USS Marblehead C-11 - History

USS Marblehead C-11 - History

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USS Marblehead C-11

Marblehead II
(C-11: dp. 2,072; 1. 269'6"; b. 37'; dr. 14'6", sp. 18 k. colt 274; a. 9 5", 6 6 pdr., 2 1-pdr., 2 mg.; cl. Detroit)

The second Marblehead, an unarmored cruiser, was laid down in October 1890 by City Point Works, Boston, Mass. launched 11 August 1892; sponsored by Mrs. C. F. Allen and commissioned 2 April 1894, Comdr. Charles O'Neil in command.

Assigned to the North Atlantic Station, Marblehead departed Nev York 6 June 1894 for the Caribbean to protect American lives and property threatened by a change of government in Nicaragua. Arriving Bluefield 19 June, the ship found that city to be the point of greatest danger. On 7 July, in response to dispatches from the American consul, she put ashore a landing party of marines and bluejackets to keep order and protect American interests. Reinforced by a second party 31 July, this force remained ashore until 7 August. Five days later, Marblehead departed Bluefields to continue cruising the Caribbean, showing the flag in Latin American waters until 26 November, when she departed Port Royal, Jamaica, for Hampton Roads, Va., arriving 6 December.

The cruiser stood out from Norfolk 4 March 1895 for duty on the European Station. Sailing via the Azores the ship arrived Gibraltar on the 31st. During April and May, she cruised the Mediterranean, spending much time on patrol in Syrian waters, and then steamed for Germany to represent the United States at the opening of the Kiel Canal 20 June. For the next 5 months, the ship cruised along the coast of western Europe and in the Mediterranean steaming over 11,000 miles and visiting more than 40 foreign ports. Marblehead returned to the United States, anchoring at Tompkinsville, N.Y., 23 November 1890.

On 1 February 1897, the ship was again assigned to the North Atlantic Station, and for the remainder of the year cruised the east coast and the Caribbean in training. At the outbreak of the Spanish American war, Marblhead was at Key West, Fla. Immediately sailing for Cuban waters, she arrived off Havana 23 April 1898 and then proceeded to Cienfuegos where she shelled enemy vessels and fort)flcations on the "9th. After joining the blockading squadron, she put the cables off Cienfuegos 11 May, and then patrolled off Santiago de Cuba until the beginning of June. In company with schooner-rigged cruiser Yankee, Marblehead captured the lower bay of Guantanamo as a base for the fleet 7 June, and on the 10th supported the landing of a battalion of Marines there. Continuing operations in the bay, she helped battleship Texas destroy the Spanish fort on Cayo del Toro 15 June.

The ship remained in Cuban waters until 2 September, when she sailed for the St. Lawrence River 20 October to participate in ceremonies opening the Champlain monument in Quebec. She repaired at Boston Navy Yard from 2 November 1898 to 9 February 1899, and, following a brief cruise to the Caribbean, proceeded through the Straits Of Magellan 16 June to join the Pacific .Squadron 4 July. She cruised off the coast of South America, Mexico, and California until she decommissioned at Mare Island Navy Yard 30,April 1900.

Marblehead recommissioned 10 November 1902 to devote the next 4 years to cruising along the west coast off North and South America, from Alaska to Chile On training and protocol missions. From October 1903 to March 1904, she served as flagship of Rear Adm. Henry Glass, Commander of the Pacific Squadron. The cruiser decommissioned at Mare Island Navy Yard 1 October 1906 and remained at the yard until 31 March 1910, when she was loaned to the California Naval Militia as a training ship. She was placed in commission in reserve 22 July 1911, and in 1916 was turned over to the Oregon Naval Militia as training ship for that State.

Marblehead was again placed in full commission 6 April 1917 at the navy yard, Puget Sound, Wash., and on 4 May was ordered to the Pacific Patrol Force. She was employed on convoy, patrol, and survey duty, operating off Mexico and in search of possible German raiders in the California area until 11 June 1918, when she proceeded via the Panama Canal to Key West for duty with the American patrol detachment. Arriving They West 22 June, the ship spent the remainder of World War I in the Caribbean, engaged in escort and patrol duty. Detached from patrol duty 4 December, the veteran cruiser steamed to join Division 2, Pacific Fleet. She arrived Mare Island 17 February 1919 and decommissioned 21 August. Reclassified PG-27 in July 1920, Marblehead was sold 6 August 1921.

World War II Database

ww2dbase USS Marblehead entered US Navy service in 1924. Prior to the opening of the Pacific War, she held her shakedown cruise in the English Channel and the Mediterranean Sea visited Samoa, Society Islands, Australia, Galápagos Islands, Nicaragua, Hawaii, Shanghai and Hankou in China, Japan and then served with Pacific, Atlantic, and Asiatic Fleets of the US Navy in the 1930s. She was anchored at Tarakan, Borneo, Dutch East Indies when the war broke out. Sailing alongside of Dutch and Australian warships, she screened Allied shipping in the Dutch East Indies in the opening days of the war. During the Battle of Makassar Strait on 4 Feb 1942, she successfully maneuvered through three Japanese aerial attacks, but the fourth wave scored two bomb hits and one near miss, killing 15 men and wounding 84. She suffered a list to starboard, a few fires, and jammed rudder, but survived the battle. After repairs were completed at Simon's Town, South Africa between Mar and Apr 1942 and New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York, United States between May and Oct 1942, she was assigned to the South Atlantic Force based in Recife and Bahia, Brazil. She would remain in Brazil until Feb 1944, after which date she patrolled the North Atlantic Ocean until being relocated to the Mediterranean Sea to support the Allied invasion of Southern France. Upon the completion of Operation Dragoon, she returned to the United States. She was decommissioned after the war in Nov 1945, and was sold for scrap in Feb 1946.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Dec 2014

