February 9, 2020 marked the 200th anniversary of Morgan County.
Named after Daniel Morgan.
Who was Daniel Morgan?
Jeanne Mozier didn’t know much about Daniel Morgan before researching it for the anniversary.
“I knew he had a statue in Winchester, Virginia because Tommy Swaim and I went down when they unveiled the statue there,” Mozier told This Week in Morgan County earlier this year. “But I never knew much about him. Since then I have read two biographies about him.”
One of the biographies was written in 1856.
The other was written in 2018 by Al Zambone – Daniel Morgan: A Revolutionary Life.
“He ran away from home in New Jersey when he was 15 and walked down the great wagon road and ended up in Virginia,” Mozier said. “He became a wagoner. People really liked him. His first encounter with Washington was as a wagoner. The wagoner didn’t ride on the wagon – he walked next to the lead oxen. He walked hundreds of miles.”
“He organized a militia group of riflemen. When Washington in 1775 was fighting in Boston, he had no troops but New England troops. Dan Morgan organized his riflemen and they marched to Boston from Shepherdstown, West Virginia and were the first non New England troops in the revolution.”
“He then took his guys to Quebec for the fight in Quebec. Benedict Arnold was leading the assault on Quebec. The Americans wanted to take over Canada.”
“My favorite story about Dan Morgan was when they were in Quebec. He’s got his riflemen inside Quebec. A British soldier walks through this gate. He sees Morgan and his rifleman and says – surrender and lay down your arms. Morgan picks up his rifle and shoots the man dead.”
“Wow – that was effective.”
“What Zambone shows over and over again is that Daniel Morgan was probably the greatest tactical genius in American military history to this day,” Mozier said.
“Zambone calls him an uncommon common man. He finally taught himself to read and write enough to deal with his orders. He finally was promoted to being general even though he won the battles of Saratoga and the battle of Cowpens, which was the defining battle of the Revolutionary War.”
What was his connection to Morgan County?
“He lived in Winchester, Virginia. He would have been our member of Congress after the revolution in the 1790s. Nobody knows why we picked Daniel Morgan to name our county after. My favorite theory is that we were created after being parts of Berkeley County and Hampshire County – both named after Brits. We decided we wanted to be Americans, so we named our county after an American revolutionary hero.”
Did he ever set foot in Berkeley Springs?
“He had crippling sciatica. He had to drop out of the revolutionary war at least twice to come to Berkeley Springs to take the baths for his sciatica.”