Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site Opens New Exhibition: "Overlooked Hero: John Glover and the American Revolution"

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On Saturday, February 10, Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site opened a spectacular new exhibit entitled "Overlooked Hero: John Glover and the American Revolution". As a Colonel, of course, John Glover led the American troops who fought a significant delaying action against the British Army in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.

Whether you are a student of the battle or simply are interested in the Revolutionary War, I highly recommend that you visit the exhibit. It is wonderful. On display are many Glover-related items including a uniform that he wore later in the War and a letter of commendation written to him late in the war by General George Washington, later the first president of the United States of America.

Below are photographs of a small sampling of items on display at the exhibition. Also below are a few photographs of the event on Saturday. As always, I have tried to transcribe text from images to facilitate searches.

Placard 1


Glover's fishermen leaving Marblehead for Cambridge, 1775
Painting by J. O. Johnson, ca. 1920
Fenimore Art Museum
Cooperstown, New York"

Placard 2

"John Glover and the American Revolution

JOHN GLOVER. There's a name that's familiar to people with an interest in the Revolutionary War, and that local residents might know as the namesake of the Pelham athletic fields. But who was he? What are his connections to the War for American Independence and to New York?

Well, John Glover's a great American success story. Born to humble circumstances in 1732, he was reared in Marblehead, Massachusetts and developed a very successful merchant and ship enterprise. Glover's wealth and prominence led to political leadership and local military involvement as the conflict between Britain and the colonies reached the precipice.

It would be difficult to surpass his great achievements as an officer in the Revolutionary War, expecially in the critical year of 1776. All of the leadership, military knowledge and maritime skills he had developed were -- fortunately for the Patriot cause -- brought to bear in three dramatic episodes that helped to save the budding American independence movement. Twice on the water -- at Brooklyn in August and at Trenton in December -- and once on land (the nearby Battle of Pell's Point in October) Glover guided operations that helped to salvage the Revolution at some of its darkest hours.

His contributions in the latter part of the war were impressive, but, as you'll discover, actually hindered by a mysterious illness.

After the great American victory, he enjoyed the fruits of independence, returning to Marblehead as an honored citizen and political leader. But his sacrifice in terms of family, health and fortune was considerable, a prime example of the high cost of American independence. We invite you to learn about Glover's inspiring experiences through sound, models, artwork, historic images and prints, artifacts and text. This display was made possible by the following:

The National Park Service / Department of the Interior
The New York Council for the Humanities
Society of the National Shrine of the Bill of Rights
John and Jean Heins
Ball Chain"

Placard 3

From Humble Birth to Codfish Aristocrat

The seeds of John Glover's leadership and military skill that blossomed during the Revolutionary War are evident in his early life in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the foremost commercial fishing port in North America.

An ambitious and self-made man, Glover rose from humble beginnings and had started to build his fleet of fishing schooners by the age of thirty-one. The short, stocky Marbleheader even commanded some of his own vessels to the Newfoundland coast, experiencing the dangers of the long and stormy voyages along with his men. Involved heavily in the fishing industry with his large fleet, Glover traded with Spain and Portugal, as well as the West Indies. A man of energy and business ability, he soon reached a prominent position in the close-knit mercantile 'codfish' aristocracy, and had earned the respect of all levels of Marblehead society.

[Print showing cod drying on the fishflakes in Marblehead, Massachusetts]

This historic print shows cod drying on the fishflakes in Marblehead, an important part of the commercial fishing industry. In the years before the American Revolution, John Glover achieved great success in that industry, eventually joining the 'codfish aristocracy'.
Courtesy of Marblehead Museum & Historical Society.

[Ashley Bowen watercolor showing Marblehead in 1763]

Marblehead in 1763
Watercolor by Ashley Bowen
Courtesy of Marblehead Museum & Historical Society.

On the even of the American Revolution, John Glover's town of Marblehead, Massachusetts was the foremost commercial fishing port in North America, and especially vulnerable to British laws in the 1760s and 1770s that tended to curtail colonial mercantile wealth and independence.

[Recent photograph of John Glover's 18th century home in Marblehead, Massachusetts]

A recent photograph of John Glover's 18th century home, located at the waterfront, Glover Street, Marblehead, Massachusetts. A historic landmark, the house is still used as a residence.
Photograph by Sharon Mills.

