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Bob Hudson

USMC force sizes: how rare are EGA's?

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I recently picked up a copy of the book "Home of the Commandants" which has an excellent concise history of the Corps in its bios of the Commandants. One thing that struck me was how small the Marine Corps really has been over the years. When you start looking at these numbers you realize that USMC items from certain periods, even through the first half of the 20th century, really might be even rarer than we think: consider something like EGA's and especially EGA's for officers who seem to have had more choices of different makers than did the enlisted Marines. I suspect that production of some types of EGA's was in the hundreds (or maybe less in the case of some brands).

 

This morning I decided to finally chart what I could of the Corps' strength over the years. Most of these numbers came directly from the "Home of the Commandants." Granted, with turnover, more people wore the uniform during these periods than is indicated by the numbers, but I'd guess that there was a lot of handing off of uniforms, etc. by outgoing Marines (I know I've seen a lot of older Marine uniforms with more than one name stamped inside).

 

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That is an interesting breakdown of the Marine Corps' sizes during it's history. I've been told that at various times the USMC was smaller than the USPS. It would be interesting to try and find out more on that comparison. I'm in agreement with you that a lot of things are rarer than they seem at this time. We're living in a time when a lot of vets from WW2 are passing on and their things are coming out for sale. I've found that a lot of that generation also kept their parents' and grandparents' items so a lot of that is hitting the market as well. I'm sure other factors are involved but that is an apparent one to me. Thanks for the interesting topic!

 

Jeremiah


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Actively seeking WW1 4th and 5th Brigade USMC helmets and also a named WW2 Raider green blouse.
I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail, if I could I surely would....

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Great info... here is more: http://www.history.navy.mil/books/callahan/reg-usmc.htm

 

It is a listing every Maine Officer who served between 1800 -1900... with dates of service, promotion, retirement and so forth.

 

I believe the total is 738 think.gif

 

s/f Darrell

 

AUGUST 2008: FOUND NEW END STRENGTH NUMBERS INCLUDING OFFICERS FOR EACH YEAR FROM 1798 TO DATE. LOCATED HERE:

http://www.tecom.usmc.mil/HD/Frequently_Re...nd_Strength.htm



The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. (General A. A. Vandegrift, USMC, 5 May 1946)

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Have found additional information for the early years...

  • American Revolution 1775-1783 131 officers, 2000 enlisted
  • French Naval War 1798-1801 131 officers, 2,131 enlisted
  • Barbary Pirates War 1801-1805 26 officers, 453 enlisted
  • War of 1812-1815 93 Officers, 2,622 enlisted
  • Battle of Twelve Mile Swamp (Florida) 1812 93 Officers, 2,622 enlisted
  • Battle of Quallah Batto (Sumatra) 1832 38 Officers, 830 enlisted
  • Florida Indian War 1836-1847 58 Officers, 1,086 enlisted
  • War With Mexico 1846-1847 71 Officers, 2,170 enlisted
  • Harper's Ferry, Virginia, USA. 1859 47 Officers, 1,804 enlisted
  • American Civil War 1861-1865 Federal Marines 48 Officers, 2,338 enlisted



The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. (General A. A. Vandegrift, USMC, 5 May 1946)

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I hope this chart may be of interest to USMC EGA collectors as it shows the size of the Marine Corps through year-end strengths during various periods. I originally compiled it to look at the scarcity of named USMC Conduct medals but it also reflects on other items. I started it with year 1896 as this was the year that the first officially-named GCMs were awarded and I stopped it in 1952 as this was the last year that officially-named Good Conduct Medals were awarded. However it is helpful information for collectors of EGAs, as well as medals, uniforms, 782 gear, etc. I hope some of you find it useful to get a better understanding of how scarce some of these early items really are. With the exception of the WWII years the Marine Corps has always been small and continues that way.

Semper Fi.......Bobgee

 

 

 

END STRENGTHS:

 

YEAR- ENLISTED MEN ON THE ROLLS AT YEAR-END

 

1896 - 2,145; 1897- 3,735; 1898- 3,481; 1899- 3,066;

1900- 5,240; 1901- 5,694; 1902- 6,031; 1903- 6,445;

1904- 7,329; 1905- 6,741; 1906- 7,940; 1907- 7,807;

1908- 8,953; 1909- 9,368; 1910- 9,232; 1911- 9,292;

1912- 9,359; 1913- 9,625; 1914- 10,050; 1915- 9,948;

1916- 10,253; 1917- 26,953; 1918- 51,316; 1919- 46,564;

1920- 16,061; 1921- 21,903; 1922- 20,098; 1923- 18,533;

1923- 18,533; 1924- 19,175; 1925- 18,310; 1926- 17,976;

1927- 18,000; 1928- 17,822; 1929- 17,615; 1930- 18,172;

1931- 17,586; 1932- 15,365; 1933- 14,876; 1934- 15,174;

1935- 16,097; 1936- 16,040; 1937- 16,911; 1938- 16,997;

1939- 18,052; 1940- 26,545; 1941- 51,020; 1942- 135,475;

1943- 287,139; 1944- 442,816; 1945- 437,613; 1946- 141,471;

1947- 85,547; 1948- 78,081; 1949- 78,715; 1950- 67,025;

1951- 177,770; 1952- 215, 544;


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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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I recently acquired a copy of "Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps" compiled and published in 1878 by Lewis R. Hammersly, (late Lieutenant USMC). I paid the mighty sum of $5.00 for this book and it's in very good condition for its age!

