THIS MONTH IN CIVIL WAR HISTORY
Finding New Paths
Virginia-born Matthew Fontaine Maury has been one of the premier maritime scientists of his age when the end of the Civil War forces him once more to consider new pathways for a stellar career. Earlier in life he has had to face such a turning point when an accident required him to forego a life at sea as a midshipman. Then, following a period where the oceanographer earns international renown as the “Pathfinder of the Seas,” for his work in the service of the United States, the secession of Virginia brings him to a similar career path for the Confederacy. His work with underwater mines, or torpedoes, offers his new government a practical means by which to attempt to counter the Union’s naval superiority, but his preference to construct smaller vessels capable of defending rivers and waterways gives way to a desire for ironclads like the C.S.S. Virginia. Subsequently, Maury travels to Europe to continue his scientific work, assist in the acquisition of naval assets from the British and advocate publicly for the Confederate States of America. The end of the war will find him on his way to Texas, but news of the fall of the government reaches him at Havana, Cuba, and he diverts for Mexico.
November 3, 2015
March 19, 2016
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