Elisha's Top Matches
About Elisha Morgan
Added by Elwin Nickerson II -Heroic Defenders of Fort Griswold- With many other Men of Groton,CT. Elisha Morgan - Escaped, Age 20
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: "During the Revolutionary War, New London harbor on the Thames River was home port for many privately owned armed ships that preyed upon British supply vessels and merchant ships. The privateers were licensed by the State of Connecticut according to the rules established by the Congress. Each year they increased in number and captured more British shipping. Their exploits peaked with the taking of the "Hannah" by the "Minerva" in the summer of 1781. Seizure of the "Hannah's" rich cargo which included personal supplies for the British officers stationed in New York City; helped prompt the events that soon followed. "New London's bulging warehouses brought great wealth to adventurous ship owners and merchants, but they were a potential target for enemy reprisal. From the earliest days of the war, Connecticut officials had seen the need for harbor fortifications, but construction had proceeded slowly. By 1781, the largest structure on the New London side, Fort Trumbull, was still unfinished and vulnerable to attack from land. "East of the Thames River on Groton Heights, a completed work, Fort Griswold, commanded the harbor and the surrounding countryside. It was somewhat square with protecting fortifications on two corners and a projection on the east side. A deep trench surrounded the fort on three sides. The lower walls were faced with stone and were topped with a barrier of cedar pickets projecting outward. Above this was an earthen wall with openings (embrasures) for cannon. A tunnel-like passageway (sallyport) led to a covered ditch which ended at a battery for cannon southwest of the fort. The gate at the north end was protected by a V-shaped earthen mound. Barracks for 300 men paralleled the innermost wall and the magazine was set into the southwest bastian near the flagpole. The fort was in good condition and the magazine was full in 1781. "Late that summer the British generals were anxious to distract Washington who was then marching south. They decided to create a diversion by attacking an important northern supply center, New London, and, with the same stroke, destroy the "Rebel pirate ships". The command of the expedition fell to Benedict ARNOLD who had deserted the American cause the year before and who being a native of nearby Norwich, knew the harbor area well. "At sunrise on September 6th, 1781, the people of the town of New London were awakened with the news that a large force of British Regulars had landed on both sides of the river's mouth and were coming upon them fast. They could do nothing but flee. A number of rigged ships in the harbor caught a favorable breeze and escaped upstream, but the rest were trapped. The 800 men led by Benedict ARNOLD met only scattered risistance as they set about the task of destroyng the immense stockpile of goods and naval stores kept at New London. Ships, wharfs and buildings were set aflame. One hundred and forty-three buildings were destroyed. "The British force of 800 men that landed on the east side of the Thames River was slowed by tangled woods and swamps. A battalion of New Jersey loyalists responsible for moving the artillery could not keep pace with the Regulars who came within striking distance of Fort Griswold at 10:00 A.M. Meanwhile, the fort had been garrisoned with about 150 militia and local men (including Hobart "Elnathan" MASON and Thomas GRIFFIN) under the command of Colonel William LEDYARD. Colonel LEDYARD and his officers, expecting reinforcements momentarily, elected to defend the post against the superior force. Colonel EYRE, the British commander, sent forward a flag demanding surrender. LEDYARD refused. The demand was made again and Col. EYRE threatened that if he were forced to storm the fort, no quarter would be given to its defenders. Col. LEDYARD still refused to surrender the fort. "The British force immediately spread their ranks and advanced on Fort Griswold. As they neared the ditch, they were met with an artillery barrage which killed and wounded many, but the seasoned and disciplined troops continued their charge. Some tried to gain the southwest bastion, but they were repulsed and Col. EYRE, the British commander, was badly wounded. Under heavy musket fire, another group dislodged some pickets and by hand to hand combat reached a cannon and turned it against the garrison, Another party led by Major MONTGOMERY charged with fixed bayonets. They were met with long spears and the Major was killed. A few of the Regulars managed to reach the gate and open it and the enemy force marched in, in formation. Seeing this, Colonel LEDYARD ordered his men to stop fighting and surrender, but some action continued on both sides. "According to American accounts, after Col. LEDYARD gave up his sword in surrender, he was immediately killed with it and a massacre ensued. Before the "massacre" it is claimed that less than ten Americans had been killed, but when it was over, more than eighty of the garrison lay dead and mutilated, and more than half of the remainder were severly wounded. The American wounded were placed on a heavy artillery cart, which, as it was being moved down the hill to the river, broke away and smashed into a tree causing terrible suffering. The bleeding wounded men were then carried to the nearby home of Ebenezer AVERY. Prisoners who were able to walk were placed aboard ship. As evening approached, the British troops embarked leaving a detachment behind for an (unsuccessful) attempt to destroy the fort." - From the pamphlet, FORT GRISWOLD STATE PARK (State of Connectucut Department of Environmental Protection, Parks and Recreation Unit, Hartford, Ct. 06115). See also, Mather, Frederic G. THE REFUGEES of 1776 from LONG ISLAND to CONNECTICUT (1972 reprint of the 1913 edition), pp.234-236,passim; Eleanor B. READ, MYSTIC MEMORIES (1980), p.11-14. Gravestone Inscription:
In Memory of
Doc Elisha Morgan who died on his passage from Disintary to this place April 1st 1796 Aged 35
In Memory of Ms Abigail Morgan Relict of Docr Elisha Morgan who died April 22d 1796 Aged 25
"Dr Elisha Morgan born in Groton March 7 1 762 was one of the defenders of the fort who after the enemy gained possession, feigned dead among the dead and wounded so well that he was kicked and plundered without the deceit being detected. He heard the plans for blowing up the fort, and after the enemy had left aided in frustrating their plans. He died at sea in a voyage from Demerara in April 1 1796 leaving four children."
source: The Battle of Groton Heights: A Collection of Narratives, Official Reports ...
By William Wallace Harris, p 247-8