In 1760, at the age of 28, Glover entered the political arena, joining the local Whigs in opposing Britain's encroachment upon the political and commercial rights of the colonies. Enraged by the Boston massacre of 1770, he united with other Whigs and wrested control of town government from the pro-British faction. In 1774 he became a member of the Committee of Correspondence which spread information and coordinated anti-British action across the colonies. Additionally, he joined the local Committee of Inspection that enforced the prohibitions on trade with England that had been passed by the First Continental Congress.

As war seemed imminent, Glover, a militia officer since 1759, was commissioned a colonel of the reformed Massachusetts regiment which would become the 14th Continental Regiment, the 'Marbleheaders.' Glover raised ten companies of some 500 fishermen and sailors, a few of who were Spanish, Native American, Jewish, and African-American. Those men -- many of whom knew Glover personally -- united under the power of his command. In late June 1775, armed with a pair of silver pistols and a sword, Colonel Glover led his troops from Marblehead to the American camp at Cambridge, helping to bottle up the British army in Boston.

In addition, during that tense first summer of the war, he directed the building of forts and defenses along the Massachusetts coast to repel British attempts to press men and gather supplies. Under General Washington's command, he led the project to convert maritime vessels into warships, or 'Washington's Schooners,' the first American naval fleet.

[Image of painting of men in colonial garb signing paper]

John Glover was a member of Marblehead's chapter of the Committee of Correspondence, groups of men across New England who worked to spread information and co-ordinate activities in the resistance movement against British policies.

[Image of 1920s folk painting]

This folk painting from the 1920s shows a mounted Colonel John Glover and his Marblehead regiment leave the town common in June 1775 to join the Patriot forces besieging the British in Boston.
Courtesy of Fenimore Art Museum.

[Image of painting showing African American Revolutionary War soldier]

John Glover's Massachusetts regiment was one of the few integrated units in the Patriot army in the early stages of the war, including several African American soldiers, who had been sailors and fishermen in colonial Marblehead."

Placard 4

"A Hero of '76

The New York-New Jersey campaign of 1776 was a difficult experience for the American forces. The British dealt a series of devastating blows to the fledgling Patriot away from August through December, nearly destroying George Washington's forces. In many ways, it was Colonel John Glover, using expert seamanship, military leadership and pure grit, who helped to save the American independence movement in those days that tried men's souls.

Following the crushing victory of the British over the Patriot army at the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27, Glover's 14th Regiment, or 'Marblehead Mariners' performed an extraordinary rescue feat. At 5 o'clock in the morning of the 28th he and his regiment crossed to Brooklyn from Manhattan. Following fierce fighting and British reinforcements on land and sea, General Washington made the wise decision to evacuate, and Glover directed the manning of the vessels and rafts that had been brought down through the Harlem River from the North [Hudson] River.

During the first part of the summer night, the men worked with great difficulty because of the ebb tide and a strong northeast wind. But later, when the wind changed and a heavy fog providentially covered the Long Island side, Glover and his fishermen-soldiers were able to complete the evacuation of Washington's 9,000 men, field pieces, heavy ordinance, and all ammunition, as well as horses, cattle, and provisions. All this was accomplished in nine hours across the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan, oars muffled against the splashing of the water.

[Image of sketch of Glover addressing some of his men]

An artist's depiction of Colonel John Glover addressing one of the soldiers from his 14th Regiment, dressed in fishermen's garb that was common attire in the Marblehead fighting unit.

[Image of painting of George Washington at the evacuation of Brooklyn]

General Washington pictured at the scene of the evacuation of more than 9,000 American troops across the East River, from Brooklyn to Manhattan, August 29, 1776. One of the most remarkable achievements of the war, this operation was supervised and facilitated by Colonel John Glover and the Marblehead regiment.

[Photograph of plaque beneath the Brooklyn Bridge]

Historic marker beneath the Brooklyn Bridge that notes the successful evacuation of the American army to Manhattan on August 29, 1776.
Photograph by Sharon Mills.

