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The year 1844 was a transition year for the Coast Survey. Besides adjusting to a new Superintendent, the Survey had to adapt to new methods, functions, and ideas. Bache expanded the operations of the Survey to encompass geophysics and physical oceanography as legitimate functions of the Coast Survey. He expanded the geographic area of operations, and he began his partnership with American academia.

Bache was quite concerned with closing out Hassler's work in 1844. His primary goal was to measure verification base lines both to the north and south of the Fire Island base line and then complete the triangulation to these base lines. As mentioned previously, the verification base line to the south was measured on Kent Island in Chesapeake Bay. To the north, Edmund Blunt had extended a chain of secondary triangulation eastward to just south of Boston. Bache felt that Blunt's work was of sufficient accuracy to use as a chain of primary triangulation and decided to tie it to a verification baseline. In an earlier triangulation conducted by Simeon Borden for the state of Massachusetts, Borden had selected a base line site south of Boston on Seekonk Plain. However, this site was in a heavily wooded area and crossed irregular ground, including the roadbed of the recently constructed Providence and Boston railroad. Coast Survey Assistant C. O. Boutelle (Boutelle had worked with Borden prior to being hired on the Survey) suggested that the unused portion of the roadbed be used for a base line in lieu of the Borden line. This was done and Edmund Blunt measured an eleven-mile base line between September 11, 1844, and November 28, 1844. This base line was the longest measured during the Bache Administration and the last to be measured with the Hassler apparatus.

The primary and secondary triangulation in the south proceeded down Chesapeake Bay to the vicinity of Annapolis. More importantly, the beginning of Bache's policy of expansion of the operations of the Survey began in 1844 with the sending of a reconnaissance party under Ferdinand Gerdes to the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. This marked the first break with Hassler's policy of continuing to build from the original chain of triangles centered about New York City.

A very important project was undertaken in 1844; that being the determination of the differences of longitude between critical points on the United States coast and various European observatories. Over two hundred years had passed since the initial settlement of the Atlantic coast of what became the United States, and the longitude of principal points along the coast had not yet been accurately determined. With this project, Bache began the policy of enlisting the aid of the best scientific talent in the country to assist in Coast Survey operations. He contracted for the astronomers William Cranch Bond of the Harvard Observatory and E. O. Kendall of the Philadelphia Central High School to conduct observations at their observatories and for Sears Cook Walker of the Central High School to compute results. Naval astronomer James Melville Gilliss would become involved with this project as would Benjamin Peirce of Harvard in later years. The goal of this project was to determine a highly accurate longitude value for a point on United States soil relative to the Greenwich Meridian which would serve as the reference point for all American longitudes. The strategy of the longitude campaign was to compute the results of observations already on record, make new observations of occultations of various stars(1) (particularly the Pleiades,) observe moon culminations, and effect chronometer exchanges between the Cambridge Observatory of Harvard University and the Greenwich Observatory.

A second project that enlisted the aid of the scientific community was begun at this time when Bache contracted to Stephen Alexander to devise a system for independently checking the computations of Coast Survey field and office personnel by disinterested scientific computers. Besides distributing patronage, projects of this nature contributed greatly to the credibility of Coast Survey results.

The accretion of geophysics to the functions of the Survey began with Bache enlisting the co-operation of Professor James Renwick (Hassler's old friend) to conduct magnetic observations in the vicinity of many of the important harbors of Long Island Sound. Hassler had observed a few magnetic stations, but it was under Bache that this function became systematized. Renwick was accompanied by a Midshipman identified as Charles Wilkes, Jr.(2) Observations were made at nine points along the coast, and:

"The important element to the mariner, the variation of the compass, formed the chief object of these observations, the results of which were required to accompany a series of charts of the harbors of the sound, now preparing for publication. Observations of the magnetic dip and intensity were made at the same time with the modern instruments, invented by the German and English magneticians, furnishing useful data to science without additional cost to the survey."(3)

Magnetic observations and investigations undertaken by the Coast Survey were the first systematic geophysical investigations undertaken by any agency of the United States Government. The Coast Survey began systematic gravity studies in relation to geodetic problems in the early 1870's; and then, because of long-standing experience in geophysics, seismological studies were assigned to the Coast and Geodetic Survey in the early Twentieth Century. Bache's modest beginning led to the Coast Survey and its descendant, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, becoming the Federal leader in geophysics for well over 100 years.

Bache also began the systematic survey of tides and currents in United States waters, disciplines that received minimal attention from Hassler. The first current surveys were begun by Lieutenant Commanding Samuel P. Lee, USN, commanding the Coast Survey Schooner VANDERBILT, and by Lieutenant Commanding Charles H. Davis. Observations for set and velocity of current were completed by Lee in Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts, and begun by him off Narragansett Bay. The work in Narragansett Bay was taken over and completed by Lieutenant William P. McArthur. Davis worked in New York Bay observing "the direction and velocity of currents, and of the tides in connexion with them ... Tide gauges at Governor's Island and Sandy Hook have been regularly observed, and a self-registering tide gauge has more recently been established at Governor's Island."(4) Up until the invention of the self-registering tide gauge, the observation of tides required that an observer read a tide staff at least every half hour and manually write down the reading. Of the development of the self-registering tide gauge, Bache wrote: "Should this instrument prove as successful as is anticipated, not only the ordinary observations may be rendered less expensive and more elaborate, but a complete knowledge of the tides along our coast may be obtained."(5) This prediction was subsequently borne out.

Hydrographic parties commanded by Lieutenant Commanding George S. Blake worked in Delaware Bay and from Point Judith, Rhode Island, to New Bedford, Massachusetts. Lieutenant Commanding Thomas R. Gedney conducted "deep-sea soundings ... the lines of soundings extending generally to two hundred fathoms in depth."(6)(7) Some of Gedney's lines extended more than one hundred miles offshore. Lieutenant Commanding George M. Bache commanded the survey party working on Chesapeake Bay and also worked off the coast of Delaware, from Five Fathom Bank to Indian River Inlet.

In spite of personnel problems and having to learn much of the work, Bache's first year as Superintendent of the Coast Survey can only be described as successful. The geodetic, topographic, and hydrographic work proceeded ahead at a good pace; and Bache instituted new functions in the Survey including the study of tides, currents, and geophysics. If graded on output of work, innovation, and ability to grasp the nature of the work and its requirements, Bache would have received high marks in all of those categories. By the end of 1844, the Coast Survey was well on its way from being Hassler's survey to becoming Bache's survey. The structure that he began building in 1844 would prove to be quite durable.


From 1845 to 1849, the Coast Survey experienced a remarkable expansion in its operations and responsibilities. Geographically, the coasts of Texas, Washington, Oregon, and California were added to the United States. New projects were begun and old functions expanded. The coastal triangulation network was continued north into Maine and south to Cape Hatteras, while beginnings of survey work were made in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Survey crews were sent to the western coast, although work did not begin there in earnest until 1850. Studies of the Gulf Stream were commenced in 1845 by the Coast Survey in a project that heralded the beginnings of modern oceanography. Many improvements were introduced in instrumentation and methodology that greatly improved the efficiency and accuracy of the work. The project to determine the differences of longitude between prominent points on the eastern seaboard of the United States and European observatories continued. The major hydrographic accomplishment of this half decade was the survey of Nantucket Shoals. These few years marked the period when Bache placed his indelible stamp upon the Coast Survey and were halcyon days with discoveries, inventions, and increased responsibilities coming one after the other. In spite of all the good that was being accomplished, the Survey retained its enemies. Clouds were gathering for another political battle that came to a head in 1849.


The years 1845 to 1849 marked great progress in the geodetic work of the Survey. By the end of 1849, triangulation had progressed from Portland, Maine, to the Rappahannock River in Virginia in one continuous arc. Baselines had been measured in Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, and Alabama. Operations in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware were completed. Additional operations were begun in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The first coastal arc of triangulation from Maine to Texas was well on its way to completion. The rapid geographic progress of the Survey was matched by equally rapid advances in instrumentation and techniques. These advances ranged from "low tech" observing towers to "high tech" distance measuring instruments and the use of the telegraph for determination of differences of longitude between points.

In 1845, Edmund Blunt ran a triangulation scheme down Delaware Bay which Bache remarked was "remarkable for the beautiful symmetry of its triangles...."(8) This work, although visually pleasing when plotted upon a map, was run across flat marshland which was characterized by obstructed lines of sight. Blunt overcame this by building steady tripods for his instrument ranging from 30 to 45 feet in height and then building an outer observer's scaffolding around which the observer and an assistant could walk without disturbing the instrument. The Great Trigonometric Survey of India and the Irish Ordnance Survey had been confronted by a similar problem and each had solved it by building large expensive masonry structures, some of which still stand today. The building of interior tripods surrounded by observer walkways was a cheap common-sense solution that made possible the surveying of thousands of square miles of flat country over the next century and a half.(9)

Also during 1845, "... A compensating base apparatus has been made, with the various parts for supporting and adjusting it. This work has been executed by Mr. William Wurdemann ...."(10) This base measuring apparatus was meant to replace the Hassler instrument and be more portable, faster to use, and, most importantly, invariable in length with changing temperatures. To achieve the invariability of length, the bar was made of two metals which tended to "compensate" for changes in length following changes of temperature. This principal was first applied to pendulums and then used with measuring bars on the Irish Ordnance Survey and then in India. Simeon Borden of the Massachusetts Trigonometric Survey constructed compensating base measuring bars for his work in the late 1830's. Bache carried this principle one step further by coating the bars with a lacquer that was meant to assure that the bars and the different metals making them up absorbed heat equally, thus minimizing any expansion during changes of temperature. Although improvements in accuracy of measurement of this type of bar over Hassler's apparatus were questionable, the increased efficiency of this new instrument was proved beyond a doubt. Bache personally directed the measurement of the first baseline to be determined by this instrument on Dauphin Island, Alabama, in 1847. The greatest length measured on one day was nearly seven-tenths of a mile, while the whole seven-mile base line was measured in seventeen working days. By remeasuring portions of this base line and comparing the observed differences, Bache ascertained that the base line had a probable error in length of only 0.5 inch. The Bodie Island, North Carolina, base line was measured in late 1848. This base line was 6 and 3/4 miles long and required only 10 working days to complete. The greatest progress per day on this line was 1.06 mile and Bache's estimate of the probable error of measurement over the whole line was 0.1 inch.


The most important and long-lasting geodetic innovation of this period was the development of a method to determine differences of longitude by the telegraph. This technique came to be known as the "American Method" and was emulated world-wide. In 1846, Bache wrote:

"The establishment of lines of the magnetic telegraph between points connected by the triangulations of the coast survey furnishes an additional means of measuring the arc of a parallel, and a direct method of determining differences of longitude between the telegraph stations. An arrangement was made with the patentees of the telegraph, and with the companies between Washington and Philadelphia, and Philadelphia and New York, through the Hon. Amos Kendall [Hassler's old antagonist], president, to allow the use of the lines after the business operations had closed for the day, under certain conditions. A line of wires was extended from the General Post Office to the naval Observatory, the superintendent of which, Lieutenant M. F. Maury, United States navy, had kindly offered the co-operation of himself and observers, to make the observations complete at the Washington terminus."

The telegraphic connections were completed; the best observing instruments were put in place at the Philadelphia High School Observatory; and the most expert observers available were stationed at the points at which the differences of longitude were to be determined. Bache gave credit to Sears C. Walker for arranging "the system of signals, and for securing uniformity in the astronomical part of the work, and the clearing it from known errors of instruments, and from the effect of imperfect places of stars, as given in the catalog." Joseph Saxton did design work and modified some of the telegraphic equipment, and Samuel Morse provided both advice and assistance. The first exchange of signals between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, for the purpose of determining longitude difference, took place on October 10, 1846. The connection between Washington, D.C., and New York was not accomplished in 1846 because of poor insulation on the wires.(11) By the end of 1848, Bache considered that the telegraphic method of determining differences of longitude was "considered to have passed into one of the regular methods of geodesy."(12)

Because instrumentation and methods were sufficiently refined in these early longitude operations, perceptible differences in the results of various observers became quite apparent. This relatively constant difference between observers, first noted by European astronomers, was referred to as the "personal equation."(13) The "personal equation "resulted from the differences of eye, ear, and hand interaction for each observer while working with the observing instruments and telegraph. This source of error is differentiated from Hassler's "personal bias" insomuch as Hassler had cautioned observers to assure that their readings were not based on pre-conceived notions of what the correct value should be. The "personal equation" refers to repetitious, unconscious, and mechanical actions by observers that result in observed values that are consistently higher or lower than their colleagues' observations.

