This Day (Curly Headed Trouble Edition)

Published:May 21, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

On this day in 1822, Dabney Herndon Maury was born in Fredericksburg. He was raised in a military family—when Maury’s father died in naval service his uncle, Matthew Fontaine Maury,* became his guardian—and attended West Point in the same class as McClellan, Stonewall, and Pickett. Dab, as they called him, fought in the West during the Civil War, including at the Battle of Iuka in September 1862. On that occasion, the Union general ,William S. Rosecrans, was one of Herndon’s former instructors at West Point. Rosecrans sent his Confederate counterpart a message through the lines: “Tell Maury … I never used to think when I taught him, a little, curly-headed boy at West Point, that he would ever trouble me as he has today.”

After the war, Maury struggled with poverty and, presumably for a few bucks, wrote textbooks and a memoir notable for its good-naturedness.

* Wikipedia tells us that M. F. Maury was the “Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology.” And when that was just too much of a mouthful, he settled for “Scientist of the Seas.”

IMAGE: A signed image of Dabney Herndon Maury in his memoir, Recollections of a Virginian in the Mexican, Indian, and Civil Wars (1894)