Major General William H. Tschappat was born on August 10, 1874, graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1896. General Tschappat was a profound student of ordnance and was known to his associates as the greatest ballistician of all times. His textbook on ballistics was used at the United States Military Academy.
From 1922 until 1925 he was the commanding officer of Aberdeen Proving Ground. He was appointed Chief of Ordnance in 1934 and served until 1938. During his service as Chief of Ordnance, he was concerned with the scientific aspects of ordnance, laying the groundwork for the research and development program which resulted in the establishment of the Research Division at Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1935. He fought to get funds for research and development in 1938, at the time when the budget was being reduced by the General Staff.
In 1938, the Research Division was expanded into the now famous Ballistic Research Laboratories. Under his guidance, the M1 rifle was adopted in 1936. During World War II, he served on the National Inventors Council, set up to screen ideas and inventions that might be considered for use.
General Tschappat retired on August 31, 1939 and died on September 22, 1955.