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"Hash-Mark"

March 5 2003 at 8:36 PM
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Dick G  (Login Dick Gaines)
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from IP address 24.99.13.138

 
I find it interesting that the adoption of the hash-mark as an item of uniform made its entry into the Marine Corps in 1833, not as a service stripe, as it was later, but as an insigne of rank (on the fatigue uniform)--sergeants and corporals wore two stripes and one stripe respectively below the elbow. The designations prevailed until 1859.

Ref
Enlisted Rank And Grades, 1775-1958, by Bernard C. Nalty, Historical Branch, G-3, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, washington, DC, June 1959

 
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Dick G
(Login Dick Gaines)
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24.99.13.138

Early Marines Enlisted Ranks

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March 5 2003, 9:34 PM 

There evolved from the Continental Marines of 1775, the enlisted titles of sergeant, corporal, drummer, fifer, and private. When the U.S. Marine Corps was established in 1798, the old titles were retained; but for some unknown reason both sergeants and corporals were placed in the same pay grade at ten dollars per month. Also, a new law in 1798 provided for staff noncommissioned officers in the event that the Marine Corps or any part of it was called upon to serve on land with the Army.

William ward Burrows, the Lieutenat Colonel Commandant, lost no time in creating the enlisted ranks authorized by the new law of 1798. By May of 1800, a quartermaster sergeant had been appointed; and on 1 January of the following year William Farr was serving as drum major, while Archibauld Summers held the post of sergeant major.

The problem was that there were no intermediate ranks between sergeant and sergeant major, and only one sergeant major existed at Marine Corps headquarters.

Ref
Enlisted Ranks And Grades, U.S. Marine corps, 1775-1958, by Bernard C. Nalty-Historical Branch, G-3, Headquarters, US Marine Corps, Washington, DC, June 1959


    
This message has been edited by Dick Gaines from IP address 24.99.13.138 on Mar 7, 2003 3:40 PM


 
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Dick G
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24.99.13.138

The "Orderly Sergeant" USMC

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March 6 2003, 4:14 PM 

In 1790, after both the Navy and Marines had gone out of existence, but the danger of war first with Algiers and then England renewed the interest in sea power. The Secretary of War at that time proposed that frigates again be built; he also proposed that each of the 900-ton vessels be manned by a Marine guard composed of one sergeant, a corporal, one drummer, one fifer, and twenty-one privates. This plan, however, was never put into practice, but was again resumed a year later.

When the Marine Corps was reactivated in 1798, the American Navy consisted of a handful of frigates under orders to patrol the Atlantic seaboard. During the second war with England, Marines served aboard Yankee frigates in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Following the war, the Navy was charged with the protection of American interests througout the world.

Many of these vessels had no Marine officer. Instead, a sergeant was responsible for the conduct of the ship's detachment. Again, there were no intermediate grades, or ranks, between sergeant and sergeant major, and only one sergent major who served at Marine Corps headquarters. Thus, a sergeant serving on a sloop-of-war off Java drew the same pay as a sergeant in the Washington barracks, but his responsibilities were many times greater.

To remedy this situation, the Marine Corps in 1833 created the grade of orderly sergeant. Thirty "orderly sergeants and 1st sergeants of guards at sea" were to be paid $16 per month, the same amount as the drum major and fife major. The 41 "other sergeants" received $13 per month.

1834 saw an important step in the evolution of the modern first sergeant when three orderly sergeants were employed as clerks at Headquarters. One noncommissioned officer was employed by the Colonel Commandant, a second by the Adjutant Inspector, and the third by the Quartermaster. Although these men were eventually replaced by civilian clerks, their employment as administrative specialists did set a precedent.

Although the noncommissioned officer in charge of a ship's guard usually was called an orderly sergeant, the term "first sergeant" occasionally was used in official documents, especially in those recording the activities of Marine detachments at shore stations. In brief, the orderly sergeant had become recognized as "first sergeant" in every sense of the word. His greater responsibilities both in leadership and administration was reflected by his higher pay grade. he was a cut above the ordinary sergeant.

