Provided by Timothy Youmans, Planning Director and amateur local historian
Morgan moved at a young age from NJ to the northern Shenandoah Valley likely working at a mill between Winchester and present-day Berryville (then known as Battletown) in what was then eastern Frederick Co (now Clarke County). He was a teamster by trade, known as “The Old Wagoneer” and also acquired the nickname of “The Bully of Battletown” given his propensity to engage in brawls. Morgan received much discipline in the form of lashings as punishment for his short-temper, especially once when he struck a superior British officer. George Washington knew of Morgan during their expeditions from Winchester west to fight the French and Indian War in the mid-1700s. Morgan also fought in Dunmore’s War in the early 1770s.
Morgan was involved in many phases of the Revolutionary War between 1775 and 1781. He was famous for leading a 600-mile Beeline March in 21-days from Winchester to Boston in 1775. He commanded the Frederick Militia nicknamed "Morgan’s Riflemen", which included the esteemed contingent of German soldiers from Winchester known as the "Dutch Mess". From there, Morgan, then a Captain, would head to Quebec where he would be forced to surrender after taking over command from a wounded Col. Benedict Arnold. He was jailed until freed two years later in a prisoner exchange.
As newly promoted Colonel Morgan, he helped soundly defeat British General Burgoyne in 1777 at the Battle of Saratoga in upstate NY. This was during the attempt by the British to isolate the New England colonies from the rest of the American colonies and weaken the Continental Army. His former home in present-day Clarke Co is named ‘Saratoga’ in tribute to his success in that battle. After returning to military duty in 1779, Morgan, then Brigadier Gen, is credited with executing a flanking maneuver considered one of the most successful ever in military history. It resulted in a decisive victory against British Lt. General Tarleton in the Battle at Cowpens, SC in 1781. This would ultimately lead to the surrender of British forces under General Cornwallis at Yorktown later that year.
After retiring from the military, Morgan returned home to Charles Town, VA, but soon moved to eastern Frederick Co where he built his home ‘Saratoga’ near Boyce in present-day Clarke County.
Morgan would commit to one last military leadership role in 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion in PA where farmers revolted against the first US tax on distilled spirits (namely whiskey from grain farmers) during Washington’s term as U.S. President.
Morgan did not have much interest in political office during his military career, but did serve a single term in the US House of Representatives at the very end of the 18th century.
Morgan’s health declined from years of military fatigue. He moved to the house he owned at 226 Amherst Street in Winchester where his wife and daughter cared for him. This was Morgan’s last place of residence before his death at age 66 in 1802. This privately-owned house still stands and is known as the Daniel Morgan House.
Morgan was originally buried in the Presbyterian cemetery near the Old Stone Church but, was later reinterred in Mt. Hebron Cemetery. In 1951, a contingent of community leaders from Spartanburg, SC (near the Cowpens battlefield) came to Winchester to exhume the remains of Morgan and reinter them in SC based upon their belief that Winchester had not properly honored Morgan. A court injunction was secured by the local officials and the SC delegation was sent home empty-handed. The “Fight for the General’s Body” as it was titled was the topic of a 1951 Life Magazine article.
More recently, a group of citizens known as Morgan’s Riflemen funded the Daniel Morgan bronzed statue west of the Old Stone Church near the Rt. 7 National Gateway roundabout.
Morgan was the namesake of Morgan County and Morgantown, WV and, obviously, the Daniel Morgan Middle School in Winchester. The Burwell-Morgan Mill in Clarke County was managed by him and bears his name. And, finally, even though they didn’t get his remains, Spartanburg, SC does have a statue of Morgan in their central town square appropriately named Morgan Square.