tv Patrick O Donnell The Indispensables CSPAN July 3, 2021 1:03am-2:02am EDT
the ford motor company for sponsoring these talks on a great series where authors common talk about their newest work because this is the book release of this exciting book. mention one upcoming program we have the third michelle smith lecture. please join us on wednesday night tonight we are filmed live from the reading room here at mount vernon but the subtitle the diverse soldier marine to shape the country, form the navy and road washington across the delaware. those that are going out to people who submitted questions
please also submit questions and let us know what you want to know this is a great book i could not putut it down they call it a novel account of what you're about to hear from patrick.e you know more about gunpowder than you thank you might it is an exciting story and a lot to hear on thisen great account. to tell youal more about patrick o'donnell the best-selling critical acclaimed military historian. this is the second book on the war period the first one washington is a mortal.
ground up using their pension files and diaries, letters, etc. to re-create this regimens story which is truly extraordinary. this, every book i've ever written has been a journey. each one of these books found me in one way or another and this is no exception. but before i embark upon a book i always ask a very basic rest in. who cares and why does it matter? this library, our country wouldn't be here at it not been for t this library, our country would not be here ifal it was not for these individuals they say their country multiple times. and they save washington's army on numerous occasions. which i will talk about tonight it is a window into
current events about a virus and misinformation and there are a lot of things that resonate with people. but let me take you back right now of the most crucial periods of the american revolution the battle of brooklyn has just been waged washington's army was defeated. the marylanders washington see mortals more precious than any other and then to retreat into fortification. the british army and then to come up the east river was a perilous time where all could
be lost. washington had a decision to make to retreat or fight and he wisely decided to retreat and this is the time all could be lost in could be surrounded and destroyed. washington decided to retreat and cross a mile-long river and tell team those armies and then they were creeping forward of those positions at brooklyn heights and theer army was closer and closer to annihilating the american army. washington decides to escape and john glover they gather
all of the votes in manhattan and a man those in fairy the army across the east river and enslaved individual to inform how the americans are escaping. this individual speaks german and they cannot understand what he is trying to say fortunately. but the americans are evacuating don't even know what a couple hours before he has to pull off the greatest retreat in american and world history and a man the doubts and then the wind doesn't
cooperate but there is something very special about these men. they have worked together for years fishing the grand banks what makes them unique they are arguably the first regiment in unitedd states army here and is african-americans native americans all working together it is a situation where race did not matter where literally the weather could kill people. and they were relying upon one another that night to pull off one of thehe greatest retreats in history writing across the river. the tide was working. the wind wasn't working the entire evacuation was to be
called off. but the person delivering the message to washington could not find washington that night. they still went. glover's men push them across and against all odds a conductor the retreat. at that time the wind changed in the favor of americans and glover's men could transport the army across the east river and almost onees dozen times against all odds and as dawn was coming a miraculous fog appeared and screened the movements of the army and they delivered nearly 10000 men delivered to safety.
