At the tail end of January every year, members of Glover’s Regiment muster around the Old Town House, 1 Market Square, before they march through the town’s historic streets to Gen. John Glover’s tomb atop Old Burial Hill.
The funeral march pays homage to the Revolutionary War general whose regiment carried out the military operation that ferried George Washington and his army across the Delaware River on Christmas Day in 1776. The Delaware Crossing allowed the Continental Army to launch a sneak attack against sleeping Hessian soldiers and secure its first major victory in 1776.
Many of the men in Glover’s regiment were Marbleheaders, and their actions at this turning point of the war remain a source of town pride.
To pay homage to Glover and the Revolutionary War veterans buried at Old Burial Hill, the present-day Glover’s Regiment carries out the funeral march on the Saturday closest to Glover’s death at 64 on Jan. 30, 1797.
“The Regiment always held the march on the 30th of January,” said Larry Sands, a member of the re-enactment group. “We started having it on the Saturday closest [to his death] because we have members coming from a distance.”
Seamus Daly, the re-enactment group’s captain, said the funeral march overlaps with twilight, creating a solemn aura around the marchers and the trail of people behind them.
“It’s a pretty poignant ceremony,” said Daly. “I just feel like we’re stepping back into history as we march down Old Town streets, making it all the more memorable.”
The Historic District comes alive as the re-enactors clad in 18th-century garb process through the town’s streets to the beat of a drum. Children peek out windows. Homeowners step outside their front door. Others join in the procession.
The Marblehead Messenger in 1977 quoted the late member Ed Bauer, “When you’re part of the Regiment, you feel like you have one foot in two centuries.”
“This is something that the Regiment has done every year since they formed in 1974,” Sands said, adding that the funeral march is sacrosanct. “The Regiment’s members back then said even if there were two guys left alive, they would still do this.”
Daly and Sands welcome the public to join the regiment on Saturday, Jan. 28. People only need to show up at 4:45 p.m. at the Old Town House.
When the assemblage reaches Old Burial Hill, “we’ll do a speech commemorating Glover’s life,” said Daly.
“We’ll pray for Glover and the members we’ve lost in the past year,” Daly said. “We’ll render honors, and then we will march back.”
This year’s funeral march follows the release of a report that Glover’s tomb requires $3,500 worth of conservation work.
“The base, constructed from modern bricks, is in good condition, but the mortar joints are beginning to open up,” the report reads. “The marble top is covered with biological growths but is in very good condition.”
The report also notes, “No foundation or brick vault is visible below the base, indicating that this may not be the original location of this tomb.”