General Raymond G. Davis
Detachment 1162
Gaston County, NC

History of the Marines' Hymn

  "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli"

America declared war on the Barbary Pirates of Northern Africa in 1805 because they had been raiding our ships in the Mediterranean Sea.  During that conflict, Lt. Presley N. O'Bannon, USMC, and his small force of Marines participated in the capture of the city of Derne in Tripoli (which is today part of Libya).  As this was the first time the American flag had been hoisted over a fortress in the Old World, the Colors (ceremonial flag) of the Marine Corps were inscribed with the words "to the Shores of Tripoli".  During the hardest fighting of the Mexican War, U.S. Marines were the first to breach the otherwise impregnable walls of Mexico City by capturing the Castle of Chapultapee, which was the palace of the great Aztec emperor Montezuma.  The Colors of the Corps were then changed to read "From the shores of Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma"  Following the close of the Mexican War came the first great verse of the Marines' Hymn, written according to tradition by a Marine on duty in Mexico.  For the sake of euphony, the unknown author transposed the phrases in the motto of the Colors so that the first two lines of the hymn would read: "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shoes of Tripoli"

Many interesting stories have been associated with the Marines' Hymn.  One of the best was published in the Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe, under the date of August 16, 1918.  "A wounded officer from among the gallant French Lancers had just been carried into a Yankee field hospital to have his dressings changed.  He was full of compliments and curiosity of the dashing contingent that fought at his regiment's left. 'A lot of them are mounted troops by this time,' he explained, 'for when our men would be shot from their horses, these youngsters would give one running jump and gallop ahead as cavalry.  I believe they are soldiers from Montezuma.  At least when they advanced this morning, they were all singing From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli.




                                             The Marines Hymn 
                                      (click to hear the hymn sung)


1.  From the Halls of Montezuma         2.  Our flag's unfurled to every breeze 
     To the Shores of Tripoli                      From dawn to setting sun                              
     We fight our country's battles              We have fought in every clime and place       
     In the air, on land, and sea                Where we could take a gun                              
     First to fight for right and freedom       In the snow of far off Northern lands                  
     And to keep our honor clean               And in sunny tropic scenes;                              
    We are proud to claim the title             You will find us always on the job                   
    Of United States Marine                       The United States Marines                             

  3. Here's health to you and to our Corps                   
      Which we are proud to serve
      In many a strife we've fought for life
      And never lost our nerve 
      If the Army and the Navy 
      Ever look on Heaven's scenes 
      They will find the streets are guarded                              
      By United States Marines     

                                                                                 



The Marines Hymn has been sung and played in all four corners of the earth and today is recognized as one of the foremost service songs.


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