Brigadier General Adlebert R. Buffington was born on November 22, 1837. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1861 and was assigned to the Ordnance Department.
While assigned in 1872 as Assistant Superintendent of Armament, Southern Seacoast Fortifications, he devised a design for a depressing carriage for seacoast cannons. From this design evolved the disappearing seacoast gun carriage.
In 1888, he contributed significantly to the design of a disappearing gun carriage with a sophisticated recoil mechanism. This advanced gun design became the standard carriage for all seacoast cannons until after World War I.
General Buffington also invented the niter process for bluing minor parts of small guns and designed components for the 3.2-inch field gun.
As Chief of Ordnance, from April 5, 1899 to November 22, 1901, he brought about two changes of far-reaching consequence. The first was the use of nitrocellulose instead of nitroglycerine powder. The second was the use of delayed explosions to provide the improved effectiveness of explosion after target penetration. It is worthy to note that he was the first to propose a semiautomatic rifle design. General Buffington retired on November 22, 1901 and died on July 10, 1922.