Daniel Morgan: A Revolutionary Life

Albert Louis Zambone. Westholme, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-1-59416-315-9
Zambone, a Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Rockefeller Fellow and the host of the podcast Historically Thinking, establishes himself as a gifted popular historian with this nuanced and engrossing look at the life of the soldier and colonial politician Daniel Morgan. Zambone traces the arc of his subject’s life to show how Morgan successfully “fought his way upward through the social hierarchy” from laborer to congressman. As a teenager, he worked for a farmer, then became an overseer and eventually an entrepreneur, county militia captain, and member of the gentry. He commanded a company of riflemen accompanying Benedict Arnold on the march to Quebec in 1775, assuming command after Arnold was shot. Morgan’s skill as a military man and his innovative tactics led to more military responsibilities; Zambone plausibly credits him with “two of the truly decisive victories of the Continental Army,” the Battles of Saratoga in New York in 1777 and the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina in 1781. Zambone is careful to avoid speculating on gaps in the record and diligently reviews primary documents, such as store ledgers listing quotidian purchases. 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. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 01/10/2019
Release date: 12/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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