In mid October, Glover, in temporary command of a small brigade comprised of four Massachusetts Continental regiments, was sent to Eastchester (today's St. Paul's Church neighborhood) to disrupt a British amphibious landing designed to trap the main body of American troops in northern Manhattan. Indeed, on the morning of October 18th, he faced 4,000 Hessian and Brisith soldiers heading ashore. Glover took advantage of the stone walls running along each side of the Split Rock Road, the obvious path for the enemy advance. The colonel from Marblehead skillfully deployed three of his regiments, alternating each behind an intersecting wall. Waiting until the Crown troops came within range, upon orders from Glover, each regiment engaged the enemy, then moved back behind the next wall when their flanks were threatened.

Eventually, in danger of encirclement, Glover ordered his brigade back down the hill and across Hutchinson Creek to his own 14th regiment and artillery, exchanging canon fire with the British until nightfall. By interfering with the enemy advance, Glover enabled the main body of Washington's troops to reach White Plains. Outnumbered and commanding a larger force than he had previously led, Glover's tactics and leadership at Pell's Point marked his finest hour as a field commander.

Following the American retreat across New Jersey, Glover rejoined Washington's forces on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River in early December. There, ten miles below Trenton, on the night of December 25th, Glover and his 'Marbleheaders' ferried 2,400 troops -- again with horses, artillery, and wagons -- across the Delaware River under extreme winter weather conditions. After marching several miles, they fought in the Battle of Trenton, and then transported the army and about 1,000 Hessian prisoners back across the river, all on the same day.

[Photograph of Split Rock Road from William Abbatt's book]

An early 20th century image of the Split Rock Road, in Pelham Bay Park, about a mile from St. Paul's Church, still similar in appearance to October 18, 1776 when it was the scened of the major piece of combat in the Battle of Pell's Point.

[Photograph of wooden bridge across Hutchinson River]

A late 19th century scene of a simple wooden bridge over the Hutchinson River, the location where Colonel John Glover's brigade crossed on the morning of October 18, 1776, as they marched to meet the British invasion at the Battle of Pell's Point. Today, this would be the bridge under the Hutchinson River Parkway where Sandford Blvd. meets Colonial Drive.

While the famous scene of the crossing of the Delaware River on December 25, 1776 depicts General Washington standing in one of the craft, it was actually Colonel John Glover and his Marblehead regiment who skillfully directed the ferrying of the troops from the Pennsylvania to the New Jersey side of the river for the attack on the Hessian post at Trenton."

Placard 5

"Battling Malaria & Escorting the Convention Army

John Glover's service in the latter part of the Revolutionary War, 1777-1782, was considerably different from his experiences in the early part of the conflict. He was hampered by a mysterious illness, although a strong commitment to the cause kept him in the army. While General Washington counted Glover as one of his most able officers, changes in patterns and locations of major battles prevented the Marblehead brigadier general (a position to which he was promoted in February 1777), from performing the laudable deeds of 1776.

Brigadier General Glover played an important role in the Saratoga campaign of 1777, the turning point of the war when the Americans captured an entire British army in upstate New York. Commanding a brigade, the Marbleheader led successful raids on the vulnerable Crown forces in late September. In October, his troops captured a deserter who revealed the location of British troops and helped avert a possible disaster for the American army.

Glover was present October 17 when British General John Burgoyne surrendered to America's commander at Saratoga, Major General Horatio Gates. Following the victory, Gates assigned Glover responsibility for escorting the defeated forces -- known to history as the Convention Army -- of about 5750 men on a month-long march of 250 miles to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Taking charge of defeated, aristocratic European generals and their troops (both British and Hessian) was a challenging and fascinating experience for Glover, the man from humble origins. Through the long movement, he gained the respect of General Burgoyne and the commander of the German forces, General Friedrich von Riedesel.

[Image of engraving of encampment of the Convention army]

Encampment of the Convention army at Charlottesville, Virginia, after they had surrendered to the Americans
Engraving, c. 1780, by unknown artist
Courtesy of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, New York Public Library

Following the American victory at Saratoga, General John Glover had prime responsibility for escorting these defeated British and Hessian forces across Massachusetts to Cambridge; they were subsequently taken to Virginia.

[Image of portrait of General John Glover]

Gen. Glover
Illustration, c. late 18th century, by unknown artist
Courtesy of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, New York Public Library.

