Ohio History Journal

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In any historical celebration of the Maumee Valley, Captain

Thomas Morris may justly claim a brief mention. He was the

first British officer to ascend the Maumee River. I say "officer,"

because it is possible that one or two Pennsylvania traders may

have penetrated that far into Ohio in the 1740's or 1750's. But

Morris did something else, too. He has left us two accounts of

his Maumee adventures--one a day-by-day diary, the other a nar-

rative based on his diary and written in later years.

Not a great deal is known about Morris although he achieved

enough subsequent fame to be found in the Dictionary of National

Biography. He was born in 1732 in Carlisle, England, the son of

a retired army officer and song writer. He attended Winchester

College and then, early in 1749, joined the British army as ensign

in the 17th Regiment. In December, 1755, he was promoted a

lieutenant. His regiment was sent to America in 1758 at the

height of the French and Indian War and was employed at the

siege of Havana in 1762. It then returned to continental America

and remained here under General Thomas Gage, the new com-


You will recall that 1763 was a momentous year in this region.

The British had won the West by conquest and had garrisoned all

of the former French posts in 1760 and 1761 except Fort Chartres

on the Mississippi. Hostile Indians barred the way to British

soldiers seeking to reach the Illinois post, and Pontiac's uprising

set back the day of English occupation another year. In the sum-

mer of 1764, General Gage sent out two expeditions to quell the

rebellion of the western tribes.  One under Colonel Bouquet

marched into southern Ohio. The other, under Colonel John

Bradstreet, was sent to relieve Detroit and to chastize Pontiac's

immediate allies. Thomas Morris, now a captain, was one of the