so the british land again those marble headers take a stand and hear that washington is when the british are attacking he is frozen in time somebody literally has to bring him out of the battle as the british are advancing towards him hundreds of yards away. marble headers make a stand as the army melts away the marble headers make a desperate stand and then they could reform with a small victory. the marble headers are involved in some interesting operations during this time
period where they conduct raids but the marble headers in many ways are a precursor to special operations units we know today. they are doing things that are special and extraordinary with fire ships prior to the battle of brooklyn where they nearly take out the equivalent of the british battleships and they also form what is known as the guardrd and that is an extraordinary unit. it is a precursor to the secret service. washington's handpicked men that guard him and not a small group of men and mushrooms up at 200 and they are involved in operations, battles so it
shapes it and informs it as an extraordinary story of itself. not only did they save and protect the unit there is mystery involved prior to the battle of brooklyn there were several members of thewa guard that have leanings toward the british. loyalties. they are leeward into a plot to assassinate washington. and that relatively unknown story is told as they uncover the plot and that guard protects washington and they take out their own the first americans to be executed as a member of the guard. that is a fascinating story. as the book moves forward it
is the indispensable's that are washington's elite force in many of the battles of new york. the british once again land in the northern part of manhattan. and hear the marble headers basically we pal thehe insidious invasion the royal navy at that time which is an extraordinary feat in and of itself they land further up the coast and hear that glover's brigade which includes the marblehead regiment was again saved the
army and a fight close to the landing point that they fall back and it is a collapsible defense. it is an emerging part of the american way of war which is unique and ever-changing to this day. but we weree not using conventional tactics of european armies but falling back from a fixed position and in this case falling back behind stonewalls to allow the british to advance but still taking down many of their numbers and hear the indispensable help save washington's army once again. from this point on you enter fort washington where many americans are captured nearly 3000 including marble headers captured early on they are
basically wounded that in and this consist of pension application files that in a lot of ways the unknown oral historiesou of the american revolution if you are lucky to survive the american revolution you can apply for a pension application in 1820 and go down to the local courthouse and swear under oath what you swear you dead and the great oral history accounts of what happened that are untapped in their own words. the indispensable's is filled
with these unknown stories from unknown americans. boots onn the ground. band of brothers. the telling of a war. novel ask is what the wall street journal said today in the review all of the words in the book from these americans are true statements from their accounts and not what i made up. but within these accounts and within the story is what happened it's very compelling in many cases. as we enter november and december, some of the darkest days off america. things are politically collapsing the military victory the british army has obtained from fort washington to the other victories from
where people are abandoning that cause. in new jersey signing an oath of allegiance to the crown people who have signed the declaration ofre independence and all of those are set to expire and they are expiring. washington's army is literally meltinghe away and then decides he must do something it is a very desperate situation and decides to attack the outpost in trenton and it is here the marble headers have their finest hour the situation where everything changes. everything is on the line everything is about to
collapse. and it's on the shoulders of the marble headers once again. washington has an elaborate plan there are four prongs that will attract one - - attack trenton the marble headers basically take the army across the delaware river on the main prong but those are going forward. and only they had the skill to cross the delaware river covered with i.c.e. fast flowing a nor'easter that night nothing goes according to plan. all of the other prongs have failed that the marble headers could get the army across and in tact at least one portion and the other three failed.
that night behind schedule 12 miles above trenton marching through sleet and snow. much of the army at this point is barefoot literally their tracks are filled with blood in the snow but they push forward. the marble headers are leading the element they push down to that portion of trenton in this is a very important point they capture the bridge along with the garden and set up a series of cannons on the high ground meanwhile the army is attacking and most 18th century engagements armies are
both sides battle it out one side is not doing well they retreat that johan had no avenue of retreat things to glover and the indispensable's. they seal the retreat and s the faith of the entire regiment that change the course of history. and from there to sail back across the delaware things to the marblehead men. it is unfortunately a little worse what they trippedur over because they capture the supply and a drunken crew that they captured most of the regiment and a large stands of arms and then it sets up
roughly one week later the second battle of trenton where washington doesn't necessarily want to fight but the hand is forced by a militia group which goes over a little bit early without order and washington decides to reinforce them. they hold a key bridge against all lives. half of the marblehead regiment may be less stays with washington the other group is exhausted and goes back to marblehead but the group that stays a fight at the battle of princeton and they change the course of history those ten crucial days that change the course of history are the three battles and the marble headers make a
difference that is the marblehead are once again saved the army. i will get to that story in a several of the characters in the book's you can get a feel for what this book is about. the first character or individual is john glover who is a central character of the indispensable's. he is a cobbler and also a bartenderba and with the 90 he makes from bartending and cobbling shoes, he can buy a ship and then more ships and he builds a fleet of ships and
becomes a very wealthy man in marblehead himself through trading those fortunes are made on fish. card is the commodity in marblehead. it is one third of the economy in 1774. they fish the grand banks that are some of the most treacherous waters at the time it is icyou and thousands of miles away from boston but they say about their in fish, they gather fish it is a life and death situation against the waves and storms but they are working together marblehead is a diverse community. hispanic americans. these individuals are ahead ofar their time in many ways.
