(1841 - 1932)
Home State: Virginia
Education: Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Class of 1861
Command Billet: Commanding Regiment
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 15th Virginia Infantry
He was among a group of VMI Cadets who went to Richmond as recruit drillmasters when War was declared in April 1861 - he graduated in the VMI class of 1861.
He was elected Captain, Company C, of the 15th Virginia Infantry at the reorganization of April 1862.
On the Campaign
By Sharpsburg he was senior officer in the field and in command of the regiment. He was wounded in the shoulder and later captured at Sharpsburg on 17th September 1862, being relieved in command by Captain Willis of Company A.
Captain Morrison fired all the cartridges in a dead man's box and stepped a few yards away from the firing line where he picked up another and rejoined the fighting as was his habit. He shot two rounds and was preparing to fire the third one when something knocked him unconscious. About a minute later, he came around as four of his men lifted him onto a stretcher and started rearward with him. A projectile prostrated the stretcher party. The fragments splattered Charlie Watkins' brains all over Morrison, causing him to release his grip and dump the Captain while he struck the ground with a sickening thud. Billie [William H.] Briggs, another stretcher bearer, crashed to the earth with a broken thigh. The third man in the party lost the second and third fingers on a hand and the fourth one was also wounded.
Within seconds, several men ran over to carry Morrison off, but he sent them back into the ranks, where they were really needed. The Captain watched the regiment bolt into the woods near the Nicodemus farm, then very slowly hobbled and crawled to one of the huge hay mounds near the West Woods. A mess of blood and brains from head to foot, the captain listened to his blood slosh over his feet as it rolled down his pants legs into his boots. Among the wounded in the hay stack, he found Lieutenant John Nussell [John Kerr Fussell (1835-1909), Henrico County]. He immediately tended to Morrison, whom he considered more seriously hurt than he. Nussell cut away Morrison's right coat sleeve to stop the bleeding at its source. He discovered that the shell fragment had carried away the captain's right shoulder joint ... 1
The rest of the War
After Sharpsburg, while still a prisoner of war, he was made Major (to rank from August). He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel as of 24 January 1863, and exchanged to return to service in April 1863.
He was again captured in action at Sayler's Creek on 6 April 1865, and took the loyalty oath on 25 July 1865, the War over.
After the War
After the War he was a teacher and postmaster in Smithfield, Virginia. He was appointed Brigadier General of the 8th Brigade, 4th Division, Virginia Militia on 25 January 18722, and married Sarah A. Wilson in that year.
References & notes
Basic bio information above from VMI2 and Morrision Family Bible records, transcription online - where, by the way, his middle name is spelled "Massillon". His military record is from Manarin3 and Wallace4. Thanks to Bill Torrens for the Fussell correction.
The picture above is from a wartime drawing of him in Lieutenant Colonel's uniform by a Private Newman. The original is in the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond.
More on the Web
See a picture of his headstone at St Luke's.
8/21/1841; Smithfield, VA
06/08/1932; burial in St. Luke's Church, Benns, nr Smithfield, VA
1 Based on Morrison's article One Of The Gamest Of Modern Fights from the Richmond Times-Dispatch of 10 December 1905; Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XXXIII.
Priest, John Michael, Antietam: the Soldier's Battle, (paperback), Cary (NC): Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 130,132 [AotW citation 587]
2 Virginia Military Institute, and Diane B. Jacob, Head, Archives & Records Management, Virginia Military Institute Archives, Published c.2000, first accessed 01 January 2003, <http://www.vmi.edu/archives/> [AotW citation 588]
3 Manarin, Louis H., 15th Virginia Infantry, Lynchburg: H. E. Howard, Inc., 1990, pp. 28, 110 [AotW citation 589]
4 Wallace, Lee A., Jr., A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations 1861 - 1865, 2nd revision, Lynchburg (Va): H. E. Howard, Inc., 1986 [AotW citation 590]