Charles Morris
(1854 - 1914)

Photo of Charles Morris
Photo provided by Richard Morris (used with permission).

Charles A. Morris was a young engineer with the Morris and Cummings Dredging Company when the Fenian Ram had tied up at the company dock. He helped John Holland fit out the 16-foot model in early 1882.1

In 1889, John Holland approached Charles Morris for help improving his petroleum engine. The two men met several times during 1889 to work on the engine. In May 1890, Charles Morris hired John Holland as a draftsman in in his dredging company, a position Holland held until May 1893. Morris introduced Holland to a young lawyer named Elihu B. Frost who enabled Holland to found the Holland Torpedo Boat Company.2

John Holland convinced his friend to work for his new company and oversee the construction of the Holland VI in 1896 through the summer of 1897. Morris was also in charge of the overhaul during the winter of 1898-99. In the spring of 1899, Morris was sent to Greenport, Long Island to locate a new site for the Holland Torpedo Boat Company. "His inquiries led him to the Goldsmith and Tuthill Yard" which provided a well-protected basin and the nearby waters of Little Peconic Bay.

Charles Morris resigned from the Holland Torpedo Boat Company on October 9, 1899 due to the internal power struggles. He died the same year as his friend John Holland (1914).

Charles Morrisí copious notes form the basis of the "Morris Collection" at the Submarine Forces Museum and Library and were a major source of information for his grandson (Richard Knowles Morris), who wrote John Hollandís biography.


  1. Morris, Richard K., John P. Holland: Inventor of the Modern Submarine.
    (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1966; 2nd ed., Univ. S.C. Press, 1998), p. 49.
  2. Ibid., p. 64

1999, Gary McCue

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