WILKES, Charles

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WILKES, Charles (1798-1877), New York-born Civil War Union Naval Officer who commanded six ships on a major scientific and exploratory expedition which ventured to the northwest coast of North America (1838-1842), in addition to various South Pacific Islands and Antarctica. Wilkes is credited with the discovery of the Antarctic continent in January 1840. The Wilkes Expedition resulted in the 1844 publication of five volumes of reports and an atlas, Narration of the United States Exploring Expedition, and Western America in 1849, in addition to many cartographic and scientific monographs. For his services to science he received a gold medal from the Geographical Society of London. Although Wilkes was originally buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C., he was moved to Arlington National Cemetery in 1920.