The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

Continental General Daniel Morgan
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

Revolutionary War: 1775-1777
When they encountered a rough barricade during their attack on Quebec, Colonel Benedict Arnold was forced into frontal assault because his cannon had been lost in a snowdrift. Leading the charge, Arnold was shot through the leg. Unable to continue, he was carried from the fight. Though he was not the highest ranking field officer present, Captain Morgan took command when the others failed to do so, rallied the men and overran the barricade on the second attempt. They continued to advance with little resistance through the streets of Lower Town. French militia eagerly surrendered to the advancing American force. By 4 A.M., the force encountered another barricade, which was unmanned. Morgan wanted to push on, but was now pursuaded by the same officers to wait for General Montgomery.

Maj. General Richard Montgomery would never arrive because he had been killed shortly after he launched his assault on the north side of the city. The Americans' delay allowed the Maj. General Guy Carleton and his forces to recover and take positions. By dawn, Captain Daniel Morgan grew impatient and continued the assault, but the wait had allowed the British to take positions. Morgan and the Americans were now under constant fire from the surrounding houses. By afternoon, Morgan had to turn back, but the once abandoned barricade was now manned and the Americans were trapped in the streets of Quebec. Having been strung out along the streets, they were forced to surrender in pockets. Morgan himself refused to surrender to the British, daring them to shoot him, but his men pleaded with him. He finally handed his sword over to a French priest.

Daniel Morgan remained a prisoner in Quebec City until September, when he was paroled. In January 1777, Morgan was finally exchanged for a British prisoner and could rejoin the war effort. He found that he had been promoted to Colonel on November 12, 1776, because of his actions at Quebec. In April 1777, he joined General George Washington's main army and raised 500 riflemen. In June 13, 1777, General Washington officially placed Morgan in command of the special 500-man light infantry unit that included Morgan's Virginia riflemen. His corps engaged and ravaged Maj. General William Howe's rear guard in New Jersey.

In August 1777, Washington reluctantly agreed to send Morgan and his corps to New York. On August 30, 1777, Morgan joined the Northern Army under Maj. General Horatio Gates during Gates' campaign against Maj. General John Burgoyne. Even before the main battles of Saratoga began, Colonel Morgan's riflemen drove General Burgoyne's Indian allies behind the British main line, so that Burgoyne had little intelligence about General Gates' movements. In the meantime, Morgan and his men informed Gates of Burgoyne's movements.

At the First Battle of Saratoga (Freeman's Farm) on September 19, 1777, Morgan's riflemen were the advance that engaged the British. They actually advanced too far and were exposed to a British bayonet counterattack, but Morgan rallied them. They engaged Burgoyne's center column and by keeping their distance, they inflicted steady fire and heavy casualties. Only German reinforcements and low ammunition saved the British from defeat that day. By October 7, General Burgoyne could not afford to wait for reinforcements because of low supplies.

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