Walker believed that the ultimate success of the longitude operations would depend upon understanding and mitigating the effects of the "personal equation." He stated in his 1848 report to Bache: "The importance of the careful determination of this element was explained in my last year's report. It is the most difficult and most variable element in the whole work; while all the others, by repetitions of the same process on several nights, converge towards a final result apparently free from constant, and, indeed, from all sensible accidental error, this element retains its constant error until it is removed by alternations of the four principal observers.... I think the experience of fixed observatories warrants the conclusion, that two observers of the regular corps, retaining the same instruments at the same locality, have, for several months, and even for several years, the same relation to each other. Such was not the experience of the last year's work among the traveling corps of observers of the United States coast survey; change of place and instruments have seemed to produce changes in the value of this element. Since the liability to error from this source exceeds all others, too much stress cannot be laid on the importance of studying the philosophy of it."(14)

Although Bache declared in 1848 that the determination of differences of longitude by the telegraphic method "may be considered to have passed into one of the regular methods of geodesy,"(15) many improvements continued to be made. Joseph Saxton devised a chronograph which automatically recorded time and, by additional circuitry associated with an observing instrument, the time of meridian passage of observed stars. The method that developed was described in the Committee of Twenty Report of 1858:

"... A transit instrument, astronomical clock, and chronograph, is mounted at each station. After suitable observations for instrumental corrections at each station, which are recorded only at the place of observation, the clock at the eastern station is first put in connection with the circuit, so as to write on the chronographs at both stations. A number of stars, culminating near the zenith of the two stations, are selected by the observers. As they appear first upon the eastern meridian, their transit is recorded by the observer striking the finger key upon the chronographic registers at both stations. After an interval of time equivalent to the difference of longitude between the two places, which is measured by the clock, the same stars appear on the western meridian, and the observer at that station records this transit precisely as the other had done; and the difference of the two records of time is the measure of the difference of longitude."(16)

First Saxton's chronograph, and then Mitchel's instrument, had removed the element of striking the telegraph key following an observer calling out the star passage from the "personal equation" and hearing the telegraph register and noting the time at the second station. In spite of the evolving elegance of the "American method," the major difficulty remained the telegraph wires themselves. If one part of a telegraph line between two stations was exposed to electrical storms, the connection would be broken. This led to the establishment of intermediate stations. A major goal of the Survey was to determine and compare the telegraphic longitude of New Orleans by both a western route with an intermediate station at Cincinnati, Ohio, and a southern route with an intermediate station at Charleston, South Carolina. The longitude station at the Cincinnati Observatory, which was observed in late 1848 with the cooperation of Professor Ormsby M. Mitchel, was the second geodetic observation accomplished by the Coast Survey in the interior of the country. Earlier in that year, the longitude of the Hudson Observatory, just south of Cleveland, Ohio, under the direction of Elias Loomis, had been determined by the telegraphic method in order to tie Loomis's independent observations of moon culminations, star occultations, and other astronomic phenomena into the national effort to determine an accurate longitude datum.


The observation of latitude was not ignored during this period as the Talcott method, or Horrebow-Talcott method as it became known, of latitude observation was adopted by the Coast Survey. This method of observation was devised by Captain Andrew Talcott, United States Army, and involved determining latitude "by observing differences of zenith distances of stars culminating within a short time of each other, and at nearly the same altitude, on opposite sides of the zenith."(17) Hassler, who had loaned Talcott observing instruments for the Ohio boundary survey and probably had trained him in the use of them, had come close to describing this method when he wrote "....it is proper to take the indiscriminate mean of an equal number of results of observations from the north and south side of the zenith...."(18) Regardless, Horrebow had devised this method nearly a century before and Talcott was credited with independently arriving at the same method.

Lieutenant Thomas Jefferson Lee, Army Topographical Engineers, Assistant in the Coast Survey, and Assistant Robert H. Fauntleroy first used this method in 1846 for the Coast Survey while observing the latitude of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. In relation to these and subsequent latitude observations, Bache made mention that "seven determinations of the same pair of stars, gave the latitude with a probable error just equal to the mean probable error of the declination of a single pair of the stars from the catalogue, selected for obtaining the latitude at that station; and hence, that it is more necessary to multiply the number of pairs of stars observed upon, with the declinations as at present known, than to multiply observations on the same pair."(19)

By 1848, it was realized that: "In employing the zenith telescope by Captain Talcott's method to obtain latitude, it is necessary, frequently, to use stars of which the positions, as given in the catalogue, depend upon a few observations. The necessity of better determinations, in many cases presented itself to us early, in the use of this instrument. In the series at Fort Morgan, the second made upon the coast survey, the mean catalogue error was greater than the mean probable error of a single observation with the zenith telescope."(20) To resolve this problem, Captain Lee went to West Point and with the cooperation of Professor Bartlett, used the mural circle installed at the West Point observatory to determine the correct position of all stars used, "beginning with those that gave decidedly discrepant results."(21)


The last major geodetic project engaged upon by the Coast Survey during the 1840's was the effort to determine a well-defined point for the United States to which all other longitude values observed and computed would be referred. For a variety of political and logistical reasons, the Harvard Observatory at Cambridge, Massachusetts, was chosen to be that point. There were a plethora of technical problems to be solved in order to attain a highly accurate result relative to the major European observatories. In 1920, W.C. Hodgkins wrote: "In those days, before the laying of ocean cables had permitted the attainment of the present highly accurate determinations of longitudes relative to the European observatories, the whole subject was in a state of uncertainty which must have been very troublesome, but which can hardly now be appreciated."(22) Hodgkins' statement holds true in today's world with the satellite-based Global Positioning System making determination of highly accurate latitude and longitude values virtually instantaneous over the entire globe. That 350 years after their discovery, the longitudes of principal points on the coast-lines of the Americas were still not accurately known is a poignant reminder of the state of technology in the Nineteenth Century with the attendant dangers of maritime travel.

Bache felt quite strongly concerning the determination of an accurate longitude value on which to base all further geodetic work. In his report for 1848 he stated, "The importance of a determination, which should not be shaken by subsequent observations, of difference of longitude of a cardinal point in the coast survey and of European observatories, is so great that I have spared no pains in accumulating results by stimulating observers, by collecting observations, and by obtaining the aid of accomplished computers in the reduction or discussion of the results."(23) To effect the determination "of a cardinal point in the coast survey", Bache developed a program involving observing and computing moon culminations, solar eclipses, and lunar occultations of the stars in the Pleiades. In conjunction with this observing program, the Coast Survey instituted the trans-Atlantic transport of chronometers, carried by the British mail steamers of the Cunard line, for determination of the difference of longitude between the observatory at Cambridge, Massachusetts, and European observatories. This project was possibly the earliest cooperative international project involving scientists representing the United States. In the early years of this project, the United States' principal scientists in this effort were William Cranch Bond, the director of the Cambridge Observatory, and Sears Walker.

An inkling of Bache's thought processes are perceived in his discussion of the undertaking to determine an accurate longitude value. In September, 1848, Sears Walker wrote an important report concerning his findings and recommendations for further work on the longitude value. Bache commented concerning this report:

"A superficial examination of a subject, or the taking for granted of a prescribed routine, is apt to impress one with notions of the great accuracy of processes and results, in which are concealed constant errors of grave importance. Turning up the surface, develops these concealed errors, and leads to scientific discovery. The action of different minds accelerates the progress of truth, and on this account I have published the report of Assistant S.C. Walker, as of high interest to the astronomer...."(24)

Walker made 9 suggestions for facilitating the determination of a cardinal point for longitude. Most of these were straightforward recommendations, but No. 9 marked a step further along the road to discovering the "truth" of a series of scientific observations. Walker suggests in No. 9, "To resolve, by the method of least squares or otherwise, all the conditional equations so obtained, after applying all the theoretical and empirical corrections to the lunar constants and coefficients, so as to obtain the most plausible value of the correction of the longitude of our own cardinal point from the average of the European meridians."(25) The suggestion to use, and subsequent adoption of, Gauss's technique of "least squares" to determine "the most plausible value" marks one more step on the Coast Survey's road to greater accuracy and an increasingly clearer view of our physical world.

The first result of this project for the determination of longitude of the Harvard Observatory west of the Greenwich Observatory was 4 hours, 44 minutes, and 31.69 seconds as published in the 1845 Coast Survey report. In 1848, the longitude of the Cambridge Observatory as determined by eclipses and occultations was determined to be 4 hours, 44 minutes, and 31.95 seconds while by chronometric comparisons, it was determined to be 4 hours, 44 minutes, and 30.49 seconds west of Greenwich. Sufficient results had been obtained by this time to notice a discrepancy of almost 4 seconds of time to the east (60 seconds of arc, or approximately 0.8 miles at the latitude of Cambridge) in the results obtained by moon culminations as opposed to occultations of the Pleiades and eclipses. The chronometric method fell almost half way between the results obtained by the different methods. Because of these uncertainties, the campaign to determine an accurate cardinal longitude point for the United States continued into the 1850's.(26)

Walker assumed that there was a systematic error in the computations for longitude by eclipses and occultations causing the longitude value to be too high (westerly.) This resulted in his suggesting that the longitude of "all the stations of the United States Coast Survey" be diminished "by about two seconds of time, or half a minute of arc." Apparently, he followed his own advice as he reported in 1851(27) the seconds in time of longitude to be 29.5, in effect shifting North America approximately ½ mile to the east on charts of the period. Unfortunately, Walker was wrong but this was not determined until the first trans-Atlantic telegraphic determination of longitude. As a side note, a list of 3,240 geographic positions was published and appended to the Coast Survey report for 1851 most of which were computed with respect to Walker's error. The first successful observation of longitude using the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable gave a value of longitude in time of 4 hours, 44 minutes, and 30.85 seconds which was within 6 seconds of arc (approximately 120 meters) of the chronometric value. An adjusted value for the longitude of Cambridge was determined in 1897 to be 4 hours, 44 minutes, and 31.046 seconds which fell about halfway between the early values obtained by eclipses and occultations and the chronometric method.

Prior to the successful observation of longitude by the trans-Atlantic cable, the best method available for determining longitudinal differences across the Atlantic appears to have been by inter-comparing multiple chronometers at the European observatories with the Harvard Observatory. Equating time differences at the latitude of Cambridge (Harvard) to lineal distances gave errors of 100 to 200 meters to the east for the accuracy of the method. Observing occultations and eclipses gave values of 1 second in time (over 300 meters at the latitude of Cambridge) too far to the west while moon culminations gave longitude values approximately 2 seconds in time (600 to 700 meters) too far to the east. When the "American method" of longitude observation was first used with the trans-Atlantic cable in 1867, the time difference and linear distance between those observations and modern values virtually disappeared.


Major hydrographic projects conducted under Superintendent Bache during these early years included the surveys of Nantucket Shoals, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, and continuing surveys of New York Harbor. These surveys were run for a variety of reasons including delineating hazards to navigation over wide areas such as the Nantucket Shoals surveys; finding safe and economical routes into and out of major port cities such as the New York Harbor, Mobile Bay, and Delaware Bay surveys; and the occasional search for isolated known dangers such as the White Rock survey at Cashe's Ledge.

Nantucket Shoals

The single most difficult hydrographic survey project undertaken by the Coast Survey early in Bache's administration was the survey of Nantucket Shoals. This survey was begun in 1846, following a letter from the astronomer William Mitchell, a good friend of Bache's, detailing the number of vessels that had passed the Nantucket light-boat in the past three years. From the beginning of 1842 to July 1845, there had been 569 ships, 4,469 brigs, 28,109 schooners, and 11,503 sloops pass by the light-boat. Yet, Mitchell related, " ... The history of this most dangerous and fatal shoal is startling. Situated in mid-ocean; having, in low ebbs, scarcely a foot of water; in a region proverbial for its heavy swell; rising, at times, without a moment's warning; the dread of all mariners, and the grave of thousands ...." Compounding these problems was Mitchell's belief that the shoals were located twenty miles further north than the old charts showed them, and that their probable location lay precisely in the path of the vessels engaged in the Europe to New York trade as well as coastal traffic between New York and Boston. Mitchell continued, "... it is remarkable with what apparent recklessness vessels of the largest size (even the Atlantic steamers) dash near its parallel, from an apprehension that it is far south of them." (28) (29)

In response to the dangers surmised by Mitchell and the huge amount of maritime traffic passing in the vicinity of Nantucket Shoals, Bache sent a party under Lieutenant Commanding Charles H. Davis in the GALLATIN to conduct hydrographic surveys. Surveying far out of sight of land, with a precision normally reserved for harbor surveys, required that Davis hire two small vessels. These vessels were anchored at the limit of the line-of-sight of observers placed on three 45-foot towers constructed on Nantucket Island. The positions of the anchored vessels were determined by the shore observers while the survey vessel GALLATIN used the anchored vessels as signals from which to determine its position.

All was in place and ready to begin the survey when a disastrous fire engulfed a considerable part of the town of Nantucket on July 13 and 14, 1846. The officers and crew of the GALLATIN, who were in port at the time, were a major factor in helping contain the fire. Fortunately for William Mitchell, the Coast Survey crew was able to contain the fire near his home and save his and his daughter Maria's astronomic instruments. Some of these instruments were probably on loan from the Coast Survey for aiding in longitude observations.(30) However, the observing platforms were destroyed in this blaze; and it was not until August that work began. The most important result of this first work on the shoals was the discovery of a "shoal, hitherto unknown, six miles to the southward of the known South Shoal, having only eight feet of water on it in some places, and lying, for a distance of nearly two miles, in an almost east and west direction." Davis used this discovery of New South Shoal, or Davis Shoal as it was renamed, to plead for the use of a steam vessel to continue surveying the Shoals in the following year. He related: "Many good ships, never heard of, have been wrecked here, and their scattered remains, carried to sea by the currents, have sunk there, and afforded no clue to their loss. The 'President' steam-packet, it will be recollected, was seen hereabouts for the last time. In my estimate for the next season's operations I have asked for a steam vessel. To proceed without one is bad economy.... there was one, and only one, entirely favorable day whilst we were at work on the South Shoals. During this single day, with an indifferent steamboat more could have been accomplished than was executed by the sailing vessel, in which the soundings were made during the whole month."(31)

Although Bache had requested the use of steam vessels the previous year, the comments of Davis seem to have tipped the scales in favor of acquiring them. Bache asked for funding for hiring and supporting a steam vessel for two months in 1847. Instead, he received access to a steam vessel from the Revenue Service, the United States Steamer BIBB. The BIBB was first used by the Survey in mid-August, 1847, and placed under the command of Davis.

