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Marblehead Soldiers, Sailors and POW’s in the American Revolution

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Background of the project:

As submitted by Richard W. Carlson
President Marblehead Museum and Historical Society
2007 -2012

Old Burial Hill was established in 1638 at the site of Marblehead’s First Meeting House. For generations this was Marblehead’s primary burial ground. Over the years the elements and vandalism took its toll on what many consider the most picturesque graveyards in New England. The Old Burial Hill Oversight Committee was formed in 2009 for the purpose of supervising a survey of Old Burial Hill to evaluate existing conditions and determine necessary conservation and treatment of the Old Burial Hill and its gravestones. In the winter of 2010, the firm Building and Monument Conservation was retained by the Town of Marblehead to develop a preservation plan for the Old Hill Burying Ground. The Project was funded in part with an MPPF Assessment Grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

The key components to the preservation plan as identified in the Request for Proposals issued by the town were:

a) a stone by stone conditions assessment of each marker with recommendations for conservation treatments, priorities and budgets for the recommended treatments entered into a searchable database
b) a review of the existing historic map and re-working of the map to indicate the current locations of the markers and monuments
c) a Cultural Landscape Report
d) a complete transcription of the gravestones
e) photographs of each marker, tomb etc.
f) a report that identifies overall priorities for the long term preservation of the burial ground and includes a maintenance plan.

The Marblehead Museum and Historical Society believed that this project deserved our support and invited Ivan Myjer, the principle of the Building and Monument Conservation, to speak at our 2010 Annual Meeting. During his presentation, Mr. Myjer brought up the issue of the sign at the foot of hill erected by the WPA in the 1930’s, which states that 600 Revolutionary Soldiers are interred at Old Burial Hill. He first stated that he didn’t believe they were buried there and secondly that Marblehead had that many Patriots. He said if we did have that many then we should identify them or cut the sign down. I responded by saying that John White Chadwick published a brief history of Marblehead in the late 1800’s in which he stated that prior to the Revolution, Marblehead had 1500 registered voters. At the end of the War they had 700 registered voters 500 widows and 1000 fatherless children.
The decision was made to accept Ivan’s challenge and attempt to identify Marblehead’s Patriots. Lynne Ambrose, 1St Vice President, agreed to manage the project. Wayne Arvidsen a new member of Glovers Regiment heard of our decision and provided us with a computerized roster of Glover’s Regiment as listed in Rhode’s History of Marblehead. Our initial plan was to recruit volunteers to research these names and validate them using Marblehead Vital Records, DAR Records and the 17  volumes of “Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War ” which was complied from original records located in the State and National archives prepared and published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth in 1899. Our intentions were publicized and we began the process with 25 volunteers each of which were given 25 names from Rhodes. From the beginning there were a number of issues trying to use town records and the Rhodes information, from duplication, to improper spellings to just plain wrong information.
After reviewing the information submitted it became apparent that the most reliable source was the Mass Soldiers and Sailors Volumes. (It should be noted that these volumes contain a preface acknowledging duplications and discrepancies. Click here to access Archives of the volumes.) During the process it was determined that there were many names of additional Patriots in addition to those listed in Rhodes. A computer program was used to sort and identify all individuals listed who were associated with Marblehead. A dedicated group of 8 volunteers took on the task of vetting the information. This effort yielded over 1,000 Patriots who were listed as associated with Marblehead. As a final project a list was compiled of those listed in Mass soldiers and Sailors who are interred at Burial Hill. {a statement about Number}. This research proves that there were over 600 revolutionary Patriots. The question remains where are they buried. According to Dave Rodgers the Veterans Administrator, there are 116 buried in Marblehead. 71 at Burial Hill, 22 at Green St., 21 at Harris St. and 1 at Waterside. One can assume that they moved away after the war, were killed in battle or died in prison. In Edwin C. Partridge’s book “Forgotten Patriots” he states that 6,800 Patriots were killed in battle and 18,000 died in prison. In either of the last two cases their bodies would not have been brought home.
What started out as a seemingly straight forward project became a monumental task. There is much still that can be done to find out more about our Patriots. Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers we are able to recognize those individuals from our small town who sacrificed so much for the freedom we enjoy today and the sign although not necessarily correct should remain in place as a monument for all the Marblehead Patriots.

The Marblehead Museum would like to thank the following volunteers for their persistent effort with this project:
33599_484056239858_6586881_nLynne Ambrose
Marge Armstrong
Joseph Brophy
Christopher Cavalieri
Priscilla Fullerton
Maria Guider
Nancy Hench
Brian Hitchcock
Rick Holland
Jake Knight
Sherman Kramer
Joan McDuff
Mike Meehan
Doug Ryder
Timothy Smith

It is the hope of these volunteers that “Marblehead Soldiers, Sailors and POW’s in the American Revolution” will be a useful source document for understanding Marblehead’s deep involvement in the American Revolutionary War.The scope of this research project expanded from the original goal of documenting the exact population of soldiers born in Marblehead and fighting in the American Revolution to be a reasonably accurate tabulation acknowledging and documenting questions of duplication of names and service of men who were born, enlisted or moved through Marblehead during the Revolutionary War.It is safe to say that military service during the years of the Revolutionary War, 1775 through 1783 was fluid in nature making exact documentation impossible without researching the original source documents such as company roosters, pay records and ship manifests. Some of the original source documents, located at the National Archives, in Waltham, Massachusetts, have been digitized but most are on microfilm. At this point, it would be a long and arduous task to try and investigate all pertinent historical documents and records located in the Archives for the purpose of verifying name, rank, type and term of service for almost 1000 men.

For additional explanation, please click here for a glossary of terms that were used to describe the various types of service rendered by the Marblehead contingent of soldiers and sailors.

Click on theblue links below for pdf.s of the research:

Marblehead Soldiers, Sailors and POW’s in the American Revolution

MSSPAR Vol 1
MSSPAR Vol 2
MSSPAR Vol 3
MSSPAR Vol 4
MSSPAR Vol 5
MSSPAR Vol 6
MSSPAR Vol. 7
MSSPAR Vol 8
MSSPAR Vol.9
MSSPAR Vol.10
MSSPAR Vol 11
MSSPAR Vol.12
MSSPAR Vol.13
MSSPAR Vol.14
MSSPAR Vol.15
MSSPAR Vol.16
MSSPAR Vol.17
MSSPAR Sums

Glover’s Regiment Company Cumulative Roster

Revolutionary War Prisoners of War from Marblehead
This list of Marblehead sailors confined in Old Mill Prison, England during the Revolution was copied by permission from a manuscript journal kept by William Russell of Boston, who was private secretary to Commodore Manly on board the ship Jason.