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Commodore Benjamin F. Sands Supt. Of U.S. Naval Observatory 1868 Autograph Letter Signed Regarding the Storming of Fort Fisher NC

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BENJAMIN F. SANDS (1811-1883). U.S. Navy Officer; Appointed Midshipman in 1828; Served in the Mexican War; During the Civil War, commanded the USS Fort Jackson during the attacks on Fort Fisher, NC; On June 2, 1865, he took formal possession of Galveston, Texas for the Union; Appointed Commodore in 1866; Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory, 1867 to 1874; Appointed Rear Admiral in 1871.

July 27, 1868-Dated Post Civil War, Autograph Letter Signed, "B. F. Sands" as Commodore and Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C., 2 pages, measuring 5-5/8" x 9-1/4", Fine. Boldly handwritten on Sand’s Illustrated Stationery displaying the U.S. Naval Observatory. There are couple of partial fold splits with old paper tape repair from behind on the blank final page. This is a letter of recommendation for Dr. E. J. O'Callaghan, who served under him as Medical Officer on the USS "Fort Jackson", and "was a volunteer in the detachment from that vessel for the storming of Fort Fisher". This Letter reads, in full:

"Understanding that Dr. E. J. O'Callaghan is an applicant for a situation in one of the Government Departments, it gives me pleasure to state that he served under my command as a Medical officer in the U.S. Str. 'Fort Jackson' on the Blockade off Wilmington and the Coast of Texas. He was a volunteer in the detachment from that vessel for the storming of 'Fort Fisher', where he was conspicuous in his attention to the wounded under fire; and mentioned in my report upon that occasion.

He is courteous and highly educated gentleman and by his service in the late war deserves the patronage of the Government, which I sincerely hope he may obtain. --- Respectfully &c. (Signed) B. F. Sands Commodore"

The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) in Washington, D.C., has a rich history and has played a crucial role in supporting the United States Navy in various capacities, particularly in the fields of astronomy, navigation, and timekeeping. Here's an overview of the history of the U.S. Naval Observatory:

Establishment (1830): The U.S. Naval Observatory was established by an act of Congress in 1830. Its primary mission was to maintain the Navy's chronometers and provide astronomical observations for navigation.

Matthew Fontaine Maury: Superintendent Matthew Fontaine Maury, known as the "Pathfinder of the Seas," played a key role in the early years of the Observatory. He pioneered the collection and analysis of oceanographic and meteorological data, significantly contributing to the understanding of global wind and current patterns.

Chronometer Service: In the 19th century, the USNO played a vital role in the accurate determination of time for naval and maritime purposes. It provided time signals to ships at sea and established the U.S. standard time.

Move to Northwest Washington: The USNO was initially located at Foggy Bottom in Washington, D.C., but later moved to its current location on Massachusetts Avenue in northwest Washington.

Astronomical Observations: The Observatory became a major center for astronomical observations, contributing to the refinement of star catalogs and the determination of accurate positions for celestial objects. It also played a role in the observation of solar eclipses and the measurement of the Earth's rotation.

Timekeeping and the Master Clock: The USNO has been responsible for maintaining precise timekeeping standards. The Observatory's master clock has been used to distribute accurate time signals, and it played a crucial role in the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station (NOFS): The USNO operates the Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station in Arizona, which is dedicated to astronomical research, including the study of asteroids and other celestial bodies.

Modern Functions: In addition to its traditional roles, the U.S. Naval Observatory is involved in modern astrometry, celestial mechanics, and the determination of the Earth's orientation in space.

Public Outreach: The USNO also engages in public outreach activities, providing educational programs and resources to the public and serving as a resource for astronomers and navigators worldwide.

The U.S. Naval Observatory continues to be a vital institution, contributing to scientific research, navigation, and timekeeping, both for the United States Navy and the broader scientific community.
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