The advent of the steam-propelled vessel was probably the single greatest improvement in the tools available to the hydrographer and the oceanographer. Davis felt that the most important gain of steam over sail was the independence gained from wind and tide, allowing development of an area in a systematic manner, thus increasing the accuracy of the delineation of the bottom. The ability to work on calm days which are most advantageous to sounding, the ability to lessen speed or stop and then continue on the same line with minimal time and effort expended, the ability to regulate speed for equal spacing of soundings between fixes, and low cost per unit of production were all cited as advantages of steam over sail by Davis. He also enumerated incidental advantages such as: the steam vessel worked on an even keel decreasing personnel fatigue; the hydrographer was not compelled to allow for failing or contrary winds and adverse currents; no sails interfered with the view of signals; and, as a consequence of all of the above, the limits of both time and area available for work were greatly extended.(32)

In spite of the great increase in efficiency afforded by the use of a steam vessel, Passed Midshipman Daniel Ammen complained the following year, "With the amount of fogs and foul weather on that coast, so little was accomplished of outside work that it was quite depressing." Ammen described the BIBB as "a small iron steamer built for the revenue service, with a flat bottom and little speed." There were many occasions when the fog banks covered the shoals but they were able to work in the inner waters close to Nantucket Island. When planning on going out to the shoals, the BIBB would "usually lie at anchor under Great Point, the northern end of the island, and frequently get under way at midnight to go out some thirty-five miles, and when we got there anchor in the fog, and occasionally, after lying there and rolling about for several days, be driven in for shelter from a heavy northeaster." While going to the working area, the BIBB towed the schooners out to the working area to serve as reference points.

Not all days were depressing though as Superintendent Bache had invited the great naturalist, Louis Agassiz, to accompany the BIBB out to the shoals where dredging and bottom sampling operations were conducted regardless of the state of the visibility. This was the first time that an academic scientist accompanied a Coast Survey vessel and marked the beginnings of a lifelong friendship between Bache and Agassiz. Ammen found Professor Agassiz and his assistant, Professor Desor, "charming messmates, and quite absorbed by the specimens of shell-fishes we dredged or brought up in mud." Ammen expressed surprise at the extraordinary "fecundity of life in seas ... wholly unsuspected by persons sailing over them." During one of these cruises, Agassiz discovered "the first viviparous scale-fish known to naturalists."(33)

Although the major discoveries of hazards to navigation in the vicinity of Nantucket Shoals were made in the early years of the work there, it was not until 1853 that Bache was satisfied that the shoals were properly delineated. He then announced:

"The most difficult piece of hydrography on our coast has been completed during the past season. The area of broken ground east and south of the island of Nantucket is nearly seven hundred miles in extent, and is spread with dangers, some real and some only apparent. The work which has been prosecuted there perseveringly for some seasons has made the position of the dangers fully known, and has in turn employed the resources and taxed the perseverance of some of the most able hydrographers of the survey. It was commenced in 1846 by Lieut. C. H. Davis, U.S.N., has been continued since 1849 by Lieut. C. H. McBlair, and has this year been completed by Lieut. H. S. Stellwagen. The breaking of the water over these sunken shoals and banks ... which, under the name of "Rips," occurs extensively over this region, serves, no doubt, to increase the terrors of the spot, though indicating in reality a change of depth, and not absolute shoalness. The outliers of this ground, Fishing Rip and Davis's Bank, have twenty-five and a half feet upon them, while on Great Rip, the Rose and Crown, Old South, and Davis's shoal, there are, respectively, but four, seven, six, and eight feet. The arrangement of these shoals led us to suppose that there must be dangers south of Davis's shoal, and several attempts have been made to look them up. The explorations of Lieutenant Commanding Stellwagen this year have completed the search over the space south of Davis's shoal to deep water, without any indication of another tier of banks. The hydrography of such ground as this is truly difficult; it must be surveyed with the minuteness of a harbor, without the facilities which neighboring land affords. The land cannot be seen from the deck of a vessel from Davis's shoal, and yet it must be traversed closely with the sounding line, and the position of the soundings be closely determined. It is necessary to establish bases from those on land by floating objects, which, like vessels, can be seen at a sufficient distance, and to preserve temporarily the positions of these floating stations by buoys. The first severe storm not only stops the actual sounding work, but is apt to break up the system entirely by removing or changing the position of these marks. The weather fit for surveying on that peculiarly stormy part of the coast is but a small fragment of each summer, and the harbors which must necessarily be sought as a refuge on the coming up of storms, which cannot be weathered in such exposed situations, are distant. It is no small source of congratulation that this difficult work is well through with, and without accident to those who have so faithfully encountered the very dangers which they seek in order to instruct others how to avoid them...."(34)

Ammen's Rock

Even early in the history of the Coast Survey, individuals would be sent out from primary survey parties to investigate reported dangers to navigation in areas away from the main survey grounds. Contract vessels of varying quality would sometimes be used for these special projects. In the late summer of 1848, Passed Midshipman Daniel Ammen was sent on temporary duty from the Coast Survey Steamer BIBB to Rockport, Massachusetts, in order to charter a vessel and attempt to locate White Rock, the shoalest spot on Cashe's Ledge.(35) This rock is located about sixty miles to the east of Cape Ann.

For this job, Ammen hired a fishing vessel operated by two brothers and also a cook and a young man for recording time from a chronometer when Ammen took sextant observations. The vessel proceeded out to "the vicinity of the ledge, and would then tack, back and forth, making a traverse over the ledge, all the time in a thick fog, sounding by means of a very heavy sinker of lead on an ordinary cod-line." After several days of "this futile search, laying-to after night under short sail," Ammen gave up and directed the ship back to Rockport.

Passed Midshipman Ammen, being a veteran of large Navy vessels and a small Coast Survey steamer, provided a poignant description of the small vessel that he chartered and the life of the fishermen who manned it:

"I can hardly imagine a more disagreeable, painful, and dangerous life than that of our coast fishermen. As to the danger, the number of widows in fishing towns bears sad testimony. Our boat was some forty tons' displacement, when laden; when nothing in her but ballast, when sailing by the wind her lee scuppers were underwater. The cabin was a little hole in the bow, in which there was a cooking stove and a chimney built up with bricks. I could get no reason for this singular idea; how they were held together I do not now remember. The days were quite long at that season. At sunrise the cook would come down and kindle a wood fire, and I would be literally 'smoked out,' and obliged to go on deck into a wet fog and sit to windward on a wet deck. We had a salt beef 'scouse'(36) daily, in the morning, at noon, and at night, and hard bread. After a day or so I inquired why they had no codfish, and was informed that it was too common a food. At my request we hove to, put over a few fishing-lines, and soon had some nice fresh fish, which saved me from starvation. The general idea expressed by my companions was that for ease of life, comfort, and profit, nothing presented itself at all comparable to cod- or mackerel-fishing."

In spite of the failure of this initial effort, Passed Midshipman Ammen did receive a critical piece of information from his fishermen colleagues. Every July many fishing vessels would congregate off Cashe's Ledge; at that time the rock would be easy to find. The following year, Lieutenant Commanding Charles H. Davis took the BIBB out to Cashe's Ledge and inquired of a fishing vessel what the bearing and distance to White Rock was. After running a short distance, the BIBB found the rock and dropped anchor on top of it. Although the depth had been reported as 3 fathoms, the BIBB found no less than 4 fathoms. The following day was clear, and all the officers took a noon sighting of the sun for latitude. Ammen reported, "The captain was so much gratified at the facility with which he had found the rock that he told me he would call it Ammen Rock, which he did. I replied that I did not exactly see why he should do so, as I had looked for it and did not find it." Passed Midshipman Daniel Ammen, destined to be Rear Admiral Ammen, is still commemorated today by his name assigned to the rock that he did not find.

David Dixon Porter and the Survey of Hell Gate and Buttermilk Channels, New York Harbor

In January 1848, David Dixon Porter embarked on his second tour with the Coast Survey, and by August he had risen to be commanding officer of the Coast Survey Schooner PETREL. Porter, who in a few short years would attain glory in the Civil War, was related to Alexander Dallas Bache by marriage. He had married George Ann Patterson, the sister of the wife of George Mifflin Bache. By his marriage to George Ann, he also became the brother-in-law of Carlile Pollock Patterson, who would become the 4th Superintendent of the Coast Survey. It was only natural that Porter would have an affinity for the Survey.

Porter's primary mission was to survey the Hell Gate and Buttermilk Channels in New York Harbor. These surveys were not particularly difficult but were notable for their great commercial and defense importance to New York City and the Nation. The shortest route into New York from New England was through Long Island Sound via Hell Gate Channel. Conversely, sailing vessels departing New York and unable to use Sandy Hook Channel because of adverse southerly winds could depart New York through Hell Gate and Long Island Sound. This situation was ideal except for the number of dangerous obstructions in Hell Gate Channel including Pot Rock, Bald-Headed Billy, and Ravensworth Reef. During six weeks of survey work in August and September, no less than fifty vessels struck obstructions in Hell Gate with one full-rigged brig sinking after striking Pot Rock. Needless to say, the New York Chamber of Commerce was exceedingly anxious to see the completion of these surveys so that blasting and clearing operations of the worst obstructions could commence. Because of the urgency of the situation, Porter sent preliminary survey work to Coast Survey headquarters for early preparation of sketches and charts.

Porter's second major task in the New York area was to sound out the Buttermilk Channel between Governor's Island and Brooklyn. This survey was conducted for the Navy as it wished to have access to docks for a planned Navy yard. Prior to Porter's survey, it was believed that large ocean-going ships could not traverse this area; but he discovered a usable channel. To prove to skeptics that the alleged Buttermilk Channel existed and that Hell Gate Channel could be safely traversed, on September 22, 1848, he piloted the revenue cutter JEFFERSON(37) through both channels while carrying a delegation of dignitaries including New York shipowners, pilots, and Secretary of the Treasury Robert J. Walker.

For many men, the triumph of finding and surveying the safe channel through Hell Gate and delineating a major new channel that would aid the Navy and further the commercial development of New York would have been the major accomplishment of a lifetime. For David Dixon Porter, it was but a minor footnote in his career. He soon left the Survey and took a leave of absence from the Navy to serve as captain of commercial mail steamers. Porter's six years under Hassler's superintendence and additional year under Bache helped him become "proficient in charting channels and developed an almost intuitive ability to pilot a vessel over tortuous shallows - an ability which would later be of inestimable value to him."(38)


The original law establishing the Survey of the Coast included the proviso under Section 2, "That it shall be lawful for the President of the United States to cause such examinations and observations to be made, with respect to St. Georges Bank, and any other bank or shoal and the soundings and currents beyond the distance aforesaid [twenty leagues] to the Gulf Stream, as may in his opinion be especially subservient to the commercial interests of the United States." Hassler had directed that soundings be continued to the Gulf Stream in 1842 and this work was begun by Lieutenant Thomas Gedney. However, Bache reasoned that the Gulf Stream itself was the most significant hydrographic feature affecting the commerce of the United States and that it required systematic study. Although he obviously felt familial pride in conducting studies of the Gulf Stream, as his great-grandfather, Benjamin Franklin, had made the first map of the Stream, there were other motivations for undertaking the work. In 1842, Sir Francis Beaufort, the British Hydrographer, had suggested to the British Admiralty that Great Britain undertake a study to test the theory that the great rivers of the Americas that emptied into the Atlantic were the cause of the Gulf Stream. This study was to be a multi-vessel effort with one steamer stationed in the Gulf of Mexico and three others operating in the Stream.(39) It is probable that this plan of a foreign government to conduct studies of the Gulf Stream in the United States' backyard was a major consideration in Bache's desire to conduct oceanographic studies.

Bache formulated plans in 1844 that included referring observations to the axis of the Stream and running a series of sections perpendicular to the axis across the whole width of the Gulf Stream. The position of the vessel would be ascertained by taking departure from known points on the coast and using celestial navigation for control. The vessel would occupy positions in the Gulf Stream at which temperature observations would be made at different depths. Winter observations were not considered feasible initially because of bad weather and rapid cooling of surface waters. Also, the use of hemp rope to take soundings and mount thermometers for temperature observations under winter conditions was considered impractical and apt to introduce great inaccuracies.

In the spring of 1845 Bache gave Lieutenant Commanding Charles Henry Davis instructions to commence studying the Gulf Stream in the brig WASHINGTON. These instructions were the outline for the first major systematic oceanographic field study undertaken by the United States Government and possibly by any government. Bache required that Davis acquire data to assist in answering four specific questions:

"First. What are the limits of the Gulf Stream on this part of the coast of the United States, at the surface and below the surface?

"Second. Are they constant or variable, do they change with the season, with the prevalent and different winds; what is the effect of greater or less quantities of ice in the vicinity?

"Third. How may they best be recognized, by the temperature at the surface or below the surface, by soundings, by the character of the bottom, by peculiar forms of vegetable or animal life, by meteorology, by the saltness of the water?

"Fourth. What are the directions and velocities of the currents in this Stream and adjacent to it at the surface, below the surface, and to what variations are they subject?"(40)

Bache followed these four questions with a prophetic statement that late Twentieth Century oceanographers working on problems associated with the Gulf Stream and other major current systems can attest to, "Some of these questions will require long-continued observations to solve"(41) and to arrive at solutions "will require much labor and great zeal and intelligence on the part of those charged with the execution of the work."(42) To begin solving these questions, Bache directed Davis to: "Make, then, as many cross sections of the Stream as convenient and as the investigation may show to be necessary. In these sections (1) determine the temperature at the surface and at different depths; (2) the depth of water; (3) the character of the bottom; (4) the direction and velocity of the currents at the surface and at different depths; (5) as far as practicable notice the forms of vegetable and animal life." (43) In short, Bache was the first to provide the formula for the modern integrated oceanographic cruise. He incorporated the elements of physical oceanography, geological oceanography, biological oceanography, and meteorology in his instruction to Davis. His reference to the "saltness of the water" in his third question implied also the study of chemical oceanography.

The remainder of Bache's instructions were devoted to details of observational techniques including means to ascertain if there is a "counter current of cold water from the poles below the warm current from the equator." On July 20, 1845, Davis sailed in the brig WASHINGTON for the Gulf Stream and ran a section to the southeast from the vicinity of Nantucket Island. This first expedition into the Gulf Stream was experimental in nature with instruments and methods being devised and tested. According to Bache, "The zeal and ability of Lieut. Com. Davis have supplied the place of experience in the modes of observation; and the methods themselves have been remarkably successful in his hands...."(44) On this cruise, Davis obtained a sounding and specimen of bottom material in 1,300 fathoms. This feat can be put in perspective by noting that in 1841 Sir John Ross sounded to 2,200 fathoms in the South Atlantic Ocean for the deepest mid-ocean sounding ever acquired. Davis's sounding was a record for the northern Atlantic Ocean at that time.(45) Davis returned to New York in September to repair and modify various instruments and sailed again at the beginning of October. On this project, he acquired 813 temperature observations including both surface and subsurface temperatures.