Well, I counted the Marine Corps officers listed and here's the totals:

 

Colonel Commandant 1

STAFF

Major - Quartermaster1

Major - Inspector 1

Major - Paymaster 1

Captain - Asst. QM 1

LINE

Colonel 1

LtCols 2

Majors 4

Captains 14

First Lts 27

 

TOTAL: 59 Living Officers of the Marine Corps Serving in 1878! So if you wonder why early USMC material is scarce and very high-priced when it does show up....consider the very small size of the Corps back then!

Semper fi......Bobgee


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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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When you consider that officers used to get their EGA's from private suppliers, it would really seem to narrow down the amount of any one hallmarked style.

In the 1890's (actually up to 1903) the authorized force size was 278 officers and from 1800 to 1900 a TOTAL of 738 men served as Marine Corps officers!



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In the 1890's (actually up to 1903) the authorized force size was 278 officers and from 1800 to 1900 a TOTAL of 738 men served as Marine Corps officers!

 

...and for those who like to see the list, it is here: http://www.history.navy.mil/books/callahan/reg-usmc.htm



The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. (General A. A. Vandegrift, USMC, 5 May 1946)

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Thought I would share a little of the details I have turned up in my research since I will NOT be covering EGAs in my book. This refers to EGAs for caps. Also have info for devices for helmets and everything else manufactured and contracted for the Corps for a period of several years.

 

Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1898

Ornaments received from contractors 7,000

Ornaments received from posts 58

Ornaments Issued during Fiscal Year 5,887

Ornaments on hand end of Fiscal Year 2,286

 

Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1899

Ornaments received from contractors 6,623

Ornaments received from posts 8,909

Ornaments Issued during Fiscal Year 6,126

Ornaments on hand end of Fiscal Year 2,783


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A1C Matthew Seidler, Delta Company, 466th EOD killed in action. 05 Jan 12 at 1600L while conducting mounted route clearance patrols in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He turned 24 two days before his death. Cousin, Soldier, Hero.

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Thanks for sharing that: anything else you care to post will be welcomed with gratitude.



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Dress Helmet EGA Devices

 

Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1898

Devices received from contractors 267

Devices received from posts 263

Devices Issued during Fiscal Year 413

Devices on hand end of Fiscal Year 634


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A1C Matthew Seidler, Delta Company, 466th EOD killed in action. 05 Jan 12 at 1600L while conducting mounted route clearance patrols in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He turned 24 two days before his death. Cousin, Soldier, Hero.

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Great info - Thanks! S/F.....Bobgee


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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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Alec,

This information is outstanding, I know you have spent countless hours in the archives. Thanks for posting this. It is the first and only information that has been presented in regards to numbers of any type of EGAs and points to some definitive answers as to the rarity of certain early pieces. I, for one, am excited at the prospect of this initial tap. It shows that the "truth is out there".

 

Best,

Mike


Mike Manifor
Buying and selling Military Antiques. Specializing in hat and collar insignia (EGAs) of the USMC.
Top dollar paid.
info@eagleglobeandanchor.com
My website:www.eagleglobeandanchor.com

Visit my EGA reference section: http://www.eagleglobeandanchor.com/EGA_Reference_Section.html

 


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Thanks for sharing that: anything else you care to post will be welcomed with gratitude.

 

Quite agree and look forward to seeing addition information you may have unearthed! s/f Darrell



The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. (General A. A. Vandegrift, USMC, 5 May 1946)

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I see that they mustered an average of 20,000 or less in the 1920s and 30s. Pretty darn small in the scheme of things.

No wonder they used to consider disbanding the Corps back then. Their budget must have been next to nothing as well. I guess that also contributed to Corps famous habit of never throwing anything out and using them till treadbare. They could not afford replacements.

 

CB

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I see that they mustered an average of 20,000 or less in the 1920s and 30s. Pretty darn small in the scheme of things.

No wonder they used to consider disbanding the Corps back then. Their budget must have been next to nothing as well. I guess that also contributed to Corps famous habit of never throwing anything out and using them till treadbare. They could not afford replacements.

 

CB

We still can't we've just stopped presenting school completion certificates in the red plastic folders because of budget concerns. I was once in a unit that couldn't afford sandbags at the end of the fiscal year, we had to use our pillow cases in the field


-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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