it is a progressive town for its time. many of the men are ardent abolitionists. there is a forefront of americans civil rights before there were american civil rights pushing for the abolitionist slavery in these crews that are diverse working together and it is also a situation where the crown is interfering with their lives and constantly. and then to be impressed by the british navy to come alongside of the ship you will be a member of the royal navy and a slave for life an individual is taken aboard the royal navy the ship and made a member for life and you cannot
free the individual unless they escape and some did. this is the factor that causes a break from great britain in one of the factors. to be regulated by the crowd 3000 miles away 1775. the fisheries act would be established it would not allow the marble headers to fish effectively putting out of work theor entire town which caused a great deal of resentment it was taken away from them andnd the government was changed all of the's fomented a political change within the colonies. marblehead would become the spearheadd along with boston of
the revolution and an idea of the revolution. and those marble headers would play a critical role in this. but in 1773 and 1774 ships from marblehead also brought homeme the virus that changed america and the town. the town would be divided politically. the virus was small parks and people within the town were infected. thethe patriots withinow town to come up with an inoculation hospital itself whih was causingca the fishers and massive death if you're famiar scar people and across the face in the back and kill you. they set up test house to
contain the virus but the inoculation hospital cutting-edge at the time was set up by john glover and eldridge barry and many other main chacters in this book. but as the hospital started to produce results it also produced in revised infection which a loyalist used to their advantage to incite the mob. that an occupation hospital was in place and they burned it to the ground with the people inside and remarkably nobody was killed but the loss of the hospital costs john glover and the other patriots over 2000 pounds in damages. so if it out are rich to the
share for the man that had done that they seized the individuals and they were brought to jail for trial. the loyalist use the situation of the virus to incite the mob and they attacked the jail with hundreds of individuals. they broke into the doors with axes and crowbars and freed the two men. and at that point the main characters of the book, their houses are surrounded by the angry mob which are hell-bent on potentially killing them all and john glover came up with a a novel solution to deal with the problem. his version of self-defense is a canon inside the foyer of his house i recall finding the original papers from his family. i will fix them was his quote and as the mob circled the house ready to kill him the
doors to bust open and they can was in the foyer facing the mob and he had a torch and told them to disperse and they did. he made a stand and it was emblematic of how john glover would conduct himself through the rest of the board. so to bring in the main supply of gunpowder to their contact with spain part of the revolutionary war and as the warrw moves forward involved in lexington and concorde and many other battles and he also has the job of guarding general washington prior to the battle of bunker hill. and here john glover forges a
very special relationship with the commander-in-chief. and he forms a level of trust. it's general washington the looks upon john glover to solve a problem for c him. gunpowder is crucial and the colonist had no gunpowder and the british new and they tried to disarm us through gunpowder but it would be the context through spain to bring in that crucial gunpowder that also would be a novel way that washington would try to capture more gunpowder by that to me that to do that operation so he turns to john glover and the navy basically takes a fishing boat, which
was 74 times and somehow takes on the greatest navy in the but that's exactly what they did in attacked british ships. and the story of the navy is extraordinary. some of the most colorful captains in american history. the red dragon and side martindale to spend a lavish amount of money but as soon as the ship is out of port he is immediately captured by the british.isar martindale sells out his crew to the british at trial. martindale is an amazing story. they put the crew and irons many in royal navy vessels and
he is freed with some of these officers to make his way to maine and he is imprisoned as well but somehow escapes on foot making his way down the coast all the way to washington spinning tales the grand tales of his heroics in the process and then goes on to fight again but is lost at sea. there are so many amazing stories is in the navy itself the first in the united states history but they also capture the right time at the right place another individual is doctor nathaniel bond.ht the harvard trained resurrection asked that is a
body snatcher. there was a critical shortage of cadavers at the time. and people, the doctors would raid graveyards to snatch bodies to work on them for their anatomy but he was an extraordinary hero he's on cat island working on the inoculation, and it is here that he sees the marble headers and is at the forefront of smallpox it is his specialty and expertise also on member of the marblehead regiment he participates in the battle of lexington and concorde but according to the hippocratic oath he treats those soldiers that are wounded he believes
he is now a loyalist and where he bags for his life and those that will kill him at any moment please send a detail of men for a court-martial so i can reveal the truth of what happened. and then they have the court-martial and facts are revealed and doctor find is exonerated from fake crimes. he didn't do anything wrong he helpedju people that instead of melting away and not being
happy with the situation, he decides to fight and joins the marblehead regiment as their surgeon and then doctor bond goes on to be a company commander and fight through all of the major battles of the american revolution which is extraordinary in and of itself but then half the regiment goes back to marblehead and they havee a reason. many of their wives are starving they go back to protect their wives and loved ones doctor bonta stays on along with many other men. they continue to stay on and washington himself and asks doctor bond to inoculate the army and ate the time the virus was killing nearly 20 percent of the army.
