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.
Porter, David Dixon

Middle Initial: D

Rank: Admiral

Branch: Navy

Theater: Western, Eastern

Related: LA, MS, IL, VA, NC

Bio: David Dixon Porter (1813-1891) was a successful Union admiral. Prior to the war, he spent seven years with the U.S. Coast Survey charting the country's waterways. At the outbreak of the war, Porter's loyalties were questioned because of his affiliations with prominent Confederates, including Jefferson Davis. Nevertheless, Porter proved to be an excellent naval officer. In 1862, he was given the command of a Mississippi Squadron and played a key role in winning the Union's control of the Mississippi River. He helped David Farragut retake New Orleans in April 1862 and later helped Ulysses S. Grant in the Union assault on Vicksburg. In January 1865, Porter led a successful siege of Fort Fisher in North Carolina, thereby closing off the significant port of Wilmington. He spent the last few weeks of the war on the James River, during which he received President Lincoln on his flagship, Malvern. After the war, Porter served as Superintendent of the Naval Academy from 1865 to 1868.


Office of Coast Survey
Historical Map and Chart Collection
Web site owner: NOAA's Office of Coast Survey