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.
Maffitt, John Newland

Middle Initial: N


Branch: Navy

Theater: Eastern

Related: NC, SC, AL

Bio: John Newland Maffitt (1819-1886) used his skills and experience as a sailor with the U.S. Coast Survey to become a successful Confederate raider. Maffitt became a sailor at a very young age, and even became a midshipman for the Navy at the age of 13. In 1842, he was detached to the U.S. Coast Survey and worked briefly with Superintendent Hassler before Hassler died. Maffitt worked for Coast Survey for 15 years, becoming intimately familiar with the Atlantic coast, waterways, and inlets. Maffitt resigned his commission at the outbreak of the war and gave his services to the Confederate Navy. He was assigned as a blockade runner, bringing supplies to Wilmington, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; and Mobile, Alabama. He commanded the CSS Florida, Lilian, and Owl. With the Florida, Maffitt reportedly captured some 22 ships in a year and half, including the Jacob Bell which had $2.5 million onboard. Maffitt supposedly attained $5, 944,000 while in command of the Florida. Maffitt also commanded the ironclad CSS Albermarle.


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