Marbleheaders celebrate years of keeping history alive

submitted by JB Kasper

We live in a time when history is no longer in vogue for many people. In short, many seem to forget the price paid for our freedoms and all the good things we have.

In many places that once bright flame has now become a flicker. A Roman philosopher once said, “Forsake your history and heritage and you will cease to be the people you were meant be.”

There are, however, people who refuse to let that flame be extinguished.

Just such a group of people are the Marbleheaders, a group of history buffs that seek to keep the history of Washington’s Indispensables alive for future generations. You know, the people who row the boats that take Washington and his troops across the river on Christmas Day and have been doing so for 70 years or so.

Well, on March 2nd of this year, the current group celebrated its 50th year with a dinner party in Yardley. For you who are not familiar with the Glover’s Marbleheaders, they played a crucial part in the birth of our country.

The Marbleheaders were the most diversified regiment in Washington’s army. Of the 550 men in the regiment, 50 were African Americans, 10 were Native Americans for the Sturbridge Mohawk tribe, and the regiment also included a Jewish member.

When Washington fortified the heights overlooking Boston Harbor as the war started, the young country had no navy, so Washington turned to John Glover, who commanded the Marbleheaders, and ordered him to find some boats and harass the British fleet that lay at anchor in the harbor. Glover did just that and some call it the beginning of our navy.

Glover’s men, who were mostly New England fishermen, were some of the best soldiers in Washington’s army.

They saved Washington’s army of farmers, storekeepers and other civilians, who were outnumbered and facing the best army in the world, from being flanked at Penn’s Point, took his army across the East River amidst the dark of night in a dense fog, took the army across the Hudson, marched with the army across the Jerseys and across the Delaware to the safety of the Pennsylvania shores.

However, their greatest feat was taking Washington’s rag-tag army across the swollen, ice-filled Delaware amid a winter storm for the battles of Trenton and Princeton.

This part of our history is called the “Ten Crucial Days” when the fate of the Revolution and our country hung in the balance.

Had Washington lost we may not even be here as a nation. After the war Cornwallis told Washington that he won the war on the banks of the Delaware.

The Marbleheaders not only fought with Washington’s army, they sailed on Continental warships and privateers throughout the war. Many paid the ultimate price.

The banks of the Delaware River are the cradle of American history and today’s Marbleheaders keep that history alive. The present day Marblehead Regiment became a reality in 1974, two years before the Bicentennial by the efforts of seven men.

The original regiment consisted of Buddy Butler (Captain), Bob Haley (Lieutenant), Gerry Rabino (Sargent), Earl Brown (Corporal), Fred Bauer and Willis Iannerelli (Drummers) and Jack Woods (Fifer).

This regiment has since then expanded and currently has two Companies. The First Company in Marblehead consists of 40 members while the Second Company in Washington Crossing has 40 members.

The focus for the regiment is not only to participate in battle scenarios but also to interact with the public and educate them about the origin of the United States and how ordinary people did extraordinary things in trying times to help shape our country.

The Marbleheaders are a family-oriented organization of men, women and youngsters.

They work closely with the Friends of Washington Crossing State Park and other groups to not only bring to the public the annual First Crossing and Christmas Crossing festivities, but also numerous other programs and events throughout the year for young and old alike, to keep alive the rich history we have in the Delaware Valley.

You can join them and help support them as all those who believe in keeping history alive are always welcome. For those interested in getting involved with the Marbleheaders, contact Lt. Paul Beck at 215-932-2675.

PHOTO CAP: Some 40 current Marbleheaders recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of their founding in Yardley on March 2nd.

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