Lieutenant Colonel Franklin Wharton served as the Marine Corps' third commandant and was the first commandant to be court-martialed. Wharton was born in 1767 and a native of Philadelphia. He was commissioned as a Captain of the Marines. During the naval war with France, he served on board the frigate United States, and since the close of that affair had been Commanding Officer of the Marine Barracks at Philadelphia.

As commandant, Wharton performed competently, following the precedents of good training and firm discipline set by his good friend Burrows. But, unfortunately, he failed to take the field with the Marines from the Washington barracks when they marched out to meet the British at Bladensburg in August 1814. When President James Madison's government fled the city, Wharton and his paymaster commandeered a wagon and took the Marine's pay chest to Frederick, Maryland.

In 1817, Wharton was tried by an Army general court and court-martialed for conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman and negelct of duty. He was aquited, but held on to his post even though the new president James Monroe urged him to resign. He held the post till he died.

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