Light Cruiser Marblehead (CL-12) Interactive Map

Marblehead Operational Timeline

4 Aug 1920 The keel of Marblehead was laid down by William Cramp and Sons in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.
9 Oct 1923 Marblehead was launched in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, sponsored by the wife of Joseph Evans.
8 Sep 1924 USS Marblehead was commissioned into service with Captain Chauncey Shackford in command.
16 Dec 1925 Captain William Siebel Miller was named the commanding officer of USS Marblehead, replacing Captain Chauncey Shackford.
11 Oct 1927 Captain Harry Kimball Cage was named the commanding officer of USS Marblehead.
1 Jun 1929 Captain Ralph A. Koch was named the commanding officer of USS Marblehead, replacing Captain Harry Kimball Cage.
29 Dec 1930 Captain William Rea Furlong was named the commanding officer of USS Marblehead, replacing Captain Ralph A. Koch.
16 May 1939 USS Marblehead arrived at Gulangyu island, an international settlement off Xiamen, China in response to the arrival of a Japanese Special Naval Landing Force detachment nearby. She disembarked a contingent of US Marines.
28 Nov 1941 USS Marblehead arrived at Tarakan, Borneo, Dutch East Indies.
8 Dec 1941 While at Tarakan, Borneo, Dutch East Indies, USS Marblehead received the alert that Japan had started hostilities.
24 Jan 1942 During the night, USS Marblehead screened the withdrawal of a force of Dutch and American warships after those ships had successfully attacked a Japanese convoy off Balikpapan, Borneo, Dutch East Indies.
4 Feb 1942 USS Marblehead suffered two bomb hits and one near miss during the Battle of Makassar Strait, killing 15 men and wounding 84. She suffered a list to starboard, a few fires, and jammed rudder, but survived the battle.
21 Feb 1942 USS Marblehead arrived at Trincomalee, Ceylon.
2 Mar 1942 USS Marblehead departed Trincomalee, Ceylon.
24 Mar 1942 USS Marblehead arrived at Simon's Town, South Africa to repair damages sustained during the Battle of Makassar Strait.
15 Apr 1942 USS Marblehead departed Simon's Town, South Africa.
4 May 1942 USS Marblehead arrived at New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York, United States to repair damages sustained during the Battle of Makassar Strait.
15 Oct 1942 USS Marble completed her repairs New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York, United States and departed for South America.
20 Feb 1944 USS Marblehead arrived in New York, United States.
29 Jul 1944 USS Marblehead arrived in Palermo, Sicily, Italy.
15 Aug 1944 USS Marblehead bombarded Axis positions near Saint-Raphaël, France.
16 Aug 1944 USS Marblehead bombarded Axis positions near Saint-Raphaël, France.
17 Aug 1944 USS Marblehead bombarded Axis positions near Saint-Raphaël, France.
18 Aug 1944 USS Marblehead arrived at Corsica, France.
1 Nov 1945 USS Marblehead was decommissioned from service.
28 Nov 1945 Marblehead was struck from the US Navy Register.
27 Feb 1946 Marblehead was sold for scrap.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Mike Groscup says:
7 Dec 2019 07:22:50 PM

My father Ben H Groscup was assigned to this ship and I believe he was one of the 84 seaman injured. Any information on this would be appreciated, thanks Mike Groscup

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

The U.S. Asiatic Fleet

The USS Marblehead was an Omaha-class light cruiser, designed during the First World War and commissioned in 1923. Intended to serve as a long-range scout for the main force of battleships and heavy cruisers, Marblehead and her sisters were optimized for speed and endurance. They originally carried 12 six-inch guns, mounted in a pair of two-gun turrets and eight casement mounts – an arrangement more appropriate to the Spanish-American War than World War Two.

By the late 1930s, Omaha cruisers were thoroughly obsolete, though Marblehead herself could still approach her designed speed of 34 knots.

Marblehead had been assigned to the U.S. Asiatic Fleet in 1938, as China’s peasant armies struggled to stem the Japanese invasion of their country. For the next three years her officers and crew, along with the rest of the Asiatic Fleet, watched nervously as diplomatic relations between Washington and Tokyo deteriorated. All the while, the Imperial Japanese Navy strengthened its fleet with modern ships and aircraft, gained combat experience and perfected the world’s most potent aircraft carrier strike force.

Meanwhile, America’s Asiatic Fleet remained woefully weak, with just a pair of cruisers – Marblehead and Houston – 12 aging destroyers, 15 submarines and a motley collection of obsolete river craft, escort vessels, minesweepers, tenders and patrol planes.

But even with a war against Japan drawing ever-more certain, the U.S. Navy could not spare additional vessels to shore up its forces in the Far East. American war plans called for the Asiatic Fleet to fight a rear-guard delaying action, supporting U.S. ground forces in the Philippines as long as possible, after which it would retreat south to support the defence of Singapore and the Dutch East Indies. If those efforts failed, its ships would withdraw to Australia.

But when war came, the power and speed of the Japanese advance shocked the Allies. Eight U.S. battleships were sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and British naval power in Asia was broken with the loss of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales to Japanese air attacks on Dec. 8. U.S. airpower in the Philippines was virtually destroyed the same day, and the American naval base at Cavite in Manila Bay was wrecked by Japanese air attacks on Dec. 10. Before the war was even four days old, any hope for an effective naval defence of the Philippines as gone.

Within weeks, the U.S. Asiatic Fleet became part of a hastily organized American, British, Dutch and Australian joint naval force dubbed the ABDA Command. Unsurprisingly, the group’s aging ships and untrained crews would prove no match for the disciplined, superbly trained and well-equipped Japanese.

If ABDA had been established a year or two sooner, if its units had ever worked together and established communications and operational protocols, if the nations involved had agreed on a common strategy and if the various senior leaders had put aside personal animosities, perhaps it could have mounted a stouter defence.

As it was though, the brief, inglorious history of ABDA was a sad tale of neglect, hubris and hopeless courage in the face of overwhelming Japanese power, leaving the crews of individual ships – including Marblehead – to pay the price.

The end would come quickly for ABDA, but not without a fight.

On Jan. 24, 1942, four U.S. destroyers attacked a Japanese landing force at Balikpapan, sinking four transports and a patrol boat.

Marblehead had originally been assigned to participate in the attack, but engine problems forced her out of the line-up. She was replaced by USS Boise, a recent addition to the ABDA fleet.

But on the day before the attack, Boise struck an uncharted coral head in the Sapi Strait, damaging her hull and forcing her to withdraw to Ceylon for repairs. She, too, would survive the coming disaster. Marblehead was quickly assigned in her stead, but was not able to reach Balikpapan in time to join the attack.

