Chapter 16



When British soldiers fired upon American protesters in the streets of Boston, on the village green of Lexington, and at the old North Bridge at Concord, there was living midway between the tavern and the customhouse, in the quaint seaport town of Marblehead, a certain small-sized and large-hearted fisherman known as "Cap’n John Glover."

He was a Salem boy, born in the same year with George Washington— 1732; but he had moved to Marblehead as a lad, learned the shoemaker trade, and drifted at last into the more adventurous life of a fisherman on the Banks. He married a Marblehead girl, settled down in the little seaport, and became so successful a skipper and dealer that when the Revolution broke out he was one of the solid and substantial business men of Marblehead.

He was an energetic, go-ahead little man, independent, as are all New England fishermen, and foremost among his neighbors in protecting the interests of the hardy sea town so picturesquely set upon the rockbound shores of its curving, looplike harbor.

When British aggression became unbearable to the patriots of Massachusetts, John Glover was outspoken




in his protests and decisive in his action. He was one of the committee of grievances appointed by Marblehead, as by other Massachusetts towns, to correspond and compare notes with similar committees in the province, and signed his name to that inspiring Marblehead protest which declared that "for the honor of our supreme Benefactor, for our own welfare and the welfare of posterity, we desire to use these blessings of liberty with thankfulness and prudence, and to defend them with intrepidity and steadfastness."

When Lexington and Concord showed that war was inevitable, John Glover, who had been a militiaman in the Marblehead company since the French War, began without delay to recruit a regiment for the provincial service, and speedily reported that he had levied "ten companies, making in all four hundred and five men, inclusive of officers, armed with firelocks, and willing to serve in the army under him, all now at Marblehead."

This was businesslike, as was everything John Glover did. The Provincial Congress so regarded it. They accepted the services of the regiment, and the day before the battle of Bunker Hill duly commissioned Colonel John Glover as" commanding the Twenty-first Regiment of Foot, in the service of the province of Massachusetts Bay." Four days after Bunker Hill, on the 21st of June, 1775, Colonel Glover received orders to march his regiment to Cambridge, where the provincial army of seventeen thousand men was encamped; and as it marched out from Marblehead in its natty uniform of "blue round jacket and trousers, trimmed with leather



buttons," the old town was mightily proud of its "marine regiment," while as for Colonel Glover, every one declared that he was "the most finely dressed officer of the army at Cambridge."

This famous regiment of sailor-soldiers—for it was composed entirely of fishermen and seamen—was afterwards reorganized by Washington’s orders as the Fourteenth Continental Regiment of Foot. It became one of the bravest, most celebrated, and most useful of all the continental regiments, and again and again saved the army in critical positions and secured the esteem and confidence of Washington.

Men called it the amphibious regiment, because it was equally at home on land or water. One day a company would be assigned to sea service, to man a privateer or work a prize; another day the same company would be detailed as pioneers to bridge a stream or clear a tangled path. Did a fire ship need to be piloted or a cruiser driven from some threatened port, an outpost protected in camp routine, or the cargo of a captured brigantine escorted into camp, one or more companies from "Glover’s Marblehead regiment," as it was usually called, were assigned to duty, and the commander in chief knew that the duty would be well and promptly done.

In fact, Washington early appreciated the worth of this Massachusetts regiment and the energy and ability of its little commander. When, on his arrival at Cambridge, he began the reorganization of the continental army, he at once appointed Colonel Glover to superintend the equipment and manning of armed vessels for



the service of the colonies, while Glover’s ability as an organizer and disciplinarian were of the greatest value to Washington in bringing the continental army into something like military efficiency.

The forgotten heroes of a nation are as worthy of remembrance as those whose names are not allowed to die. John Thomas and Artemas Ward and "dear old General Heath," with Porter of Danvers, Putnam of Rutland, Glover of Marblehead, and other Massachusetts soldiers, were as earnest in the defense of the commonwealth and as able in the struggle for independence as those other Massachusetts generals, Knox and Warren and Lincoln, whose names are imperishably associated with our Revolutionary story.

It was upon those now forgotten heroes that Washington leaned as upon right-hand men when he undertook the masterly and effective siege of Boston. It was General Artemas Ward who commanded the right wing of Washington’s army and directed the work of fortifying Dorchester Heights. It was General John Thomas who skillfully and completely checkmated the British move by his prompt and masterly engineering work on those same commanding heights of Dorchester, Yet both these men to-day are scarcely remembered, save as the little plot that holds the modest memorial at Dorchester Heights is called Thomas Park. Even "dear old General Heath," as Dr. Hale calls him, is but slightly remembered, though into his hands Washington gave the possession and defense of Boston after its evacuation by the British; while as for plucky John Glover, whose work at the siege of Boston won the ap



preciation and praise of Washington, he would be forgotten altogether were it not for his later and more famous achievements as Washington’s ever ready helper. The success of General Washington at the siege of Boston was largely due to the energetic support of the Massachusetts men who surrounded him.

When, on the 17th of March, 1776, because of the splendid efforts of Ward and Thomas on Dorchester Heights, the redcoats sailed away from Boston (just sixteen years after that protest against their being there at all—the Boston Massacre), they took with them into exile over a thousand Tories, and the old town at last was free. To-day, in the Public Library of Boston, may be seen the gold medal presented by Congress to Washington in commemoration of his first great success, and duly inscribed, "Hostibus primo Fugatis" and "Bostonium Recuperatum."

