USS Commodore Morris

   

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in Union Navy

Editor’s Note: Do you have information on this ship’s role at the Siege of Petersburg?  Please contact us using the Contact button in the menu at the top of the screen.  We are happy to exchange information with other researchers.

Ship Information (from DANFS)1,2:

Name: USS Commodore Morris Type: Sidewheel Steamer Tonnage: 532
Length: Not listed. Beam: Not listed. Draught: Loaded: 8’6”, Light: 7’
Speed: Max: 7 knots, Avg. 4 knots Complement: 106 men Class: Not listed.
Armament: May 15, 1863: 1 100-pdr. rifle, 1 9″ Dahlgren Smoothbore, 2 24-pdr. Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 30-pdr. Parrott rifles

December 8, 1864: 1 100-pdr. rifle, 1 9″ Dahlgren Smoothbore, 2 24-pdr. Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 30-pdr. Parrott rifles, 1 heavy 12-pdr

Namesake: Charles Morris was born in Woodstock, Conn., 26 July 1784, and served in the Quasi-War with France, Barbary Wars, and War of 1812. Commodore Morris served as a Navy Commissioner from 1823 to 1827, and as the Chief of the Bureau of Construction Equipment, and Repairs from 1844 to 1847. He died in Washington, D.C., 27 January 1856.

Images:

COMMODORE MORRIS (naval and merchant steamer, 1862-1931)3

Captain(s):
Acting Master Robert G. Lee
Captain Image

Acting Master Hamilton Bingham
Captain Image

Captain 3
Captain Image

 

First Offensive Order of Battle (June 13-18, 1864): James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (June 17, 1864)4

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: On June 17, 1864, this ship is noted as at “Turkey Bend” and “above Newport News” on the James River.5

Second Offensive Order of Battle (June 19-30, 1864):

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

Third Offensive Order of Battle (July 1-31, 1864): Fourth Division (James River) | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (July 31, 1864)6

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

Fourth Offensive Order of Battle (August 1-31, 1864): Fourth Division (James River) | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (August 1 & 17, 1864)7,8

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

Fifth Offensive Order of Battle (September 1-October 13, 1864): Second Division (Hampton Roads and James River) | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (September 1 & 16 and October 1, 1864)9,10,11

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: On September 16 and October 1, 1864, this ship is noted as in “James River.”12,13

Sixth Offensive Order of Battle (October 14-31, 1864):

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

Seventh Offensive Order of Battle (November 1-December 31, 1864): James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (November 1 and December 5 & 15, 1864)14,15,16

  • Captain: Acting Master Robert G. Lee (November 1 and December 5 & 15, 1864)17,18,19
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
    • 1 100-pdr. rifle, 1 9″ Dahlgren Smoothbore, 2 24-pdr. Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 30-pdr. Parrott rifles, 1 heavy 12-pdr (December 8, 1864)20
    • 7  x “guns” (December 15, 1864)21
  • Notes:
    • On November 12, 1864, this ship was located in the James River at “lower Turkey Bend” and was classified as a “ferryboat.”22
    • On December 15, 1864, this ship is noted as a “Class 4” vessel.23

Eighth Offensive Order of Battle (January 1-February 28, 1865): James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (January 1 & 15 and February 1, 15, & 25, 1865)24,25,26,27,28

  • Captain: Acting Master Robert G. Lee (January 1 & 15 and February 1 & 15, 1865)29,30,31,32
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 7 x “guns” (January 1 & 15 and February 1 & 15, 1865)33,34,35,36
  • Note: On January 1 & 15 and February 1 & 15, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Class 4” vessel.37,38,39,40

Ninth Offensive Order of Battle (March 1-April 2, 1865):

White House, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (March 18, 1865)41

Norfolk Navy Yard, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (April 1, 1865)42

Ordered to Chickahominy River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (on or before April 15, 1865)43

  • Captain:
    • Acting Master Robert G. Lee (March 18, 1865)44
    • Acting Master Hamilton Bingham (April 1 & 15, 1865)45,46
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 7 x “guns” (March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865)47,48,49
  • Note: On March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Paddle Class” vessel.50,51,52

 

Siege of Petersburg Battles:

 

Siege of Petersburg Involvement:56

Commodore Morris, an armed side wheel ferryboat, was built in 1862 at New York; purchased by the Navy 5 August 1862; fitted out at New York Navy Yard; and commissioned 19 November 1862 with Lieutenant Commander J. H. Gillis in command.

Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Commodore Morris’ entire service was in the rivers and creeks of Virginia. Serving on patrol, and as picket, she also transported troops, dragged for mines, towed disabled ships, and sent parties ashore which took prisoners and food supplies.

Several times she engaged Confederate installations and cavalry ashore, most notably in the action with batteries at Trent’s Reach on 16 May 1864 and near Malvern Hill on 14 and 16 July 1864.

Commodore Morris arrived at New York 17 June 1865. There she was decommissioned 24 June, and sold 12 July 1865.

 

Bibliography:

    Siege of Petersburg Documents Which Mention This Unit:

    Sources:

    1. “DANFS.” Naval History and Heritage Command, www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs.html.
    2. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 64
    3. Heyl, Erik. “NH 63705 COMMODORE MORRIS (Naval and Merchant Steamer, 1862-1931).” Naval History and Heritage Command, www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/our-collections/photography/numerical-list-of-images/nhhc-series/nh-series/NH-63000/NH-63705.html. Built at New York (?) in 1862. 1862-1865: USS COMMODORE MORRIS; 1866-1917: ferry SS CLINTON; 1917-1920: U.S. Army ferry GEN. JOHN SIMPSON; 1920-1931: ferry SS CLINTON. For more data, see: Erik Heyl, Early American Steamers, vol. IV. Watercolor by Erik Heyl.
    4. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 157158
    5. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 157158
    6. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 324325
    7. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 370371
    8. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, p. 326
    9. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 410412
    10. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 462463
    11. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 514515
    12. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 462463
    13. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 514515
    14. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 3940
    15. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
    16. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
    17. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 3940
    18. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
    19. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
    20. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 64
    21. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
    22. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, p. 61
    23. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
    24. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
    25. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
    26. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
    27. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
    28. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 5455
    29. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
    30. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
    31. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
    32. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
    33. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
    34. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
    35. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
    36. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
    37. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
    38. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
    39. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
    40. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
    41. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
    42. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
    43. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
    44. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
    45. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
    46. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
    47. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
    48. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
    49. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
    50. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
    51. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
    52. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
    53. “Commodore Morris.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/c/commodore-morris.html.
    54. “Commodore Morris.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/c/commodore-morris.html.
    55. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, p. 137
    56. “Commodore Morris.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/c/commodore-morris.html.

    ***



    What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.

    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    Lisa Fulton April 9, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Brett, I absolutely love this new series of posts. The amount of work you have put into it is amazing.
    As I am sure you would expect, after I read each day’s article, I look to see if there is a connection in my cache of letters. Today – found one!

    Pvt. Jeffers of the 7th SC Cavalry writes from Malvern Hill on July 17, 1864:
    “We are expecting to move our camp this evening. I do not know where we will go. This is quite a pleasant place and I would prefer to remain here although we are in shelling distance of the enemy Gunboats and when annoyed by our artillery they sometimes shell us. They honored us with their attention yesterday and we had to move a short distance farther from the River but soon returned. It is amusing to see how “wild” the men look when a tremendous bolt making a most unearthly sound comes over us and falls near the camp. Some jump behind trees, some fall flat on the ground, and all stare about in the air like a flock of barnyard chickens when a hawk flies over.
    Mr McKellar, Henry, and myself are all well, hearty, and cheerful. We are getting on finely in every respect.”

    It is so fascinating to find connections. I continue to find tons of connecting material throughout your website.

    Brett Schulte April 10, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Thank you Lisa! I still have a few more to finish up, but as of April 10, I have ships scheduled to post one a day until late June! Every single one spent at least some time on the York, James, and/or Appomattox Rivers during the Siege of Petersburg. The Confederate ships will be out soon, followed by many, many more Union vessels.

    Brett

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