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Davis, Charles Henry

Charles Henry Davis, 1807–77, American naval officer and scientist, b. Boston. Appointed a midshipman in 1823, Davis directed operations of the Coast Survey for a time along the New England coast. He established the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac in 1849 and published several hydrographic studies. In the Civil War he was fleet captain and chief of staff to S. F. Du Pont in the successful expedition (Nov., 1861) against Port Royal, S.C. On May 9, 1862, he replaced A. H. Foote in command of the Upper Mississippi flotilla of gunboats. The next day he repulsed the attack of a Confederate fleet near Fort Pillow, and on June 6 he annihilated the Confederate fleet before Memphis, taking the city the same day. He then joined Farragut in an unsuccessful attempt to take Vicksburg. Davis was chief (1862–65) of the Bureau of Navigation and superintendent (1865–67, 1874–77) of the Naval Observatory. For his victories at Fort Pillow and Memphis he was promoted to rear admiral in Feb., 1863.

See biography by his son Charles H. Davis (1899).

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