Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman: Honour and Dishonour in the Court Martial Records of the Marines Ashore, 1783-1793
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This dissertation is an examination of the Marine Corps during the late eighteenth century. The main focus of the research is upon the officer corps and specifically examines the connections of masculine interactions, through the use of the charge ‘conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman’, in constructing behaviour which was considered as either honourable or dishonourable. A focus on this type of behaviour, and more importantly on transgressions of ideal behaviour, within the brotherhood of the officer corps can demonstrate how male representations were linked to validation and group values. Previous Marine Corps historiography has tended to focus upon the operational identity of the corps, either by reviewing its administrative framework, its presence in key naval operations or by prioritising the nature of its amphibious warfare. Much of the historiography of the Marine Corps has tended to avoid engaging with the analytical frameworks and wider discussions linked to gender, socio-cultural, spatiality, and material, representations. The Marine Corps also features infrequently within wider maritime and military history, usually as a comparison of numbers or as an aside. Through a study of empirical evidence in the form of courts martial records, Admiralty letters and Marine Corps letters, newspapers, and other forms of contemporary literature, the chapters within this dissertation will highlight the ways in which marine officers defined themselves and each other in relation to superior officers, junior officers, officers from the Navy and Army, women, and other members of contemporary society such as tradesmen and landsmen.