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Anderson, Joseph Reid (16 February 1813–07 September 1892), industrialist and Confederate soldier, was born in Botetourt County in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the son of William Anderson and Anna Thomas, farmers. Anderson received his early education in the local schools. After having been rejected twice, he entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1832 at age nineteen. Graduating fourth of forty-nine in 1836, he preferred a post in the elite Corps of Engineers but was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Third Artillery. Soon he was assigned to Fort Monroe, where he met his first wife, Sally Archer, daughter of the post physician, Dr. Robert Archer. They were married in the spring of 1837 and eventually had five children....

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Joseph R. Anderson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-2073).

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Bomford, George (1780–25 March 1848), soldier, was born in New York City. Little information about his parents is known other than that his father was a military officer during the American Revolution, though it is not clear on which side. George officially became a cadet of the U.S. Military Academy on 24 October 1804, one of a class of three. He graduated only eight months later, on 1 July 1805, and was appointed second lieutenant of engineers. He received promotion to first lieutenant on 30 October 1806 and to captain 23 February 1808....

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Dahlgren, John Adolphus Bernard (13 November 1809–12 July 1870), naval officer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Bernard Ulric Dahlgren, a merchant and diplomat, and Martha Rowan. Dahlgren received his early education at a Quaker school in Philadelphia. Because of his father’s position as Swedish consul, the Dahlgrens were a well recognized and respected family. When the elder Dahlgren died suddenly in 1824, the family was left in financial difficulty. Though initially denied entrance, thanks to family connections in February 1826 Dahlgren was granted an appointment as a midshipman in the U.S. Navy. His first assignment was to the frigate ...

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John A. Dahlgren. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1862).

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Davison, Gregory Caldwell (12 August 1871–07 May 1935), naval officer and inventor, was born in Jefferson City, Missouri, the son of Alexander Caldwell Davison, a physician, and Sarah Pelot Eppes. In 1888 he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and graduated with the class of 1892....

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Lewis, Isaac Newton (12 October 1858–09 November 1931), soldier and inventor, was born in New Salem, Pennsylvania, the son of James H. Lewis and Anne Kendall. Little is known of his childhood because of his own reticence and the destruction of many of his personal papers in a fire. The family moved to Kansas, where Lewis was educated. Beyond that there is no information on family life, parental occupations, or even exact location. At twenty Lewis taught school, a task he found unpleasant. In 1880 he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1884 and was commissioned a second lieutenant into artillery. After several short postings, he attended the Torpedo School at Willet’s Point, New York, in 1885 and 1886. In 1886 he married Mary Wheatley; they had four children....

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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....

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Pomeroy, Seth (20 May 1706–19 February 1777), soldier and gunsmith, was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, the son of Ebenezer Pomeroy and Sarah King. The Pomeroy family had come to America in 1630 and had long played an important part in the development of Northampton, the central township of western Massachusetts. The men of the Pomeroy family had been drawn to the gunsmith and blacksmith trades, and Seth Pomeroy was no exception to this proclivity. He joined the local militia at an early age and soon showed signs of becoming a solid citizen of the Northampton community. He married Mary Hunt in 1732. The couple eventually had nine children, eight of whom would live to maturity....

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Rains, Gabriel James (04 June 1803–06 August 1881), soldier, scientist, and inventor, was born in Craven County, North Carolina, the son of Gabriel M. Rains and Hester Ambrose. Rains graduated thirteenth in his 1827 class of the U.S. Military Academy and was commissioned in the infantry. He married (date unknown) into one of the South’s most venerable families when he wedded Mary Jane McClellan, granddaughter of Governor ...