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.
Hassler, Ferdinand Rudolph

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Bio: Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler (1770-1843) founded and directed the first U.S. Survey of the Coast in 1807, thus establishing the first U.S. scientific agency and predecessor to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Coast Survey; National Geodetic Survey; Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services; and Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. Hassler emigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland in 1805. As a young man in Switzerland, Hassler took part in the trigonometric survey of Switzerland and served as Attorney General during the French occupation in 1798. When Congress passed the measure to conduct a survey of the coast on February 10, 1807, Hassler's plan was selected. He proposed to build a geodetic triangulation network as a framework for both topographic surveys of the shoreline and hydrographic surveys of harbors and offshore waters. This basic plan has been followed by NOAA surveyors and hydrographers for the past 200 years , while adapting and utilizing new technology. Hassler's work contributes to our understanding of the Civil War, because his organization trained personnel who would be integral during the war. The young agency's maps and charts were essential for planning military strategy.

 


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