A second attack against Japanese transport shipping planned for Jan. 31 was cancelled when a U.S. scout plane discovered that the enemy force at Balikpapan had been reinforced by additional cruisers and destroyers. So, the Allies assembled a larger force of four cruisers – including Marblehead – and seven destroyers and headed for Makassar Strait.

USS Marblehead

Whenever daring deeds of the sea are recalled, the saga of the U.S.S. Marblehead commands respect.

Mauled by Japanese bombs just after the U S. entry into World War ll, the ship was saved by her crew and — after a 9,000-mile voyage to safety and a complete refit — returned to the fight. At a time when many mightier warships were left rusting among the Pacific corals, the Marblehead was saved by courageous leadership, desperate toil, and good fortune.

The Marblehead was a light cruiser. Launched in 1923, she was built for speed — 555 feet long, 55 feet in beam, and quadruple screwed. At 35 knots, she was a stirring sight: the slender bow threw up a dramatic wave, while above, bristling guns, spidery tripod masts, and four smoking funnels presented a dashing profile. She carried ten 6-inch guns, six poking from embrasures in the superstructure, four in twin turrets fore and aft. Seven 3-inch guns, eight machine-guns, and a full complement of torpedoes completed her armament.

From 1938 on, the Marblehead was stationed in the Far East, a hotbed of confrontation with the Japanese. She helped protect American lives and property in this war-torn region. While the Japanese overran much of China and the Southwestern Pacific, the U.S. fielded only two cruisers (Houston and Marblehead), 13 over-age destroyers and minesweepers, and fleet auxiliaries, based at Cavite in the Philippines.

In November 1941, Admiral Hart ordered the Asiatic Fleet dispersed. Hence, none of the important U.S. units was caught in surprise air raids on Manila, synchronized with the Pearl Harbor attack. The Marblehead was at Tarakan, Dutch Borneo, when news came of hostilities between the United States and Japan. Stripped for action, she sailed at dawn on December 8, 1941. Later that morning a flying fish sailed through one of her open portholes — an omen of disaster in Oriental superstition. Soon after, the ship received a radio bulletin reporting itself sunk!

Her duties in those first desperate months reflected the Allies’ weakness in Asia. The Marblehead prepared for several missions which were aborted when the Japanese concentrated superior forces. Finally, in February 1942, the Allies gathered all their warships in the East Indies for a sortie against Japanese shipping. The force — including the Marblehead , the heavy cruiser Houston, two Dutch cruisers under Admiral Doorman, and seven destroyers — sailed for the Makassar Straits on February 3, 1942.

According to the formulas of speed and firepower then used to calculate odds on naval engagements, this task force matched the Japanese fleet opposing it. But — as the record showed — surface forces in the 1940s required air cover, and there the Japanese held a decisive edge. Save for a few small scouting planes, the Allies had no air support. When 40 Japanese bombers droned overhead en route to Surabaja, a port on the easternmost tip of Java, there were no American interceptors to challenge the lone plane which lingered to reconnoiter the task force.

Enemy Planes Were Sighted

Shortly after 9 a.m. on February 4, word arrived that Japanese planes had been sighted at 9:49, the Marblehead’s bridge lookouts counted 36 twin-engine bombers, emblazoned with the Rising Sun, symbolic of Japan’s awesome rise to Pacific Ocean superiority.

The Air Defense alarm sounded through the ship. Half-dressed men dashed to their battle stations. The intercom barked, “Set Condition Zed!” and the crew made all compartments watertight. Topside, 4,000 gallons of aviation fuel was jettisoned to make the Marblehead lighter and more maneuverable.

Ammunition for the Marblehead’s three-inch guns had to be passed hand-to-hand from the magazines men bent to the task with a will as enemy planes began roaring over. On the bridge, a junior aviator advised Captain Robinson of the enemy planes’ movements. As battle began, the four Allied ships scattered, and the Japanese planes divided into four squadrons, one for each cruiser.

As the first squadron passed overhead, the Marblehead heeled under hard left rudder, making flank speed. Within a minute, nine more planes bore down, straddled by puffs of flak. When they released their bombs, Robinson ordered flank speed and 15 degrees of right rudder. The bombs shrieked down.

“It’s going to be very close,” said Gunnery Officer Cmdr. Nicholas Van Bergen.

“Bombs coming. Seek cover. Lie flat,” came over the intercom.

Men looked up from quivering decks to see columns of foam leaping up just a hundred feet away. The captain’s wily maneuver had spared them this time. As the Japanese planes passed, one began to trail smoke. Damaged, the plane veered around and aimed for the ship, intent on a kamikaze crash. Cursing, the gunners concentrated their fire on the wounded giant as it grew closer… closer… within machine-gun range. Then, abruptly, it dropped straight into the sea, blasted apart by American fire. Their spirits fully roused, the men cheered heartily.

But deliverance was only momentary. The bombers began a fresh run, releasing their deadly freight at 10:26. This time they would not miss.

The next instant, the Marblehead leaped clean out of the sea from the impact of three hits. Armor-piercing bombs hit forward, amidships, and aft. Wrapping himself around the wheel, Quartermaster Kelly alone on the bridge kept his footing. By the time the others staggered to their feet, the ship was ablaze from every scuttle and ventilator.

In two minutes the ship was listing eight degrees to starboard-within 15 minutes, 11 degrees. She was down by the bow, rolling sluggishly. Communications were out. Worst of all, she did not answer her helm, but continued circling madly to port.

Only Luck Could Help

As the ship’s officers fanned out to assess damage, they were hampered by the lack of light and communications, the choking smoke and scalding steam, and wreckage blocking passages. Reconstructing the situation, we can see it was providential that the ship survived at all any one of the three bombs could have blasted her to eternity.

The damage forward came from a bomb which exploded underwater and blew a nine-foot hole into the starboard side at the forward magazine. The incoming seawater wet the ammunition just in time to prevent the detonation of the magazine. But the ship began to flood rapidly as the big hole scooped in water under high pressure.

The second bomb — detonated prematurely by striking the gunwale of a whaleboat opposite Number One funnel — exploded in the wardroom one deck below. Had it simply pierced the deck this bomb would have gone off further below — inside a half-empty oil bunker — certainly dooming the vessel. As it was, the blast wrecked the wardroom, sick bay, and officer’s cabins, setting everything ablaze.

The bomb which hit aft punctured the fantail, exploding inside the hand steering station two decks down. Foiled by the armored barbette of the after six-inch turret, the blast was deflected into the V-shaped stern, ripping away bulkheads and deck plating. An armored bulkhead, whipping in the blast, smashed the steering motors, freezing the hydraulic rams that positioned the rudder, and locking the ship into her hard left turn.

In the CPOs’ messroom two decks above the rudder, three men worked desperately to save the ship from annihilation. Flames threatened 18 cans of gunpowder left on the mess tables to help the after turret open fire promptly in action. Now the messroom was a nightmare of blazing oil and twisted steel. If that powder ignited, it would blow the stern off the ship and probably send her to the bottom of the Pacific.

Turret Captain Paul Martinek rushed into the breech with Shipfitter Paul Link and Seaman Claude Becker. A gorilla of a man, Becker wrenched open the jammed hatch by brute force. Stepping into the messroom, the men found the cans of gunpowder lodged immovably in the debris. Without hesitation Martinek opened the cans and removed the cloth bags of powder, which the men carried topside through the inferno and threw overboard. It took three trips to dispose of all the powder. Here was heroism indeed: In a pinch these men had ignored their own immediate safety and saved their ship.

All over the vessel, men were pulling trapped shipmates out of the wreckage, fighting the fires, bailing water. Electricians struggled to rig emergency power for portable pumps. Chief Electrician Walter Jarvis improvised lighting and communications. But as the pumps began sucking, he hurried aft to supervise attempts to free the rudder. Only when steering was restored, could the ship escape further bombing.

When he arrived in the stinking half-flooded hell-hole under the rudder, men were already at work. Floating corpses were illuminated eerily by intermittent flashes of gas leaking from shattered batteries and ignited by frayed electric cables. The plan was to drain hydraulic fluid from the system, freeing the jammed rams and working the rudder amidships. Men had to immerse themselves in a chest-high mixture of seawater and fuel oil and grope for the plugs on submerged machinery, while oil inflamed their eyes unbearably

Meanwhile, the Houston also suffered a serious hit, and the flagship De Ruyter was under attack. For the moment, the enemy planes ignored the Marblehead.

Aftermath of Battle

The bombers had departed shortly after noon, when the rudder was moved to an amidships position. At last the engines could steer the ship.

Now Captain Robinson considered how to save his command. The fires were under control, but 26 compartments were flooded, and 8 others were leaking. Patching the hull was top priority. The ship now drew too much water to negotiate the channel at Surabaja, the nearest port with a dockyard. The alternative was Tjilatjap on the south coast of Java, but to get there, the rudderless ship would have to pass through Lombok Strait, known for its treacherous currents.

The plight of the wounded — many badly burnt, lying in the filthy torpedo workshop — convinced the Captain to try Tjilatjap there was a Dutch hospital not far away. At 12:55 the Marblehead wheeled and headed there, escorted by two destroyers.

At dusk she arrived at the Strait. It took two tries to head her in, bucking the powerful currents. The destroyers dodged ahead, blinking instructions to the Marblehead as she threaded between coral heads in the tropical night with her navigational systems out, she could be conned by sight alone. Rain squalls blinded her, but as the second squall passed, she emerged into the Indian Ocean.

Below decks, the crew manhandled a monstrous steam pump out of the engine room and installed it forward. By dawn it was gaining on the waters. Electricians were rigging communications between bridge and guns, and the captain had just finished his coffee when a messenger handed him a radio signal: 40 Japanese planes were headed straight for him.

As Air Defense sounded, the dog-tired men tumbled to their stations, knowing this might be their last fight. No need for ammunition trains now all the undamaged shells were piled on deck. The crew knew a single hit could doom them.

But the Marblehead’s luck held. Omaha class cruisers such as the Marblehead resembled World War I-era four-stack destroyers. The Japanese pilots, sighting the old destroyer Paul Jones some miles astern of the Marblehead, mistook the “tin can” for their intended target and mounted a furious attack ignoring the bigger quarry limping along ahead.

Lt. Cmdr. Hourihan put his little destroyer through its paces, twisting, turning, and doubling back at breakneck speed while the Japanese threw everything they had at him. At times fountains of spray straddled his ship, entirely hiding her from sight. The feisty commander relayed a blow-by-blow account over the ship-to-ship radio to the Marblehead . After an hour of high-speed horseplay, the irreverent Hourihan reported, “Planes gone. Seven runs. No hits. All errors.”

Emergency Repairs Made

The next morning, February 6, the Marblehead made Tjilatjap, drawing 30 feet forward, 22 aft. The crew of the Houston cheered as their disabled but game companion was towed into the anchorage. A hospital train took off the wounded, and Admiral Hart flew in. Quickly inspecting the damage to the Marblehead he summed up his feelings by saying, “I’m proud to be in the same Navy with you.”

“Bull” Aschenbrenner, the burly, brawling shipfitter who had worked tirelessly in patching the ship and fighting her fires, cut up the jagged remains of the fantail, while the officers consulted with the dutchman responsible for Tjilatjap’s floating drydock. Unfortunately, it was too short to receive the cruiser’s hull. It would be possible to raise the bow for emergency repairs, but the stem would remain partly afloat, and gravity would tend to re-launch the ship in an uncontrolled fashion. Yet, since the alternative was to admit defeat, the officers elected to take the risk

After two false starts, the bows came clear, ammo belts dangling from the great hole forward like seaweed. Explosives were removed from the magazine and a temporary patch was welded on fast, for Tjilatjap was vulnerable to air attack and Japanese scout planes visited daily. A makeshift deck was rigged on the fantail, as was a device constructed to gauge the working of the hull. Life rafts were installed topside, just in case. By February 12, the captain itched to get away.

On February 13, the re-floated Marblehead stood down the harbor in tow. Suddenly the towline parted just outside the harbor: The rudderless ship was adrift in a minefield! Backing towards the still moving cruiser, the tug holed her forepeak. When the tug slipped astern, it was already too late to pass a fresh line to the Marblehead. But the unfazed Dutch pilot maneuvered her safely through the channel, steering by engine.

