The U.S. Marine Corps Band gave its first concert in Washington D.C. on August 21, 1800. The following article, published in the April 1923 issue of Proceedings, gives a brief history of the Marine Corps Band.
HOW THE MARINE BAND STARTED
BY MAJOR EDWIN N. McCLELLAN, U. S. MARINE CORPS MARINE CORPS HISTORIAN
So many and varying accounts have been given of the first organization of the Marine Band of Washington, that it is time that the real, and interesting, true story should be told.
The Marine Band did not just happen into being, nor were its beginnings in an Act of Congress. There always have been “Musics” in the Marine Corps-from its birthday on November 10, 1775, to date-but it was not until 18oo that the Marine Band had its inception; and like every one of the Marine bands playing today, it was first composed of volunteer musicians from the line.
At the end of the Revolution in 1783, the American people looked upon the soldier, sailor, or Marine, as a man out of a job. He was; and until July 11, 1798–when Congress authorized the Marine Corps-the only Marines were those serving in the State Navies, and a few serving on board the frigates of the “New Navy” in 1797·
William Ward Burrows, a native of South Carolina, but a Philadelphian by adoption, was the first Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was a lawyer, an organizer, and according to Washington Irving, “a gentleman of accomplished mind and polished manner.” Of him the editor of Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, wrote in 1805, “his services in nursing the infant corps over which he presided, so useful to our naval enterprizes, ought to be particularly commended by a grateful country.” At first “Major Commandant,” and later “LieutenantColonel Commandant,” it was he who fathered the Marine Band. Read the rest of this entry »