In 1846, Bache again sent the WASHINGTON to study the Gulf Stream. This expedition was under the command of his brother, Lieutenant Commanding George Mifflin Bache. At first glance, this would seem to be motivated by nepotism; but both George M. Bache and another brother, Richard Meade Bache, had been attached to the Survey since 1838.(46) George was listed as a Lieutenant Commanding in 1839 (meaning that he had command of a Coast Survey vessel at that early date,) had been instrumental in suggesting a standardized buoy system for United States waters, and had been an early pioneer in marine geology because of his interest in Coast Survey bottom samples and soundings obtained during hydrographic operations. By the latter half of the 1840's, both Baches were among the senior naval officers attached to the Survey, and it is apparent that George was an innovator and thinker.

The WASHINGTON left New York on July 10, 1846, and proceeded to Sandy Hook to measure deviation of the compass and to acquire water for the ship. Lieutenant Commanding Bache wrote Superintendent Bache on August 5(47) that, upon leaving New York, he was seven men short of a full crew and while finishing the watering at Sandy Hook:

"... two of the men ran away from the officer in charge of the boat.... As were too short-handed to afford to lose these men, and I had the advantage of coast survey topography, I determined to catch them. I had two copies of the maps traced out in Rickett's most hasty manner, embracing all the roads around the Highlands, and as far as Keyport, up Raritan bay and Red Bank, Shrewsbury River. The steamboat was to leave Keyport at 8 the next morning, and another from Red Bank at 10, and the men were to be caught before they could get on board of them. "The roads were systematically followed, and the water to Red Bank guarded. "Hall caught the men at 6 in the morning, at Keyport, having tracked and overrun them in the night, and brought them to Red Bank by 10, where he was to meet the other party by appointment. The topography was of great assistance, and enabled one party to communicate with the other, by leaving a letter at a house previously agreed upon. I give you this little history as being one of the many vexations incidental to sea life...."

The first 1846 cruise of the WASHINGTON, from July 14th to August 12, covered only one transect of the Gulf Stream extending over 400 miles offshore to the southeast from Sandy Hook. This cruise resulted in the discovery of the "cold wall", the relatively abrupt boundary between the distinctly colder inshore waters and the much warmer waters of the western edge of the Gulf Stream. Continuing the letter of August 5, George wrote his brother: "I would like to be with you when you look at and admire this section, as admire it you must, and speculate on it together. Here on the left we have the main current of the stream turned to the eastward, by Cape Hatteras, and butting up against a bank of cold water, which it overflows, and on the right mingling with a vast reservoir of warm water, which is probably brought there from the eddies from the stream itself. How beautifully the line is defined to the left or westward.... The tracing of the cold wall from Hatteras up will be highly interesting, and will lead to useful practical results...."

Lieutenant Commanding Bache finished his letter:

"... The brig has been improved very much in sailing, and all other respects, by taking in the ballast and the armament, and is much more comfortable and safer than she was before. Still she leaks very much in her upper works and decks, and continues to wet everyone below, and we feel that we have to be very careful of her in heavy weather. A good hard gulf sea would rack her very much." George Bache was quite aware of the danger the WASHINGTON would face in heavy weather.

The last letter that George Bache wrote to Superintendent Bache was dated August 12, 1846, and written from New York City. He noted that at his southeasternmost station he encountered a westerly current in warm water after passing the main body of the Gulf Stream. He attributed this to an eddy current which was associated with the Stream. He spoke once again of the cold wall which he hoped "to find permanent, uninfluenced by the seasons," as this would be a marker to help navigators ascertain their position. By August 16, the WASHINGTON was working to the southeast from Cape Henlopen, Delaware. This transect was finished on August 27 with a new line begun on August 29 another 150 miles to the south. This line ran to the northwest towards Cape Henry, Virginia, and was finished on September 7.

While finishing the last station at noon on September 7, the WASHINGTON experienced moderate breezes from the northeast with cloudy weather and a heavy swell from the southeast. After completion of the last station at 2:00 P.M., the WASHINGTON made sail for Cape Henry, only about 60 miles distant. Unfortunately, the ship passed a little to the north of the bay entrance as at 11:20 P.M. Smith Island was sighted. The ship then made for Cape Henry. The ship's log for September 8, 1846 reads:

"Commenced with a fresh breeze from the E. NE., with thick and squally weather; at 12h. 20m. Smith's island light bore NW. 1/2W; lost sight of it immediately afterwards; at 2 hauled up NW., called all hands and took two reefs in the topsails; at 2h. 30m. discovered land under the lee; wore ship to the southward and eastward, hauled on a wind, reefed and set the mainsail; got a cast of the lead in five fathoms water; at 3 pitched away the jib boom, and commenced clearing away the wreck.

"From 4 to 8, heavy gales from the northward and eastward; thick haze and rain, with a heavy sea on: at 5h. 30m. the brig much pressed -- took in and furled the foretopsail: at 6h. 30m. hauled up the foresail, clewed down the maintopsail, split the foretopmast staysail: both the starboard boats filled and tore away from the davits; got the wreck of the jib and flying booms on board: at 8 called all hands: from 8 to meridian heavy gales from the northward and eastward, thick mist and rain: at 8h. 30m. carried away the main yard in the lee quarter, clewed up and furled the maintopsail and set the fore trysail, with the bonnet off; bent a new main trysail, reefed and set it; carried away the gaff and both weather boats from the davits: at 10, blowing a hurricane, the water above the lee rails most of the time; hove overboard both of the lee guns, and cut away the mainmast, which brought the foretopmast, the fore yard, and the head of the foremast with it, leaving them hanging up and down the mast; got her before the wind, and hove overboard the two larboard guns; sounded in eight fathoms water, not able to see a cable's length ahead; the tops of the seas blowing completely over and on board of us, the men clinging to keep from being washed or blown overboard. At 11 let go the stream anchor, with a 6 ½ inch Manila hawser, 180 fathoms in length, bent to it, in order to bring her head to the wind, for the purpose of anchoring. At 11h. 10m., while in the act of letting go the starboard anchor, shipped a heavy sea amidships and on the quarter, sweeping the deck fore and aft, and carrying with it the poop cabin, and nearly all the officers and men. She partly righted; all succeeded in getting on board again, with the exception of George M. Bache, Lieutenant Commanding, James Dorsey, Benjamin Dolloff, and John Fishbourne, quartermasters, Henry Schroeder, sailmaker's mate, Francis Butler, Lewis Maynard, Thomas Stamford, and William Wright, seamen, and Peter Hanson and Edward Grennin, ordinary seamen. On regaining the wreck, manned the pumps, cut away the foremast, and let go the starboard anchor, which brought her head to the wind; found the tanks, chains, kentledge, and everything in the hold, had shifted, ripping up the berth deck; cleared away the chain and run it out to the bitter end; at the same time employed heaving overboard the kentledge and shot. The brig gradually righted; the gale abating, she rode to her anchors."(48)

The last anyone saw of George Mifflin Bache, he was holding on to part of the cabin as if stunned. He had no marks on his face and his arms were over the flotsam as if resting while his head was turned and looking toward the brig. The observer, Mr. Ricketson who was a civilian pilot accompanying the cruise, saw a tremendous sea crash over Bache and then had the same sea come over him on the ship.(49) He never saw Bache again. The surviving officers of the vessel praised Bache: "During the trying scenes which preceded his loss, his coolness and decision were remarkable: every thing that seamanlike skill could effect for the safety of the vessel he accomplished. He appeared never to think of himself, but, with his characteristic solicitude for the performance of his duty, only of preserving what related to that upon which he had been engaged during the cruise."(50)

A monument stands today in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., consisting of a broken mast inscribed with the names of Lieutenant Commanding Bache and the members of the crew who died in the hurricane of September 8, 1846. These men were among the first in the United States to lose their lives in the pursuit of scientific knowledge.

It was not until September 17 that the WASHINGTON was taken in tow by the U.S.S. CONSTITUTION bound for Boston from Rio de Janeiro. On September 18, the CONSTITUTION provided the WASHINGTON with 75 gallons of water and 7 ½ gallons of whiskey. A week later the little ship was anchored off the Navy Yard at Philadelphia awaiting repairs.

Undaunted, Superintendent Bache had the ship repaired and readied for another season. However, the war with Mexico intervened. Bache had struck a deal with the Navy and in return for the Navy repairing the vessel, Bache had agreed that they could use the vessel for a portion of 1847. As a consequence, the WASHINGTON sailed for the Gulf of Mexico in April 1847 under Lieutenant Commanding Samuel P. Lee. The executive officer was the veteran coast surveyor Benjamin Sands, and the sailing master was Gustavus V. Fox, the future Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War. They sailed from the Navy Yard on April 8th and "found the little brig to be all we could wish. She behaved beautifully, having beat to windward of and passed everything under sail on the river. The pilot said that some of those vessels passed were considered very fast sailers, and was surprised to see a square-rigged vessel so easily go to windward of the 'fore-and-afters.'"(51)

While the WASHINGTON was in Mexico, the final work of George Bache for the Coast Survey came to an end. Drift bottles had been added to the regimen of observation techniques in 1846 and a bottle tossed overboard from the WASHINGTON in the axis of the Stream on July 31, 1846, was picked up on the coast near Kerry, Ireland, on June 27, 1847. Two bottles thrown overboard from inshore of the Gulf Stream in 1846 had a much less spectacular trip, as they came ashore in the vicinity of Nag's Head, North Carolina, only a few days after having been tossed into the sea.(52)

The ship sailed from Mexico in July and stopped at Pensacola prior to resuming Coast Survey duties. Sands mentions that: "On the 25th July we sailed from Pensacola and were engaged in deep-sea soundings in the Gulf and Gulf-stream -- closing our surveying work in September, when we returned north. This, although a short cruise , was the most uncomfortable one I ever sailed, and I never look back to it with any gratification."(53) In spite of Sands' discomfort, the WASHINGTON made observations while coming up the coast off Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas and then reobserved the section from the southeast to Cape Henry. These observations verified those of George Bache and confirmed the existence of the cold wall.

In 1848, Gulf Stream studies were continued on the Steamer LEGARE, under the command of Lieutenant Richard Meade Bache. This was the first use of a steam vessel for oceanographic observations by the United States Government. The LEGARE was underpowered for this duty, but Richard Bache noted that "on one or two days going out, the weather was so calm as to give us an advantage over sails, and always in being able to keep the vessel directly over the line, and to reel it up by steam." Although the section off Cape Henry was completed, operations were curtailed at the end of this line, "In consequence of the loss of the most trustworthy instruments, by the parting of the line in drawing it up, after a cast of 3,300 fathoms in depth, off Hatteras...."(54) Although sporadic observations were made over the next few years, 1848 marked the end of the first series of systematic observations in the Gulf Stream. These studies would resume in 1853. Tragically, Richard Bache drowned two years later while attempting to make a hydrographic reconnaissance near Point St. George on the California coast. Richard was at that time detached from the Coast Survey and was commanding officer of one of the Pacific mail steamers.


The Mexican War had little initial effect on the operations of the Coast Survey. The greatest problem was the loss of all Army officers, with the exception of two officers of the Corps of Topographical Engineers, as they were called to their units in late 1845 and 1846 either for the occupation of Texas or for duty in Mexico. This primarily affected the secondary triangulation field parties as Captain Joe Johnston, and Lieutenants E. O. C. Ord, Richard S. Ewell, James G. Martin, Henry Prince, Edward Murray, Roswell S. Ripley, Joseph F. Irons, Calvin Benjamin, and Richard P. Hammond all left the Coast Survey. Alexander Dallas Bache particularly felt the loss of Johnston, who "during a connexion with the work of nearly three years, has so discharged the duties devolved upon him as to make his loss sensibly felt."(55) Concerning this group of officers, Bache wrote in 1847: "The officers of the line of the army withdrawn, from the exigencies of the military service, from the survey, have shown themselves no less distinguished in arms than useful in science. Two have fallen on the field of battle, and three have been severely wounded...."(56)

Joseph Irons, who had served with the Survey in 1845 and was then withdrawn to take part in the military occupation of Texas, was killed at Churubusco "by a grape -shot through the neck...."(57) Calvin Benjamin fell during the attack on Mexico City while "within the Belen Gate, while serving with conspicuous gallantry a captured 9-pounder, under a murderous fire of the enemy, which had cut down three fourths of his company, was killed, Sep. 13, 1847."(58) Joseph Johnston was twice shot at Cerro Gordo, Mexico, while on reconnaissance duty and then shot again during the assault on Mexico City. Henry Prince was severely wounded at the Battle of Molino del Rey while James G. Martin lost his right arm at Churubusco. In addition, Brevet Major John R. Vinton, who had served with Hassler for a short time in 1817, was mortally wounded at the "Siege of Vera Cruz, in the approaches to which, by the wind of a shell, he was killed, Mar. 22, 1847."(59) Johnston, Bache's favorite, would become the Quartermaster-General of the United States Army prior to the Civil War, and then would head the Army of Northern Virginia prior to Lee's assumption of command. Ord and Prince became Union generals, and Ewell and Ripley became Confederate generals.

Although some Navy officers were detached from the Survey for the duration of the war, the net result was not as drastic as the reduction of Army officers. The hydrographic work seems to have been little retarded during the war, while the Brig WASHINGTON earned a minor footnote in history as the first Coast Survey vessel to be used by the Navy as a combatant. This aspect of Coast Survey history would be repeated during the Civil War, WWI, and WWII.