Because of the lively sea, it was impossible to repair the new leak, so the ship made for Trincomalee, Ceylon, where there was a naval dockyard. During the voyage, makeshift steering motors were improvised from bits of other motors wrecked in the battle. Electricity and fresh water were returned to parts of the ship, and a crude ice machine was fashioned.

On February 21, the ship steamed into Trincomalee, only to find the coveted dockyard booked for weeks. In harbor the new hole was patched by the Bull, who proudly welded on his initials when finished His workmanship was impeccable: The patch was left in place permanently.

By departure time on March 2, the rudder had been repaired, boosting morale and saving the turbines from the excessive wear caused by rapid reversals in steering. On March 15 the ship made Durban, South Africa, and liberty parties set out to celebrate. The Bull lived up to his reputation, overcoming five assailants single-handedly and cutting off their neckties as souvenirs.

The crew could breathe easy at last when the Marblehead docked at Simonstown, near Cape Town, South Africa. In the Royal Navy drydock a welding crew — including the Lord Mayor of Simonstown — worked around the clock. For several of the Marblehead crew, their liberty proved to be a romantic interlude, as they struck up relationships with local women. Nearly 20 marriages were performed!

Leaving for New York on April 15, the ship had an uneventful passage, touching at Recife, Brazil, for fuel. It was an emotional moment for the men when they steamed under Miss Liberty’s up-thrust torch, three months to the day since the desperate morning of February 4.

The crew’s exploits were well-known because President Franklin D. Roosevelt had singled them out as the subject of one of his fireside chats. In holding up the Marblehead’s men and those of the Houston (now sunk) as an inspiration to their countrymen, F.D.R. chose well. In that dark hour their determination, courage, and self-sacrifice shone with extra luster, providing genuine heroes for America.

The bells of Abbot Hall pealed the news to the Town in time the ship’s bell came to rest in Abbot Hall, but in the meantime the ship which bore the Town’s name had rendered useful service to her country. She emerged from Brooklyn Navy Yard in October 1942, modernized throughout, to patrol the sea lanes off Brazil. Later she escorted North Atlantic convoys and supported the invasion of France, earning two battle stars before being decommissioned in 1945. These three years of outstanding service were made possible by the skill and determination of her indomitable 1942 crew — ordinary men who, compelled by extraordinary circumstances, overcame their limitations and worked as a team to save their ship, regardless of personal risk, dedicated to a common cause.

This telegram was sent by the Japanese high command, announcing the sinking of USS Marbehead.

Larry Neilson is a photoghapher and writer living in Marblehead. He is a graduate of Vassar College, where he received honors in History, and has lived and studied in Japan. He is employed by the Ocean Research and Eductaion Society in Gloucester, owners of the tall ship Regina Maris, which is engaged in cetacean research. Neilson has authored several articles on jazz the story above is his first to reflect a lifelong interest in maritime history.

For additional sites with more information on and photographs of USS Marblehead and other maritime topics see below:

Perry, George Sessions and Isabell Leighton, Where Away: A modern Odyssey . (New York McGraw-Hill), c. 1944.

Department of the Navy. Naval History Division, Office of the CNO. Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, Vol. IV (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office), 1969.

The above photo came to us long after the above article was written. Courtesy of Dennis Curtin.

USS Marblehead C-11 - History

-- Marblehead's population of 4,386 was one of the largest in the Colonies.
-- January to July: Glover's Regiment is charged with improving fortifications in Beverly and guarding that important city.
-- May 19th: Captain James Mugford dies during a naval engagement in Boston Harbor. The British transport, "Hope," heavily laden with guns and ammunition, was taken by Mugford and his crew, as a prize into Boston. Leaving the harbor, the Franklin went aground,and was attacked by 200 armed sailors in boats from the nearby British fleet. The heroic crew beat off the attack with guns, pikes and cutlasses, causing the British to suffer a loss of 70 men. But during the fight, Captain Mugford was killed. Later that month, the schooner "Franklin" sails into Marblehead bearing his body.
-- July 20th: Reordered and renamed the 14th Continental Regiment, Glover's Regiment is ordered to march to New York to join General Sullivan's Brigade.
-- Mid August: Glover's Regiment is ordered to join Washington's Continental Army in New York just prior to the Battle of Long Island.
-- August 29th: 10:00 p.m. Glover Regiment begins the evacuation of Washington's army from Long Island and saves the army in less than 10 hours of skillful rowing and sailing in arduous conditions, avoiding being cut off by a stunned British force of 10 frigates and 20 gunboats and sllops of war. Had the evacuation failed, Washington's Army, Glover's Regiment and the American Revolution might easily have been lost, according to historians.
-- October: Glover was again called upon by the Commander-In-Chief to help the Continentals escape. During Washington's retrest from Harlem Heights, Glover's clever deployment of his men saved the Army from a vastly superior British force at Pelham Bay.
-- December 25th: At about 10:00 p.m. Washington begins the crossing of the Deleware with his ragtag army of 2000 soldiers and attacks 1200 Hessian mercenaries at Trenton again assisted and rowed by General John Glover and his famous Marblehead Regiment, saving the army and the revolution for the second time. Afterwards Colonel Glover was promoted to General.

