Coast Surveyors assumed important combat roles during the Civil War, serving as topographers, reconnaissance specialists, scouts, intelligence officers, and combat hydrographers.

For a contemporary record of combat mapping during the Civil War, see the war record of Frederick Dorr and John Donn.

Browse biographical vignettes of Coast Surveyors, listed below.
Boutelle, Charles

Middle Initial: O

Rank:

Branch: Navy

Theater: Eastern

Related: SC, GA, FL, PA, ME

Bio: Charles O. Boutelle (1813-1890) was the fleet hydrographer to both Rear Admiral Samual Du Pont and Rear Admiral John Dalgreen for the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. His expertise was instrumental to the Union victory at the Battle of Port Royal Sound outside of Charleston, South Carolina, in November 1861. Boutelle took command of the U.S. Coast Survey steamer Vixen, and successfully piloted the fleet into Port Royal Sound. This was no easy task, since the Confederates removed all buoys and navigational devices and Boutelle had to wait for the right tides. The fleet also had to endure inclement weather, which momentarily separated the fleet. The victory at Port Royal cut off water communication between Charleston and Savannah, and forced the South to garrison 20,000 soldiers in Charleston. Boutelle continued to serve as the senior Coast Survey assistant attached to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron throughout the war, even though if captured he would probably would be hung as a spy.

 


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