Monday, November 10, 2014

Daniel Morgan

Daniel Morgan
American Hero
1736-1802

After the American Revolutionary War began at the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775, the Continental Congress created the Continental Army. They called for the formation of ten rifle companies from the middle colonies to support the Siege of Boston, and late in June of 1775 Virginia agreed to send two. The Virginia House of Burgesses chose Daniel Morgan to form one of these, and serve as its captain. He recruited ninety-six men in ten days and assembled them at Winchester on July 14. He then marched them to Boston, Massachusetts in only twenty-one days, arriving on August 6 1775. He led an outstanding group of snipers nicknamed "Morgan's Sharpshooters.”

Battles

            Quebec— Morgan was captured
            Saratoga—Held the British forces in check leading to their eventual withdrawal.
            Bemis Heights—Using his sharpshooters held the British in check
            Cowpens—“Morgan chose to make his stand at Cowpens, South Carolina. On the morning of January 17, 1781, they met Tarleton in the Battle of Cowpens. Morgan had been joined by militia forces under Andrew Pickens and William Washington's dragoons. Tarleton's legion was supplemented with the light infantry from several regiments of regulars.

Morgan's plan took advantage of Tarleton's tendency for quick action and his disdain for the militia, as well as the longer range and accuracy of his Virginia riflemen. The marksmen were positioned to the front, followed by the militia, with the regulars at the hilltop. The first two units were to withdraw as soon as they were seriously threatened, but after inflicting damage. This would invite a premature charge.

The tactic resulted in a double envelopment; as the British forces approached, the Americans, with their backs turned to the British, reloaded their muskets. When the British got too close they turned and fired at point-blank range in their faces. To avoid a crude or gory dysphemism, a musket of that type could obliterate a watermelon at that range. In less than an hour, Tarleton's 1,076 men suffered 110 killed, and 830 captured. The captives included 200 wounded. Although Tarleton escaped, the Americans captured all his supplies and equipment, including the officers' slaves. Morgan's cunning plan at Cowpens is widely considered to be the tactical masterpiece of the war and one of the most successfully executed double envelopments of all of modern military history.

Cornwallis had lost not only Tarleton's legion, but also his light infantry, which limited his speed of reaction for the rest of the campaign. For his actions, Virginia gave Morgan land and an estate that had been abandoned by a Tory. The damp and chill of the campaign had aggravated his sciatica to the point where he was in constant pain; on 10 February, he returned to his Virginia farm. In July 1781, Morgan briefly joined Lafayette to once more pursue Banastre Tarleton, this time in Virginia, but they were not successful.”[1]



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