Joseph Pitty Couthouy was born January 6th 1808 in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended the Boston Latin School beginning in 1820. He applied for and received a position on the 1838 United States Navy’s Scientific Corps Exploring Expedition. He was sent home in November 1840 from Honolulu for disobedience by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes. Couthouy returned to Washington, DC and the profession of a merchant marine. In 1854 he was in command of an expedition to the Bay of Cuman’a, where he spent the next three years looking for the lost Spanish treasure ship the San Pedro.
When the Civil War started Couthouy took command of the USS Columbia in December 1862. That ship was wrecked and Couthouy became a prisoner. He would also command the USS Osage and lastly the USS Chillicothe as a part of the Red River Campaign. While maneuvering off Grand Ecore, Louisiana on April 3rd 1864, his ship was ambushed and shot. Couthouy died the next day.