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From the bestselling author of Washington’s Immortals and The Unknowns, an important untold story of the American Revolution.
On the stormy night of August 29, 1776, the Continental Army faced annihilation. After losing the Battle of Brooklyn, the British had Washington’s army trapped against the East River. The fate of the Revolution rested heavily on the shoulders of the soldier-mariners from Marblehead, Massachusetts. Serving side-by-side in one of the country’s first diverse units, they pulled off an “American Dunkirk” and saved the army.
In the annals of the American Revolution, no group played a more consequential role than the Marbleheaders. At the right time in the right place, they repeatedly altered the course of events, and their story shines new light on our understanding of the Revolution. As acclaimed historian Patrick K. O’Donnell dramatically 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 nascent United States by playing a crucial role governing, building alliances, seizing British ships, and forging critical supply lines that established 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. Then, at the most crucial time in the war, the regiment conveyed 2,400 of Washington’s men across the ice-filled Delaware River on Christmas night of 1776, delivering a momentum-shifting surprise attack on Trenton. Later, Marblehead doctor Nathaniel Bond inoculated the Continental Army against a deadly virus, which changed the course of history.
This uniquely diverse group of white, Black, and Native American soldiers set an inclusive standard of unity the US Army would not reach again for over 170 years. The Marbleheaders’ story makes The Indispensables a vital addition to the literature of the American Revolution.