United States Marine Corps Flag History

Aug 28th, 2016

The Continental Marines were formed on November 10, 1775, at the beginning the Revolutionary War, by resolution of the Continental Congress. The approval included two battalions with the ability to fight for American Independence at sea and on shore. The Continental Marines were disbanded in 1783. It was revived in 1798 as the Marine Corps. Since that time, the Marine Corps has been tasked with independent land, sea and air duties. An official flag was not adopted until 1939.


Marine Corps


The official flag has a red field and the Marine Corps gray and gold emblem is featured on the field. It was officially adopted in 1955, although it had been used on uniforms since 1868. The emblem includes a globe, an anchor and an eagle. The globe represents the worldwide presence of the Marines; the anchor its naval heritage; and the eagle represents the country that the Marines protect. The eagle has a ribbon in its mouth with the words “Semper Fidelis” on it. The official flag includes a ribbon across the bottom of the field with the words “United States Marine Corps”.


Before an official flag was adopted, the Marine Corps displayed unofficial flags. In 1775, the Gadsden flag was used by Esek Hopkins, Commander in Chief of the Navy, for use on his flagship in the newly formed Continental Marines.




It is not clear what flag was used by the Marine Corps from 1783 the 1900s. From 1914 to 1939, the Marines displayed a flag with a blue field featuring the Marine emblem circled by a laurel wreath. Above the emblem was a scarlet ribbon with the words “U.S. Marine Corps”, and a scarlet ribbon under the emblem with the words “Semper Fidelis”; meaning always faithful or always loyal.




We will update this post if additional information on Marine Corps early flags is located.


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