When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few.

Why are Marines often called “Leathernecks?”

Leather neck stocks were part of the standard uniform of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps at the time of the American Revolution. Neck stocks offered a degree of protection against sword blows and bayonet thrusts, but their chief attribute seems to have been to keep the soldier’s head erect and help him maintain a soldierly bearing. Joseph Plumb Martin, in his memoir of Revolutionary War service, notes that soldiers were supposed to be issued neck stocks, but these, like all uniform items, were scarce and only intermittently issued. The U.S. Army ceased issuing neck stocks in 1871, with the U.S. Marine Corps following suit shortly thereafter. But in the case of the marines the nickname stuck, and marines reclaimed the term as their own. Now it is a point of pride for a U.S. marine to be called a leatherneck.

For the record, soldiers were never issued jars to wear on their heads so “jarhead” is a terrible insult. Uttering it is likely to teach you why US Marines are the boldest fighting force on earth.

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Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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