The WASHINGTON made a fast passage to Mexico but did not arrive in time for the fall of Vera Cruz. The vessel took part in the blockading of Lagunas, transported commissioners to negotiate with a Mexican contingent on the Yucatan Peninsula, and saw action while proceeding up the Tabasco River while taking the city of Tabasco. Sands relates that during the Tabasco expedition he "made a sketch of the windings of the river to the Devil's Bend, and thence the route marched to the city, which my coast survey experience enabled me to do with considerable accuracy. The Commodore heard of it and sent, through his fleet captain, for a copy of it, and with a few corrections thereon as to the force detailed, he sent it to the Department with his report of the action."(60)

The net result of the Mexican War for the Coast Survey was the securing of the Texas coast and West Coast to the United States. Bache requested funding to survey the Texas coast in his 1845 report and alluded to surveying the Pacific coast in his 1847 report. In autumn of 1846, instructions were issued to commence a reconnaissance of the Texas coast from Galveston southward. Bache's protagonist, Assistant Constant M. Eakin, was the pioneer surveyor on the Texas coast as he conducted a reconnaissance between January and April of 1847. In October, 1847, Assistant Ferdinand Gerdes began the triangulation of Galveston Bay. The following year astronomic latitudes and longitudes were observed by Robert H. Fauntleroy and George Davidson, and then in 1849 they continued the triangulation. The triangulation and topography were sufficiently far advanced that a hydrographic party was at work off Galveston for much of 1850. The dangers of this area were pointedly brought home when Fauntleroy was stricken and died of cholera on December 13, 1849, at Galveston. His first symptoms appeared on the morning of the 13th and he was dead within thirteen hours.(61)

Bache referred to surveying the West Coast in his 1847 report and it is obvious from the wording that he had been agitating to undertake this work for some time. He concluded his budget estimation for the coming year with: "In conclusion, allow me to repeat my disposition, whenever the circumstances of the country shall be thought to justify or call for it, to render the resources of the coast survey, in observers, costly instruments, and tried methods, available to the country in the survey of the more distant coast of the Pacific."(62) Funding was found and in late 1848 Assistant James S. Williams and Sub-Assistant Joseph S. Ruth sailed for Oregon to commence astronomic and geodetic work. Concurrently, a hydrographic party under Lieutenant Commanding William P. McArthur was organized. By the end of 1849, these parties were on the West Coast and ready to begin operations.


Bache had an uncanny ability to convince Congress and the Executive Branch of the necessity for ever increasing appropriations to carry on the work. He demonstrated his persuasiveness in arguing for his 1845 appropriation of $111,000. It takes little imagination to see Bache combining such published requests with behind-the-scenes entertaining of influential Congressmen, lobbying of leading members of the scientific community, and perhaps even convincing his uncle, Vice-President George Mifflin Dallas, and his brother-in-law, Secretary of the Treasury Robert J. Walker, to lobby the President and twist the arms of recalcitrant Congressmen to see matters in Bache's way. He first made an argument for improving the lot of the whole country through the efforts of the Coast Survey:

" ... I am sincerely anxious to diffuse the benefits of the work over a large extent of our country at a very early day, and this can be done by a small increase of the appropriation. In pressing this, I do so, not that it will benefit those engaged in the work, or will lead to the employment of others; but simply that it may benefit the agriculture, commerce, and navigation of the whole country, in which the whole country is directly interested; and that it may furnish, as fast as possible, means to prevent or diminish the waste of life and property which now annually occurs upon the coast."(63)

He argued against cutting back the appropriation because of the inefficiencies that would result: "The estimates have been made with care, and are approved by the Treasury Department. Should the amount be diminished, the work must necessarily be diminished, and that in a greater proportion than the diminution of the appropriation; because the work is economical just in proportion as the system of division of labor can be more fully applied to it. The only choice will then be between neglecting certain sections altogether, or the wasteful way of working in all with insufficient means."(64)

He concluded his report for 1845 with the comments:

"I ought not to close this report without saying that the scale of the survey may be still further expanded, if desired by Congress. In my last report, I showed how this expansion might take place, carrying on the work more rapidly on the coasts of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, at an additional cost of $47,000.... I am very willing to go forward more rapidly, and, if additional means are furnished for the purpose, to commence work at once in our newly acquired coast of Texas." Besides holding out the carrot of expanded operations, Bache proposed that economy lay in a greater appropriation because:

"The extent of the line of the coast within the geographical limits of the United States, for the time being, is determined by nature; and the more rapidly it is surveyed, consistently with accuracy, the more economically can the work be done -- the sooner will this source of expenditure cease -- the sooner will the loss of life and property, caused by ignorance of the dangers of the coast, cease -- the sooner will the reproach be removed from us of being dependant almost entirely upon foreign surveys for the little knowledge we possess of our coast and harbors south of the Chesapeake, and east and north of the Vineyard Sound."(65)

In his 1846 report, Bache paraphrased Hassler in requesting an increased appropriation for steam vessels: "True economy, which looks at results accomplished and their cost, and not merely at the sum expended without regard to results, requires that we should have the means of employing steam vessels upon the work; and, as the case of greatest exigency and most obvious utility, I select this one for including in the appropriation a sum necessary to hire and work a steamboat for two months."(66) Then he requested $146,000 and added: "It must be obvious, now, that the amount of work done is much more than proportional to the amount of the appropriation, and that the division of labor which is applicable to the work on an extended scale produces very considerable economy in its execution." He closed the report for 1846 with his first published mention of the requirement to survey the western coast. His motive must have been two-fold in making the following statements:

"This is perhaps not the time to speak of more extended plans by which the method and system of the work on the Atlantic coast may be extended to the western coast of the United States. In a great national survey, uniformity is one of the most desirable objects. The maps and charts of the coast should have a common origin, that they may be consistent in plan and uniform in character. Without this requisite, they will fail in a degree to afford the greatest possible facilities to the navigator.

"Should the time come when this extension is desired by Congress, it will be a stimulus to me to renewed exertion to have its execution intrusted to me, under the direction of the department of the government which has hitherto fostered the work, and with which the War and Navy Departments have of late years so cordially co-operated in measures for its extension and increased efficiency." (67)

In 1846, Bache was already gearing up to expand operations to the western coast, while fending off potential attacks by the Navy and Army to take over the Survey or portions of it.

The budget request for 1848 marked the first major costs associated with the operation of steam vessels. An additional $15,000 was requested to pay for the operation of steamers on many sections of the coast. The past year's experience had led "to the remarkable conclusion, that fifteen times the amount of work has been done, under similar circumstances, this year [1847], by the use of a steam-vessel, [than] which was done last year, when using sailing vessels exclusively. The cost of the latter work was but four-and-a-half times that of the former, giving an economical result in the favor of steam, of between three and four-fold." He then closed the request by calling for the survey of the Pacific coast and noting that "... A very slight enlargement of the present plan, would, with but little additional expense, include the survey of the whole coast of the United States."(68)

Bache introduced many arguments that would be familiar to today's Government and corporate administrators: economies of scale -- the bigger the organization, the more work that can be accomplished with a corresponding decrease in unit cost; as the work is presumed to be limited in extent, the faster the work can be accomplished the sooner that the appropriation will no longer be necessary; there is additional impetus to hurry as lives and property will be saved by the early completion of the work; new technologies, although more costly initially, will increase efficiency and ultimately drive down costs per unit of production; and American chauvinism, i.e., the United States needs to replace foreign-made charts of its own waters as rapidly as possible with United States Coast Survey charts produced by American citizens. Bache was an ardent expansionist and proclaimed the readiness of the Coast Survey to follow the growing coast line of the United States. Bache sent survey crews to Texas within two years of annexation and had crews on the western coast by 1849. He seriously entertained the idea of surveying the coast from Panama to California and sent Coast Survey vessels as far north as Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. He was so good at presenting his views concerning appropriations, that in some years he actually received more than he requested.

The flip side of the budget is the disbursement process and the record-keeping associated with the day-to-day business of managing Federal money. A major criticism of Hassler's management of the Survey was his handling of money matters. Whether this was justified or not, given that Hassler was breaking new ground for an embryonic Federal science establishment, Bache took immediate action to change the perception. In 1845 he outlined the disbursement procedures:

"The disbursements of each party are made by the chief, and the accounts then pass into the hands of a general disbursing agent, by whom they are first audited under the regulations of the Treasury Department. They then undergo an administrative examination by the superintendent, and if they have passed these two audits, are forwarded by the general disbursing agent to the First Auditor of the Treasury. The appropriation is drawn by the general disbursing agent, who advances the sums required to the chiefs of parties on their requisition, under such restrictions as may be laid by the Department or superintendent. The success of this arrangement of finance depends essentially upon detaching the general disbursing agency from other duty in the survey, and making the officer himself stationary at Washington. The duties of general disbursing agent are performed by Samuel Hein, esq., under whose care entire order and regularity prevail in the supplies to the parties, and in the arrangements and preliminary audit of accounts."(69)

Such care in establishing disbursing procedures and, better yet, publicizing them, smoothed many of the ruffled feathers that had occurred during Hassler's tenure. Although Hein had been hired by Hassler, Bache developed this system of dealing with disbursements that was acceptable to the Executive Branch and Congress. So good was this system at tracking expenditures, that, in the 1847 annual report, Bache pointed out that he had done very well in estimating the required funds for operations of the survey, insomuch as he had only spent $775 over the whole appropriation for the years 1846-1847. By 1848, Bache was able to remark concerning disbursements: "This important part of the work has gone on, with its usual regularity, under Samuel Hein, esq."(70) "Its usual regularity" was the way disbursements would be handled for the next thirty years under Samuel Hein.


With all of the successes that had accrued under Bache, the Coast Survey should have been immune to danger from any quarter. However, in 1849 the administration changed and Bache no longer had an uncle for Vice-President of the United States or a brother-in-law for Secretary of the Treasury. The time was ripe for an attack upon the Survey. Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri was the primary instrument of an attempt to break up the Coast Survey and place it under military control. Varina Davis, the wife of Jefferson Davis, attributed this attack specifically to the desire of Benton to dismantle the Coast Survey so that his son-in-law, John Charles Fremont, could take over the Pacific coast operations of the Coast Survey.(71) (72) Fremont, known as the "Great Pathfinder" for his explorations in the American west, was an Army officer and had been a friend of Ferdinand Hassler; however, in spite of Varina Davis's claim, it seemed that the major thrust for the dismantling of the Survey actually came from Lieutenant Matthew Fontaine Maury, the head of the Naval Observatory. Perhaps Benton's alleged desires, as reported by Varina Davis, came to light after the Senate hearings of early 1849 on the Coast Survey; but Jefferson Davis himself, in a speech to the Senate on February 19, 1849, declared Benton's motive to be "to give up the whole coast survey to the navy, and return to the law of 1818."

To understand the source of this attack, it is necessary to review the relationship of Maury with the Coast Survey and the American scientific community prior to 1849. Maury was a brilliant Naval officer, who after a stagecoach accident in late 1839 was left lame in one leg for the rest of his life. Because of this accident, he applied for and became the head of the Depot of Charts and Instruments in 1842, and then, the first head of the United States Naval Observatory in 1844.

Prior to injuring his leg, he had written a textbook on navigation in 1836 that was well received by the Navy. In late 1838, he was assigned to the small steamer ENGINEER, Lieutenant James Glynn, Commanding, and was involved in harbor surveys under the auspices of the Navy in the Southeast. This was the same Glynn whom Hassler alleged was the source of the Navy attack on the Survey in the early 1840's. Maury was not happy swinging the lead and plotting depths, so in February, 1839, he applied to Ferdinand Hassler for a position with the Coast Survey as head of a triangulation party. Hassler declined taking him on the Coast Survey. Maury went on leave after finishing the surveys; and then, upon return from leave, he injured his leg. Maury was proceeding to the brig CONSORT for further hydrographic work with Glynn at the time of the accident.

After taking over the Depot of Charts and Instruments, Maury discovered a gold mine of information buried in the naval vessel log books archived at the Depot. By studying the weather records of these logs, Maury developed wind and current charts of the world ocean that aided mariners in determining appropriate courses to sail. For this contribution, he became known as the "Pathfinder of the Seas" and is credited as being the "father of oceanography." Maury became head of the Depot when Lieutenant James H. Gilliss was sent to Europe to acquire modern astronomical instruments for a new Naval Observatory that was to be built at Washington, D.C. Gilliss fully expected to be made head of the new observatory upon his return to the United States, as he had been making observations at the Capitol Hill Observatory for many years prior to being sent to Europe. However, Maury pulled political strings and maneuvered himself into the position of both head of the Observatory and head of the Depot of Charts and Instruments. In 1846, Gilliss, who was a friend of Bache, was attached to the Coast Survey to work as a computer and worked on the reduction of longitude observations. In that same year, Sears C. Walker, a friend of Bache's who had founded the Central High School Observatory in Philadelphia, went to work for Maury at the Naval Observatory upon Bache's recommendation.

Walker figured prominently in a controversy that was to arise in early 1847. Upon coming to work at the Naval Observatory, he was assigned the responsibility of determining if the newly discovered planet of Neptune had previously been observed and misidentified as a fixed star. He also was required to cooperate with the Coast Survey in the development of the telegraphic determination of longitude. Of this, Bache recognized Maury's cooperation in both his 1846 and 1847 annual reports. Besides noting assistance with the telegraphic determination of longitude, Bache acknowledged Maury's assistance in providing the Coast Survey with data on the solar eclipse of April 25, 1846.(73) It appears that Bache had recommended Walker to Maury specifically for incorporating the Naval Observatory into the Coast Survey network of geodetic points and establishing it as the fixed longitude reference point for the United States. This concept was in keeping with Hassler's original plan.