This folk art painting of General John Glover presents a different view from that offered by most contemporary illustrations.

In lagte 1777, Glover's health began to worsen. Beginning with the onset of shivering chills, the cycle would continue with headaches, dizziness, and nausea, followed by high fever. Additionally, Glover experienced inability to sleep and weakness that left him debilitated for weeks after a seizure. (Although not really diagnosed at the time, or by later historians, recent research by a St. Paul's staff member concluded that he was suffering from malaria.) Even with the aid of quinine, the attacks recurred, for new parasites would continually grow in the bloodstream.

This condition, combined with the shift of the major fighting to the South, changed Glover's role. His last major military action was in the Rhode Island campaign, when his brigade halted a British advance and helped facilitate an amphibious withdrawal at Newport in late August 1778. Assigned to the Hudson Highlands in 1780, he was part of the military tribunal that sentenced British Major John Andre to hang in the notorious Major General Benedict Arnold treason affair, and directed Andre's execution.

[Image of painting of Burgoyne's surrender with inset showing detail depicting John Glover]

General John Glover was present (third from right, also see adjacent highlight) at the surrender of British General John Burgoyne to American General Horatio Gates, ending the Battle of Saratoga, New York, October 17, 1777, the turning point of the Revolutionary War.

[Image of silhouette of mosquito]

General John Glover contracted the dreaded mosquito-borne disease of malaria sometime in late 1777, which affected his health and military performance for the remainder of the war.

[Image of illustration of scene of August 29, 1777 engagement in Rhode Island]

Scene of the engagement on Rhode Island, Aug. 29, 1778.
Illustration, 1778, by unknown artist
Courtesy of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, New York Public Library

Follwing the British counter-attack at the Battle of Rhode Island in August 1778, American troops under General John Glover gallantly halted an English advance at Quaker Hill in Newport, preventing a rout and covering an amphibious retreat to the mainland.

[Image of men with John Andre during his death sentencing]

General John Glover was the officer in charge of the execution of British officer and spy John Andre, October 2, 1780, at Tappan, New York. Here, Major Andre, hand on desk, listens to the order imposing the penalty of death for espionage as part of the notorious Benedict Arnold affair."

Placard 6

"The Cost & Fruit of Independence

Like many American leaders, John Glover paid a considerable cost in the cause of independence, losing much of his personal wealth, his good health, and his wife and two children during the war years.

His eldest son, John Jr., a captain in Glover's regiment in 1776, was captured later in the war and died after being transported to England. In the fall of 1778, he suffered the loss of his beloved wife Hannah, the mother of his 11 children, after a long illness that she contracted during the war. For the next two years, he balanced military duties with raising his many children. Glover re-married, to a cousin of Paul Revere, in 1780.

Glover was a humble man, satisfied to return to a quiet civilian life as a respected local figure, enjoying the fruits of American independence which he was so instrumental in securing. He was selected to six terms as a town Selectmen and two terms in the Massachusetts legislature. Additionally, he represented Marblehead in the Massachusetts state ratifying convention in 1788, voting for the new Federal Constitution.

When the war began, Glover invested considerable personal wealth in Continental securities used to finance the war and contributed his vessel to the American cause. During the conflict, his assets helped to recruit and even to provision troops under his command. Glover's commercial fortunes plumtetted as Marblehead's maritime economy was devastated during the war and, like much of New England, suffered a post-war depression, partly because of the disruption of trade with Great Britain. However, using the same skills and knowledge that had developed his colonial business enterprise, Glover gradually re-establshed his profitable merchant and fishing operations.

[Image of pencil-drawing of John Glover]

A pencil drawing based on a portrait of John Glover in 1794 by John Trumbull - the great painter of the American Revolution when Glover was 62.

[Image of engraving of the State House in Boston]

John Glover represented Marblehead for two terms in the Massachusetts state legislature, which met in the old State House in Boston, which is illustrated here.

[Image of the Lee Mansion in Marblehead, Massachusetts]

In late 1789, John Glover and other local dignitaries held a banquet honoring President George Washington at the Lee mansion, in Marblehead, which was built in 1768.
Courtesy of Marblehead Museum & Historical Society.

