Morrison was born in Ireland and came to the United States in 1855. Enlisting in the 30th New York Infantry at Lansingburgh, New York, April 24, 1861, he volunteered for service on gunboat USS Carondelet on February 15, 1862. He was appointed coxswain and later received the Medal of Honor for exceptional bravery during an engagement on July 15, 1862 with Confederate ram CSS Arkansas in the Yazoo River. He was an inspiring example to the crew during Carondelet’s unsuccessful attempt to halt the ironclad ram’s progress through the Union blockade to the Mississippi River. . Coxswain Morrison was discharged from the Navy March 31, 1863. In September 1864, he enlisted at Troy, New York in the 21st New York Cavalry Regiment and mustered out in May 1865 at Bladensburg, Maryland
Medal of Honor citation
US Navy Medal of Honor (1862 original).png
Rank and Organization: Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Entered service at: Lansingburg, N.Y. Born: November 3, 1842, Ireland G.O. No.: 59, June 22, 1865.
Serving as coxswain on board the USS Carondelet, Morrison was commended for meritorious conduct in general and especially for his heroic conduct and his inspiring example to the crew in the engagement with the rebel ram Arkansas, Yazoo River, 15 July 1862. When the Carondelet was badly cut up, several of her crew killed, many wounded and others almost suffocated from the effects of escaped steam, Morrison was the leader when boarders were called on deck, and the first to return to the guns and give the ram a broadside as she passed. His presence of mind in time of battle or trial is reported as always conspicuous and encouraging.
Morrison died in New York City June 9, 1897.
He is buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. His grave can be found in section 9, lot 359.
In 1943, the destroyer USS Morrison (DD-560) was named in his honor.
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