Gabriel Long – Continental Army Officer – Virginia


Gabriel Long was born to Reuben Long and his only wife Mary Harrison in 1751 in Culpeper County, Virginia. He was of strong Irish stock and of direct descent from the Longs of Wraxall. He came of age during the French and Indian War, in which his father and grandfather were both heavily involved, and he tasted war for the first time in it as a color-bearer and private soldier in the state militia. Long grew to be an excellent marksmen and horse rider and into the frontier soldier he would later become.

== The Revolutionary War ==

Long was an ardent patriot, as were his father and grandfather. In 1774 there was a petition sent to the Royal Governor of the colony and the King of England himself by the men who would form the Culpeper Minutemen. Gabriel Long had the distinction of signing the document very first and very boldly as Hancock would do two years later. His father and grandfather also signed the petition and were members of the Culpeper Minutemen. As a member of the militia he fought at the Battle of Point Pleasant, and in Lord Dunmore’s War he saw heavy action at the seaport Battles of Hampton and Norfolk.

By the time Virginia began raising troops for service in the Continental Army, Long already had a rather long service record and was renowned as one of the best riflemen in Virginia and for that matter the colonies so it was natural that when Daniel Morgan was recruiting his rifle battalion he chose Gabriel Long as his senior captain and as later remarked by his men his “favourite captain and good friend”. Long began recruiting he would take a board draw a target on it, usually in the shape of a human nose, in the middle of the board and set it up at several hundred yards and those who shot the closest to the nose would be chosen. Long himself was also known to have shot apples off of men’s heads at a considerable range, a practice which was said to have “wasted many apples” and was also known to be accurate up to 300 yards with a target the size of an orange.

Long went with Morgan to join Washington’s army besieging Boston and was heavily involved in the Boston area. Long’s fame and the fame of Morgan’s Rifles began to grow about this time in early 1776. He became good friends with George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette and was often sent out on detached services as an independent commander. He became famous for his willingness to kill officers and his hatred of Tories as well as his fondness of scalping the officers he killed. He went on to serve with distinction and to be the vanguard of the army and protect its encampments.

During the Battle of Trenton he was the first across the river, and his company led the assault, and it is believed that he is the mysterious marksmen who killed Colonel Johann Rall. He helped unite Sullivan’s and Washington’s columns by holding back the British and thus greatly contributed to the victory at Princeton. When Washington settled into camp at Valley Forge, Long led his men as a detached company under his independent command who scouted and skirmished all around the camp and prevented the British from taking Washington’s Army in such a vulnerable state. After the encampment at Valley Forge he helped defend Philadelphia from an expected attack, but through his and others’ efforts it was repulsed.

At Millstone, New Jersey, while leading a detachment he came across a column of British soldiers under Lord Cornwallis whose intentions were to draw Washington’s army out of fortified position to an open area for a general engagement. Long, realizing this, raised the alarm and stood his ground and held back the enemy while awaiting reinforcements which would come and completely drive out the British. Long once again saved Washington’s army and would continue to do so in the future.