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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tun Tavern, Birthplace of the USMC

The first U.S. Marines were raised at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, PA

Every Year on November 10th Marines wherever they may be stationed across the world remember Tun Tavern and the birth of the Corps. On November 10, 1775 the United States Marine Corps was officially formed by a vote of the Continental Congress. Captain Samuel Nicholas was named the first Commandant of the Marine Corps. Robert Mullan was appointed to raise two companies of Marines. Mullan was also the proprietor of Tun Tavern which had a long reputation for having the best beer in Philadelphia. So it was that the very first Continental Marines were recruited in Tun Tavern, and it became the birthplace of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Marines have a long tradition of remembering their roots, and Nov. 10 is a date remembered every year wherever there are Marines. On that day all Marines remember Tun Tavern. Fittingly enough for Marines over the centuries since, many of whom have earned something of a reputation as strong drinkers, the name of the tavern originates from the name for a special kind of old English beer barrel called a tun. Nicholas and Mullen immediately began recruiting Marines, and legend has it that free beer was offered to new recruits as soon as they signed the contract. The Navy had just been created about a month earlier on October 13, 1775, and Marines were needed aboard the new ships. Congress voted that all Marine Officers should have the same rank structure and pay as equivalent ranks in the “land service” (Army).

Almost from the very start, every Marine was a rifleman, and marksmanship from the yardarms or crow’s nest was a famed early Marine skill. Shooting accurately from high in the rigging during boardings and close ship to ship fighting Marine sharp-shooting became legendary by the end of the time of the great sailing ships. Marine officers to this day wear a special cover (hat for you landlubbers) which distinguishes them from above to identify them to their sharpshooters in close on deck fighting.

During the Revolution Marines captured or made successful hit and run assaults on several British positions both in the Caribbean, and the British Isles including the only successful incursions on British soil in over 700 years. In 1776 Nicholas’s Marines captured Nassau in the Bahamas. They took Fort Montagu, captured the British Governor, and brought back numerous cannon and thousands of shells for the American cause. Nicholas was promoted to Major after this victory. Marines fought successfully on the Isle of Jersey, and Marines under John Paul Jones landed at Whitehaven where they burned shipping and captured Lord Selkirk’s family silver. They were attempting to capture Lord Selkirk himself to trade for American war prisoners, but he wasn’t home. From then, Marines have distinguished themselves in every American engagement of any size or duration, and it all started at Tun Tavern (sometimes spelled Tunn Tavern) in Philadelphia in 1775. If you live anywhere near a base that houses Marines, and you are up early in the morning, you might hear them singing as they are on their morning run, “Back in 1775. My Marine Corps came alive. . .”

Apr 11, 2007

by: John Crandall

Read more at Suite101: Tun Tavern, Birthplace of the USMC: The first U.S. Marines were raised at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, PA

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