Benjamin Morgan, known to all as Ben, was born in Llanberis, Wales in 1789 to a miner and his wife. His childhood was an unhappy one, being dominated physically and mentally by his surviving older brother, and kept at a distance by his father. Though very attached to his mother, his father insisted that Ben go into the coal mines with him as ‘a proper job’. The tight spaces, constant darkness, and high risks underground for black gold terrified Ben though he would never openly admit it to his family. A mining accident offered Ben the perfect excuse to get out of being a miner and Ben obtained work back in home in Llanberis as a laborer at the local Dinorwic slate quarry – at least this time it was outdoors.
Soon however, cracking slate became dull and Ben wanted something different. An evening’s drinking with some old solders persuaded him that the "King's Shillin' " was the way to go. These hardy older men talked of far off places like America, Egypt, and the West Indies – all magical stuff to a boy who thought Cardiff to the south was a grand adventure. Indeed, service to the King – that was a man’s job for certain.
Morgan, Royal Marine
Ben initially hoped that he would join the army, but instead fell in with a recruiting party from the Portsmouth Division of Marines before the long journey south to Hampshire. The trip was long and tiring and offered no rest at journey’s end. Portsmouth itself was another education, this time how to be a man and do a man’s job. Owing to his age, a musket was placed in his hand and he was taught how to use it. His upbringing had hardened him to other men shouting at him and he had no problem minding his tongue.
Satisfied that he could perform the duties of a marine, Ben was sent in a draft of men to bring the Chatham Division up to strength. He was quickly assigned to standing guard in the Dockyard or on the Dockyard gate, but eventually posted to the 50-gun fourth rate Antelope as a replacement. In 1809, he was transferred to the Terpsichore, 32. He was initially assigned to Corporal Johnson’s squad, but the man was reduced to the ranks, Ben now served beside his former leader under the newly-minted Corporal O'Brian.On the first of September 1809, he injured his right hand while doing musket drill: he had his hand over the muzzle while loading his musket and it went off, impaling his hand with the ramrod. Recovering from his wound, he is currently on light duties.
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