Matthew Fontaine Maury
Matthew Fontaine Maury gained fame before the American Civil War as an officer in the United States Navy with an intense interest in oceanography. He produced breakthroughs in navigation, resulting in his being nicknamed the ‘Pathfinder of the Seas’ and ‘Father of Modern Oceanography & Naval Meteorology’.
Although Maury was anti-slavery, being a native of Virginia caused him to resign from the US Navy at the start of the American Civil War, offering his services to the Confederacy. Despatched to England as an army and navy arms purchaser, he was primarily stationed in Manchester, but also spent time in London aiding fellow-Confederate arms purchaser Caleb Huse.
Three years after the war, Maury returned to Virginia to serve as a professor of physics at the Virginia Military Institute, where he died in 1873. A year before his death he was instrumental in establishing the Virginia Agricultural & Mechanical College (present-day Virginia Tech).