August 17: Henry Metcalfe (1927)

Epiphany’s parish register records the marriage of Henry Metcalfe and Harriet P. Nichols at the church on April 21, 1870. Listed as witnesses are Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and George Meade. Sherman would have been Commanding General of the Army at the time. Meade’s distinguished career included commanding the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War, famously defeating Lee at Gettysburg in 1863. Metcalfe graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1868 with a commission in ordnance. He was the Executive Ordnance Assistant at Springfield Armory where, in 1873, he invented the first detachable magazine for small arms.

In 1876, as a first lieutenant, Captain Metcalfe prepared the ordnance display for the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia. He then prepared an extensive and detailed report of the War Department participation in the exhibition. The report included details of United States and foreign ordnance displays and thus constituted a valuable reference on ordnance material. As an instructor at West Point in ordnance and gunnery in 1886, he wrote a book on the subject that brought the whole course up to date. This task, with the wide research and mathematical calculations it necessitated, had a recognized effect in reforming the Military Academy’s curriculum. Metcalfe died on August 17, 1927 and was buried at the Post Cemetery at West Point.

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