina’s plantation to get their howitzers close to the Williston battery in a joint operation with the army along the Mosquito Creek.
June 10, 1864: Marines serving as gun crews on board the USS Kearsarge assist in the sinking of the Confederate raider, the CSS Alabama off the coast of France.
June 17, 1864: The steamer Winans was fired upon by Confederate artillery by Wilcox’s Landing. The USS Mackinaw came up and the Marine Guard fired at the gun crews. They were driven off by several shots from the Mackinaw’s guns.
July 3, 1864: Thirty Marines armed with two light howitzers aid the Army in their fight with Confederates on the Dawho River, White Point, South Carolina.
July 11, 1864: A Marine battalion commanded by Captain James Forney was part of a naval brigade from the Philadelphia Navy Yard that reopened the Washington-Baltimore railroad line at Havre De Gras, Maryland.
July 12, 1864: Marines of the Marine Barracks in Washington DC were sent to Fort Lincoln in response to movements of Confederate General Jubal Early’s troops.
July 13, 1864: Marines of the Philadelphia Naval Yard march to the railroad ferry at Havre de Grace, Maryland to guard it and bridges from destruction by Confederate Major Henry Gilmore’s cavalry.
July 16-24, 1864: Marines of the USS Mendota and Agawam have several engagements with Confederate artillery along the James River between Deep Bottom and Four Mile Creek.
August 1-4, 1864: Commander George Colvocoresses led a landing party consisting of Marines and sailors to McIntosh Court House, Georgia. They raided a meeting of civilians forming a coastal guard, took 26 prisoners and 22 horses. They also destroyed a bridge to prevent local cavalry forces from attacking them before returning to the USS Saratoga.
August 5, 1864: Marines on board the ships of Farragut’s ships poured fire on the Confederate gun ships and the ram Tennessee. The Marine guard on board the USS Lackawanna kept up a steady small arms fire into the gun ports of the Tennessee. Eight Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during this engagement.
Sgt. Henry Denig
Sgt Michael Hudson
Sgt James Martin
Sgt Andrew Miller
Corporal Miles Oviatt
Sgt. James Roantree
Corporal Willard Smith
O. Sgt. David Sprowle
August 6, 1864: Brevet Lt. Colonel Charles Heywood and twenty-five Marines of the USS Hartford and USS Richmond occupied Fort Powell, Mobile, Alabama.
August 16, 1864: Commander George Colvocoresses led a landing party consisting of Marines and sailors and landed at the mouth of South Newport River and attacked a cavalry unit in camp. They captured several of them along with weapons and supplies. They then continued on, burning a bridge over the South Newport River, destroyed two salt works and took several more prisoners. They returned to the USS Sonoma on the 19th along with their 107 prisoners.
September 9, 1864: Marines of the USS Shamrock and USS Chicopee under the command of Lt. Commander Earl English landed at Elizabeth City, North Carolina to search for those who had attacked the mail boat Fawn and killed seven persons on board. Failing to find those involved, they took seven persons prisoner back to the ships.
October 31, 1864: Marines on board the USS Shamrock, USS Chicopee and the USS Otsego participate in the bombardment of Confederate fortifications along the Roanoke River and captured. Plymouth. Shamrock’s Marines go ashore and occupied the works, spiked the guns and took prisoners.
November 24, 1864: Admiral Dahlgren called for a Naval Brigade to be formed from his fleet consisting of 350 sailors and 150 Marines. They were sent to an encampment on Phillips Island, Port Royal Bay. There they instructed in battalion drill so they could operate in the field with the Army. Their main function would be that of skirmishers and be accompanied by two-four gun naval howitzer batteries.
November 28, 1864: The Marine Battalion embarked on the USS Sonoma up the Broad River to join with the Army in action at Honey Hill, close to Grahamville, South Carolina. Their goal was to cut the Charleston-Savannah Railroad and assist General Sherman in his movement to Savannah.
November 29, 1864: The Fleet Brigade landed, and the Marine Battalion began its advance driving the Confederate pickets ahead of them. The Fleet Brigade advanced until they ran into a dead end at the Coosawhatchie Savannah Railroad. Commander Preble took the wrong direction and had to countermarch to catch up with the Army. The sailors had to haul their howitzers and carry the ammunition by hand.