The first successful transfer of telegraphic signals for determination of longitude occurred October 10, 1846, between the Naval Observatory and the Central High School Observatory at Philadelphia using equipment designed by Joseph Saxton of the Coast Survey. Walker in a report to Bache dated December 4, 1846, mentions that he was "... chiefly engaged, in the time that could be spared from the pressing labors for the Observatory, in preparing for the determination of difference of longitude between the stations of the coast survey, connected by the magnetic telegraph line."(74) There was no mention by Walker in this letter that Maury was dissatisfied with his efforts. Besides working on telegraphic determination of longitude, Walker was engaged in searching for previous sightings of Neptune and computing longitude values for the Coast Survey from various classes of observed astronomic phenomena.

On February 2, 1847, Walker made the discovery that Neptune had previously been observed and recorded as a fixed star by the French astronomer Lalande at the Paris observatory in 1795. This discovery ultimately allowed Walker to determine the orbit of Neptune and develop an ephemeris for this previously unknown planet. Almost immediately after making this discovery Maury dismissed Walker, as in Maury's words: "Mr. Walker was unwilling to comply with the rules of the office, as the officers do, and it was better therefore that he should quit. He wanted to be excused from attending the office entirely and occupy himself upon such subjects only as he should fancy. Mr. W., moreover, was a much better computer than observer; he could compute day in and day out but our night observation would knock him up."(75) Maury betrayed his weakness in running the observatory in this assessment of Walker. Maury, whose fame was based on reducing meteorological and oceanographic data to a usable form, never quite understood that the same principle applied to astronomic observations.(76) They were of little value if the proper computations were not performed to assure their usefulness to the scientific, engineering, and seafaring communities. In a later note to Joseph Henry, Maury stated that Walker had "been compelled to leave in official disgrace" implying that he had been fired vice quitting.

Bache hired Walker immediately to come to work for the Coast Survey, as he appreciated his talents as one of the foremost theoretical astronomers in the United States. Soon after coming to work at the Coast Survey, Walker provided Bache's good friend, Joseph Henry, an article on his researches on the planet Neptune. Henry had this printed in Schumacher's Astronomische Nachrichten, a leading European astronomic journal. Maury protested that this amounted to one Government agency taking a discovery from another and that this caused the Observatory great harm. Henry probably felt Walker would never have received the proper recognition for his discovery from Maury. That Maury had taken only minimal steps to publicize the findings of Walker and give him due credit lends credence to this view.

If not already existing, Maury developed a deep-seated animosity for both Bache and Henry following this incident. Bache had convinced Henry to come to Washington, D.C., to head the Smithsonian Institution and the two of them were virtually always closely allied in matters regarding science policy within the United States Government. Maury was often diametrically opposed to their positions. Whether Maury had designs on the Coast Survey prior to this incident is unclear. However, the Walker incident fueled the fire; and Maury became a staunch foe of both Bache and Henry for the rest of his career at the Naval Observatory.

Maury wasted no time in gathering ammunition for an attack. He hired James Ferguson, who had been recently dismissed from the Coast Survey for "cooking" his results. Thus, Bache had Walker, who, Maury said, had resigned in "official disgrace"; and Maury had Ferguson. Walker continued working on the development of telegraphic longitude for Bache, while Ferguson was made an observer at the Observatory. It appears that Ferguson also found time to write a scathing broadside of the Coast Survey which was published in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine for February, 1849. This article was anonymous; but, in a subsequent defense of this article, it is obvious that James Ferguson was the original author.(77) It is also obvious that the article could not have been written without Maury's approval. The timing of this article coincided with an attack on the Survey by Senator Thomas Hart Benton such that there was a concerted effort to generate a one-two punch to knock the Coast Survey out for good.

Benton's attack was three-pronged: the Coast Survey was too expensive; the Navy did all the work and was at that time under-employed so it should absorb the Survey; and the astronomic observations in support of geodetic operations were illegal. As such, the Coast Survey should be placed under the management of the Naval Observatory. Benton appears to have long been one who disliked the Survey. He admired the attempt by John Aycrigg of New Jersey to dismantle the Coast Survey in 1842.(78) In his memoir, Benton referred to Aycrigg and his allies as "the friends of economy in Congress", who "when once more strong enough to form a party, will have a sacred duty to perform to the country -- that of diminishing by one-half, the present mad expenditures of the government: and the abolition of the present coast-survey establishment should be among the primary objects of retrenchment. It is a reproach to our naval and military officers, and besides untrue in point of fact, to assume them to be incapable of conducting and performing the work: it is a reproach to Congress to vote annually an immense sum on the civil superintendence and conduct of this work, when there are more idle officers on the pay-roll than could be employed upon it."(79)

In his 1848 speech, Benton expanded on these views:

"Thus, sir, the navy does a good deal, and pays a good deal, towards this coast survey; and my only objection, is that it does not do the whole, and pay the whole, and get the credit due to their work, instead of being, as they now are, unseen and unnoticed -- eclipsed and cast into the shade by the civil superintendent and his civil assistants.... Our naval establishment is now very large, and but little to do. The ships, I suppose, are about seventy; the men and officers some ten thousand: the expense of the whole establishment between eight and nine millions of dollars a year. We are in a state of profound peace, and no way to employ this large naval force. Why not put it upon the coast survey? I know that officers wish it -- that they feel humiliated at being supposed incompetent to it -- and if found to be so, are willing to pay the penalty, by being dismissed the service. Incompetency is the only ground upon which a civil superintendent and a list of civil assistants can be placed over them. And is that objection well founded? Look to Maury, whose name is the synonym of nautical and astronomical science...."

There can be little doubt but that Maury had collaborated with Benton in this call for naval control of the Survey to coincide with Ferguson's published article castigating Bache and the Survey. The attack on the methodology of triangulation was renewed and the concept of detached surveys again came up as a cheap alternative. Specifically Benton moved to strike out the clause appropriating $186,000 to the Coast Survey for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1850, and replace it with an appropriation of $30,000 for surveys to be carried out exclusively by the Navy Department. Employment of the superintendent of the Coast Survey and his assistants was to be terminated.

Bache, like Hassler before him, rose to the occasion in marshaling forces to defeat this measure. But, unlike Hassler, he had the strong support of both the American academic and mercantile communities to help fight this battle. Senators Jefferson Davis of Mississippi and J. A. Pearce of Maryland delivered strong speeches in the Senate in support of the Survey, while Lieutenant Charles H. Davis (no relative of Jefferson Davis) of the Navy and an assistant in the Coast Survey, responded to the attacks in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine and also wrote a pamphlet which was published by Harvard University in support of the Survey. Statements in support of the Survey came in from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Marine Society of Boston, the Insurance Companies of Boston, the Franklin Institute, the Chamber of Commerce of New York, the American Philosophical Society, the Board of Trade of Philadelphia, Insurance Companies of Baltimore, the Chamber of Commerce of Charleston, faculties of St. John's College in Annapolis and the University of Virginia, and the President of the Mobile and Ohio Railway. Bache also sought and received endorsements from leading European scientists. Ringing endorsements of the Survey and its leadership came in from Alexander von Humboldt, Francois Arago, and Professor Schumacher of the Altona Observatory.(80)

Arago spoke of the "probable loss of Professor Bache's services as a misfortune which he desires to unite with all that Europe has most distinguished in science, to prevent." Humboldt wrote to Professor Schumacher:

"You know, better than I do, in how high an estimation the director of the work for the survey of the coast stands, not only among us, but among all the most illustrious men who in France and England are interested in the study of geography and nautical astronomy. To the most solid knowledge of astronomy and mathematics, Mr. Bache unites in a very eminent degree that activity of mind and extent of views which render a work of practical utility profitable to the science of the physics of the globe. In a region of the globe where the direction of oceanic currents, the differences of temperature produced by these currents and by the upheaval of the bottom and the direction of magnetic curves, offer so important phenomena to the navigators, such a great work could not be placed in better hands than those of Mr. Bache. The Government of the United States has acquired a new right to our gratitude by protecting nobly that which has arrested the attention of the hydrographers and astronomers of Europe. I should be glad to think that in a country where I am honored with so much good feeling, my feeble testimony might contribute to enliven the interest which is due to the excellent labors of Mr. Bache."

Schumacher, in turn, transmitted the letters of Arago and Humboldt to Bache with the comment:

"You will see, by the enclosed letters of our common friends, M. Arago and Baron von Humboldt, how anxious they are to know if the great work you have undertaken will remain in the hands to which the whole scientific world would have entrusted it. Let me hope that the fears they entertain are only founded upon vague rumors. Your country must be proud to call you its own, and will repay you in gratitude what you do for her scientific glory."

Without reference to the above list of Coast Survey advocates, it is tempting to think of the squabbles between Maury and his adversaries, Bache and Henry, as battles based on sectional interests of Southern intellectuals versus Northeastern intellectuals for the control of American science. Nothing could be further from the truth. Senator Jefferson Davis, the future President of the Confederate States of America, was Bache's biggest champion until the Civil War. He unmasked the true source of the attack in his speech to the Senate on February 19, 1849. When responding to Benton's charge that the Coast Survey was illegally observing latitude and longitude, he stated:

"But the next position taken was, that these observations concerning latitude and longitude were invading the proper duties of the National Observatory. Now, Mr. President, two observatories since the establishment of the telegraph wires may determine difference of longitude with great accuracy. But, how a fixed observatory is to determine the latitude of other places, I am wholly at a loss to imagine. The observatory can fix the stars; but, unless it is made locomotive, put upon wheels and carried over the country, it can have no power to determine the latitude and longitude of places. But this observatory is to be made the receptacle of the Coast Survey, instead of transferring it to the Coast Survey -- the minor to the major part."

A few years later, Bache's good friend Joseph Henry, although having come from Princeton to head the Smithsonian, was accused of having southern sympathies for not allowing abolitionists to have meetings in the Smithsonian. Although he did this as a matter of policy, as he tried to divorce the Smithsonian Institution from all political posturing as much as possible, he was perceived as having pro-Southern sympathies. Bache's friends Benjamin Peirce and Louis Agassiz, although firmly entrenched in New England academia, were known for their racist views and sympathy towards slavery. Likewise, Bache, who professed "I do not like dusky company," and Henry who believed blacks to be inherently inferior, did not hide their racism.(81) Maury, for his part, was a staunch Southerner, who, in 1850, directed that a naval expedition under the direction of his brother-in-law, Lieutenant Lewis Herndon, proceed to the Amazon jungle for the clandestine purpose of investigating its suitability as the location for a new slave-holding republic.(82) However, prior to the Civil War he was criticized by some Southerners as they believed his wind and current charts only benefited Northern shipowners and Yankee whalers. The port of Mobile, on the other hand, had been surveyed by the Coast Survey under Bache at the request of the citizens of Mobile. This survey opened commerce to Mobile and a large region of the South.

Although Maury was a Naval officer, the rivalry between him and Bache-Henry was not a civil/military rivalry. In many respects, Maury was outside the mainstream of the Navy's operational and scientific communities. Charles H. Davis, John Dahlgren, John Rodgers, David Dixon Porter, and many other prominent Naval officers of the mid-Nineteenth Century remained lifelong friends and supporters of the Coast Survey. Many Naval officers who served at the Observatory also served on the Survey during their careers with no apparent animosity. The reality of the Bache-Henry conflicts with Maury involved the collision of gigantic egos vying for honors, recognition, and the control of American physical science. The attack of 1849 was the opening volley of a continuing battle between these men. Bache came out the clear winner in this first major battle; when the measure to strike out the Coast Survey appropriation from the budget and turn the functions of the Survey over to the Navy was voted upon, there were only two votes for the measure. One of those votes was from Senator Benton.

Over the next decade, Maury and Bache would do battle over whether the Coast Survey should be involved in deep sea soundings, whether the Coast Survey should become the nation's time-keeper (a major function of the Observatory), and whether the Coast Survey or the Observatory would have the honor of being the first to determine telegraphically the longitude of a cardinal point in the United States from signals sent by a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. Also, Maury attempted to take over meteorology in the interior of the United States, a function that Henry had assumed at the Smithsonian Institution. However, it would be almost ten years before the Coast Survey was seriously challenged again.

Bache-Henry and Maury were evenly matched in these battles as each had powerful friends, and neither of them was averse to pulling political strings to accomplish their ends. Both used the press extensively in attacking each other, although many letters were either anonymous or signed with a pseudonym. Maury was the master of the pseudonym having used the pen names "Harry Bluff", "Will Watch", "Union Jack", "Brandywine", and "Ben Bow" among others throughout his career. Most of Maury's letters were calls for Naval reform; and, in many cases, they resulted in good for the Navy and the Nation. However, many of these letters calling for reform were quite acerbic and resulted in powerful enemies. And there were two letters attacking the Coast Survey in the late 1850's signed by "B.B." Perhaps it is a coincidence, but Maury's next identified pseudonym was "Ben Bow" which he used during the Civil War in a series of articles attacking the Confederate Secretary of the Navy, Stephen Mallory. (83) There is no evidence that Bache ever wrote to the press under a pseudonym. Bache had little need of such tactics as Charles Henry Davis, Joseph Henry, and Benjamin Apthorpe Gould were always ready to write or speak in support of the Survey or against its enemies and sign their name. Even with that battery of allies, though, there were unsigned letters and letters sent under pseudonyms that found there way into the popular press that either supported the Coast Survey or attacked Maury and the Observatory.

Insults were occasionally traded in the press and behind the scenes. Bache was termed "absorbent" in the June, 1849, article that appeared in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine; i. e., he absorbed the glory from the work of his associates to such a degree that the contribution of the colleague or underling was soon forgotten. This article spoke of Bache possessing "extraordinary abilities, and of a very peculiar and valuable order, to wit, of the administrative and absorbent cast." In a later passage, the author of this letter identified himself unambiguously as James Ferguson when, in referring to Bache being given credit by Charles H. Davis (Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, April 1849) for beginning the survey of the North Carolina coast, related that: "The survey of North Carolina was given to the writer of this paper, dated April 29, 1843, eight months before Mr. Bache became superintendent. His great credit on this point is therefore solely due to his absorbent qualities." This name-calling was not one-sided as Bache and Henry referred to Maury as "the pecuniary" in the mid-1850's after Maury began accepting fees for speaking engagements.

