Heirs to a storied past and glamorized as modern-day knights, the Marine Corps - the elite fighting force in America's military - in fact has not always been so highly regarded. As Jack Shulimson shows, only a century ago the Corps' identity and existence were much in question.
Although the Marines were formally established by Congress in 1798 and subsequently distinguished themselves fighting on the Barbary Coast, their essential mission and identity remained unclear throughout most of the nineteenth century. In this enlightening study, Shulimson argues that the Marine Corps officers' inextricable ties to the Navy both hampered and aided their attempt to define their own special jurisdiction and professional identity. He reveals the processes, politics, and personalities that converged to create tense relations before Marine officers (with the Navy's blessing) eventually transcended their second-class role.