John E. Pillsbury

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John E. Pillsbury
Born(1846-12-15)15 December 1846
Lowell, Massachusetts
Died30 December 1919(1919-12-30) (aged 73)
Place of burial
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1862–1909
RankRear admiral
Commands heldVesuvius
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War
Spanish–American War
Pillsbury Current Meter, devised in 1876 by Pillsbury and used in a study of the Gulf Stream. In 1885 this instrument was used in the Straits of Florida at a depth of 640 meters

John Elliott Pillsbury (15 December 1846 – 30 December 1919) was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy.


Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Pillsbury was appointed midshipman in 1862 and commissioned an ensign in 1868. After serving on various stations afloat and ashore, he commanded the coast steamer Blake from 1884 to 1891 and did excellent scientific work, using some of his research instruments of his own invention. In the Spanish–American War, he commanded the dynamite cruiser Vesuvius, operating around the island of Cuba and in the vicinity of Morro Castle.[1] In 1905 he served as Chief of Staff of the North Atlantic Fleet and in 1908–09, was Chief of the Bureau of Navigation.

Although Rear Admiral Pillsbury's attainments as a sailor and a fighting man were noteworthy, he is perhaps best known as having been one of the world's foremost geographers and an authority on the Gulf Stream. Actively identified with the National Geographic Society for many years, he was president of the society at the time of his death. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery; his wife Florence was buried with him after her death in 1925.


Two U.S. Navy ships have been christened USS Pillsbury in his honor. Pillsbury Sound, the body of water in the U.S. Virgin Islands between St Thomas, St John, and the cays which bound the sound on the North side,[2] is also named in his honor.



  1. ^ Tucker, Spencer C., ed. (2009). The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars: A Political, Social, and Military History, Volume I. ABC CLIO. p. 677. ISBN 9781851099511. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Pillsbury Sound". Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2010.

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