If you walk by the statue of General John Glover (November 5, 1732 - January 30, 1797) on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall near Berkeley Street (map) this week, stop for a moment to say thank you. Three times, Glover and his “amphibious” regiment of Marblehead fishermen saved the American Revolution.
The famous painting of that Christmas Day event focuses on George Washington standing bravely in the bow of a small boat. The painting is filled with historic inaccuracies. The boat is the wrong size and shape. And, diaries describe the weather as an awful mix of rain, sleet, and snow.
It is the depiction of a critical moment in the American Revolution. A moment when a small group of Massachusetts fishermen, led by Glover, accomplished a very difficult task that was a key to winning the war. Glover and his men ferried the Americans safely across the river, so that Washington could lead a surprise attack on British troops in Trenton, New Jersey.
Now that you know how important the men rowing were, look at the determined boatmen instead of Washington.
John Glover was known as a stylish dresser and that is how sculptor Martin Milmore portrayed him in this statue.
Escape from Brooklyn
Washington had good reason to trust Glover. He and his men had been tested and had proven their skills in August of that year. After the disastrous Battle of Long Island, it was this regiment that organized and conducted a successful evacuation, bringing 9,000 troops and supplies across the treacherous East River without a casualty.
The Battle of Pelham
And, that October, Glover led his men into a day-long fight where they battled with such tenacity and ferociousness that author David McCullough, in his book 1776, wrote that the Americans appeared to have “... stunned [British General] Howe, leading him to conclude that, with stone walls lining every road and adjacent field, more deadly fire could be waiting at any turn."
Thus, John Glover earned his inclusion in this place of honor. And, it seems appropriate that he stands just two blocks from George Washington who trusted and respected him and his men.
In an upcoming post, we'll tell you a bit about this statue and Martin Milmore, the young Irishman who created it.
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Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino (adapted from a previously published newspaper article)
Photography: © 2010-2013 Penny & Ed Cherubino