Template:Infobox EngineerRobert Parker Parrott (October 5, 1804 – December 24, 1877) was an American soldier and inventor of military ordnance.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Born in Lee, New Hampshire, he was the son of John Fabyan Parrott. He graduated with honors from the United States Military Academy, third in the Class of 1824. Parrott was assigned to the Third Regiment of Artillery as a second lieutenant. He remained at West Point as an instructor until 1829, then saw garrison duty and served as a staff officer in operations against the Creek Indians early in 1836 before moving to Washington, D.C. in July as Captain of Ordnance. He resigned from the army four months later to become the superintendent the West Point Iron and Cannon Foundry in Cold Spring, New York, with which he would be associated for the remainder of his life. In 1839 he married Mary Kemble, daughter of Gouverneur Kemble, founder of the ironworks.

While employed at West Point, he and his brother Peter Parrott also participated in the operation of the Kemble-owned furnaces in Orange County, New York. The brothers purchased a 1/3 interest in Greenwood Furnace from a minority holder in 1837, and bought it entirely from the Kembles in 1839.

In 1860, he produced the Parrott rifle, an innovative rifled gun which was manufactured in several sizes. The largest, the 300-pounder version weighed 26,000 lb (11,800 kg), and its projectile weighed 300 lb (140 kg). Parrott rifles were extensively employed in the American Civil War by both the Union and Confederate armies.

In 1867, Parrott left his superintendency at the West Point Foundry to concentrate on the ironworks in Orange County. However, he continued to experiment with artillery shells and fuses at West Point until his death at Cold Spring at the age of 73.

The Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance memorialized Parrott: "The staunch friend, the Christian gentleman, the soul of honor, not one of all the virtues that keep green the memory of the dead can be denied him; but above all it can be written on his tomb—he was a good man."

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