Captain Robert K. Parrott was born on October 5, 1804 and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1824.
After his graduation and until 1829, he was science instructor at the Military Academy. He was promoted to captain, Ordnance Department, in January of 1836, but resigned in October of that year to become Superintendent of the West Point Foundry at Cold Spring, New York. During the period 1836 to 1867, he invented and manufactured the Parrott guns and projectiles.
By utilizing the process of hollow casting and cooling patented by General Rodman, he devised a method of employing shrunken hoops of wrought iron to strengthen the breech of big guns at the peak pressure area. He was able to perfect the first United States rifled cannon in 1861.
His guns showed exceptional durability in the Civil War and were extensively used in several calibers. He also developed an expanding projectile for use with the guns. The 8-inch Parrott gun was termed “the most formidable service gun extant” by some ordnance experts. There were 10-, 20-, and 30-pounders and a 15-inch (400 pounder) with a range of 5,700 yards.
Captain Parrott retired to private life in 1867 and died on December 24, 1877.