Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

The Indispensables

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

by Patrick K. O’Donnell

From the bestselling author of Washington’s Immortals and The Unknowns, an important new chronicle of the American Revolution heralding the heroism of the men from Marblehead, Massachusetts who helped to save the Continental Army and to found the navy, and who forged a uniquely diverse fighting unit a century and a half ahead of its time

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 432
  • Publication Date May 18, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5689-1
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $28.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date July 06, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5691-4
  • US List Price $28.00

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.

Praise for The Indispensables:

“This is an amazing book about not just a regiment but a community. People from Marblehead contributed to every aspect of the American Revolution’s drama, politically and militarily, in the legislature and on the battlefield, on land and at sea. Patrick O’Donnell gives us a fast-paced, exciting look at Marblehead’s people, men and women, Black, white and Native American, soldier, politician and townsperson, Patriot and Loyalist, a community as diverse as the Revolution itself.”—Don N. Hagist, author of The Revolution’s Last Men and editor of the Journal of the Revolution

“As the American colonies started down the road to American states, localities would often unite under their community leaders for the great struggle they sensed they were a part of. Such was the case of John Glover and his band of Marblehead sailor-soldiers. Historian Patrick K. O’Donnell sets forth in a gripping narrative the transformation of this New England town as it moves from protest to armed revolution. It is a fascinating, unique journey of a band of Massachusetts rebels who play a critical role in George Washington’s, and America’s, success and independence. Mr. O’Donnell’s work is a valuable contribution to furthering our understanding of the role of common soldiers and sailors in America’s founding.”—Todd W. Braisted, author of Grand Forage 1778

Praise for Patrick K. O’Donnell:

“One of our finest military historians who has few equals as a great storyteller.”—Carlo D’Este, author of Patton, A Genius for War and Eisenhower, A Soldier’s Life

“Few authors have the same kind of enthusiasm and gusto that O’Donnell brings to his topic. His gift is taking the reader from the map room to the battlefield. It’s an exciting, often harrowing, trip worth taking.”USA Today

“O’Donnell admirably blends a story of ardent farmers, merchants and mariners with a combat story of sharp, bloody engagements . . . An example of combat writing at its best.”Wall Street Journal, on Washington’s Immortals

“Patrick O’Donnell is blessed with a rare gift for storytelling and a keen empathy for the realities of soldiers in combat. He walks in the footsteps of his subjects like few other historians are able—or willing—to do.”—John C. McManus, Ph.D., author of The Dead and Those About to Die and Deadly Sky