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Ammen, Daniel (16 May 1819–11 July 1898), naval officer, author, and inventor, was born in Brown County, Ohio, the son of David Ammen and Sally Houtz, farmers. While still a boy, Ammen exerted an unanticipated influence on later national affairs when he pulled his friend and schoolmate ...

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Frank M. Andrews. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94369).

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Andrews, Frank Maxwell (03 February 1884–03 May 1943), army officer and airman, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of James David Andrews, a newspaper reporter, and Louise Adeline Maxwell. He graduated from the Montgomery Bell Academy in 1901 and the following year gained admittance to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Graduating in 1906, Andrews was commissioned a second lieutenant in the cavalry. He spent the next eleven years drawing routine assignments in the American West, Hawaii, and the Philippines. In 1914 he married Jeanette Allen, the daughter of Major General ...

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Andrews, George Leonard (31 August 1828–04 April 1899), soldier, engineer, and educator, was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, the son of Manasseh Andrews and Harriet Leonard. After attending the state normal school at Bridgewater, he was accepted as a candidate at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated at the head of the class of 1851 and was appointed second lieutenant of engineers. His first duty after graduation was in his home state, participating in the construction of Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. He then returned to the academy as an assistant professor....

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Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-92806).

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Arnold, Henry Harley (25 June 1886–15 January 1950), airman, was born in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, the son of Herbert Alonzo Arnold, a physician, and Anna Louise Harley. Arnold received a public education and in 1903 entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. A mediocre student, he graduated in the middle of his class in 1907 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry. He served four years with the Twenty-ninth Regiment in the Philippines and New York before volunteering for flight training with the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. In April 1911 Arnold reported to Dayton, Ohio, and received instruction from the Wright brothers. Two months later he joined the army’s first cadre of military aviators. Arnold subsequently transferred to College Park, Maryland, as a flight instructor and on 1 June 1912 established a world altitude record of 6,540 feet. This act garnered him the first-ever Mackay trophy....

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Bancroft, Edward (09 January 1744–08 September 1821), physician, scientist, and spy, was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Bancroft and Mary Ely, farmers. The elder Bancroft died in 1746 of an epileptic attack suffered in a pigpen, two months before the birth of his younger son, Daniel. His widow married David Bull of Westfield in 1751, and the family moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where Bull operated the Bunch of Grapes tavern. Edward Bancroft was taught for a time by the recent Yale graduate ...

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Charles Bendire. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94579).

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Bendire, Charles Emil (27 April 1836–04 February 1897), naturalist and soldier, was born Karl Emil Bender at König im Odenwald in Hesse-Darmstadt (now in Germany). The identities of his parents are not known. At age twelve he began his studies at a theological seminary in Passy, France. Misconduct led to his departure five years later. In 1853 he immigrated to the United States and anglicized his name to Charles Bendire. The following year he joined the First Dragoons in the U.S. Army. During his second enlistment, which began in 1860, he became a sergeant and later hospital steward in the Fourth Cavalry....

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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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Samuel R. Curtis. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-2075).

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Curtis, Samuel Ryan (03 February 1805–26 December 1866), soldier and engineer, was born near Champlain, New York, the son of Zarah Curtis and Phalley Yale, farmers. In 1809 the family moved to Licking County, Ohio. Curtis obtained an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy and graduated in 1831. Later that year he married Belinda Buckingham; the couple had six children. Curtis served briefly with the Seventh Infantry at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), but resigned his commission in 1832 and returned to Ohio. During the next decade he worked as an engineer on the National Road and was the chief engineer of the Muskingum River improvement project. He also studied law and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1841. Curtis was active in the Ohio militia and was named adjutant general of the state when the Mexican War began, but he resigned in order to command the Third Ohio Infantry in the field. Much to his disappointment, he saw no action in Mexico but served as military governor of Matamoras, Camargo, Monterrey, and Saltillo....

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Charles Henry Davis. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-104940).

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Davis, Charles Henry (16 January 1807–18 February 1877), naval officer and hydrographer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel Davis, solicitor general of Massachusetts, and Lois Freeman, the sister of James Freeman, the first Unitarian minister in New England. Davis entered Harvard College in 1821 but left two years later to become a midshipman and did not complete his degree until 1841. From 1824 to 1840 Davis served in the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the West Indies, the South Atlantic, and the Pacific; made warm friends, including ...

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Davison, Gregory Caldwell (12 August 1871–07 May 1935), naval officer and inventor, was born in Jefferson City, Missouri, the son of Alexander Caldwell Davison, a physician, and Sarah Pelot Eppes. In 1888 he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and graduated with the class of 1892....

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Grenville M. Dodge. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1672).

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Dodge, Grenville Mellen (12 April 1831–03 January 1916), civil engineer and army officer, was born in Danvers, Massachusetts, the son of Sylvanus Dodge, a peddler, and Julia Theresa Phillips. Despite a nearly impoverished childhood and the need to find employment at an early age, Dodge demonstrated a strong desire for a formal education. Following one semester of preparatory study at New Hampshire’s Durham Academy, he entered in 1848 Norwich University in Vermont, where he learned the scientific and engineering skills that would serve him well in life. After his graduation in 1851, he lived briefly at nearby Captain ...

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Clarence Edward Dutton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-37906).

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Dutton, Clarence Edward (15 May 1841–04 January 1912), geologist and soldier, was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Dutton (occupation unknown) and Emily Curtis. Little is known of Dutton’s youth. He graduated from Yale in 1860 without distinction, although he rowed crew, won the senior writing prize, and established credentials as a mathematician and a raconteur. He later spent two weeks at Yale’s theology school until, in his words, he left before he was thrown out. In September 1862 he joined the Twenty-first Connecticut Volunteers as adjutant. A year later he earned a captaincy and, after passing exams, transferred to the regular army in 1864. Soon afterward he married Emeline C. Babcock of New Haven; they had one child, a son. The Ordnance Corps remained his career despite “pretty rough service,” including serious wounds received at Fredericksburg. His postwar assignment to the Watervliet Arsenal near Troy, New York, however, launched his second, better-known career as a geologist....

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Eastman, William Reed (19 October 1835–25 March 1925), engineer, clergyman, and librarian, was born in New York City, the son of the Reverend Ornan Eastman, an ordained evangelist, and Mary Reed. Eastman descended from an old New England family. Like his father, Eastman attended Yale University, where he achieved election to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1854 with honors. During the first of his three distinctive professional endeavors, he worked as a civil engineer, initially on the enlargement of the Erie Canal, subsequently on the construction of the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroad, and finally on the survey of the first railroad from Vera Cruz to Mexico City....