One of his proudest moments was welcoming his former commander-in-chief on a special visit to Marblehead. When the newly elected President Washington toured New England in 1789, John Glover joined him in the Lee mansion with his fellow selectmen for a celebratory banquet. John Glover died in 1797 at the age of sixty-four. His service in the Revolutionary War is commemorated in monuments and memorials in Brooklyn, Pelham, Boston and Marblehead.

Regarding his commitment to the American Revolution, he wrote to John Hancock that 'a desire to giving the finishing blow to the glorious work . . . begun are the only prevailing motives that can possibly induce them to continue. I wish my fortune would enable me to serve my country without pay, I would readily and cheerfully do it; it is well known it will not, yet I continue, tho, it's at the expense of my little fortune, earned by industry and hard labor in my youth.'

[Photograph of Glover's farmhouse in Marblehead, Massachusetts]

A 20th century photograph of the farmhouse in Marblehead that John Glover lived in following the Revolutionary War. The house was confiscated from a Loyalist and purchased by Glover for a modest price.
Courtesy of Marblehead Museum & Historical Society.

[Image of 18th century Gloucester, Massachusetts, near Marblehead]

After the Revolutionary War, Marblehead gradually re-established its maritime economic health, returning its appearance to the busy New England harbor scene captured here in an 18th century woodcut of nearby Gloucester. Much of John Glover's wealth, which was nearly dstroyed during the tumult of the Revolution, also returned by the 1790s.

[Image of family page from the Glover family bible]

A facsimile of the family page from the Glover family bible
Courtesy of Marblehead Museum & Historical Society

Of particular interest are the note, at top, that John Glover Jr., son of the general, and a Revolutionary War soldier himself, was 'lost at sea' in August 1777, and the note, near the bottom, that 'the above are children of Jn Glover and Hannah, his wife, who died Oct 13th 1778'.

[Photograph of John Glover's grave]

John Glover died of hepatitis on January 30, 1797, at age 64, and is interred in this box grave, with a marble top, in the Old Burial Hill cemetery, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. (An almost identical gravestone is located behind St. Paul's Church.)
Photograph by Maria Byrne."

The opening of the Exhibit, from Noon to 4 p.m., was well-attended. Demonstrations at the site included "A Few Words from His Excellency, Glover's Commander, General Washington" and "A Special Visit from Phillis Wheatley". Throughout the day there were ongoing talks and demonstration, at the site, by costumed re-enactors, recalling Glover's accomplishments, and other aspects of the Revolutionary War.

Additionally, there was a full schedule of programs in the museum, including: the formal opening of the new exhibition; a talk entitled "African Americans and the American Revolution" by Professor Clarence Taylor, History Department, Bernard Baruch College / CUNY; and a showing and discussion of portions of the movie "The Crossing" based on the historical novel by Howard Fast, with an emphasis on portions of the film that bear on John Glover. The presentation was led by St. Paul's historian Maria Byrne.

Below are photographs taken during the event, each followed by brief explanations.

Above is a photograph of a uniform worn by John Glover during the Revolutionary War. The information provided with the uniform states as follows:

"General Glover's Coat
c. late 18th century
Courtesy of Washington Crossing Foundation

During the Revolutionary War, John Glover wore many regimental coats, made on his orders and purchased at his expense. This coat, made of fine wool cloth, was probably used for ceremonial purposes at some time during the war. It was passed down from a Glover descendant to a Massachusetts historian, who donated it to the Washington Crossing Foundation in the 20th century. Some alterations have been made over time."

The image above shows a costumed re-enactor playing the role of George Washington and speaking with attendees at the event.

The image above shows a museum docent dressed in 18th century costume.

The two images immediately above show the front of a letter and a facsimle of the inside second page that same letter from General George Washington (and signed by him) to General John Glover forwarding a Congressional citation at the time of his resignation from the service late in the Revolutionary War. The placard next to the facsimile of the second page reads:

"Letter, George Washington to John Glover
30 July 1782
Courtesy of The Raab Collection, Ardmore, Pennsylvania

This letter from General Washington to General Glover accompanied a commendation to Glover passed by the Continental Congress. In this correspondence, Washington also wishes Glover a 'restoration of health attended with every happiness in your future walks of life.' The inside second page, which includes Washington's signature, is presented here."

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