1782 General John Glover retires and moves to estate of William Browne at the border of Marblehead and Swampscott. 1783 September 3: Colonies victorious, Revolutionary War ends. 1784 Lafayette visits Marblehead for the first time. 1787 September 17th: The Constitution is completed and signed by a majority of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Elbridge Gerry eloborates his eleven reasons for not signing, despite being one of the few delegates present to have signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. His participation and hesitation, along with others, to cede to a federal government individual and states "basic rights" led to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights and the ultimate ratification. 1788 June 21st: The Constitution of the United States goes into effect 1789 -- January 7th: First National election held
-- April 30th: George Washington is sworn in as the first President Of The United States on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City.
-- October 29th: President George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette visit Marblehead to thank the Town for its Revolutionary War sacrificies. "May your prosperity, in the preservation of that liberty so gloriously purchased, ever venerate the memory of their ancestors." -- Lafayette. Washington especially wanted to visit his retired General John Glover, now a Selectman, who led the crowds of people welcoming the President. In his message of thanks to Marblehead he wrote, "Your attachment to the Constitution of the United States is worthy of men, who fought and bled for freedom, and know its value."
-- Marblehead Academy built at 44 Pleasant Street, the first school building. The original structure was razed in 1879, and a new brick building built on the site. 1790 -- Robert "King" Hooper dies. The nickname applied to him, not so much, apparently, for his stately style of living as for his fairness and integrity in dealing with the sailors who manned his ships. His served on the Board of Selectmen in 1760 and as Town Moderator. He married four times and had eleven children (all with his first wife, the sister of Mrs. Jeremiah Lee). He was a loyalist forced to leave during revolution and lost all of his holdings and businesses. Died bankrupt.
-- The Town is beginning to think about improvements of Great Harbor Beach, which by this time is commonly called the Causeway. Sometime around 1727 had received some funding for a seawall. But access to the "Great Necke" was still subject to disruption. The state granted $4000 for the repair of the Causeway, to be repaid through a local lottery. 1791 December 15th: Bill Of Rights ratified. 1793 First Marblehead U. S. Post Office established, Thomas Lewis, Postmaster. 1794 August 25th: Town Meeting cedes the fort to the United States of America, Justice of the Peace Samuel Sewall was present at the release. 1795 September 7th: Benjamin Abbot born in Marblehead to his father Bejamin Abbot, a master mariner, and his mother, Marcia Martin. With the sad death of his mother, Benjamin steered his life away from his father's plans for him on the high seas towards a trade: barrel-making. Neither discouraged nor deterred by the fires the destroyed his shop he continued on his path towards success. He ultimately married, Olive Welch of New Hampshire, and as she died after 40 years of marriage, is quoted as saying that, "There was never an unkind word between us." When he died a wealthy man on Sepetember 29, 1872 at the age of 77, he left $14,800 to missionary and educational institutes, $70,000 to 62 relatives and friends, and, most significantly, nearly $100,000 to the Town of Marblehead, for the erection of a building, named after him, for the use of the Town's residents. He simply said of the reason for his generosity to Marblehead, "It was my birthplace." 1796 June 6th: Azor Orne dies and is entombed in the Green Street cemetery.
September 19th: Washington refuses a third term as President and gives his farewell address. 1797 -- John Marchant gave the Town $937 to help the poor of Marblehead and the Town ultimately built two schoolhouses, one named after him.
-- January 30th: General John Glover dies, age 65, living his final years as a cordwainer. A statue by the Irish-born sculptor Martin Milmore adorns Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Boston since 1875.
1798 Baker's Island light erected. 1799

-- May 2nd: Marblehead celebrates its 150th Anniversary of Incorporation.
-- December 14th: George Washington dies at Mount Vernon three years after retiring. The cause of his death may have been strep throat. The nation mourned his death for months.

Joseph Dixon born. He went on to found the Dixon Ticondaroga Pencil Company, 1827, in Salem and invented the mass production of lead pencils, hundreds, then thousands daily. His company sold their pencils door


Alus tilattiin 7. syyskuuta 1888 City Point Iron Worksiltä Bostonista Massachusettsista, missä köli laskettiin lokakuussa 1890 [1] . Alus laskettiin vesille 11. elokuuta 1892 kumminaan rouva C. F. Allen ja otettiin palvelukseen 2. huhtikuuta 1894 päällikkönään Charles O'Neill. [2]

Palvelukseenotettaessa alus liitettiin Pohjois-Atlantin laivueeseen. Alus lähti 6. kesäkuuta 1894 New Yorkista Karibianmerelle, missä tehtävänä oli seurata Nicaraguan hallinnon vaihtoa. Alus saapui 19. heinäkuuta Bluefieldsiin, missä kaupunki oli vaarassa. [2]

Visiting & Town History

“Call it unique, picturesque, cussed, distinctive, pixilated, fascinating — that’s Marblehead, a town in love with liberty and rugged individualism. Its people and history, its crooked lanes and irregular houses, its customs and humor defy conformity and dullness. The irreligious settlers, the adventurous fishermen, the zealous patriots of 1776, the daring privateers of 1812, the clipper ship captains and yesteryear’s fish peddlers imbued their town with a spirit as hardy as the rocky peninsula itself.”

This opening paragraph from the book jacket of Marblehead – The Spirit of ’76 Lives Here by Priscilla Sawyer Lord and Virginia Clegg Gamage (1972), best describes Marblehead and its inhabitants, both past and present.

Early Settlers

Long before the first European settlers arrived in what was to become known as Marblehead, the area was inhabited by the Naumkeag Tribe, a group of Native Americans belonging to the Algonquin Nation. Led by the “Great Sachem” Nanepashemet, they named their settlement Massebequash. (Before acquiring the current name of Marblehead, the town was also known as Foy, Marble Harbor and Marvill Head.)

The first non-Native American settlers were British subjects who migrated from near-by Salem in the early 1600’s to escape the strict discipline of the intensely religious Puritans. They and the Naumkeags existed peacefully together in Massebequash.

An epidemic in 1615-1619, thought to be smallpox, devastated the Naumkeags. It is believed that eighty to ninety percent of the tribe succumbed to the disease. The epidemic did not spread to the few European settlers, who had developed immunity. Another smallpox epidemic in 1633 resulted in a further decline of the Native American population.

On December 12, 1648, a Salem Town Meeting voted, subject to the approval of the Massachusetts General Court, to grant Marblehead its complete independence from Salem. The area, which had previously been controlled by the Naumkeags, now had its own local governing body — a Board of Selectmen. On September 16, 1684 a deed of sale conveying the three thousand seven hundred acres now known as Marblehead from the Naumkeags to the town was signed by the rightful heirs of Nanepashmet. The price? Sixteen pounds, the then-current currency in New England.

The original deed can be found hanging in the Selectmen’s room at Abbot Hall.

“…the Greatest Towne for Fishing in New England.”

Marblehead prospered as an important fishing port with an abundance of fish just off its coast. Hearing about the availability of this rich commodity, vessels carrying fishermen and others from Cornwall in Great Britain and the Channel Islands arrived and their passengers settled in Marblehead. So abundant were the fish that the King’s Royal Agent, after visiting Marblehead in 1660, returned to England and declared that Marblehead was “…the Greatest Towne for Fishing in New England.”

