Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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RAVENEL, St. Julien, chemist, born in Charleston, South Carolina, 15 December, 1819; died there, 16 March, 1882. He was educated in Charleston and graduated at the Nedical college of the state of South Carolina in 1840. Subsequently he completed his studies in Philadelphia and in Paris, and on his return settled in practice in Charleston, and became demonstrator of anatomy. Dr. Ravenel spent the years 1849-'50 in studying natural history and physiology under Louis Agassiz, also acquiring considerable skill as a microscopist. In 1852 he retired from practice and devoted his attention chiefly to chemistry as applied to agriculture. He visited the marl-bluffs on Cooper river in 1856, and ascertained that this rock could be converted into lime. In consequence, he established with Clement H. Stevens the lime-works at Stoney Landing, which furnished most of the lime that was used in the Confederate states. At the beginning of the civil war he enlisted as surgeon in the Confederate army. While in Charleston he designed the torpedo cigar-boat, the "Little David," which was built on Cooper river and did effective service during the investment of Charleston in 1863 by Admiral Du Pont. He was surgeon-in-chief of the Confederate hospital in Columbia, and was director of the Confederate laboratory in that city for the preparation of medical supplies. At the close of the war he returned to Charleston, and in 1866 he discovered the value of the phosphate deposits in the vicinity of that city for agricultural purposes. Dr. Ravenel then founded the Wando phosphate company for the manufacture of fertilizers, and established lime-works in Woodstock. The last work of his life was the study of means of utilizing the rich lands that are employed for rice-culture along the sea-coast, which would be thrown out of cultivation and rendered useless when the import duty on that article should be removed.
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