Continental General Daniel Morgan
||Born: 1736; Hunterdon County, New Jersey
Died: July 6, 1802; Virginia
Battles: Quebec, Saratoga, Cowpens
"Great generals are scarce--there are few Morgans around."
- Nathanael Greene
Early Life: 1736-1754
Daniel Morgan was born to Welsh parents. He spoke little about his childhood, so details are vague. Most believe he was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey although there is a possibility that he was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania which was just across the river and where his father worked as an ironmaster. Those early years were very harsh. Following an argument with his father (c. 1753), he left home.
Morgan spent some weeks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania working at odds jobs. Morgan next headed south along the Great Wagon Road, settling in Charles Town, Virginia at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley. He proved to be a rather uneducated and uncouth fellow, who liked gambling, drinking and fighting, but he was a big strong man, who wasn't afraid of hard work. Morgan first worked to prepare land for planting, then worked in a sawmill. He then became a wagoneer because of higher pay. Within a year, Morgan had saved enough money to buy his own team.
French and Indian War: 1754-1760
The French and Indian War had now broken out and at the age of nineteen, Daniel Morgan was soon hired as a civilian by Maj. General Edward Braddock for his expedition to Fort Duquesne in 1755. Also on Braddock's ill-fated expedition were Colonel George Washington, Captain Horatio Gates, Charles Lee and Thomas Gage. He did well in evacuating the wounded following Braddock's defeat and did get to know Washington, although it is unlikely that being a civilian, he would have met any of the other officers. During his time working for the British Army, Morgan gained the nickname, 'The Old Wagoner.'
In Spring 1756, while Morgan was taking supplies to Fort Chiswell, he irritated a British Lieutenant who struck him with the flat of his sword. Morgan then knocked the officer out with one punch. Morgan was court-martialed and sentenced to 500 lashes. Morgan later always maintained that the drummer had miscounted and he had only been given 499 lashes, so the British still 'owed him one more lash.' In 1758, Morgan joined a local company of rangers serving the British Army. It was recommended that he be given the rank of Captain, but only an Ensign's commission was available, which he accepted. As he and two escorts were returning from Fort Edwards with a dispatch for the commanding officer at Winchester, Virginia, Indians ambushed them at Hanging Rock. The escorts were killed, while Morgan was seriously wounded by a bullet that hit the back of his neck, knocked out all his teeth in his left jaw and exited his cheek. Morgan managed to stay in his saddle and ride away.
Between the Wars: 1760-1762
After the frontier grew quiet, Morgan returned to wagoning. He also continued his brawling and rough ways, but he always saved his money and in 1759 he bought a house in Winchester. In 1762, he set up residence with Abigail Bailey, who was about ten years his junior. They had two daughters: Nancy and Betsy. Abigail had a positive effect on his manners and, interestingly, his morals. It was not until 1773 that they officially married. Later in life, Morgan also would have an illegitimate son, Willoughby, who grew up in South Carolina.
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