The origins of today’s Pirate Battalion can be traced back to the closing decade of the 19th century. In 1893, at the request of Rev. William F. Marshall, President of the University and U.S. Senator James Smith, Lieutenant Michael J. Lenehan arrived at the Seton Hall University to begin instruction in Military Science. Not long after his arrival, on August 27, 1893, the Department of Military Science was formally established.
Under the command of a Professor of Military Science the first cadets were organized into a battalion of three companies. As was custom at the time, the cadets were trained in infantry tactics and given instruction in military customs and field craft. Cadets drilled three times per week and conducted a tactical encampment each June at South Mountain Reservation, then known as Camp Lenehan in honor of the battalion’s first professor.
Before the turn of the century Seton Hall had commissioned dozens of officers who went on to honorable service during the Spanish-American War. Shortly after that time, however, the battalion was suspended. For over 52 years the program laid dormant but never forgotten until, in June 1950, the Department of Military Science and Tactics returned to Seton Hall University. In September of that year, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Mark Louis, the colors were once again unfurled and the roll reverberated throughout the campus.
Within a few years of the battalion’s return Seton Hall could boast one of the largest Army ROTC programs in the United States. Approximately 600 students enrolled in the Cadet Corps its first year, of which 33 were commissioned as Second Lieutenants. The following year enrollment exceeded 800. In 1993 the Pirate Battalion celebrated 100 years of excellence and service to God and Country. In the intervening 120 years its graduates have honorably served their country in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, with one graduate, Captain Charlie Watters, being posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry.
Today, from Korea to Kandahar, graduates of Pirate Battalion continue the tradition of leadership, duty and excellence began by Lieutenant Lenehan. For those both past and present the battalion motto “Can Do, Never Quit” and the University motto “Hazard Zet Forward” serve as a reminder to press on and do their duty, as did those who came before them and those who will come after.