it was being devastated. and doctor bond sets up all of the inoculation facilities and supervises the entire process and inoculates the army wednesdays at thest greatest strategic decision because then they can fight and continue the battle but the man that was initially canceled and label the loyalist dies and parachutes from inoculating the army. those are some of the characters in the book along with eldridge gary forgotten founder my favorite word for an ordinary guy that was birdlike and skinny on - - ornery guy and in the gurney
revolution eldridge gary and that republicanism with the small are and then to take the abstract concept it makes it a reality but he also takes one of the largest trading fleets in the colonies which he and his family own and converts them and then what they needed was gunpowder all of the major operations of british were conducting at thens early part of the war were to take the vital supply of gunpowder without that, no revolution could be fought but you come up with thefi concept one of the first in writing to come up
with a foreign alliance. they forged the alliance with spain and through his contact that has gone on for 20 or 30 years he forges a vital relationship and they bring the powder to the colonies. also future vice president, for future congressman gerrymandering is named after him. bill of rights, electoral college, are all part of eldridge gary. the diverse members of the unit. we only know them by their first name. maybe their greek name of cato. these are extraordinary individuals. the importance of the marblehead regiment strength
is they are diversity but the greatest strength is there unity. and these men working together as a team. there are incredible numbers of this regiment cato prints. mann - - prints and these men died penniless but it was the great operations of the war. bringing that marblehead regiment in bringing that army to safety multiple times. these are the forgotten members of the revolution they were all extraordinary and what they did. with diversity and model that we would not see tragically for over 170 years in
america's armed forces. men and women and those that did extraordinary things at the right place at the right time. and in many cases the sacrifice that they made is epicrb. marblehead alone had over 600 widows at the end of the american revolution. it is that story and sacrifice and the reason that i wrote the indispensable's. that i don't think they necessarily appreciate the founding story is the greatest story and marble headers change the course of history. thank you very much.
i'm happy toqu take questions. >> this is been a great introduction and there is a question i like about the cohesiveness of this unit how did this diverse group into think of modern soldiers acting as one and how were they successful to make that happen? >> a lot of that has to do with prior to the revolution. many of these men were on fishing boats were life-and-death decisions had to be made in seconds and the color of your skin or race was irrelevant so this was forged over years of time.
many of them forged bonds of friendship and of family where many were veryal interconnected through familial ties and best friends. there was no desertion. i found a couple of examples which is unheard of for the 18th century where the desertion but that close connection with family and community that tied them together. >> what happens next as the marble headers return home? can you tell me about the afterlife? >> it is a complicated story.
