Parrott, Robert Parker
- Edward Hagerman
Parrott, Robert Parker (05 October 1804–24 December 1877), soldier, inventor, and arms manufacturer, was born in Lee, New Hampshire, the son of John Fabyan Parrott, a shipowner, sea captain, and later a U.S. congressman and senator, and Hannah Skilling Parker, the daughter of a revolutionary privateer. Parrott graduated third in his 1824 class of the U.S. Military Academy and was commissioned in artillery. He was one of a distinguished group of West Point graduates who converted an education in mathematics, engineering, and applied science into a notable career as an applied scientist and inventor. Following a five-year assignment as assistant professor of natural and experimental philosophy at West Point, Parrott spent several years on garrison and coastal defense duty and served briefly as a staff officer in operations against the Creek Nation. On 13 February 1836 he was promoted to captain of ordnance and assigned as assistant to the chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. His work as inspector of ordnance during construction of the new West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, New York, so impressed its owner, Gouverneur Kemble, that he persuaded Parrott to resign his commission to direct the foundry’s operations. Following three years as superintendent of the foundry, Parrot leased it from Kemble. He purchased 7,000 acres of land to secure his supply of charcoal pig-iron and secured his technological capacity with the purchase of the Greenwood Iron Furnace in partnership with his brother, Peter Parrott. For some forty years Parrott ran the foundry while conducting research and experimentation in ordnance....