Marblehead’s fisheries continued to grow. By 1837, the local fleet consisted of ninety-eight vessels, ninety-five of which were over fifty tons. Then the beginning of the end for the fishing industry blew across Marblehead. On September 19, 1846, while the Marblehead fleet prepared to haul its catch of cod from the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, a massive storm with hurricane-force gales caught the fleet by surprise. The crippled ships limped back to Marblehead, missing at least eleven vessels. Sixty-five men and boys had been lost and the decline of the fishing industry in Marblehead had begun.

Today, there are still many residents who make their living as fishermen and lobstermen, but the town will never again see the prosperous fishing industry that at one time had made Marblehead famous world-wide. However, Marblehead’s deep-rooted affection for the ocean would not end it would simply turn the attention away from fishing and towards sailing craft for pleasure and competition.

Marblehead Harbor boasts one of the finest displays of sailing craft anywhere. Over the years, the harbor has been both the starting and finishing port for numerous international races, including races between Marblehead and Kiel, Germany San Sebastian, Spain and Bermuda, as well as other national and international competitions. An annual race between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Marblehead, which began in 1905, continues to this day. And the yearly mid-summer Marblehead Race Week competition, which dates back to 1889, still attracts yachtsmen from around the world.

Marblehead, appropriately, has earned the title as the “Yachting Capital of the World.”

Seafaring History

Marblehead’s seafaring history also played an important role in the formation of our great nation. Becoming disenchanted with the control and increasing taxation that the British were imposing over the colonies, locals were readying themselves for a revolt.

Marblehead resident Col. John Glover organized a Marblehead Militia and was officially commissioned as head of the 21st Regiment on June 16, 1775, the day before the infamous battle for Bunker Hill. After Glover and his Regiment fought several skirmishes on land, General George Washington and Congress commissioned Colonel Glover to lease and arm merchant vessels.

Another Marbleheader, Nicholas Broughton, was put in command of Glovers’ ship Hannah and manned the vessel, America’s first Naval ship, with Marblehead seamen. The Hannah was outfitted at nearby Beverly and set sail on September 5, 1775 to engage the British Navy.

Colonel Glover commissioned four additional vessels into what he called “ye navy.” Three of these now-naval vessels were captained by Marbleheaders and were crewed by Marblehead mariners. America’s, and Marblehead’s, new naval fleet was now ready to take on the powerful British Navy.

Thus, Marblehead claims the disputed title of the Birthplace of the American Navy.

(The brave men of the now-General Glover’s Marblehead Regiment put their boating skills to the test again in 1776. On the evening of December 25, Glover’s Regiment rowed General George Washington across the stormy and treacherous waters of the Delaware River to surprise the English and Hessian troops in the Battle of Trenton. This scene is immortalized in the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware by artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, 1851 and also by the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware December 25th, 1776 by Marblehead native, William Thompson Bartoll. Both paintings are on display in the Selectmen’s Room in Abbot Hall.)

(Marblehead is also known as the Birthplace of Marine Aviation. W. Starling Burgess designed and built the first biplane — The Flying Fish — at his Marblehead boatyard. His obsession with air flight led him to build a “flying boat” with the first model taking a test flight over Marblehead Harbor in 1911. Having impressed officials in Washington, the U.S. Navy, as well as the Canadian Aviation Corps, placed orders for this new flying boat. By 1917, Burgess was summoned by the Navy Department to Washington to supervise and design the construction of the aeroplane. A plaque stands in Hammond Park at the end of Commercial Street, where the first flight took place.)

In 1814, Marblehead mariners and its famed harbor once again came to the rescue as the vessel USS Constitution was being pursued by two British frigates. Many of the crewmen were from Marblehead and, being familiar with the rocky waters, piloted the Constitution into the protection of Marblehead Harbor. The British, with no charts of the rocks and channels and seeing cannons being readied at Fort Sewall at the mouth of the Harbor, retreated.

The Constitution, which was nicknamed “Old Ironsides” for its ability to withstand cannon shots, is today the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy. It is berthed at the Charlestown Naval Yard in Boston and is open for tours.

In 1997 the USS Constitution, in celebration of its 200th birthday, set sail again under its own power for the first time in 116 years. Its destination: the same Marblehead Harbor that protected her in 1814. For two glorious days and with much pageantry, the eyes of the world were cast upon Marblehead and Old Ironsides as over one hundred thousand people relived one of the greatest events in the history of the United States Navy.

Visiting Marblehead

It doesn’t take a great event such as the return of the USS Constitution to Marblehead Harbor to relive the Town’s history. Residents and visitors alike bask in Marblehead’s historic past with every stroll along the town’s narrow crooked streets lined with grand houses built centuries ago with every visit to Marblehead’s many historic sights – Old Burial Hill, Fort Sewall, Old Powder House, Jeremiah Lee Mansion and others with every reenactment by the present-day Glover's Marblehead Regiment with every day of worship in the town’s many historic churches with every fishing and lobster boat that unloads its catch at the town wharf with every viewing of the original deed to the town, of Archibald Willard’s famous painting the Spirit of ’76 and of other historic paintings and artifacts to be found in Abbot Hall with every sail on Marblehead’s world-renowned harbor and with every exciting minute of a sailing race with every bite of a Joe Frogger, Marblehead’s-own famous molasses cookie originally baked for fishermen of yesteryear to take on their long voyages at sea and with every verse of Marblehead’s official Town Anthem, Marblehead Forever.

USS Marblehead C-11 - History

Marblehead III
(CL-12, dp. 7,050 1. 555'6" b. 55'4" dr. 13'6" s. 34k.
cpl. 458 a. 12 6", 4 3", 6 21" tt. cl. Omaha)

The third Marblehead (CL-12) was laid down 4 August 1920 by William Cramp & Son, Philadelphia, Pa. launched 9 October 1923, sponsored by Mrs. Joseph Evans and commissioned 8 September 1924, Capt. Chauncey Shaekford in command.

After commissioning, the scout cruiser Marblehead departed Boston for shakedown.n in the English Channel and Mediterranean In 1925 she visited Australia, stopping en route in the Samoan and Society Islands and, on her return, in the Galapagos. A year after her return, Marblehead was underway again on an extended voyage. Early in 1927 she cruised off Bluefields and Bragman's Bluffs, Nicaragua, her mission there to aid American efforts to bring together and reconcile the various political factions then fighting in that country. With one exception, Sandino, faction leaders agreed to the terms of the Peace of Tipitapa, 4 May 1927, and the United States was requested to supervise elections in 1928.