maybe less than half the unit stays with washington. this iss an extraordinary moment. washington uses his great oratory abilities to beg and plead the army to stay. many step forward. and serve. and many of them are marble headers and many die as a result of that service including doctor bond. john glover along with other members of the marblehead regiment return home to marblehead and they form and i that might want - - is media general they form a new
regiment that many take to the sea and in many cases many of the great captains become part of the continental navy such as john manley and tucker those the greatest fighting captains of the revolutionary i war. with ship to ship fighting and then to remake on - - make repairs on the fly and there's hardly anybody there and after drag them out to make a mask it is quite extraordinary of american ingenuity. many become privateers and make washington's navy when they are literally at sea these are individuals that are private and also earning a
commission slightly different working in the employee of the massachusetts government. >> another question asks about the average age. acted take that must roll that existed and it is fragmentary it was around 24. obviously the older men and younger men but the book captures a story of boy soldiers they were drummer
boys and then to relay orders and many of the younger members and they went to war with their fathers and we had extraordinary stories of father and son teams in the book. >> the recognition is a great examplee to recognize the service. most of these men and women and then to be bankrupt on the war and then they were lucky
enough to make it that long. but they are extremely impoverished. and glover himself is wracked with ptsd we can see that there is letters to washington he is notbl able to sleep. and as a source of great wealth and is reduced to rush out and the individual families and greatly impoverished and in the book itself in 1777.
and then they write and the women of the town take up muskets. and ray those food stores. but this is a gritty war where americans are pitted against americans and of the gradeschool history books. >> i'm excited to hear your thoughts how do glover managed to bring together so many different people in the regiment? and what they need to do in order to make this happen?
that there was no overt effort to coerce people to serve they willingly serve and as well as the elite members of the community are all serving together side-by-side and jeremiah lee in particular one of the greatest in the colonies and is there kernel. and the other members of the community are not well off at all. and they are not because we feel it is their duty but what i find extraordinary is the amount of sacrifice as the war
progresses in the community itself is bankrupt there is a tremendous amount of pressure to return home that many of these men continue to surface against all odds and i find that extraordinary. >> we are here at mount vernon what is it like between glover in washington? and with that frank relationship what do we know? >> as mount vernon insiders know well. >> that relationship is important and it is why they are the indispensable's that relationship forged early 1775
in a giant mentioned that washington takes over with headquarters in the marble headers are in some ways are the first to guard the headquarters and they request them ase time goes on. he forms a very intimate relationship of trust with john glover and at the time of gives who later becomes in charge of the commander-in-chief guard. this relationship is incredibly important. washington can trust the's men at the most crucial inflection points of the war the american dunkirk he places hishe entire trust on the shoulders of the marblehead man.
washington asks glover can you bring us across the river? he said don't worry about that. my boys have got it. theyey had it. they had h that confidence in his man and washington had confidence in the marble headers. if washington was the indispensable man and they were the men of the revolution. >> and that experience before the war broke out? and to be that regiment baby
came? >>ca and had undergone that unit to train in the ground in and around marblehead and not necessarily taken very seriously to drink punch after the training but what really forged these men which is arguably the greatest fighting units you take arms for the united states is the experience prior too the war and the merchants and also mother nature and the greatest at the time. the grand banksrk were
unforgiving. every year hundreds of men would die from the sea. in these hard men were tough americans. they were very tough individuals. >> where anyone involved in any campaigns? >> . >> and then waited operate in the north primarily? there were a handful of individuals that would serve inut the south because they traveled that way one way or
another p but and then to operate in the south but the story is the marblehead men and of that special operation that they had conducted and with the british at the battle of brooklyn where several have died or perished to have the flaming ships directly into british battleships. and one of those marble headers perished in the process. >> . >> in listening to your
but one of the leadership traits that they had written as somebody they would be willing to do they lead from the very front in many cases. and then you can sacrifice their lives and that leadership is essential and a lesson we can understand from today. >> my camera is gone but any closing words you want to say about your research project. >> thank you to everybody. i really want to thank the ladies of mount vernon for
sponsoring me and allowing me to really conduct research area and i think one of the finest facilities in america and is one of the greatest. i've never found a better place to write . here at the house. it's a special place. and i'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to be here and to conduct the research and to write this book. >> the book everyone is "the indispensables". the first soldier mariners who formed the navy and road washington across the delaware. this is the official book release and we're thrilled to have patrick here to talk about this book. buy it now, we have it available at the mount vernon