Brig.John.J Pittman


In doing research on the Fayetteville Arsenal (Ammunition Fabrication),I find
JJ Pittman interviewed Walter Watson a former Fayetteville Arsenal employ ref.small arms ammunition produced at the Arsenal during the 1861 - 1865 time period.My question is what was Pittman’s rank in 1875.At this time Pittman was interviewing former Confederate Arsenal operatives in preperation for an ammunition display,which was to be displayed at the Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia in 1876. The display is listed in Berk Lewis book "U.S. Small Arms and Ammunition in the U.S. Service 1776 - 1876"
As a note I’ve found two(2) sites,but my computer will not let me access them due to possible virus,have tried the site on three different computers and three different security systems and all say possible virus.
Any and all help will be appreciated.
Sgm. USA. Ret.


The heading should read:" Brig. Gen J.J. Pittman’s rank in 1875 ?"


Paul Klatt published the PITTMAN notebooks years ago. I have not heard his name in years. Is Paul still around ? I see he is not in the IAA membership list.


Jack: Have you tried searching Heitman’s Register of army officers? I believe there are copies available for online searches that might have what you need. Jack


1-Thanks to Dean Thomas of Thomas Publications,He would have been a Capt.
2-Haven’t seen or heard of Paul Klatt since one of the late 1990’s Chicago shows.
3- I really appreciate all of the help.



Ha, I finally got Dean !

Pitman was a 1st Lt. in 1875 and not a Captain!

He was promoted to 1st Lt. on 23 June, 1874. He was not promoted to Captain until 27 May, 1878

Source: Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army by Francis B Heitman (GPO: 1903)

I am going to hold this over Dean’s head for at least a year! :)


Don’t blame Dean,it’s my boo-boo,Dean found when he graduated from the U.S.M.A.,and I “SWAGED” the rank,don’t guess my “SWAG”,was Scientific enough.
Your input is greatly appreciated,many thanks


I did some research on Pittman earlier this year after I acquired one of his pages from the Pittman notes. (The one with the Allen & Wheelock pinfire box label, naturally! =) )

Here is Pittman:

Here is the page:

And here’s some info:
1861-1861 Private, 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry
1862-1862 Private, 10th Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry
1862-1863 Sergeant Major, then 2nd Lieutenant, 11th Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry
1863-1867 Cadet, United States Military Academy
June 1867 Appointed 2LT of Ordnance
1867-1870 Assistant Ordnance Officer, St Louis Arsenal
1870-1872 Principal Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology; Assistant Instructor of Ordnance and Gunnery
1872-1876 Assistant Ordnance Officer, Watervliet Arsenal, NY
1876-1886 Ordnance and Testing Officer at Watertown Arsenal, MA
1879-1882 Detailed to Interior Department in Newport, Rhode Island to do chemical work for the Division of Mining Geology of the United States Geological Survey
1882-1889 Commander Fort A. Lincoln Ordnance Depot and Chief Ordnance Officer, Department of Dakota
1889-1890 Commander, Ft. Snelling Ordnance Depot, MN
1890-1892 Chief Ordnance Inspector, West Point Foundry, Cold Spring, NY
1892-1898 Head, Laidley Laboratory, Frankford Arsenal, MA; also in charge of the Arsenal Proof House, 1897-1998
1898-1902 Commander, Augusta Arsenal, Georgia, and Armament Officer of the Southern District
1902-1903 Deputy Commander, Springfield Armory
1903-1906 Commander, San Antonio Arsenal, TX and Chief Ordnance Officer of the Department of Texas
1906 Appointed Brigadier General upon retirement
1906-1933 Avid Small Arms Weapons and Cartridge Collector during Retirement

Rank and Promotions
1867 2d Lieutenant of Ordnance
1874 1st Lieutenant of Ordnance
1878 Captain of Ordnance
1894 Major of Ordnance
1903 Lieutenant Colonel of Ordnance
1904 Colonel of Ordnance
1906 Brigadier Colonel

Civilian 1858- 1861 University of Brunswick, Germany
Military 1863 -1867 United States Military Academy

Captain John Pitman’s greatest contribution to the Ordnance Corps and the nation was the founding of the Chemical Laboratory at Frankford Arsenal, Pennsylvania in 1892. The laboratory was used to analyze, test, and manufacture the first smokeless ammunition used in the United States for the Department of the Army. By 1900 the laboratory was considered the explosives testing center of the United States. Commercial firms and government agencies consulted the staff and used its facilities. Newly created explosive labs were modeled after the Frankford Laboratory. The Frankford Arsenal reports to the Chief of Ordnance from 1892-1897 reveal what a tireless worker and his interest and scope of knowledge in this discipline were incredible. Captain Pitman’s accomplishment in the development of perforated smokeless propellant grain positioned the United States for defense against other countries with like technology.

In 1948 the Ordnance Corps officially recognized BG Pitman’s contributions. The Laidley Laboratory at Frankford Arsenal was officially renamed the Pitman-Dunn Laboratory. Until Frankford Arsenal’s closure the lab was a flexible scientific organization in ballistics, chemistry, physics, electronics, mathematics, mechanical engineering, and mycology; covering the fields of explosives, lubricants, electroplating, protective finishes and welding.

In addition to his contributions in explosives and propellant, John Pitman was the first serious student of American military small arms and ammunition and realized the inseparable link between the two subjects. His unpublished works show how his passion for U.S. martial small arms and ammo never died throughout his life.

And finally, if you want to know everything else there is to know about him I uploaded a PDF copy of his recent nomination into the “US Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame” here. Someone took a LOT of time to research him for this nomination.


Thanks to everyone for their input.Information is much appreciated