There are reports that the first female Marine did not serve openly as a female, but was actually disguised as a man. According to legend, Lucy Brewer served in the War of 1812 aboard the USS Constitution, although it is rumored that a young Massachusetts writer named Nathaniel Hill Wright created Lucy as a pen name and then wrote a series of narratives originally titled “The Adventures of Lucy Brewer”.
Whether Lucy Brewer was technically the first female Marine or not, it wouldn’t be for another 100 years before any female could openly, officially serve in the United States Marine Corps, and even then, the positions that women were allowed to serve in were very limited and only clerical in nature.
The first recognized female Marine was Opha M. Johnson who enlisted on August 13, 1918, the day after the Secretary of the Navy granted authority for women to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve. World War I saw 305 female Marines serving. At that time, there was a military propaganda campaign that showed a now famous Marine Corps poster encouraging women to serve to “free a man to fight”, meaning that women could perform clerical duties that would allow the Corps to use their male Marines for battlefield positions.