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.
West, Preston

Middle Initial: C.F.


Branch: Army

Theater: Eastern

Related: MD, VA, PA, NC

Bio: Preston C.F.West was sent by the U.S. Coast Survey to serve on the staff of William Baldy Smith for most of the Civil War. He made contributions as a scout, topographer, and combat intelligence officer. He was involved in more than 20 battles, including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Cold Harbor. After the war he left Coast Survey to become the chief mining engineer for Alexander Agassiz at the Calumet & Hecla Mine in Michigan.


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