By the close of the Civil War, the orderly sergeant had advanced above the quartermaster sergeant into the second pay grade. During 1872, the Marine Corps dropped the title "orderly sergeant" for the more descriptive "first sergeant.

First sergeants remained in the second pay grade until
1893 when, together with the drum major, they received a pay increase of three dollars per month. The sergeant major and quartermaster continued to head the list of noncommissioned officers, but they were drawing only $23, two dollars less than a drum major or first sergeant.

This unusual situation was further complicated by a wartime measure enacted on 5 May 1898 which authorized the grade of gunnery sergeant. A law enacted on 5 May 1899 set forth the enlisted grades and the authorized strength of each, beginning with five sergeants major, one drum major, 20 quartermaster sergeants, and 72 billets for gunnery sergeants on a par with first sergeants in everything but pay. The "gunny" was to receive $35 each month to the latter's $25. Presumeably, the additional ten dollars was in recognition of the gunnery sergeant's skill with naval ordnance.

Ref
Enlisted Ranks And Grades, US marine corps, 1775-1958, by Bernard C. Nalty, Historical Branch, G-3, HQMC, Wash,DC, June 1959




    
This message has been edited by Dick Gaines from IP address 24.99.13.138 on Mar 7, 2003 3:55 PM


 
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Dick G
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Early USMC Ranks Late 1800s/Early 1900s!

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March 7 2003, 6:03 PM 

By July 1899, the Marine Corps enlisted rank structure had definitely been altered. Now there were numerous Marines serving in two grades between sergeant and sergeant major (the first sergeant and gunnery sergeant). And a mighty blow had been struck at tradition by altering the term "fifer" to "trumpeter." Fifers, the partner in melody to the Marine Corps drummer, had been in use since the earliest days of the Continental Marines, and the word "musics" had also been used from 1816 and probably earlier. The Marine Corps had actually abandoned the fife in the 1880s in favor of the trumpet , yet none of this made any difference, for tradition dies hard in the Corps. The man who sounded the trumpet was still regarded as a fifer regardless of the instrument he played.

The sergeant major headed the list of ranking enlisted Marines, next, at the same salary, came the quartermaster sergeant, then the drum major. Ranked with the first sergeant was the gunnery sergeant at a monthy pay fixed by law at $35 per month, to the former's $25 per month--this was the highest of any Marine Corps noncommissioned officer. Next came the sergeants, corporals, and then drummers, trumpeters, and privates.

The first sergeant had assumed a more logical relationship, as far as pay was concerned, to the sergeant major. The gunnery sergeant, however, was being paid more than his rank would indicate; but this perhaps could be justified on the grounds of technical abilities. But then, in the spring of 1908, the base pay of sergeants major, quartermaster sergeants, first sergeants, and drum majors was raised to $45 dollars per month, while gunnery sergeants continued to draw $35.

In creating the rank of gunnery sergeant, the Marine Corps had recognized the fact that tecniques of warfare were changing rapidly. On the eve of world War One, a conflict which would point out the need for enlisted specialists, a candidate for the grade of gunnery sergeant was tested primarily in the mysteries of naval ordnance; but with the development of new signal equipment, some gunnery sergeants were trained in operating and maintaining radios, Still others specialized in telephone communications or in using electrically controlled coast defense mines.

Unfortunately, not every specialist could be a gunnery sergeant. Cooks, gunpointers, and signalmen posed posed a special problem; for, although they had certain valuable skills, they could not be promoted to the higher enlisted grades without working a grave injustice. The Marine Corps, in other words, faced the problem of rewarding skills without giving the specialist more authority than he could handle. The answer was found in 1908, when the Corps was authorized to give additional pay to certain enlisted men.

From 1908 until the armistice of 11 November 1918, there were but two major changes in the Marine Corps enlisted rank structure. By 1 January 1914, the gunnery sergeant had been returned to the top pay grade along with the sergeant major, drum major, quartermaster sergeant, and first sergeant; and, in 1917 the grade of private first class was authorized.

Dick Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952-72

 
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