Thomas A. Morris
|Thomas Armstrong Morris|
December 26, 1811|
Nicholas County, Kentucky
|Died||April 1, 1904
|Place of burial||Indianapolis, Indiana|
|Allegiance||United States of America
|Service/branch||United States Army
|Years of service||1834 - 1836, 1861 - 1862|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
Thomas Armstrong Morris (December 26, 1811 – April 1, 1904) was an American railroad executive and civil engineer from Indiana and a soldier, serving as a brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He played an important role in clearing the Confederate army from western Virginia during the early part of the war, a move that helped foster pro-Union sentiment and contributed to the creation of the separate state of West Virginia. Morris was also instrumental in the planning and construction of the postbellum Indiana Statehouse.
Thomas Morris was born in Nicholas County, Kentucky. He was one of three sons of Rachel and Morris Morris, an Indianapolis pioneer who moved to central Indiana from Kentucky and later became the Indiana State Auditor.
Young Morris was educated in the local schools and was apprenticed at the age of twelve in the print room of Indianapolis's first newspaper. Three years later, he resumed his studies. In June 1830, he accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He graduated fourth in the Class of 1834 and became an officer in the 1st U.S. Artillery stationed at Fort Monroe in Virginia and then at Fort King in Florida. He served in several engineering capacities, including in Indiana where he helped extend the National Road into Illinois. He resigned from the army to accept the role as the state's Resident Engineer and supervised the construction of both the Central Canal and the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad. He later served as the president of the Bee Line and then the Indianapolis and Cincinnati Railroad. Morris also became a colonel in the Indiana state militia.
At the start of the Civil War, the Governor of Indiana, Oliver Morton, appointed Morris as the quartermaster general of the state's troops. On April 27, 1861 he was appointed brigadier general in the Indiana State Militia. Soon, Morris took command of a brigade of newly raised Indiana state troops and led them into western Virginia. His troops became known as the "Indiana Brigade" and were attached to the Department of the Ohio under fellow railroader George B. McClellan. Morris was the overall Union commander at the battle of Philippi which is considered one of the first (if not the first) organized land engagements of the Civil War. He fought in several other engagements in West Virginia including the battles at Rich Mountain and Corrick's Ford. Around noon on July 13, 1861, Morris attacked the rear guard of the retreating Confederate forces at Corrick's Ford on the Cheat River. Morris's men pursued the Rebels for several miles in a running skirmish before finally routing them after killing Confederate General Robert S. Garnett. The victory helped secure western Virginia for the Union.
In October 1862, Morris declined an appointment to the rank of both brigadier general and major general of U.S. Volunteers and resigned from the army to return to the railroad industry. In 1877, he was a commissioner overseeing the construction of the Indiana Statehouse, which was built in 1880. He also oversaw the construction of the Union Railway and Union Depot in Indianapolis, and was later the president of the Indianapolis Water Company.
Morris died in Indianapolis, Indiana at the age of 92 and was buried there.
- Hannaford, Ebenezer, The Story of a Regiment: A History of the Campaigns, and Associations of the Sixth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Cincinnati: self-published, 1868.
- Smith, Oliver Hampton, Early Indiana Trials and Sketches: Reminiscences. Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, Keys, & Co., 1858.