Marblehead next sailed for Pearl Harbor, where she joined Richmond and Trenton and headed for Shanghai, China. Upon arrival there she contributed to the show of force aimed at the protection of American and other foreign nationals of Shanghai's international settlement during operations against that city through the summer of 1927 in China's civil war.

In addition to her stay at Shanghai, Marblehead spent 2 months up the Yangtze River at Hankow, and visited several Japanese ports before leaving the Far East in March 1928, In route home the cruiser stopped at Corinto Nicaragua, to assist in the preparations for elections under the Peace of Tipitapa, delaying her return to Boston until August.

During the next decade Marblehead operated with both the Atlantic (August 1928 to January 1933) and Pacific (February 1933 to January 1938) Fleets. In January 1938 she was temporarily assigned to the Asiatic Fleet, receiving permanent assignment there 7 months later. Home ported at Cavite, Philippine Islands, she cruised the Sea of Japan and the South and East China seas as tension political and military, rapidly increased in the Far East.

"About 24 November 1941," her war diary reported "the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Asiatic Fleet sensed that the relations between the United States and Japan had reached such a critical state that movement of men-of war . . . was indicated." The next day,Marblehead, with TF 5, departed Manil.l Bay for seemingly "routine weekly operations." She anchored at Tarakan, Borneo, 29 November and waited for further instructions. On 8 December (7 December in the United States) she received the message "Japan started hostilities govern yourselves accordingly."

Marblehead and other American warships then joined with those of the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Royal Australian Navy to patrol the waters surrounding the Netherlands East Indies and to screen Allied shipping moving south from the Philippines. On the night of 24 January 1942, Marblehead covered the withdrawal of a force of Dutch and American warships after they had attacked, with devastating effect, an enemy convoy off Balikpapan. Six days later, in an attempt to repeat this success the force departed SurabaJa, Java, to intercept an enemy convoy concentration at Kendari. The Japanese convoy, however, sailed soon after, and the Allied force changed course, anchoring in Bunda Roads 2 February. On the 4th, the ships steamed out of Bunda Roads and headed for another Japanese convoy sighted at the southern entrance to the Makassar Straits. At 0949, 36 enemy bombers were sighted closing in on the formation from the east.

Marblehead successfully maneuvered through three attacks After the third an enemy plane spiraled toward the cruiser, but her gunners splashed it. The next minute a fourth wave of seven bombers released bombs at M!arblehead. Two were direct hits and a third a near miss close aboard the port bow causing severe underwater damage. Fires swept the ship as she listed to starboard and began to settle by the bow. Her rudder Jammed, Marblehead, continuing to steam at full speed, circled to port. Her gunners kept firing, while damage control crews fought the fires and helped the wounded By 1100 the fires were under control. Before noon the enemy planes departed, leaving the damaged cruiser with 15 dead or mortally wounded and 34 seriously inJured.

Marblehead's engineers soon released the rudder angle to 9° left, and at 125

5 she retired to Tjilatjap, steering by working the engines at varying speeds. She made Tjilatjap with a forward draft at 30 feet, aft 22 feet. Unable to be docked there, her worst leaks were repaired and she put to sea again on the 13th, beginning a voyage of more than 9,000 miles in search of complete repairs.

Still steering with her engines, she made Trincomalee Ceylon on the 21st. Repairs could not be made there or anywhere in India for several weeks. So Marblehead departed for South Africa 2 March. After touching at Durban and Port Elizabeth, Marblehead arrived at Simonstown 24 March. There she underwent extensive repairs and on 15 April sailed for New York. Steaming via Recite, Brazil, she arrived New York 4 May and immediately entered drydock at the navy yard.

On 15 October 1942, the rebuilt

Marblehead again put to sea. Attached to the South Atlantic Force, she operated against the enemy in t.he South Atlantic from Recife and Bahia, Brazil, until February 1944. Returning to New York 20 February, she operated along the convoy lanes d the North Atlantic for the next 5 months. She then sailed for the Mediterranean. Arriving at Palermo 29 July,
she Joined the task force then .staging for operation "Anvil", the invasion of southern France. On 15, 16, and 17 August, the cruiser bombarded enemy installations in the vicinity of Saint Raphael, where Allied assault troops were landing. On the 18th, she withdrew to Corsica, her mission complete.

Marblehead returned to the United States, conducted a summer training cruise for Naval Academy midshipmen and then entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where she decommissioned 1 November 1945. Her name was struck from the Navy Register 28 November 1945 and her hulk was scrapped 27 February 1946.

Maritime Museum Photo Gallery

Maritime Museum Entrance Banner Marblehead, Birthplace of Navy Birthplace of the American Navy
Civil War USS Marblehead Gunboat Spanish American War USS Marblehead C-11 USS Marblehead, CL-12
USS Constitution Visits to Marblehead Glover’s Regiment, Rowing Washington Across the Delaware Marblehead’s Naval Heroes and Vessels Named After Them
Marblehead, Birthplace of Marine Corps Aviation

Marblehead has a long and rich history. Its places, structures, people, and stories tell the history of New England in a microcosm. The Marblehead Historical Commission is not only dedicated to preserving that history, but also to sharing it with residents, visitors, and researchers who want to learn about Marblehead.

The Marblehead Historical Commission web site offers a wealth of information. You’ll find information on museums and collections that are managed by the Commission, including the Maritime Museum, the Abbot Hall displays, the Selectman's Room, and the Sign Museum. You’ll also learn about Marblehead's most well-known painting, The Spirit of ’76 that can be seen in Abbot Hall. If you're planning a visit to Marblehead, you'll find opening hours and locations so you can make the most of your visit.

The Commission also operates a Gift Shop in Abbot Hall which has numerous Marblehead related items available. The Gift Shop is open seasonally.

For researchers who want to dig deeper, a key offering of the web site is the online archive of artifacts, objects, documents, and photographs all with a brand new search system that will make easier than ever to find the information you're seeking.

Make sure you take a look at our calendar of events. It will keep you up to date on current happenings while opening a window into important events in Marblehead's past.

Enjoy the web site, learn more about Marblehead's history, and visit Marblehead's historic places!