Charles W. Morgan
Dates of Service: -
Birth Date: 1790
Death Date: 1/5/1853
Charles W. Morgan was born in Virginia in about 1790, the son of Simon and Elizabeth Morgan. He was the nephew of Revolutionary War general Daniel Morgan, “the celebrated hero of Cowpens.”
Morgan received his midshipman’s warrant on 1 January 1808.
Morgan joined Constitution on 17 June 1810 as a midshipman, transferring from USS Presidentthen at Hampton Roads, VA. Captain Hull appointed him acting sailing master on 1 July 1811, then acting lieutenant beginning 30 April 1812. He left the ship in March 1813.
The junior lieutenants each had command of a watch. The men in the watch were under the lieutenant’s care and command. He was to keep a list of all the officers and men in his watch. When mustered, he examined the men to make sure they were well clothed, clean, and sober. He regularly visited the lower decks to make sure the sentries were at their posts, that no tobacco was smoked between decks, and that there were no unenclosed candles lit. While at sea, a junior lieutenant was not to change the ship’s course without the captain’s permission, unless it was to prevent a collision or other accident. In battle, the lieutenants were stationed with their divisions on the spar deck or gun deck. From December 1812, as Fourth Lieutenant, Morgan was responsible for maintenance of the after third of the gun deck and control of the ten 24-pounders there in battle. The youngest lieutenant exercised the men with small arms and in battle oversaw their use. In addition, all lieutenants were required to keep a journal or log, a copy of which was to be delivered to the Navy Office at the end of a voyage.
On 16 October 1810, Morgan fought a duel with Midshipman Richard Rogers, who was killed in the affair. Morgan was wounded.
Battles and Engagements
He was on board Constitution during the action with HMS Guerriere on 19 August 1812, and HMS Java on 29 December 1812. He shared with the crew $50,000 in prize money for the first victory and received $148.43 for the second.
Morgan received his lieutenant’s commission on 3 March 1813 and was considered well-qualified for command of a frigate by Commodore John Rodgers in 1814. He became a Master Commandant 15 April 1820. He commanded the Naval Rendezvous in New York in 1826 and USS Falmouth in 1827. He was promoted to captain on 21 February 1831. In 1834, he requested command of Constitution but was junior to another who wanted the position. He later commanded the ship-of-the-line North Carolina and served as commodore of the Mediterranean Squadron. Morgan died 5 January 1853 of “disease of the bladder and kidneys,” just a few months after assuming command of the Washington Navy Yard. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC. His wife Julia died four months later and her mother Anna assumed the guardianship of the children.