There was truth to the charge of Bache receiving more credit than was rightfully his. But this "absorption" of glory does not seem to be so much the work of Bache, as that of his supporters such as Davis, Henry, and Gould. Bache's Annual Reports are filled with the accomplishments of the employees of the Coast Survey and he often mentioned Maury as having provided assistance to the Survey through his position at the National Observatory. He gave credit where credit was due. In spite of the fact that Ferguson's letter was written as part of a political attack on Bache and the Survey, other scientific administrator's took note of the attack and particularly the concept of being considered "absorbent" of other men's rightful scientific honors. RADM Benjamin F. Sands, who had served on the Coast Survey for many years and then as the Director of the Naval Observatory from 1867-1874, wrote of his own tenure "... that any credit that should come to me would be reflective and not by absorption." Maury, while perhaps not deserving the appellation "the pecuniary," did in fact sell his knowledge to anyone who would buy. He charged for lectures and sold many books, most notably The Physical Geography of the Sea, during these years. But, his salary during these years was $3,000 per annum while Bache's was $6,000. Perhaps if their situations had been reversed, Bache would have resorted to similar tactics to enhance his income.

Behind all the acrimonious relations between Bache and Maury, there was one major over-riding difference between them that assured conflict. They approached science from diametrically opposed philosophical positions. Bache was detached and objective in making scientific measurements and drawing inferences from these measurements. Accuracy, precision, repeated measurement, and verification were the standards of the Survey. Maury was more of a "brain-stormer." He could take a small number of observations or a large number of minimally quality-controlled observations and draw highly imaginative conclusions from few facts. This led to the publication of his wind and current charts which shortened by weeks long passages such as New York to San Francisco. However, this led also to erroneous conclusions such as his advocacy of an "open polar sea" and the "Atlantic Telegraphic Plateau." But, because of an ability to describe his beliefs in passionate, almost poetic terms, Maury became quite popular with the American public and, to some degree, attracted a world-wide following. To Bache, this populist brand of science was anathema. He felt it dangerous that "charlatans" might mislead the American public. He also strongly believed that scientists should monitor each other's work by means of an aristocracy of scientific intellectuals. This belief ultimately led directly to the establishment of the National Academy of Sciences during the Civil War.

By the end of the 1840's, Superintendent Bache was firmly in control of the Coast Survey and the most powerful figure in American science. He had just crushed a serious political attack and was able to devote his attention to the expansion of the Survey in response to the continuing growth of the American coast line. The following decade would mark the pinnacle of Bache's success as a peacetime science leader and administrator. During the 1850's, the Coast Survey would have crews operating from Maine to Texas and from Cabo San Lucas to Vancouver Island. At the same time, Bache and his circle of friends would continue playing a major role in the nurturing and growth of the American scientific community.


1. Occultations refer to the moon, with its high rate of relative motion, passing between the Earth and a particular star. As the moon approached the line-of-sight between the observer and a particular star, the observer would stand ready to note the exact time of the moon blocking the view of the celestial object. Dr. Owen Gingerich of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in a personal communication (6 June, 1994) noted that, "... the occultation actually is seen at different times for different observers because of their differing geographical coordinates. Using lunar tables, it is possible to predict precise moment of the occultation in Greenwich time, so if the local time of the event is accurately recorded, it is possible to compare local time with Greenwich time and thereby establish a longitude. Hence only a single observer plus accurate tables of the moon's position are required for this longitude method."

2. The individual who helped Renwick was identified as Midshipman Charles Wilkes, Jr., in Bache's annual report for 1845, page 8. In List of Officers of the U.S. Navy and of the Marine Corps 1775-1900, there is no Charles Wilkes, Jr., listed. Commander Charles Wilkes, former student of Hassler's and leader of the United States Exploring Expedition, was James Renwick's brother-in-law and could have accompanied him on a mutually enjoyable trip for business and pleasure. Charles Wilkes had no child named "Charles Wilkes, Jr." However, the referenced midshipman was probably Midshipman John Wilkes, Jr., son of Charles Wilkes, who entered on duty as a midshipman in 1841 and served in the Navy until 1854. John Wilkes, Jr., as he is referred to in List of Officers ..., apparently was named for his grandfather, John Deponthieu Wilkes, and was given the title "Junior" in spite of not taking the name directly from his father.

3. Bache, A. D. 1844. Report of the Superintendent ... 1844. p. 7.

4. Bache, A. D. 1844. Report of the Superintendent ... 1844. p. 8.

5. Bache, A. D. 1844. Report of the Superintendent ... 1844. p. 8.

6. Bache, A. D. 1844. Report of the Superintendent ... 1844. p. 8.

7. Ferdinand Hassler had first ordered deep-sea soundings to extend out to the Gulf Stream in 1842. He stipulated that the vessel was to sound until reaching 650 fathoms, although this does not seem to have been achieved during Hassler's tenure. 650 fathoms appears to have been arbitrarily chosen as the maximum depth to attain until discontinuing sounding operations.

8. Bache, A. D. 1845. A report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, showing the progress of the work under his charge during the year ending November, 1845. In: Report from the Secretary of the Treasury. Senate Document 13, 29th Congress, 1st Session. December 16, 1845. p. 14. Hereafter referred to as: Bache, A. D. 1845. Report of the Superintendent ... 1845.

9. Superintendent Bache stated that these 45-50 foot towers cost approximately $30 to construct. An alternate plan was suggested by civil engineer Ashbel Welch, who in the course of devising means to suspend telegraph wires "`contemplated of erecting very high towers of staves of pine planks hooped together and gradually tapering from the bottom to the top for the purpose of suspending the conducting wires of the telegraph in crossing rivers.' He stated that according to his calculation a portable tower could be constructed in this way for 250 or 300 dollars which would be very stable if secured by braces of wire or ropes and might perhaps be of service to you in the survey of a flat country." (Letter from Joseph Henry to Alexander Dallas Bache, November 12, 1845. In: Rothenberg, Marc, 1992. The Papers of Joseph Henry. Volume 6, p. 327.) Although Ashbel Welch's idea was not adopted at that time, over 80 years later Jasper Bilby, of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, independently struck upon the idea of making portable steel towers similar to windmill towers. The Bilby steel tower became a fixture on the American landscape for over fifty years as geodetic survey crews built, dismantled, and rebuilt these towers all over the United States.

10. Bache, A. D. 1845. Report of the Superintendent ... 1845. p. 34.

11. Bache, A. D. 1846. A report from the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, showing the progress of the survey during the year ending November, 1846. In: Report of the Secretary of the Treasury. Senate Report No. 3, 29th Congress, 2nd Session, December 10, 1846. p. 32-33. Hereafter referred to as: Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846.

12. There are at least two additional versions of the first successful telegraphic determination of longitude differences between points. As there has been some controversy concerning the origins of the "American method" of observing longitude, it is worthwhile to explore this facet of technological history. In the National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir of Elias Loomis by H. A. Newton, Newton in an aside relates that: "In the summer of 1844, the year in which Professor Loomis came to New York, a new method in astronomy had its first beginnings. The telegraph line had just been built between Baltimore and Washington, and Captain Wilkes at Baltimore compared his chronometer by telegraph with one at Washington, and so determined the difference of longitude of the two places." Senator Thomas Hart Benton in a memoir (1883. Thirty Years View. Volume II, p. 728. D. Appleton and Company.) also gives precedence to Charles Wilkes in his speech of early 1849 attacking the Coast Survey. Benjamin Apthorp Gould, in a eulogy for Sears Cook Walker, delivered to the American Association for the
Advancement of Science in 1854, also mentioned this early effort of Charles Wilkes "as the first recorded telegraphic determination of the difference of longitude." (1854. Proceedings of the AAAS. Volume 8, p. 31-32.)

In a discussion published in the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute (1879. Volume 5, p. 454-459. ) between the astronomers Simon Newcomb and William Harkness and Rear Admiral John J. Almy, the latter recollected that "Prof. Walker [Sears Cook Walker]... was appointed to the Observatory at the time when Mr. Bancroft, then Secretary of the Navy, took such a great interest in this matter. Correspondence was then opened with persons at Baltimore where a small observatory was located, at the time, to assist in the undertaking. When we had arrangements completed, Prof. Walker and myself worked one transit instrument together all night.... I taking the transit observation, he marking the time. The telegraph had been brought to the Observatory, for the first time, and as the stars passed the meridian I would notify him when he would mark it down and telegraph it, whilst they were marking down the observations and telegraphing them in Baltimore. Thus it was that the longitude between Washington and Baltimore was first correctly ascertained and it proved very successful. I believe that I took the first transit observations that were ever taken to establish the difference of longitude by telegraph. [As Washington is west of both Baltimore and Philadelphia, the initial observations were made at one of the latter locations.] I do not know that any one had previously made observations in this way. This was performed in the year 1846."

From these various accounts, it appears indisputable that Charles Wilkes was the first to use the telegraph for the determination of differences of longitude. However, the wording of Newton's accolade is such that it would seem that Wilkes had merely intercompared chronometers either to establish rates or to determine differences of local time (previously determined by astronomic observations) for the difference of longitude between Washington and Baltimore. Lending credence to this view is the 1858 Report of the Committee of Twenty of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that stated: "The idea of comparing the local time of different places by means of the electric telegraph is sufficiently obvious, and dates from the conception of the telegraph itself; but the refined methods by which the intervention of human senses and operations, and the consequent liabilities to error, are, in the greatest possible degree, avoided, and by which the time of transmission is measured and eliminated from the longitude, have been the result of careful study and long experience. The method of recording time on a chronographic register, by means of a galvanic circuit, known in Europe as the American method, originated in the Coast Survey with the first attempts to determine longitude by means of the electro-magnetic telegraph." (p. 32)

Almy's account is similar to the Coast Survey account with the exception that "Baltimore" is substituted for "Philadelphia." Perhaps Almy erred in his recollection or Walker had set up an initial experiment as a test of methods and equipment prior to making the connection to Philadelphia. Sears Walker, in a letter dated December 4, 1846, and included as Appendix 11, pp. 72-74, of the Coast Survey Report for 1846, mentions that the line to Jersey City, where Elias Loomis was to observe telegraphic longitude, passed through Baltimore. Walker stated that the line from Washington to Baltimore was always in communication; but the line from Baltimore to Jersey City was never operating. He attributes this to "the imperfect insulation of the old telegraph line from Baltimore to New York." He concludes his discussion of telegraphic longitude with "Great hopes are entertained that the new lines now being erected, with better materials and more perfect insulation than those of the old ones between Baltimore and Jersey City, will afford proper facilities for the successful application of the telegraphic method to the determination of longitudes, which gave so satisfactory a result on the 10th of October last." Based on Walker's letter, written only 2 months after the events, it would seem that Almy's recollection that Baltimore was the first longitude station was incorrect. Walker stated explicitly that the observations of October 10 were the first successful transfer of signals for longitude determination and those observations were made in cooperation with Professor E. O. Kendall of the Philadelphia Central High School. Further corroborating the view that Almy's recollection failed him in this instance was Benjamin Apthorp Gould's description of the events of October 10, 1846, as included in his eulogy (pp. 32-33) to Walker:

"... and on the 10th of the same month the transit of a star was telegraphed to Philadelphia by Lieutenant Almy of the Navy, then attached to the Observatory and now to the Coast Survey. 'This,' to use Walker's own words to this Association in 1849, 'was the first practical application of the method of star-signals, which is destined sooner or later to perfect the geography of the globe.'"

Walker's methodology was much more sophisticated than mere chronometer comparisons but was still primarily manual. It was the prototype for Coast Survey methods for the next few years. The Coast Survey report for 1849 (p.30) is the first to mention the use of an automatic time recording device, "on the plan of Joseph Saxton, esq., registering on a metallic cylinder covered with paper, the circuit being made and broken by the pendulum of the clock."

Regardless of who was first with this method, it was the Coast Survey that fully developed this means of determining differences of longitude. It seems indisputable that the Coast Survey was involved with the early Naval Observatory longitude observations and that it was because of the needs of the Coast Survey that the initial telegraph line was run to the Observatory. Sears Cook Walker was the leader in making the "American method" operational while the inventive genius of Joseph Saxton of the Coast Survey, John Locke who was supported by the Naval Observatory, the Bonds of the Harvard Observatory, and Ormsby M. Mitchel of the Cincinnati Observatory (for a discussion of the work of Ormsby Mitchel see: Report of the Superintendent ... 1849. Appendix No. 5, p. 72-78) led to many instrumental innovations which assured its success.

13. The British Astronomer Royal, Maskelyne, was the first to note the existence of personal differences between observers. It was the misfortune of his assistant, a Mr. Kinnebrook, to consistently measure star transit times between one-half to eight-tenths of a second slower than Maskelyne. The Astronomer Royal, in displaying considerable ego and aplomb, dismissed Mr. Kinnebrook, "As he had unfortunately continued a considerable time in this error before I noticed it, and did not seem to me likely to get over it and return to a right method of observing, therefore, though with reluctance, as he was a diligent and useful assistant to me in other respects, I parted from him."

Obviously, in Maskelyne's mind, there was no question but that Kinnebrook was wrong and the Royal Astronomer was right. Fortunately for science, the great German astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel took note of Maskelyne's experience and conducted tests in 1816 that established the concept of "personal equation." Oddly, he discovered that his observations of star transit time were consistently faster than most other German astronomers. This work was still looked upon as a curiosity until 1838 when the British Royal Astronomer Airy began publishing the personal equations of his assistants. This was followed by others and it became relatively common to publish and use the personal equations of observers in order to correct observations.

For a full discussion of the discovery and application of "personal equation," see: Williams, R. D. 1912. An Investigation on the Personal Equation and Reaction Time. In: Publication of the Astronomical Society of Pomona College. Vol. I, Number 5, April, 1912. Claremont, California. p. 1-9.

