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Brooke, John Mercer (18 December 1826–14 December 1906), naval officer, scientist, and inventor, was born at Fort Brooke, Tampa Bay, Florida, the son of George Mercer Brooke, a brevet brigadier general in the U.S. Army, and Lucy Thomas. His Brooke forebears had been prominent in affairs of the state of Virginia since the late seventeenth century. Brooke’s family moved frequently before he accepted an appointment as acting midshipman at age fourteen. His irregular formal education included a short stint at Aaron’s School in Burlington, New Jersey. His scientific education continued in the navy. Brooke served briefly aboard the warship USS ...

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Buchanan, Franklin (13 September 1800–11 May 1874), U.S. and Confederate naval officer, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of George Buchanan, a prominent doctor and abolitionist, and Laetitia McKean. He entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in 1815, a few months after the end of the War of 1812, and was ordered to the new frigate ...

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Franklin Buchanan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1428).

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Bulloch, James Dunwoody (25 June 1823–07 January 1901), Confederate naval officer, was born near Savannah, Georgia, the only child of James Stephens Bulloch and his first wife, Hester Amarintha Elliott. Major Bulloch had been one of the owners of the Savannah, a ship that in 1819 made the first steam-assisted crossing of the Atlantic. Hester Bulloch's father was a U.S. senator, and her mother belonged to the prominent Dunwody family. (J. D. Bulloch changed the spelling of his middle name to Dunwoody.)...

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Jones, Catesby ap Roger (15 April 1821–20 June 1877), naval officer, was born in Fairfield, Virginia, the son of Roger Jones, an army officer who became army adjutant general, and Mary Anne Mason Page. Catesby Jones was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy on 18 June 1836. His decision to join the navy was strongly influenced by an uncle, Captain ...

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Kell, John McIntosh (23 January 1823–05 October 1900), naval officer, was born near Darien, Georgia, the son of John Kell, a lawyer and planter, and Marjory Spalding Baillie. Born and raised on a cotton and rice plantation on the Georgia coast, Kell’s boyhood dream of becoming a naval officer became a reality with his appointment as midshipman in the U.S. Navy in 1841. After a first cruise aboard the ...

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Maffitt, John Newland (22 February 1819–15 May 1886), American and Confederate naval officer, was born at sea while his mother, Ann Carnic, was en route from Ireland to the United States to join her husband, John Newland Maffitt, a Methodist minister. In 1824 Dr. William Maffitt, young Maffitt’s uncle, took pity on the modest circumstances of his brother’s family and offered to take charge of his nephew. Maffitt went to live with his uncle near Fayetteville, North Carolina. He attended school in Fayetteville and White Plains, New York, until age thirteen, when his family obtained a midshipman’s commission for him. For the next ten years he spent much of his time at sea, including service on board the frigates ...

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Matthew F. Maury. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1335).

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Maury, Matthew Fontaine (14 January 1806–01 February 1873), naval officer and oceanographer, was born near Fredericksburg, Virginia, the son of Richard Maury and Diana Minor, farmers. In 1811 the family settled on a farm near the frontier village of Franklin in Central Tennessee. Matthew Fontaine Maury, who is usually known by all three of his names, attended country schools in the area, but in 1818 he enrolled in Harpeth Academy at Franklin. One of his older brothers was a naval officer, and in 1825 Maury received a midshipman’s warrant in the U.S. Navy. During the next nine years he sailed to Europe, around the world on the USS ...

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Page, Thomas Jefferson (04 January 1808–26 October 1899), naval officer and explorer, was born in Shelly, Gloucester County, Virginia, the son of Mann Page, a plantation owner, and Elizabeth Nelson. Page’s varied and interesting career began in 1827 when he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy (aboard a ship in New York) by President ...