"Great generals are scarce--there are few Morgans around."
- Nathanael Greene
Daniel Morgan was born in New Jersey, but ran away to Virginia when he was seventeen. He was an able worker and soon became a wagoneer, though he was ever a rabblerouser. He was a civilian participant in Braddock's ill-fated expedition in 1755. Morgan enlisted in the British Army as a Ranger toward the end of the French and Indian War. In the years after that war, he became a leading citizen in Virginia. He started a family, bought a home, married and served as a captain of militia. He fought for the British against Pontiac's Conspiracy and in Lord Dunmore's War.
When the Revolutionary War began, Morgan was chosen to command one of two rifle regiments raised by Virginia. He participated in the Siege of Boston with General George Washington before marching to Canada with Colonel Benedict Arnold. He endured the miserable march to Canada, which would bring about illnesses later in life. Following the wounding of Arnold, he assumed command at the Battle of Quebec on December 31, 1775 during which he was captured.
Morgan rejoined General Washington's main army in November 1777 and participated in Washington's New Jersey and Pennsylvania operations. He got his first taste of command when he temporarily filled in for an ill commander. When he learned of the formation of a new brigade, Morgan wanted the command, but he was only a colonel. When the command went to the largely untested Brig. General Anthony Wayne, Morgan resigned in protest in July 1779 and returned to his Virginia home.
Following General Gates' appointment as Southern Department Commander in May 1780, Morgan turned down both Congress' order and Gates' personal request to join him in the Southern Department in June 1780. He did ask Gates to press Congress for a promotion for him. After he learned of the defeat at Camden, he put aside his personal feelings and joined Gates in September 1780. After Morgan campaigned independently for a few months, new Southern Department Commander Maj. General Nathanael Greene gave him command of a 600-man light infantry corps. He was to basically be a Continental Army presence in the Carolinas, but avoid an engagement.
After maneuvering for three weeks, Morgan used the intelligence of his officers' concerning British tendancies to not only defeat, but rout Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina in January 1781. He then joined General Greene in the 'Race to the Dan' before he retired to his home in February because of illness. He would again serve for a few weeks in Virginia. Following the war, Morgan developed his farm and became a formidable land owner. He also commanded federal troops during the Whiskey Rebellion and served a term in Congress as a Federalist. He died on July 6, 1802.
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