APL Colloquium

May 19, 2021

Colloquium Topic: The Indispensables: Marblehead’s Diverse Soldier-Mariners Who Shaped the Country, Formed the Navy, and Rowed Washington Across the Delaware

On the stormy night of August 29th, 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. White, Black, and Native American, these soldiers served side-by-side in the country’s first uniquely diverse unit―pulling off an “American Dunkirk” and saving the army. In the annals of the American Revolution, no group played a more consequential role than the men of Marblehead; at the right time in the right place, they repeatedly altered the course of events. Their story has never been fully told before now, and it shines new light on our understanding of the Revolution.

As bestselling historian Patrick K. O’Donnell dramatically recounts, the Marblehead Regiment, led by John Glover, was truly indispensable. Beginning nearly a decade before the war started, The Indispensables also reveals how Marbleheaders such as Elbridge Gerry and Josiah Lee 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 U.S. Navy.

Marbleheaders battled at Lexington and on Bunker Hill and formed the elite Guard that protected George Washington, a precursor to today’s Secret Service. 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 the momentum-shifting surprise attack on Trenton that changed the course of history.

This uniquely diverse unit set an inclusive standard the US Army would not reach for over 170 years. Compelling and original, The Indispensables is a vital addition to the literature of the American Revolution.

Colloquium Speaker: Patrick K. O'Donnell

Patrick K. O’Donnell is a bestselling, critically acclaimed military historian and an expert on elite units. He is the author of eleven books, including The Unknowns: The Untold Story of America’s Unknown Soldier and WWI’s Most Decorated Heroes Who Brought Him Home, Washington’s Immortals, We Were One, and Dog Company, and he is the recipient of several national awards. He has written seven books on World War II and has conducted thousands of interviews with WWII veterans from elite, airborne, and special operations units, amassing one of the largest private collections on the subject. He served as a combat historian in a Marine rifle platoon during the Battle of Fallujah and speaks often on espionage, special operations, and counterinsurgency. He has provided historical consulting for DreamWorks’ award-winning miniseries “Band of Brothers” and for scores of documentaries produced by the BBC, the History Channel, Fox News, and Discovery. He is also a regular contributor to several national publications and shows. www.PatrickKODonnell.com, @combathistorian