View Full Version : Cpl John Mackie, CMOH

05-15-04, 02:05 PM
Born in New York, NY. Cpl Mackie enlisted in the Federal Marine Corps on Aug. 23 1861. <br />
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He was the first Marine to be awarded the Navy issue Medal of Honor. His citation reads: &quot;On board the USS...

05-15-04, 02:12 PM
Borrowed from Marine969.com (http://www.marine969.com/ConfedMC.htm)


by Kevin P. Gallen

The study of the Civil War has been approached from nearly every
conceivable angle, however, the distinguished service rendered by both the United States and Confederate States Marine Corps was essentially overlooked. This is particularly true of the Confederate Marine Corps.

The Confederate Marine Corps was established in the spring of 1861 and was authorized to have a maximum complement of 990 officers and enlisted men. The Corps was plagued by recruiting difficulties throughout the war and reached its largest point in October of 1864 when there were 571Marines at arms. The Marine Corps was commanded by Col. Lloyd James Beall. In 1862 the Marines established a base at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia and named it Camp Beall.

The Confederate Marine Corps duties included policing the Confederate Naval Bases and nearly every gunboat, ironclad and commerce raider had a detachment of Marines on board to serve as guards, boarding parties and as artillery gunners. The Marines developed a reputation as expert gunners. Marines served with distinction in the naval battles of Port Royal, Hampton Roads, Mobile Bay and Fort Fisher.

The Confederate Marines were also called upon for special service which in two instances involved Missourians. In February of 1863, the Naval Dept authorized a plan to train army, navy and marine units to destroy ironclads by boarding them. This was in anticipation of a Union attack of Charleston which occurred in April of 1863. The Marine unit was commanded by Captain Thomas S. Wilson of Missouri. The attack was repulsed and the Marines were not called into service.

Likewise, in July of 1864, General Robert E. Lee devised a plan where a battalion of Marines were to slip through the naval blockade and make a amphibious landing at Point Lookout above Washington D. C. to free the Confederate Prisoners of War there. This was to be done in support of General Jubal Early's raid on Washington. The force was led again by Thomas S. Wilson and included 2nd Lt. Henry H. McCune also of Missouri. The ships carrying the Marines were called back and the mission aborted due to perceived leaks regarding their activities.

Another interesting footnote of history involves Confederate Marine Sgt. George Stephenson of the infamous commerce raider CSS Sumter. After a long career the CSS Sumter was abandoned at Gibraltar and a small force was left behind including a Marine Guard commanded by Sgt. Stephenson. The Commanding officer Midshipman Williams Andrews was killed in October 1862 by a seaman and Sgt. Stephenson became the only Marine Federal or Confederate to command a ship of war in the Civil War.

As the fortunes of the Confederacy grew dark in the spring of 1865, Navy and Marines personnel were brought to Drewry's Bluff and formed into fighting units such as Tucker's Naval Battalion which fought with distinction at the battle of Saylor's Creek. In addition, when Robert E. Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House, it included four Marine officers and 21 enlisted Marines.

05-15-04, 02:25 PM

On the morning of October 17th 1859, panic gripped Washington D.C. as word reached the Capital that John Brown of Kansas and a group of armed abolitionists seized the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry Virginia and kidnapped several prominent citizens of the town. By noon, President James Buchanan had verified the facts of the situation and had taken action.

Troops from the Maryland and Virginia Militia were summoned to Harpers Ferry but the President wanted Federal troops to handle this situation. Accordingly, the 3rd US. Army Artillery Regiment at Fort Monroe was alerted however it soon became clear that army troops could not arrive on the scene for two days.

Instead, Marines stationed at Marine Barracks Washington were pressed into service. By 3:20 PM a detachment of eighty-six marines commanded by 1st LT. Israel Greene USMC boarded a train bound for Harpers Ferry. Greene was assisted by Major
William Russell USMC Paymaster of the Corps who was sent to advise the young officer.

Secretary of War John Floyd had other ideas regarding the overall
commander of the operation. Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee U.S. Army was on leave in nearby Arlington Virginia preparing to report to the 2nd U.S. Cavalry in Texas. Orders were sent by courier to Colonel Lee. The courier was Lt. James E.B. Stuart who was waiting to meet with the Secretary of War. Stuart offered his services to Lee as aide de camp and the two headed for the War Department.

As the Marines hit the rails to danger, the situation in Harpers Ferry rapidly deteriorated. The Jefferson County Militia exchanged gunfire with Brown's band and two failed assaults on the engine house resulted in heavy casualties. The abolitionists killed Fontaine Beckham, the Mayor of Harpers Ferry, and the militia captured and killed William Thompson one of Brown's men.

The Marine detachment arrived at the Sandy Hook station near Harpers Ferry by 9:30 pm. Later in the evening they were joined by Colonel Lee and Lt. Stuart. By dawn on October 18th 1859, Lee, Stuart and Greene approached the arsenal and the compound was surrounded by Maryland and Virginia Militia.

Believing this to be a state matter, Lee offered both the Maryland and Virginia Militia the honor of storming the engine house
where a dozen of Brown men and hostages were . Both commanders declined and Colonel Lee turned to Lt. Greene and his Marines.

Lt. Stuart was sent to make a surrender demand to John Brown. If it was rejected , he was to wave his hat as a signal. A force of 12 marines with sledgehammers would be sent to make a entry into the engine house.

Stuart made his demand and John Brown to make counter demands over the yelling and screaming of the hostages. The young cavalry officer lost patience with the situation and waved his hat. Two large marines with sledgehammer tried in vain to open the heavy doors to the engine house. Greene saw a large ladder lying near by and ordered 5 marines on each side of the ladder to ram the door. The door opened on the second attempt and Lt. Greene and Major Russell leaped through the breach followed by Marines with bayonets.

The inside of the engine house was covered in smoke. Lewis Washington, grand nephew of George Washington, assisted Green in locating John Brown who was preparing to fire a rifle. Lt. Greene struck Brown on the back of his neck with his sword and then thrust it into Brown's side. The abolitionist would have died on the spot if Greene had been wearing a regulation sword however, in his haste Israel Greene had brought his
light dress sword which was not as deadly. [WTF?]

Two of Brown's men, Jeremiah Anderson and Dauphin Thompson fell beneath marine bayonets. Marines Pvt. Luke Quinn made the ultimate sacrifice while Pvt. Matthew Ruppert received a gunshot wound to the face. The entire conflict took less that three minutes.

Israel Greene and his Marines assisted Colonel Lee in searching for more of Brown's men in the surrounding countryside. The Marine detachment was back in their barracks in on the morning of October 20th. Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee wrote a letter to Marine Commandant Harris praising the action of the Marines at Harpers Ferry.

History well documents what happened to Robert E. Lee and Jeb Stuart in the coming years but it is interesting to note that Israel Greene left the Corps to become a Captain in the Confederate Marine Corps.

The Marine action at Harpers Ferry was more than an interesting footnote to history. Lt. Greene and his detachment were a rapid deployment team sent into a hostile situation . This may have been the first time U.S. Marines were used in this capacity but it certainly was not the last. It would be a pattern seen throughout the 20th and into the 21st century.

Kevin Gallen (http://www.marine969.com/johnbrown.htm)

Information on this subject was gathered from The United States Marine Corps in the Civil War- The First Year by David M. Sullivan.

05-15-04, 04:48 PM
The Marines ahead of their time? Whoulda thunk it?