14. Bache, A. D. 1848. A report of the superintendent of the coast survey, showing the progress of that work during the year ending November, 1848. In: Report of the Secretary of the Treasury. Senate Executive Document No. 1, 30th Congress, 2d Session, December 12, 1848. p. 20-21. Hereafter referred to as: Bache, A. D. 1848. Report of the Superintendent ... 1848.

15. Bache, A. D. 1848. Report of the Superintendent ... 1848. p. 19.

16. The Committee of Twenty. 1859. Report on the History and Progress of the American Coast Survey up to the Year 1858. p. 32-33. The American Association for the Advancement of Science. Within this report, there is additional information on the early development of the "American method" of longitude determination.

17. Bache, A. D. 1847. Report of the Superintendent ... 1847. p. 10.

18. Hassler, F. R. 1825. Papers.... p. 325.

19. Bache, A. D. 1847. Report of the Superintendent ... 1847. p. 10.

20. The use of terms such as probable error and mean probable error contrasts sharply with Hassler's "indiscriminate mean." The Coast Survey was becoming increasingly sophisticated with regard to understanding the error bounds associated with physical observations and further devising means to lessen those bounds.

21. Bache, A. D. 1848. Report of the Superintendent ... 1848. p. 29.

22. Hodgkins, W. C. 1920. A History of the Coast and Geodetic Survey of the United States. p. 167. Located in the Rare Book Room of the NOAA Library, Cahier 2468.

23. Bache, A. D. 1848. Report of the Superintendent ... 1848. p. 57.

24. Bache, A. D. 1848. Report of the Superintendent ... 1848. p. 57.

25. Walker, S.C. Annual report to the superintendent on longitude computations, by S.C. Walker, assistant United States coast survey. September 16, 1848. In: Bache, A. D. 1848. Report of the Superintendent ... 1848. Appendix 19, p. 117.

26. The seconds in time of longitude of the Cambridge Observatory as determined with the 1927 North American Datum was 30.928 and as determined in the 1983 North American Datum was 30.802. The original telegraphic determination of longitude fell approximately half-way between these values demonstrating beyond a doubt the accuracy of the "American Method" of longitude determination.

27. Bache, A. D. 1851. The report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey... 1851. Senate Document No. 3, 32nd Congress, 1st Session. p. 164.

28. Bache, A. D. 1845. Report of the Superintendent ... 1845. p. 43.

29. William Mitchell believed the southernmost shoal areas lay in Latitude 41o 04' North, while many shipmasters believed they lay in Latitude 40o 44' North. This is a discrepancy of 20 nautical miles. Inspection of a modern nautical chart of the area reveals that shoals exist in both areas although the more dangerous area for 1840's shipping was that suggested by Mitchell. Although it was the route of choice, it appears almost unbelievable that any large Mid-Nineteenth Century vessel could have crossed Nantucket Shoals in the vicinity of Latitude 41o 04' North and survived.

30. Helen Wright in Sweeper in the Sky (1949, MacMillan Company, New York) states that Alexander Dallas Bache loaned the Mitchell family instruments for astronomic observations "with the understanding that the Nantucket Observatory should be one end of a great arc in the determination of the earth's figure." (p. 42.) This placed the initial loan of the instruments in the mid- 1840's. However, Wright also implied that William Mitchell worked for the Coast Survey in the mid-1830's as an astronomic observer. (p. 38.) Charles Wilkes confuses the issue further as he wrote in his autobiography (Autobiography of Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes, U.S. Navy 1798-1877 Naval History Division, Department of the Navy, Washington: 1978) that he went to Nantucket during his Georges Bank survey (1837) and "paid my respects to Miss Mitchell who was then engaged in making observations for the Coast Survey, but I was not so fortunate as to find her at home." (p. 360.) The timing of this is of some importance as Maria Mitchell was the first woman professional to work for the United States Government. If she began her astronomic labors for the Government in the 1830's, that would push back by a full decade the known date of her pioneering work with the Federal Government. Also, if Superintendent Hassler loaned the Mitchell family instruments in the 1830's for helping establish a cardinal point on Nantucket, this would have been in defiance of the law of 1832 which directed him specifically not to establish an astronomic observatory.

31. Davis, C. H. 1846. Report to the Superintendent. In: Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846. p. 14.

32. Davis, C. H. 1847. Report of Lieutenant Commandant Charles H. Davis, United States Navy, assistant on the coast survey, on the use of steam-vessels in sounding, made subsequent to the use of the revenue steam-vessel BIBB, under his command. In: Bache, A. D. 1847. Report of the Superintendent ... 1847. Appendix No. 18, p. 85.

33. Ammen, D. 1891. The Old Navy and the New. p. 161-162. J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

34. Bache, A. D. 1853. A report of the superintendent of the Coast Survey... 1853.

35. Ammen, D. 1891. The Old Navy and the New. p. 166-168. J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

36. "Scouse" is short for "lobscouse," a seaman's stew made of meat, vegetables, and hardtack.

37. The revenue steamer JEFFERSON was described as "unwieldy," "responded awkwardly to her helm," and "needed plenty of room to turn around." (West, R. 1937. The Second Admiral A Life of David Dixon Porter 1813-1891. P. 52. Coward-McCann, Inc., New York.) The JEFFERSON was totally unfit for revenue service and was turned over to the Coast Survey in June, 1849. Here it had an inglorious career, spending most of its time in various yards being repaired until ready to proceed to the West Coast in 1851. It was lost on the coast of Argentina, having accomplished little during its existence and having caused many problems. The JEFFERSON's history is chronicled in: Nygren, H.D. 1966. Log of a Lemon. In: Nautical Magazine, April, 1966. Vol. 195, no.4, p. 218 - 224.

38. West, R. S. 1937. The Second Admiral A Life of David Dixon Porter 1813-1891. p. 35 Coward-McCann, Inc., New York..

39. Pillsbury, J. E. 1891. The Gulf Stream, Appendix No. 10, Report for 1890. p. 500. Coast and Geodetic Survey, Washington, Government Printing Office.

40. Pillsbury, J. E. 1891. The Gulf Stream. Appendix No. 10, Report for 1890. p. 501-502. Coast and Geodetic Survey, Washington. Government Printing Office.

41. Pillsbury, J. E. 1891. The Gulf Stream .... p. 502.

42. Bache, A. D. 1845. Report of the Superintendent ... 1845. p.16.

43. Pillsbury, J. E. 1891. The Gulf Stream.... p. 502.

44. Bache, A. D. 1845. Report of the Superintendent ... 1845. p. 16.

45. Captain Constantine Phipps, commanding H.M.S. RACEHORSE, sounded to 683 fathoms in the Norwegian Sea in 1773 and brought up a specimen of blue mud. This was the first modern deepsea sounding although taken along the continental slope.

46. Besides George and Richard Bache who were brothers of Alexander Dallas Bache, relatives by marriage who also commanded Coast Survey vessels were David Dixon Porter, Carlile Pollock Patterson, and Richard Wainwright. Charles Henry Davis, although not related to Bache, was the brother-in-law of Benjamin Peirce, who was among Alexander Dallas Bache's closest of friends. All of these men had served on the Coast Survey under Hassler prior to Alexander Dallas Bache becoming Superintendent.

47. Bache, G. M. 1846. Letters of Lieutenant Commanding George M. Bache, U.S. navy, assistant in the coast survey, to the superintendent, relating to the exploration of the Gulf stream. In: Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846. Appendix No. 4, p. 47.

48. Copy of the log-book of the United States brig Washington. In: Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846. Appendix No. 5, p. 53-54.

49. Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846. Appendix No. 5, p. 60.

50. Statement of the officers of the United States coast survey brig Washington, in reference to the equipment, &c., of the vessel. In: Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846. Appendix No. 6. p. 62.

51. Sands, B. F. 1899. From Reefer to Rear-Admiral. P. 179. Frederick Stokes Company, New York.

52. Anonymous. 1847. Notice of the finding of a bottle thrown from the brig Washington, to indicate the direction of ocean current. In: Bache, A. D. 1847. Report of the Superintendent ... 1847. Appendix No. 12, p. 76.

53. Sands, B. F. 1899. p. 192.

54. Bache, A. D. 1848. Report of the Superintendent ... 1848. p. 38.

55. Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846. p. 20.

56. Bache, A. D. 1847. Report of the Superintendent ... 1847. p. 4.

57. Cullum, G. W. 1891. Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy. Vol. II. Nos. 1001 to 2000. p. 79. Third Edition, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston and New York.

58. Cullum, G. W. 1891. p. 122.

59. Cullum, G. W. 1891. Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy. Vol I. Nos. 1 to 1000. p. 159-160. Third Edition, Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, Boston and New York.

60. Sands, B. F. 1899. p. 185-186.

61. Robert H. Fauntleroy was the mentor of George Davidson who went on to become the senior officer of the Coast Survey on the Pacific coast and the pioneer scientist in that area. Fauntleroy was a talented engineer, musician, and cultured gentleman. During the periods when it was considered to be unsafe on the Gulf Coast because of the variety of diseases that abounded there, Fauntleroy would take Davidson with him to his home in the Utopian colony of New Harmony, Indiana. This settlement had been financed by the Scottish industrialist Robert Owen. Fauntleroy had married his daughter, Jane Dale Owen. This settlement became a center of intellectual activity. Jane's brother, David Dale, became a renowned geologist. Here Davidson met his future wife, Ellinor Fauntleroy, whom he married in 1858. Two other Fauntleroy children became associated with the Coast Survey, Arthur Robert and Edward. Davidson named the Coast Survey Brig FAUNTLEROY for his mentor and named three peaks in the Olympic Range for the Fauntleroy children: Ellinor; The Brothers; and Constance. Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle was also named by Davidson.

62. Bache, A. D. 1847. Report of the Superintendent ... 1847. p. 58-59.

63. Bache, A. D. 1845. Report of the Superintendent ... 1845. p. 26.

64. Bache, A. D. 1845. Report of the Superintendent ... 1845. p.39

65. Bache, A. D. 1845. Report of the Superintendent ... 1845. p. 39-40.

66. Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846. p. 15.

67. Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846. p. 43.

68. Bache, A. D. 1847. The report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, showing the progress of that work. Senate Executive Document No. 6, 30th Congress, 1st Session. p. 56-59.

69. Bache, A. D. 1845. Report of the Superintendent ... 1845. p. 34.

70. Bache, A. D. 1848. Report of the Superintendent ... 1848. p.64.

71. Davis, V. 1890. Jefferson Davis A Memoir. p. 526-527. Belford Co., Publishers.

72. In Fremont Pathmarker of the West (1992, University of Nebraska Press), Allan Nevins reported that in 1849 John Fremont "had hopes that, if the continuance of his labors as an explorer proved to have been useful, President Zachary Taylor would take him back into government service for work upon the West coast." (p. 371.) Although Nevins does not specify the work to be done, Fremont's qualifications as surveyor and explorer could certainly have made him a candidate for taking over the survey of the West coast. This lends some credence to Varina Davis's views in this matter.

73. Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846. p. 32.

74. Walker, S. C. Report of S. C. Walker, esq., to the superintendent of the coast survey, relating to determinations of differences of longitude by telegraph, &c. In: Bache, A. D. 1846. Report of the Superintendent ... 1846. Appendix No. 11. p. 72.

75. Letter from M. F. Maury to Professor Elias Loomis, as quoted in: Williams, F. L. 1963. Matthew Fontaine Maury Scientist of the Sea. p. 168. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

76. For a full discussion of this aspect of Maury's administration of the Naval Observatory, see: Rothenberg, M. 1983. Observers and Theoreticians: Astronomy at the Naval Observatory, 1845-1861. In: Sky with Ocean Joined -- Proceedings of the Sesquicentennial Symposia U.S. Naval Observatory. p.29-43. U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C.

77. Ironically, James Ferguson was identified (by Cajori, p. 224) as the anonymous author of a major paper in support of the administration of the Coast Survey by Ferdinand Hassler and his methods for the North American Review for April, 1842, p. 446-457. Cajori called this paper "Perhaps the most thorough and influential article bearing on the scientific value of the Coast Survey...." That article referred to an earlier article in Volume XLII, p. 75, of the same magazine which discusses "geodesical operations." Thus, James Ferguson, who had once been a major defender of the Coast Survey and had written at least two articles in its support, was now among its greatest enemies.

78. That Benton apparently wanted to see the Coast Survey dismantled as early as 1842 is paradoxical as his son-in-law, "The Great Pathfinder," John Charles Fremont, admired Ferdinand Hassler, first met him in early 1839, and then lived with him and the French scientist Joseph Nicolas Nicollet at Hassler's residence in Washington, D.C., through much of 1840 and into early 1841. Nicollet and Fremont had just returned from an Army Corps of Topographical Engineers' expedition to the northern Great Plains and were using both Hassler's residence and the Coast Survey offices to draft their maps and finish various computations and reports related to their expedition. For a description of Fremont's stay with Hassler see: Fremont, J. C. 1887. Memoirs of My Life. Volume I, p. 55-71, 411-412. Belford, Clarke, and Company. See also: Nevins, Allan. 1992. Fremont Pathmarker of the West. p. 37, note 14, and p. 48-50. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska.

79. Benton, T. H. 1883. Thirty Years View, or A History of the Working of the American Government for Thirty Years, From 1820 to 1850. Volume II, p. 490. D. Appleton and Company, New York.

80. The Committee of Twenty. 1858. Report on the History and Progress of the American Coast Survey up to the Year 1858. pp. 84-85. Appointed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at the Montreal Meeting, August, 1857.

81. Bruce, R. V. 1987. The Launching of Modern American Science. P. 124. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.

82. Goetzmann, W. M. 1986. New Lands, New Men. p.337-338. Viking Penguin, Inc.

83. Hearn, C. G. 1992. Gray Raiders of the Sea. P. 239. International Marine Publishing, Camden, Maine.

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