20 October 2023

An American Privateer in the Family

Brigadier General John Glover
 In the public domain, found at wikipedia commons

The American Revolution Institute defines privateers as privately owned armed merchant ships that were authorized by the Continental Congress with a “letter of marque” to attack enemy ships. 

The most famous American Revolution privateer is John Paul Jones. My connection to privateers is Brigadier General John Glover (1732-1797). John Glover was the son of Jonathan Jr. (1702-1737) and Tabitha Bacon. 

John Glover settled in Marblehead, Massachusetts and went on to be a well-known privateer having developed a relationship with George Washington.

He is most famous for his regiment rowing Washington across the Delaware, the Battle of Long Island, and for leading one of the first integrated regiments in the American Revolution. His regiment participated in many American Revolutionary War events.

Model of the USS Hannah at United States Navy Museum
Source: Sturmvogel 66, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

During the siege of Boston, George Washington chartered Glover's boat Hannah to raid British supply boats. The Hannah has been called the first vessel of the Continental Navy.

Glover's regiment became the 14th Continental Regiment. It was comprised of about five hundred men from the Marblehead area. The men were Native Americans, Jewish, African Americans, and Spanish sailors, fishermen, and mariners. 

Source: Emanuel Leutze, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Glover's most remembered heroism is when his regiment was the one to take Washington's army across the Delaware River in a surprise attack at the Battle of Trenton.

Originally, Glover turned down the promotion to Brigadier General but after George Washington's personal request accepted it. A letter from Washington to Glover dated 26 April 1777 is transcribed at Founders Online. Much can be found online about Glover and his regiment. See a partial list of resources below.

Glover was known as a sailor, soldier, merchant, radical Whig, ship owner, militia colonel, overlooked hero, most elegantly dressed officer, and patriot. I am proud to have Brigadier General John Glover as a member of my family history.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14th_Continental_Regiment
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Hannah
  3. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-09-02-0257
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEWpzUykMrY&t=2s
  5. https://www.history.com/news/american-privateers-revolutionary-war-private-navy
  6. https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/john-glover-sailor-soldier-patriot.htm
  7. https://allthingsliberty.com/2013/07/overlooked-hero-general-john-glover/#:~:text=Glover's%20regiment%20joined%20the%20colonial,with%20proper%20muskets%20and%20bayonets.
  8. https://allthingsliberty.com/2019/09/massachusetts-privateers-during-the-siege-of-boston/
  9. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/john-glover-and-marblehead-men-massachusetts
  10. https://www.sagu.edu/thoughthub/forgotten-revolutionary-war-hero-john-glover/

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