US Marines: What was Montezuma?

OK, maybe I missed something in History Class, but what happened in the Halls of Montezuma? (And, what are these halls?). - Jinx

IANAMarine, but Montezuma was the last Aztec king overthrown by the Spanish conquistadores. How does that figure into Marine history, you ask? It’s a poetic allusion to Mexico City, where the USMC was instrumental in several battles during the Mexican-American War.

In particular, “Halls of Montezuma” refers to the Battle of Chapultepec

Probably more important to Mexicans

When did the USMC originate? As I recall, doesn’t the USMC use Army ranks, and not Navy? Correct me if I’m having a momentary lapse of reason, but I thought I was once told that… , but why?

This link confirms it:

  • Jinx

“The Halls of Montezuma” probably refers to the Mexican War of 1846-1847, when U.S. Marines joined General Winfried Scott at Veracruz and eventually took Mexico City. Tripoli probably refers to the Tripolitan War, which was the first major conflict the Marines saw after being reformed in 1798.

The U.S. Marine Corps uses neither Army nor Navy ranks. They use Marine ranks:

There is no particular reason why the USMC would use Navy ranks, as the USMC and USN are completely separate branches of the armed forces. The USMC is headed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps (a 4-star general), and the USN is headed by the Chief of Naval Operations (a 4-star admiral). Both of these officers, however, report to the Secretary of the Navy (a civilian), and both of these services are within the Department of the Navy.

This is why some people are confused about the relationship between the USMC and the USN. The confusion arises because of the difference between the U.S. Navy and the Department of the Navy.

Is it true that in the English Navy the marines started out as the captain’s bodyguards - protecting him from the crew?

The insignia for enlisted men is different as is the capitalization of the abbreviations but the names of the ranks for the Army, Air Force, and Marines are all identical.

Why do you say they’re different?

Probably because they are different. Officer ranks are the same, enlisted ranks are different.

Because the Army does not have Lance Corporals or Gunnery Sergeants. (To name a few)

Almost hate to bring it up but is this also where “Montezuma’s Revenge” comes from? Marines drank the water down there and then got the trots something fearsome? :eek:

I believe that “Montezuma’s Revenge” started up as a joking way to refer the lower intestinal distress that visitors to Mexico would experience and was likely Montezuma’s (former Aztec ruler) way of getting back at Europeans for taking over his country and killing off his people

From here.

I don’t know about the Royal Navy, but I’m fairly sure that the U.S. Marines started as the boarding parties that finished naval battles.

The Marines of the Royal Navy (the British Navy) were the specialised “soldiers” on board a warship. In a close battle, their job was more sniping from the tops (the platforms well up on the masts) than boarding other ships. Boarding required a rush of just about every man on the ship, and the twenty or so marines that might have been on a frigate may have been more useful as gunmen. If the ship was attempting to take a fort or something on shore, same deal - you’d need a couple of hundred sailors to do the bulk of the work.

Marines also helped keep order aboard ship (preventing mutiny, guarding prisoners) and were handy sources of labour when absolutely everyone’s help was required - they could pull on a rope or push at the capstan as well as anyone else could.

Also, re: ranks, etc – in those militaries where the Marines are independent service branches (e.g. USA, UK, Spain), they tend to use rank structures (and the corresponding insigina) analogous, but not necessarily identical, to those of the land forces (“Army style”). Being infantry, their organization and tactics would perforce be similar (e.g. you’d need squad leaders, platoon sergeants, first sergeants, platoon-leader lieutenants, company-commander captains, batallion-commander lieutenant-colonels, etc.) and your organization and ranks would evolve along parallel lines.

In other countries the marine force is organized as units of the Navy itself, and they will share the rank/rating insignia of the Navy, but borrow “land force” titles for operational purposes.

Here is a of personal info regarding Marines and Navy

As a former Marine (73-76), I recall being it being drilled into us that we were part of the Naval service, as has been noted above – not in the Navy, but under the department of the Navy.

We used nautical terms often. Doors were "hatches’ walls were “bulkheads”, etc. We also used Naval customs of the service – e.g., no saluting or wearing a “cover” (hat) indoors unless under arms (which does not necessarily mean carrying a weapon).

Marines stationed in one of the three regular divisions, at least in my time, were organized under the “Fleet Marine Force”.

Today, the various battalions are usually part of Battalion Landing Teams (augmented by various other units) that when not actually at war, as many have been have been since Oct 2001, they are afloat aboard Navy ships, posted throughout the world.

My son, who is a Marine Sergeant, is part of BLT 1/4, meaning 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment landing team, serving under the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. When he left for Iraq, it was under the Marine Expeditionary Unit MEU), which included his battalion, augmented by tanks, artillery, etc., a Helicopter squadron, a support battalion, and various Naval transport and combat ships. His training including assaulting and defending naval ships, and intense training in helo crash landing in water.

In other words, his training, as was mine, assumed an intimate connection with the Navy. In other countries, Marines are sometimes called Naval Infantry.

Since the wars against Islamo-Fascism have begun, most of these Marine BLT’s have simply been assigned as infantry, but their training still includes being Special Operations Capable as part of at BLT.