WILKES, CHARLES (17981877). An _Ameri can naval officer and explorer, born in New York City. lie received a common school education, entered the United States Navy as a midship man in ISIS, served in the Alediterranean and the Pacific, became a lieutenant in 1826, and in 1830 was placed in charge of the United States department of charts and instruments. In 1838 he was placed in command of an expedi tion authorized by act of Congress of May 18, 1S30. fo• the purpose of exploring and surveying the Southern Ocean. This was the first expedi tion fitted out by the National Government for scientific purposes. Between the years 1838 and 1842 the expedition visited the Madeira Isl ands and Rio de Janeiro in IS3S; Tierra del Fuego, Chile, Peru, the Paumotou group, Tahiti, Tutuila and the Samoan group. and New South Wales in 1839; the Antarctic regions, New Zealand, the Fiji group, and the Hawaiian Isl ands in 1840; the Columbia River. of which a survey was made, Willamette Valley• and part of the California coast in 1841; and the Philippine Islands. Sulu Saint Helena, Singa pore, and the Polynesian Islands in 1842. A great mass of valuable scientific information was col lected during the voyage and afterwards published in nineteen large volumes. A very valuable part of the report was that of J. D. Dana (q.v.).
Wilkes wrote the volumes on AIctco•oloqy and Hydragraphy, and also the Narratirc of the United States Exploring Expedition (6 vols., 1845: abridged ed. 1850). The claim of Wilkes to the discovery of an Antarctic continent has not always been conceded. Wilkes became a commander in 1S43 and a captain in 1855. and in 1861, upon the outbreak of the Cidil War, was placed in command of the frigate San Jacinto and sent to the West Indies in search of the Confederate cruiser Sum ter. On November 8, IS01, he stopped at sea the English mail steamer Trent, and removed therefrom SIa on and Slidell, the Confederate commissioners to England and France respectively. ( See TRENT -A ITA IR.) Wilkes commanded the Potomac flotilla in 1862, and later coronanded the flying squadron or dered to prevent blockrole-running between the West Indies and the Confederacy. Ile became a commodore in July, 1862, was placed on the retired list in June, 1861, and became a rear admiral on the retired list in July,.1866. Be sides the reports mentioned above, he published: Western America, Including California and Ore gon (1849) ; and Theory of the Wind (1855),