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Civil War Marine Guard

The Constellation's Marine Guard was commanded by 23-year-old 1st Lieutenant Robert O'Neil Ford, USMC; a native of Philadelphia and resident of Brooklyn, New York.

He commanded a Marine Guard that consisted of one orderly (first) sergeant, one sergeant, three corporals, one fifer, one drummer, and 36 privates.  All of these men served together for the duration; only one being transferred from the ship and none transferred to the ship during the cruise. Most of the enlisted men were Irish immigrants.

By all accounts, life for the Marines was hard.  Lieutenant Ford was disengaged from the day-to-day management of the Marine Guard and  Orderly Sergeant Robbins, according to first-person accounts, was quite unbalanced.  Robbins punished the men for the slightest of infractions and  invented plots against his life. Malaise and boredom affected the crew, causing behavior problems, and the Marines did not escape these maladies.

First-person accounts of the cruise described a life of sailing from port to port in the Mediterranean, searching for Confederate raiders, finding none, but finding mischief in the portside pubs of the seaport towns.

Nonetheless, the Marines of the Constellation did their duty with honor, dignity and skill during the entire tour.

Be a Marine aboard the Constellation

Ship's Company generally schedules one weekend day per month (sometimes more), May through October, to serve aboard the Constellation.

We also schedule occasional outside events, such as battle reenactments and living history programs, where the presence of sailors and marines is appropriate.

The Marine Guard works closely with the Naval contingent, but we are also free to attend other events that the sailors may not attend.


To participate, you must be a member in good standing of Ship's Company. Dues are $15 per year and entitle the member to a vote in group decisions, participation in unit events (provided your uniform and equipment are complete), and a subscription to Ship's Company's newsletter The Broadside. Marines also receive a subscription to the Marine Guard's newsletter, The Eagle and Anchor.

Recruiting is ongoing.  Our goal is to have one uniformed, regularly-participating member for each of the 44 Marines who served in the Marine Guard during the War.

We set the standard for excellence in Civil War USMC reenacting.  As a result, it takes a little additional effort and money to do it right.  A byproduct of this standard is pride and esprit de corps.  Members purchase their own uniforms and equipment from our list of preferred suppliers.  If you purchase your equipment from the preferred suppliers (selected for the quality of their work, NOT nepotism!) and maintain it well, it will provide you many years of faithful service.

How Do I Get Involved?

Contact Hank Happy, Civil War USMC coordinator for Ships Company. You can download the member's manual below which provides a background of the organization, an explanation of its structure and standards, and the preferred list of suppliers for all uniform items. Contact Steve and he will answer any questions that you may have and provide instructions on how to submit your dues to join the organization.

Click here for uniform requirements
Click here to download the Marine Recruit Manual (4MB)

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