On January 17, 1781, on a pasture in western South Carolina, some of the best troops in the British Army were defeated by a motley collection of militiamen and soldiers of the Continental Army. The man who planned and executed the stunning American victory was Daniel Morgan.
Morgan was an unlikely American military hero. He had run away from home as a teenager—he was never quite sure of his age—and wandered into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. There he had worked as a farm laborer, in sawmills, and as a teamster guiding Conestoga wagons to Virginia’s ports. After his service in the French and Indian War, he had acquired land, money, and local success. When in 1775 the Continental Congress called for riflemen to join the siege of Boston, Morgan organized a company and led it north. From that moment on, Morgan’s presence on the battlefield made an impact wherever he went. Washington and others recognized his abilities, and his fame was sealed by his rifle corps’ service during the British defeat at Saratoga in October 1777.
In Daniel Morgan: A Revolutionary Life, the first major biography of this iconic figure to be written in fifty years, historian Albert Louis Zambone presents Morgan as a man who through driving ambition rose from homelessness and poverty to wealth and prominence in both war and peace. Drawing upon decades of scholarship in the social history of Virginia and the early American frontier, this biography presents a portrait of one of the most iconic and yet forgotten men of the founding era, whose was both an uncommon man of the common people, and at the same time a common man in uncommon times.
“This long-overdue reappraisal of the dramatic life of one of America’s finest military leaders places Daniel Morgan squarely in the context of his times. Rugged and defiant, Morgan was also a clever and innovative officer whose influence on the American military ethos reaches right down to today. Best of all, Zambone’s book is quite an enjoyable read!” —Edward G. Lengel, author of General George Washington: A Military Life
“Roughhewn backwoodsman Daniel Morgan, known as the ‘Old Wagoner,’ was truly a front line hero of the American Revolution. Think of the invasion of Quebec in 1775, the battles of Saratoga in 1777, and his classically brilliant victory at the Cowpens in 1781 during the Southern campaigns. Morgan constantly provided invaluable martial leadership during the Revolutionary War. Albert Zambone’s new biography beautifully captures the old wagoner’s action-packed military adventures and life story. A gem of a book.” —James Kirby Martin, Cullen University Professor of History, University of Houston, author of Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero