Freshly Fallen Bricks of My Morris Family Wall
After searching to uncover more information about my maternal great grandmother’s (Mary Susan MORRIS Ford) family, I once again stumbled and fell upon freshly fallen bricks of a wall I had pushed against for many years. Until now, I primarily had focused on the origins of my Native American heritage through the Morris branch. And then, I immediately shifted my center as a result of revisiting my earlier research in Grandmother Susan’s tree.
To refresh my memory, I reviewed data I had compiled about her father, Gideon W. Morris–my second great grandfather (1837/8-1880)–Virginia born and raised. It was about 18 months ago when volunteer contributor Michael Hollingsworth first created a findagrave memorial page about Gideon W. Morris and I added his entries to my tree. My newest research, based on Michael’s findagrave.com page, has helped me remove some significant bricks from my Morris Family wall–thank you, Michael.
It turns out that The Southern Historical Society, a public organization founded by Confederate Major General Dabney H. Maury in 1868-1869 documented Southern military and civilian viewpoints from the American Civil War until now. These were compiled into the Southern Historical Society Papers, published in the late 19th Century, comprising 52 volumes of articles written by Southern soldiers, officers, politicians, and civilians. And among these papers and published online, when googling “Sergeant Gideon W Morris,” I found the military history of my second great grandfather Sergeant Gideon W. Morris.
Gideon Morris’s Life in the Confederate States of America Infantry
At age 25 on April 23, 1861, Gideon enlisted in Virginia’s Infantry less than two weeks after the civil war officially began on April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. He was a member of Company A of the 15th Virginia Infantry.
The Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg
In the Antietam/Sharpsburg Campaign (September 16-18,1862) 16 months after he enlisted, Sgt. Morris was captured on Wednesday,
September 17, 1862. The battle began just outside Sharpsburg early on the morning of September 17, 1862, when Union troops under General Joseph Hooker attacked the Confederates near the Dunker Church. Later, the fighting would move to the Sunken Road, and then to a bridge over Antietam Creek, across which troops under General Ambrose Burnside managed to fight their way only to be withdrawn again when rebel reinforcements arrived at the end of the day. With a combined tally of dead, wounded, and missing at 22,717, this is the all-time bloodiest single-day battle in American history. Based on those statistics, I would consider the capture on this day of Sgt. Morris to be one of his luckiest days in his life.
Twenty months later, on Saturday, May 14, 1864, Sgt. Gideon Morris was wounded in action probably at Drewry’s Bluff at Fort Darling in Chesterfield County, Virginia.
And then, nearly one year later he was captured again on Saturday, April 11865, just 8 days before the Civil War came to its official end on Sunday, April 9, 1865.
Gideon’s Private Life
Before Gideon’s enlistment in 1861, according to the 1860 Census, he and his wife, Mary J. Schaner, ten years his junior, and their first-born, one-year-old son Granville, J. Morris, were living in Mecklenburg, North Carolina. Unfortunately, the enumerator failed to enter any occupations for the Morris’s.
The 1870 Census has Gideon and his wife, Mary J. Schaner and their one-year-old daughter, Florence, living back in the Marshall Ward of Richmond, and Gideon working as a lumber inspector.
My next tracer, The U.S. City Directories, shows Gideon and his family at 2404 E. Main Street, Richmond where he worked as a laborer.
The Census beginning on June 1, 1880, shows Gideon alive at age 43 or so, working as a carpenter and living in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife, Mary, and his two daughters, Florence D., 10, and Mary Susan (my great-grandmother), age 5. This explains why our Ford family knew so very little about Mary Susan’s ancestry.
And, aside from the findagrave memorial page (noted above), to date, I have found no further information about Gideon Morris’s life or death.
A 2-minute Video Commemorating the Civil War’s Battle of Antietam and all those who lost their Lives or were Injured
The video below concludes a series of six two-minute segments from The Civil War’s Trust’s animated events of The Battle of Antietam. To see the full series, click on this link.
References, Sources, and Other Notes:
Basic information from Southern Historical Society: Note: From an annotated roster of Company A, 15th Virginia Infantry by Captain M.W. Hazlewood published originally in the Richmond Dispatch of 19 August 1894.
Southern Historical Society, and Rev. John William Jones, Robert Alonzo Brock, James Power Smith, editors, Southern Historical Society Papers, 52 Vols., Richmond: Southern Historical Society, 1876-1959, Vol. 21, pp. 48 – 54 [AotW citation 8853]