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

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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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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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Thomas Jefferson Page. Wood engraving of a photograph from the studio of Mathew B. Brady, 1859. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107249).

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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 ...

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Parker, William Harwar (08 October 1826–30 December 1896), naval officer and author, was born in New York City, the son of Foxhall Alexander Parker and Sara Jay Bogardus. He and his brother, Foxhall Parker, Jr., followed the career paths of their father and grandfather, William H. Parker, an officer in the Virginia navy during the Revolution while the elder Foxhall enjoyed distinguished service in the War of 1812 and the postwar navy. Appointed midshipman on 19 October 1841, two years behind his brother, William Parker served aboard the ...

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Raphael Semmes. Lithograph, c. 1862–1865. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-2385).

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Semmes, Raphael (27 September 1809–30 August 1877), Confederate rear admiral, was born in Charles County, Maryland, the son of Richard Thompson Semmes, a tobacco farmer, and Catherine Middleton, the daughter of Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Raised by two uncles after his parents’ death during his childhood, Semmes attended private schools in Georgetown and spent a brief period at Charlotte Hall Military Academy. He was named a midshipman in 1826....

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Tattnall, Josiah (09 November 1795–14 June 1871), naval officer, was born at his family’s estate, “Bonaventure,” near Savannah, Georgia, the son of Josiah Tattnall, a governor of Georgia, and Harriet Fenwick. His father died in 1803, and two years later Tattnall was sent to London, England, where he lived with his maternal grandfather. He returned to the United States in 1811 and a year later was appointed midshipman in the navy. For a few weeks Tattnall attended the naval school of Andrew Hunter, then he was ordered to the ...

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John Randolph Tucker. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110610).

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Tucker, John Randolph (31 January 1812–12 June 1883), Confederate flag officer, was born in Alexandria, Virginia, the son of John Tucker, a merchant captain, and Susan Mary Ann Douglas Wallace, daughter of a Royal Navy surgeon. He married Virginia Webb in 1838; she died in 1858 at age thirty-nine, after giving birth to their ninth child....

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Waddell, James Iredell (13 July 1824–15 March 1886), U.S. and Confederate naval officer, was born in Pittsboro, Chatham County, North Carolina, the son of Elizabeth Davis Moore and Francis Waddell. At a young age Waddell was adopted by his paternal grandmother and attended school in Pittsboro. At about the age of thirteen, because of the ill health of his grandmother, Waddell was taken to Orange County, North Carolina, by his maternal grandfather, Alfred Moore. For the next few years Waddell attended school in nearby Hillsboro (now Hillsborough), North Carolina....

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Wilkinson, John (06 November 1821–29 December 1891), U.S. and Confederate naval officer, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Francis Coleman and Jesse Wilkinson, a U.S. naval officer. On 18 December 1837 Wilkinson was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy, and on 10 February 1838 he was assigned to the USS ...

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Wood, John Taylor (13 August 1830?–19 July 1904), naval officer, was born at an army outpost, Fort Snelling (now St. Paul, Minn.), the son of Robert C. Wood, Sr., an army surgeon, and Anne Mackall Taylor, the eldest daughter of Zachary Taylor. Jefferson Davis...