Born in 1860 in Kentucky, this young boy grew up the son of an Army lieutenant colonel. It was a childhood that led him to decide on the military at a young age, and he entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1877.
He went on to serve as chief ordnance officer during the Spanish-American War and, post-war, was named chief of the Small Arms Division for the Ordnance Department. He supervised development of the Springfield rifle during this time.
After a brief retirement from the Army, he returned to service when the U.S. entered World War I in 1917. In his position as director of arsenals, he oversaw small arms production and was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal.
By 1920, with the war long over, he was serving as president of the Auto Ordnance Corporation and was in charge of engineering for the creation, manufacture and inspection of a gun that would ultimately be used by the U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.