Daniel Morgan: A Revolutionary Life (Paperback)
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A Major New Biography of a Man of Humble Origins Who Became One of the Great Military Leaders of the American Revolution
On January 17, 1781, at Cowpens, South Carolina, the notorious British cavalry officer Banastre Tarleton and his legion had been destroyed along with the cream of Lord Cornwallis’s troops. The man who planned and executed this stunning American victory was Daniel Morgan. Once a barely literate backcountry laborer, Morgan now stood at the pinnacle of American martial success. Born in New Jersey in 1736, he left home at seventeen and found himself in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. There he worked in mills and as a teamster, and was recruited for Braddock’s disastrous expedition to take Fort Duquesne from the French in 1755. When George Washington called for troops to join him at the siege of Boston in 1775, Morgan organized a select group of riflemen and headed north. From that moment on, Morgan’s presence made an immediate impact on the battlefield and on his superiors. Washington soon recognized Morgan’s leadership and tactical abilities. When Morgan’s troops blocked the British retreat at Saratoga in 1777, ensuring an American victory, he received accolades from across the colonies.
In Daniel Morgan: A Revolutionary Life, the first biography of this iconic figure in forty years, historian Albert Louis Zambone presents Morgan as the quintessential American everyman, who rose through his own dogged determination from poverty and obscurity to become one of the great battlefield commanders in American history. Using social history and other advances in the discipline that had not been available to earlier biographers, the author provides an engrossing portrait of this storied personality of America’s founding era—a common man in uncommon times.
About the Author
ALBERT LOUIS ZAMBONE is host of the popular podcast “Historically Speaking.” He earned his PhD in American History from the University of Oxford, an MA in Medieval Studies at the Catholic University of America, and a BA in History from Johns Hopkins University. He has received a number of scholarships and awards in the field of early American history, including a Rockefeller Fellowship from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
“Zambone establishes himself as a gifted popular historian with this nuanced and engrossing look at the life of the soldier and colonial politician Daniel Morgan. . . . The result—a look at a consequential but now-obscure figure who came from as Zambone puts it, “the often-silent ranks of the colonial poor”—will fascinate readers.”—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Zambone tells an insightful and vivid story of a worthy man—a true hero. Daniel Morgan is highly recommended.”—Journal of America’s Military Past
“Mr. Zambone tells Morgan’s story with gusto and wit. . . . Morgan succeeded with those unproven troops at Cowpens, Mr. Zambone writes, “not because he trusted militia as a group but because he believed in them as individuals.” There’s something peculiarly American about that, and it might say a great deal about whey we won the war and the British lost.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Zambone has done an excellent job re-creating Morgan’s life. This well-documented account offers a very readable, modern reappraisal of Morgan, the first significant treatment of this key Revolutionary figure since Don Higginbotham’s Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman and North Callahan’s Daniel Morgan: Ranger of the Revolution (both, 1961).”—Choice
“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
“Daniel Morgan has been overdue for a new biography, and Zambone has given us a tour-de-force. His volume is exhaustively researched, elegantly written, and deeply revealing—by far the best biography we have of this fascinating yet enigmatic member of the founding generation. A wonderful book.”
—Mark Edward Lender, coauthor of Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle
"Albert Louis Zambone's evocative and engaging book immerses readers in the fascinating life and tumultuous times of Daniel Morgan. The biography follows Morgan as he fought his way up: he was a nobody from nowhere who became a celebrated military tactician and war hero. Zambone restores Morgan to a place of prominence in the story of American independence. Through his exploration of Morgan's life, Zambone also illuminates the interplay between the Revolutionary War and the larger American Revolution, which transformed Morgan's life and the society he inhabited. Daniel Morgan is important and crisply written and not to be missed by readers interested in the origins of the American Republic."—Lorri Glover, Saint Louis University, author of The Fate of the Revolution: Virginians Debate the Constitution (Johns Hopkins, 2016) and Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries (Yale, 2014)