My pride and joy. I recently acquired an authentic USMC Mameluke sword. And a beautiful piece it is. One of the most distinguished hallmarks of Marine Corps leadership, the Mameluke sword, is usually received by Marine Corps Officers upon the day of their commission.
It is called the Mameluke, from the war against the Tripoli pirates and is
the oldest continuously used weapon in the US military arsenal.


Prodded by a desire to reinstate the traditional weapon of their predecessors, especially since its purpose had become more symbolic than utilitarian, Marine officers reverted to their Mameluke sword in 1875 when the Corps entered its so-called "Golden Era". At this time, Marine noncommissioned officers acquired the arm being given up by their commissioned brothers- in-arms. It is this same weapon, with only minor alterations, which SNCOs of the Corps still carry in Marine parade formations. It was a gesture of considerable respect to the Marine non- commissioned officers, for never before had a badge so symbolic of the commissioned officer been turned over to the noncommissioned ranks.

The commissioned and noncommissioned officers now retain the sword for what it implies to their profession, rather than for the use that it offers. Their primary duty is to lead, not to shoot. The sword thus continues as the personification of military tradition and has been entrusted to those most responsible for maintaining the weapon. Except for the famous Mameluke hilted sword of Marine commissioned officers, the Marine NCO sword rates as the oldest U.S. weapon still in use.

Mameluke History

Marine Officers were initially allowed swords of any style - as long as they were yellow-mounted.

In 1805, Marines assembled a fleet to Derna, Tripoli to put down Barbary Coast pirates taking a toll on American merchant ships in the Mediterranean.
Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon ("The Hero of the Derne")  and his Marines marched across 600 miles of North Africa's Libyan desert to successfully storm the fortified Tripolitan city of Derna.

A desert chieftain presented Marine Lieutenant O'Bannon with a scimitar to show his appreciation. The scimitar was used by Mameluke warriors of North Africa. By 1825, all Marine officers were mandated to wear the Mameluke sword.

Except for the period from 1859 to 1875, commissioned Marine officers have carried the Mameluke sword.

Regulations adopted in 1859 outlined the specifications for the sword still carried by today's noncommissioned officers. The design is based on the 1850 Army foot officers' sword, which Marine officers carried from 1859 to 1875.

 

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