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.
Peirce, Charles Sanders

Middle Initial: S


Branch: Army, Navy

Theater: Eastern

Related: DC

Bio: Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), son of Benjamin Peirce, the great Harvard mathematician and third superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey, is considered to be among the greatest and most original of American thinkers. He served in Coast Survey from 1859-1891. Peirce was the pioneer in gravity observations and made many contributions to mathematical methods and error analysis. He was also founder of the philosophical school of thought known as pragmatism. Among his many other contributions were first design of an electric switching computer, first recognition of the spiral form of the Milky Way Galaxy, and first to use the wavelength of light to establish an invariable standard of length. Peirce's service in Coast Survey during the Civil War exempted him from military service.


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