Who was Daniel Morgan?

The Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security (DMGS) is named for Brigadier General Daniel Morgan, who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

Unlike the wealthier aristocratic and well-educated generals that are better known, he was in many ways the precursor of a new American soldier–a civilian called to service when he was needed. From a humble background as a wagoneer in the frontier, this brilliant tactician and strategist answered his country’s call in the early days of the Revolution.

At Washington’s request, Morgan assembled a backwoods corps of riflemen and with lightning speed marched to meet the British in northern New York. The republic’s first major victory at Saratoga was in many ways a result of his design, which today might be called guerrilla tactics. Trumbull’s famous painting of the surrender of British General Burgoyne shows Washington nodding to the success of Morgan, who was dressed in frontier buckskins.

By 1779, Colonel Morgan‘s corps of riflemen had played a significant role in almost every major battle, but he was passed over for a promotion and resigned.  A year into his retirement, aware that he had the skills, intelligence, and leadership qualities needed in Washington’s Southern campaign, he set out with loyal corpsmen and rejoined the war effort on his own initiative and at his own expense.

His return to the conflict was enthusiastically welcomed.  He won an important skirmish by cleverly deceiving opposing forces and went on to win a victory at the Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina, by luring an especially ruthless and arrogant opponent into a trap.  By these tactical defeats and the ensuing long-distance chase through the interior, he exhausted British forces, paving the way for Washington’s victory at Yorktown.  Congress accordingly awarded him the rank of Brigadier General and, in peacetime, he returned to his home in what is now Clarke county, Virginia, where he became a successful businessman.

Daniel Morgan’s successes were largely shaped through his ability to motivate his men and his brilliant use of strategy and intelligence. Daniel Morgan also recognized the merit of new technology in his use of rifled weapons.

His lifetime example of service to his country, self-improvement through learning, innovation in the face of adversity, and a determination to forge successful outcomes under the most difficult circumstances epitomize the credo the Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security.

More Information


Date of Birth: 6 July 1736

Place of Birth: Hunterdon County, New Jersey

Served in US Army: 1775-1783; 1794

Highest Rank: Brigadier General

Battles: Invasion of Canada, Battle of Saratoga, Battle of Freeman’s Farm, Battle of Bemis Heights, Battle of Cowpens

Served in US Congress: 4 March 1797 – 3 March 1799

Represented: Virginia’s 1st congressional district

Date of Death: 6 July 1802 (aged 66)

Place of Death: Winchester, Virginia

Gen. Morgan’s Congressional Medal

Brigadier General Daniel Morgan received national recognition on March 25, 1790, when Congress commemorated Morgan’s victory at the Battle of Cowpens by honoring him with a gold medal.