Then Washington marched away with his victorious army to New York, and with him went Colonel John Glover, who, by the way, had first occupied the famous Craigie house in Cambridge, equally renowned to-day as Washington’s headquarters and the home of Longfellow.

At New York, Glover’s Marblehead men were constantly in demand. They drove the British ships away from their anchorage before Tarrytown, and throughout the Revolution were the first to volunteer in enterprises of difficulty or danger.

When the defeat on Long Island almost ruined the continental army it was Glover’s men who manned the boats and through the fog and storm ferried the broken



army safely across from Brooklyn to New York, thus establishing the fame of Washington as a strategist. It was Massachusetts men who saved the army from destruction.

When the panic-stricken Americans fled before the British invasion of Manhattan Island at Kips Bay and roused Washington to one of his infrequent and justifiable rages, it was Glover’s Marblehead regiment that hastened down from Harlem, turned back the flying troops, and saved the army from panic and rout. It was Glover’s regiment that, in the enforced retreat from New York, saved the ammunition and stores of the continental army from capture and destruction. It was Glover’s men who checked the British advance at Throgs Neck, received Washington's personal and official thanks for their bravery at Dobbs Ferry, saved the baggage and stores from capture at White Plains, and twice routed the British assault at Chatterton Hill.

It was Glover’s brigade—for the plucky little Marblehead colonel was promoted to the command of a brigade—that formed the rearguard of the continental army in that sorry but masterly retreat across New Jersey. And when the gloom of America was turned into joy by Washington’s superb and desperate dash on the Hessians at Trenton, it was Glover’s regiment of fishermen and sailors who poled the boats through the ice-swollen river on that terrible December night, and made the heroic crossing of the Delaware one of the most dramatic episodes in American history. It was Glover’s brigade that charged pell-mell into Trenton, and cut off the retreat of the demoralized Hessians



at the Assunpink bridge; and one of the two bronze statues that guard the entrance to the beautiful battle monument at Trenton is that of one of the heroes of the day—a soldier of Glover’s Marblehead regiment.

Indeed, eight regiments of Massachusetts troops were in that heroic and historic fight, and, as one New Jersey man has well said, "Every memory of the victory at Trenton is linked with the names of Knox and Glover, and the statue of this warrior soldier from Marblehead is truly a most appropriate and fitting contribution from the great commonwealth of Massachusetts to a shaft which for ages will commemorate a success unparalleled in our annals, a victory which made possible this great and powerful republic."

The crossing of the Delaware made John Glover a brigadier-general, and gave him still more work to do. It was his brigade that held the borderland of the neutral ground at Peekskill; transferred to reinforce



Schuyler at Saratoga, it bore a noble part in that phenomenal double battle and victory, where, charging with Arnold in his impetuous assault on the Hessians, Glover, at the head of his men, had three horses shot under him. He it was who, by his shrewd and unwearying watchfulness, detected and frustrated Burgoyne’s attempt to escape, and so bagged the whole British army.

It was General Glover who, after the surrender, conducted Burgoyne and his men across Massachusetts, from Saratoga to Cambridge, and successfully "corralled" the captured army in its quarters upon the hills of Somerville; and it was to General Glover that the courteous Burgoyne expressed his thanks as to a just and honorable captor and sentinel.

Back again, under the eye of Washington, Glover and his men shared the hardships of Valley Forge; they were dispatched under Sullivan to cooperate with the French allies in the exasperating and ineffectual operations in Rhode Island; they defended Norwalk, Connecticut, against the British advance, and guarded the defenses of the Hudson at Peekskill and West Point in the trying winter of 1779. John Glover himself was one of that famous military court that tried and convicted John André, and he was officer of the day, having in charge the execution of that unfortunate young man on the historic hillside at Tappan.

So, from the siege of Boston to the surrender at Yorktown, John Glover and his Marblehead "webfeet" served through the American Revolution, reenlisting when their term of service expired. Faithful in camp and on march, now leading the advance, now covering



the retreat, they endeared themselves to Washington, and established themselves, for all time, in the admiration and esteem of the American people.

But what these men did for liberty other Massachusetts soldiers did also, as willingly and uncomplainingly. I have merely picked out John Glover and his Marblehead regiment as typical of the spirit that infused itself into the men of Massachusetts, whether fighting in the ranks, voting in the congress, or sacrificing and struggling at home in order that victory might be secured, and "these united colonies" become "free and independent states." It is well to recall statistics, and to remember that in the prosecution of the war for independence Massachusetts was assessed the highest for war expenses—eight hundred and twenty thousand dollars—and furnished the largest number of men sent to the war by any colony—sixty-eight thousand in all.

Massachusetts was the center of rebellion; she was the backbone of revolution. On land and sea her sons were foremost in the strife for liberty, gallantly and vigorously carrying out the lessons they had learned from James Otis and Samuel Adams, from John Hancock and John Adams, from Joseph Warren and Elbridge Gerry, and from that greatest of her sons, transplanted from the Charles to the Schuylkill, the patriot philosopher Benjamin Franklin, with those other less famous but equally determined patriots of the Old Bay colony, who lighted the way and showed the path to revolution and independence.