Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thomas Morgan: 1812 Veteran


After returning to Lebanon Ohio in 1814, Captain Daniel Cushing wrote Morgan a certificate noting his wounds. Cushing drowned in the Auglaize River in 1815. Morgan, like many veterans of the early wars, applied to the government for a pension, but his papers were lost en route. This entry in the official register of the State of Illinois tracks Morgan's efforts in 1844 to have local witnesses vouch that the papers existed, so he could be provided for in his old age.
What makes this passage interesting is that Morgan seems to have seen too many famous aspects of the Northwest campaign (even the Battle of Lake Erie), and suffered wounds which seem out of place for an artilleryman. Cushing's Company of the 2nd United States Artillery Regiment was indeed involved in a close combat skirmish before the Seige of Fort Meigs, but to have been wounded by a tomahawk during Dudley's Massacre on May 5th, 1813, by a falling spar during the Battle of Lake Erie, and finally by an officer's sword during the famous charge of the Kentucky mounted rifles at the Thames, severely tests our credulity. It seems that either Morgan was concocting stories in order to generate more interest in his plight as an aging veteran, or some of the 1812 regular soldiers saw far more action than most sources attest.

Edit: Thomas Morgan was indeed the First Sergeant of Cushing's Company. Whether he was detached from that unit for the variety of missions that his testimony describes is still unclear. I recall McAfee mentioning that Captain Eleazar Wood of the Engineers was involved in the mounted pursuit of some fugitive British officers in the aftermath of the Thames rout, but this doesn't explain how a first sergeant attached to an artillery crew would have gotten into combat with a British officer-- and I haven't seen British documentation of which officers, if any, were killed at the Thames.