Morgan Memorial – Lieutenant Nicholas Morgan
On July 4, 2012, I found myself reflecting on this, the most important of our national holidays, and thinking about the goings on in and around Morgan in July of 1776. As discussed in the Battle of Long Island posting, at this time in 1776 the British were landing men on Staten Island for what was to become the largest amphibious invasion in history until the Allied invasions of World War II – some 160+ years later. The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4 but wasn’t able to be read in the New Jersey / New York area until a few days later. Remember this was before motorized transportation and remote electronic communications existed. All transportation and communication was either by foot, animal or boat. The Continental Army’s Commander-in-Chief General George Washington ordered the declaration read to his troops in New York City, i.e., the southernmost part of present day Manhattan Island, on July 9. Note that later that evening, the Americans destroyed a bronze statue of Great Britain’s King George III which stood at the foot of Broadway on the Bowling Green.
I also found myself reflecting on two other related topics. The first being what would today’s world be like if the American Revolution had failed? What if Washington and his army had not been able to escape out of New York that summer after losing the Battle of Long Island? It stands to reason that all of the rebels would have been identified and the leaders most likely executed. Their leadership to the new country would have not occurred and another fork in the road would have been followed. I am certainly no expert in this “What if” situation and haven’t really read anything about this scenario but certainly the world as we know if would be quite different, if we had been born at all. Here are some of my amateur ramblings, what do you think?
- The land areas making up the present day United States would probably have become a number of different countries.
- The original 13 colonies probably would have been administratively joined by the British with present day Canada. Would they still be colonies or their own commonwealth country?
- The Louisiana Purchase would never have happened and perhaps France would have retained the land. Perhaps the French Revolution would not have occurred.
- Texas might have become its own country.
- The American West would likely have continued to be part of Mexico.
- Alaskans might be speaking Russian.
- Hawaiians might have retained their own country and royal family or have been incorporated into a Western European country.
- Slavery might still exist in North America.
- Genocide of the North American natives probably would have been on a smaller scale.
- The buffalo would probably not have been slaughtered to near extinction.
- Many wars would not have happened while others surely would have. Perhaps the American Revolution would have occurred later. The American Civil War would not have occurred. The Spanish American War, World War I and World War II would possibly not have occurred. Without these wars, many other events would have either not occurred or occurred at a different time.
- European monarchies might still be dominant. They might have continued to have a seemingly endless number of European Wars for territory or for a lesser reason. Democracies might have never caught on.
- I can’t guess about Asia, the Middle East (there would be no country of Israel), Africa or South America.
- Many discoveries, inventions and innovations would either have not occurred or had been done or created by someone else at a different place or time. Maybe there would be no computers yet. No airplanes yet. No Moon landing or space travel yet.
The second related topic has to do with a number of individuals who, in the Morgan area in 1776, would have already been or would soon be part of the active fight against the British. One of these individuals, Nicholas Morgan, was a member of the Morgan Family and would pay the ultimate price for his involvement in the conflict. Nicholas was one of nine children of Captain James Morgan and Margaret (Evertson) Morgan (birth order was: Charles, Nicholas, James, Jr., Abigail, Susanna, Margaret, Mary, Sarah and Stephen). Nicholas was a Lieutenant in the 2nd Regiment, Middlesex County Militia, and reported to his father Captain James Morgan, Sr. Nicholas’ brother, James, Jr., who ultimately attained the rank of Major General and was a member of Congress, was also in the 2nd Regiment, Middlesex County.
I have found very little written about Nicholas Morgan and what I have found has a conflict regarding how he was killed. A member of the Morgan Family contends that Nicholas was hung by the Tories (i.e., colonists who supported King George III, the King of Great Britain and Ireland). Another source references the 25 December 1782 New Jersey Gazette which states, “On Monday 9th inst. about 11 o’clock at night, Lieut. Nicholas Morgan of the state regiment, was mortally wounded by a party of refugees from New York, while he was on guard on the shore of South Amboy, of which would he died about four hours later. His corpse was carried to his father’s house from whence it was buried on the 11th with the honors of war. He was in his 28th year.”
Nicholas’ grave in the Morgan Family Cemetery is only a few hundred feet away from my childhood home. Also buried in the family cemetery are his father James, Sr., and his brother James, Jr. both of whom died after the war. All three and the other veterans of other conflicts buried in the cemetery were, and I believe still are, honored multiple times during the year (I believe on Memorial Day, July 4 and Veteran’s Day) when members of what I believe are the Luke A. Lovely American Legion Post #62 fire a multiple gun salute in the graveyard. I know this because they used to wake me up!
Originally posted on July 4, 2012.