November 30, 1864: Early in the morning, the Battle for Honey Hill began when the Fleet Brigade and Army clashed with Confederate cavalry and militia units. They drove the Confederates back until they reached the enemy’s defensive line. The Marine Battalion moved to the far right of the line along with the 55th Massachusetts, moving through swamps and woods and relieved the 144th New York. There they engaged the Confederates for three hours. Late that evening, the whole Federal force withdrew. The Marine Battalion provided cover for the withdrawal of the forces. The Marine loses for the day’s battle was one killed six wounded and 1 missing.
December 5-9, 1864: The Naval Brigade led by Commander Preble fought at Tulifinny Crossroads, South Carolina. Army troops tried to cut the Savannah-Charleston Railway and attempted to link up with General Sherman. The fleet’s gunboats fired on the defensive works along the Coosawatachie River while the sailors and Marines fought a continuous action against Confederate forces through rain and swamps.
December 20, 1864: The gunboats Wyalusing and Chicopee come under heavy sniper fire on the Roanoke River near Poplar Bluff. Marines from both ships went ashore and drove off the enemy. The ships returned down river to Plymouth, fighting off guerilla attacks along the way with the Marines engaging in fire fights with the enemy.
December 23, 1864: Marines of the South Atlantic Squadron manned guns in the bombardment of Fort Fisher, North Carolina.
December 24, 1864: Lt Church and his Marines had been transferred to the ironclad Cincinnati when Rear Admiral Lee took command of the squadron from Porter. On the 29th, the Marines were taken ashore by the USS Fairy and destroyed a fort at Chickasaw, Alabama.
December 27, 1864: Lt. Church and his Marines went ashore at Florence, Alabama and destroyed an enemy battery.
January 13-15, 1865: Admiral Porter with fifty-nine ships participated in the taking of Fort Fisher North Carolina. A landing party of 1,500 sailors and 500 Marines were to assault the front of the fort while the Army attacked from the rear. The Army was late in their timing and the sailors were cut down as they made their assault as they were ordered to “board the fort in a seaman-like way. The Marines provided covering fire for the sailors. The Army finally arrived taking some of the attention from the Naval Party, and both forces captured the fort. Thirty-five sailors and Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions, including,
Sgt. Richard Binder
Orderly Sgt. Isaaac Fry
Corporal John Rannahan
Private John Shivers
Private Henry Thompson
Corporal Andrew Tomlin
January18-20, 1865 Marines of the USS Pequot took part in the occupation of Smithville, North Carolina, and Battery Holmes, Smith Island.
February 26, 1865: First Lt. George Stoddard and six companies of Marines occupied Georgetown, South Carolina.
March 9, 1865: Marines of the USS Chenango exchanged fire with rebels on shore near Brown’s Ferry on the Big Black River South Carolina.
March 16-18, 1865: A landing party including seventy Marines and sailors sailed up Mattox Creek, Virginia and destroyed four guns and three schooners. They engaged Confederate Cavalry and drove them off with the assistance of the USS Stepping Stones.
March 22, 1865: Marines and sailors of the USS Chenango, USS Mingoe, and the USS Pawnee and the tug Catalpa land at Conwayboro, South Carolina. They helped protect locals from marauding deserters and looters.
April 4, 1865: Guarded by the Marines of the USS Malvern, President Lincoln and retinue enter Richmond, Virginia, and visited the Confederate White House.
April 14, 1865: The Marine battalion landed from the USS Pawnee at Fort Sumter as honor guard when the national colors are once again raised over the fort.
April 15, 1865: Marines are ordered into Washington City to be on guard for any trouble once the news that the President died.
April 15, 1865: As the assassination conspirators were apprehended they were taken to the Washington Naval Yard and placed in chains on board the monitor USS Saugus. They were guarded by Marines both on the monitor and a guard at the dock. They also guarded the body of assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
April 19, 1865: A Marine honor guard stands in at the White House for the funeral of the President. The Marine Battalion and Marine Band were part of the funeral procession through the city.
Civil War Marine A Diary of the Red River Expedition, 1864 Lt. Frank Church
A Civil War Marine at Sea the Diary of Medal of Honor Winner Myles Oviatt
The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine the Note Book of Henry Gusley
The Blockading Fleet Records on Line Collection of Cornell University
Marines in the Civil War (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Year) Volumes by David Sullivan
Website of the Washington Naval Yard by Bob Wagner
Navy Chronology of the Civil War (USNLP website)
Navy Medal of Honor Citations (NMNLHA website)