Charles Morris (naval officer)

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For other people named Charles Morris, see Charles Morris (disambiguation).
Charles Morris
Commodore Charles Morris by Southworth & Hawes, c1850.jpg
Commodore Charles Morris
by Southworth & Hawes, circa 1850
Born (1784-07-26)July 26, 1784
Woodstock, Connecticut, U.S.
Died January 27, 1856(1856-01-27) (aged 71)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1799 to 1847
Rank Commodore
Unit USS Constitution
Commands held USS Adams
Battles/wars Quasi-War
the First Barbary War and Second Barbary War
War of 1812
Constitution vs Guerriere
Battle of Hampden

Charles Morris (July 26, 1784 – January 27, 1856) was a United States naval officer and administrator whose service extended through the first half of the 19th century.


Morris was born in Woodstock, Maine, on July 26, 1784. After being appointed a midshipman in July 1799, he served in the Quasi-War with France, First Barbary War, the Second Barbary War, and the War of 1812. He was promoted to captain in March 1813. He 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.

In 1812, Morris was appointed executive officer of the USS Constitution under the command of Isaac Hull during her battle with the HMS Guerriere, in which action Morris was severely wounded. He was promoted to captain on March 3, 1813. In 1814, he commanded the USS Adams in raiding expeditions against British commerce. Cornered in the Penobscot River in Maine by a British squadron under Captain Robert Barrie, Morris and his men went ashore with their cannons and, assisted by local militia attempted to hold off the British amphibious force in the Battle of Hampden. The British regulars routed the Americans, however, and Morris and his crew had to scuttle the ship and escape overland to Portland, Maine.

In 1835, his daughter Louise eloped and married William Wilson Corcoran, a banker and philanthropist living in Washington, D.C.[1]

In his later career, Morris commanded the Mediterranean Squadron and served as the chief of the Bureau of Ordnance.

Charles Morris died at his home in Washington, D.C., on January 27, 1856, from a lung ailment.[2] At the time of his death, he was the second highest-ranking officer in the Navy after Charles Stewart. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C., near the large family mausoleum built by his son-in-law, William Wilson Corcoran. Corcoran paid for a large, decorative headstone to be placed at the grave.[3]


Ships in the United States Navy have been named USS Morris and USS Commodore Morris for him.

Charles Morris Court, a street inside the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., is named after him.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  1. ^ Ecker 1933, pp. 126–139.
  2. ^ "Spirit of the Morning Press". The Evening Star. January 28, 1856. p. 2. 
  3. ^ Mitchell 1986, pp. 32-34.


  • Ecker, Grace Dunlop (1933). A Portrait of Old George Town. Richmond, Va.: Garrett & Massie. 
  • Mitchell, Mary (1986). Chronicles of Georgetown Life, 1865-1900. Cabin John, Md.: Seven Locks Press. ISBN 0932020402. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Morris, Charles (2002). Autobiography of Commodore Charles Morris, USN. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute press. ISBN 1557504792.