Glover's Marblehead Regiment at the House


John Glover Statue John Glover’s Marblehead Regiment, fought in many important battles throughout the Revolution.

Comprised of ten companies, numbering 405 men—some of whom were African American—they have been described by historian George Billias in his book General John Glover and His Marblehead Mariners (1960) as “rugged fishermen and sailors from Marblehead, who could handle oars as well as muskets.” Glover’s Regiment was authorized on April 23, 1775 as a militia, and transferred to Continental service about a month later. On June 14, 1775, the regiment was adopted into the Continental Army and became the personal Headquarters Guard to General George Washington and on June 22 took over the Vassall house and grounds for housing.

In August 1775, Washington corresponded with the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts as to the advisability of fitting out armed vessels, since there was no Continental Navy. Glover’s Regiment was recruited for this purpose, and the first vessel was the schooner Hannah. On January 1, 1776 the regiment was reorganized and redesignated the 14th Continental Regiment.

According to Samuel Adams Drake’s 1899 Historic Mansions and Highways Around Boston; Headquarters of the Army “It is related that one morning Colonel Glover came in haste to headquarters to announce his men were in a state of mutiny. On the instant the General arose. . . galloped to mutineer’s camp accompanied by Glover and Hon. James Sullivan. Washington arrived on the spot. . . riot between Marblehead Fishermen and Morgan’s riflemen. The Yankees ridiculed the strange attire and appearance of the Virginians.... He [Washington] ordered his servant, Pompey, to dismount.. .this the negro was in the act of doing, when the General, spurring his horse, leaped over Pompey’s head...dashed among the rioters....

According to Billias “If such a scuffle did take place between Virginians and Marbleheaders, it is more likely it was caused by the presence of Negroes in Glover’s regiment. There was at least one colored soldier officially on the regimental rolls at the time, and probably a number of others were present unofficially. When Congress declared in 1776 that Negroes who had served faithfully at Cambridge could re-enlist, a number of them joined Glover. An officer who saw the regiment for the first time in 1776 wrote, “....there were a number of negroes, which, to persons unaccustomed to such associations, had a disagreeable, degrading effect.’ But Glover was accustomed to ‘such associations: Negroes served aboard vessels in Marblehead’s fishing fleet, lived in the same town that he did, and even attended the same church. Having worked and prayed with Negroes, Glover apparently had no qualms about fighting alongside them.”

 
Back

© 2004 Longfellow National Historic Site