From the halls of Montezuma to she shores of -- wait, what?

Okay, most Dopers have at least a passing familiarity with the Hymn of the United States Marine Corps. The lyric goes:

From the halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country’s battles
in the air, on land, and sea

Okay, I know that the “shores of Tripoli” line harks back to the battles with the Barbary pirates. But where did they get that “halls of Montezuma” stuff? Chasing Pancho Villa across the Rio Grande? Fighting for the interests of the United Fruit Company?

Help me out here, someone. TIA.

Maybe it’s a ceremonial Montezuma.


Typing in halls of montezuma in Wikipedia brings up:

It refers to the Mexican-American War, a little before Pancho Villa’s time. Specifically it refers to the battle of Chapultepec.

Whoa! It almost looks like critical mass here. RUN!


I totally forgot about the Mexican War! Never paid much attention to it in history class, except the part about remembering the Alamo. And that the Marines played a role never even came up on my radar. Seeing that they wouldn’t have needed a ride from the Navy to get to Mexico, it wouldn’t have occurred to me that they’d be interested in going…


Actually they did get a ride from the Navy. They landed at Veracruz.

Actually the troops that seized Mexico City arrived almost entirely via the Navy. They landed at Vera Cruz and followed the rout followed by Cortez.

Kinda counterintuitive, when there’s a land route; that’s all I’m sayin’.

Different war. The Alamo was the secession of Texas from Mexico in order to form the Republic of Texas. The Mexican War was when the southern democrat slavers baited Mexico into attacking us so that they could justify a massive land grab and eventually have a larger balance of power in Washington.

In that case I guess I never paid any attention to it at all, with the exception of the tidbit that the US got to buy the Gadsden Purchase at a steep discount.

At least it wasn’t about them crossing the Rio (with Duran Duran)!

Civies may call it that. Marines call it Semper Fi.

In the Texas War, the Mexicans found the land route about as deadly as the Alamo. We had the ships, so we took a detour.

Before railways, if a trip could be made by land or by sea, by sea was usually easier, cheaper and quicker. And the larger the number of people travelling/the amount of stuff they were bringing with them, the truer this was.

Oh, so it was a rout, then? I presume by the other guys, since we made it to the Halls.

Memorialized in another song:

Not necessarily. Wilson knocked on their doors too.

I’m not sure how much the veracity of the answer is confirmed when three people post in a row, all citing the same Wikipedia page.

I think you’re right. In my case at least I cited the Wikipedia page because it was the first that came up after a casual Google search, as always seems to be the case for practically any search term these days. (Maybe due to people like me always linking to the first one they find.) It can be useful for a quick cite on something already widely known and uncontroversial. But here is the same answer from another source, the USMC Press. (unless they get their information from Wikipedia.:eek:)