The Diverse Soldier-Mariners Who Shaped the Country, Formed the Navy and Rowed Washington Across the Delaware

The acclaimed combat historian and author of The Unknowns details the history of the Marbleheaders and their critical role in the Revolutionary War.

On the stormy night of August 29, 1776, the Continental Army faced annihilation after losing the Battle of Brooklyn.

The British had trapped George Washington’s army against the East River, and the fate of the Revolution rested upon the soldier-mariners from Marblehead, Massachusetts.

One of the country’s first diverse units, they pulled off an “American Dunkirk” and saved the army by navigating the treacherous river to Manhattan.

At the right time in the right place, the Marbleheaders, a group of white, black, Hispanic, and Native American soldiers, repeatedly altered the course of events, and their story shines new light on our understanding of the American Revolution.

As historian Patrick K. O’Donnell recounts, beginning nearly a decade before the war started, Marbleheaders such as Elbridge Gerry and Azor Orne spearheaded the break with Britain and helped shape the United States through governing, building alliances, seizing British ships, forging critical supply lines, and establishing the origins of the US Navy.

The Marblehead Regiment, led by John Glover, became truly indispensable.

Marbleheaders battled at Lexington and on Bunker Hill and formed the elite Guard that protected George Washington, foreshadowing today’s Secret Service.

Then the special operations–like regiment, against all odds, conveyed 2,400 of Washington’s men across the ice-filled Delaware River on Christmas night of 1776, delivering the surprise attack on Trenton that changed the course of history . . .

The Marbleheaders’ story, never fully told before now, makes The Indispensables a vital addition to the literature of the American Revolution.

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