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Wednesday, May 07, 2003

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Gunny G: EARLY MARINES ENLISTED RANKS -- FIRST MARINE SERGEANT MAJOR

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EARLY MARINES ENLISTED RANKS
FIRST MARINE SERGEANT MAJOR


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

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