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The Marbleheaders

What is a Marbleheader? (Such a strange name!)

Marblehead sailor
Rich Buser
The Marblehead sailors played an important role in rowing Washington and the troops across the Delaware River.

A Marbleheader is someone who is from Marblehead Massachusetts.

During the Revolution, Col. John Glover and his sailors/fishermen from Marblehead rowed General Washington and the Continental army, cannons, horses, and baggage across the Delware River in Durham boats. This took several hours of rowing back and forth across the water to make sure that everyone was safely on the other side. They were also rowing the troops at night in the middle of a very bad winter storm. After everyone (about 2400 troops who were with General Washington) was safely on the New Jersey side, the Marbleheaders marched 9 miles with the rest of the army and fought at the first Battle of Trenton. After the battle ended in a victory, the Marbleheaders marched back to the Delaware River and rowed everyone back to the Pennsylvania side, including Hessian prisoners (about 900 men) and goods. Three different crossings of the Delaware River were scheduled for December 25, 1776, but only the boats rowed by the Marbleheaders were able to carry all of the troops, cannons, and baggage to the New Jersey side of the River. These soldiers were a most interesting and unusual group. They had helped General Washington before during the battles in New York. They also allowed African Americans to serve and sail with them at a time when, sadly, this was not always allowed. The Marbleheaders were brave sailors and soldiers and we are proud they are part of the Crossing story. Colonel Glover's Regiment would later be known as the 14th Continental Regiment. This unit is still active in the modern military and traces their roots to the men of Marblehead and Colonel Glover.

Sailors sang songs and shanties to keep a steady rhythm while rowing boats or hauling lines. If everyone sang and kept the beat, the group could work in unison. Enjoy this sailor's song given to us by Marbleheader Julie Power. (A bowline is a type of knot.)

Haul on the Bowline

Traditional, with lyrics from Songs of American Sailormen, by Joanna Colcord

Haul on the bowline, our bully ship's a rolling,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, Kitty is my darlin',
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, Kitty lives in Liverpool,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, the old man is a growlin',
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, it's a far cry to payday,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, so early in the morning.
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!