Monday, February 4, 2013

February 5: Marblehead

     News with the dateline of Boston, Massachusetts, February 5, 1776, reported, “Last Saturday [February 3], a number of prisoners (marines and sailors) arrived in town from the interior parts of this State and Connecticut, and on Monday set off for Marblehead [Massachusetts], in order to be exchanged for a number of our men who lately arrived in the cartel vessels there.”
     For the terms cartel and flag of truce for vessels carrying prisoners for exchange, please check the post here and 
here.
Marblehead in the American Revolution
     Marblehead was an active fishing town on the Massachusetts coast affected by such arbitrary British policies as the Royal Navy's impressment of civilian mariners.  The Fourteenth Massachusetts Continentals, raised in Massachusetts fishing towns like Marblehead, served under shipowner Colonel John Glover.  Ostensibly, Glover's regiment served as infantry.  During the Continental Army's evacuation of Long Island and during the crossing of the Delaware before the Battle of Trenton (December 25, 1776), Glover's Marblehead regiment put its maritime experience to use in the campaign of 1776.
     Just as the crews of Northern New England fishing boats included Euro-Americans, African-Americans and Native Americans, Glover's regiment included whites, Blacks and Indians.  Brandies Historian David Hackett Fischer remarked that during the War of American Independence, the Continental Army, 
“beginning with the Marblehead regiment, became the first integrated national institution in the United States.
     Please consult David Hackett Fischer, Washington's Crossing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 21-22, 217 (quote on page 22) and the several references in David McCullough, 1776 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005).  Fischer and McCullough both cite George A. Billias, General John Glover and His Marblehead Mariners (New York: Henry Holt and Compnay, 1960).  For the experience of another Massachusetts fishing town in the American Revolution, please consult Joseph E. Garland, The Fish and the Falcon: Gloucester's Resolute Role in America's First Fight for Freedom (Charleston, South Carolina: History Press, 2006).
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