Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Daniel Morgan.

This is coolbert:

"How do you think he does it" - - "I don't know" - - "What makes him so good??" - - The Who, "Tommy"

I have just blogged about the victories of the Carthaginian army over the Roman Legions at Cannae, Trebia, and Lake Tresimene. Superlative victories that have impressed military men for over 2000 years now.

Hannibal commanding the Carthaginians. A man of outstanding ability. One of the Great Captains.

Concerning the Great Captains:

"While all were great military men, with the exception of Caesar Augustus, they were also great political leaders who, in this capacity more often than through their feats of arms, shaped their societies. All were educated men, and all possessed the quality of imaginative reasoning."

Cannae, as I have blogged about, has been studied and studied, and is studied, as being the ULTIMATE victory on the battlefield. This is what military commanders aspire to have for their own forces. A victory for their own forces of the type Hannibal had at Cannae. The sort of thing desired, but that almost never happens.

The American military too, has it's own Cannae, albeit on a smaller scale. A victory over a superior enemy that compares to the victories of Hannibal. This was Cowpens.

Cowpens, as has been also mentioned, is called the "American Cannae". Daniel Morgan commanding the American troops.

Consider this:

"Similarities to Cannae - -

According to military historians, the victory at Cowpens was so total because of Daniel Morgan's astute military tactics and bold leadership. He had possessed, they claim, an uncanny understanding of the psychology of soldiers and a firm grasp of tactical principles.

Using a unique deployment of troops, Morgan planned a tactical masterpiece that made use of all his troops' strengths and used some of their weaknesses (in the case of the militia) to his advantage.. . . As a result, Morgan’s victory at the Battle of Cowpens is often compared by historians, to the classic double envelopment of the Romans by the Carthaginian army under Hannibal at Cannae in 216 B.C.

Geoffrey Perret, for instance, refers to Cowpens as a "flawless gem."

Russell F. Weigley regards Morgan’s victory as a battlefield performance, "unexcelled and perhaps unequaled by any other officer of the American cause."

T. Harry Williams has deemed it a "minor masterpiece.". writes

Robert Leckie, "Cowpens, was the American Cannae."

Leckie then goes on to claim that "it was the glittering small gem of the Revolution, and it was brought off by an American backwoodsman who, like the great Hannibal himself, was merely adapting himself to men and terrain."

Furthermore, Ernest and Trevor N. Dupuy [father and son] hold that this battle, "was probably the closest approach to tactical perfection ever seen on the American continent — a complete double envelopement, the dream of every professional soldier."

The Dupuys continue to make the connection between Cowpens and Cannae:

"In recent years military analysts have noted the striking resemblance of Morgan’s dispositions to those of Hannibal in one of the renowned battles of ancient history: his victory over the Romans at Cannae in 216 B.C.

Whether Morgan was acquainted with this historical precedent or not, is of no significance. His own soldierly experience was sufficiently rich, and his native military genius sufficiently well-developed, for him to conceive the same idea as that of the great Carthaginian, when faced with a comparable dilemma. Like Hannibal, Morgan had a heterogeneous, largely undependable force with which he had to fight the finest regular soldiers in the world of his day."

Daniel Morgan was a General officer in the American Revolutionary army who by any reckoning did NOT possess the skill that a modern military man would have recognized as being requisite to be a great commander:

"Morgan was a large, rough man, poorly educated, and he preferred drinking and gambling to study. He also showed a huge capacity for work. He worked clearing land, in a sawmill, and as a teamster. In a year, he had saved enough to buy his own team, and concentrated on being a teamster."

His military experience prior to the American Revolutionary War did not seem to lead to the conclusion that this was a man of great promise:

"In 1755 Morgan was hired to accompany the Braddock Expedition against Fort Duquesne. After the Battle of the Wilderness (July 9), his work removing the wounded brought him to the attention of a young militia colonel, George Washington."

"In 1758 he joined a company of Virginia rangers as an ensign. While carrying dispatches from Fort Edward (near Capon Bridge, West Virginia) to Winchester, Virginia, his party of only three men was ambushed. The other two were killed and Morgan was seriously wounded. A bullet hit him in the neck and went through his cheek. The bullet knocked out the teeth in his left jaw, but he stayed in the saddle and was able to escape."

Morgan, however, during the Revolutionary War itself, did distinguish himself as an able commander on a number of occasions:

* The invasion of Canada.

* 11th Virginia regiment.

* Saratoga.

* Freeman's Farm.

* Bemis Heights.

* New Jersey and retirement.

* The Southern campaign.

And of course:

* The Battle of Cowpens.

Morgan was a rough, uneducated man. DID have a lot of military experience and skill. But he could HAVE NOT known about Cannae?? He planned and acted in an INTUITIVE manner?! Came to the same logical conclusions as to how to fight the battle and achieve ultimate success. Total annihilation of the enemy with little loss to your own men.

"All were educated men".

NOT Morgan. Morgan was of the school of "hard knocks", as they say.

"Imaginative reasoning".

With Morgan, YES. Imaginative reasoning combined with a lot of experience!!



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