Benjamin Berkeley Hotchkiss



Benjamin Berkeley Hotchkiss (1826–February 14, 1885) was one of the leading American ordnance engineers of his day. Hotchkiss was born in Watertown, Connecticut, and moved to Sharon, Connecticut in childhood; his early experiments were made there in his father's hardware factory. Starting in the 1850s, he was employed as a gunmaker in Hartford, working on Colt revolvers and Winchester rifles.

After the American Civil War, the U.S. government showed little interest in funding new weapons. In 1867, Hotchkiss moved to France and set up a munitions factory in Saint-Denis, near Paris, named Hotchkiss et Cie. At about this time, he developed a revolving barrel machine gun (in French: "canon-revolver") known as the Hotchkiss gun (which would see use in the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890); the gun was made in four sizes from 37 mm to 57 mm, the largest intended for naval use.




After his death, the Hotchkiss company also developed in 1897 and later manufactured in large numbers an air cooled, gas actuated infantry machine gun which was widely used by several countries, particularly France and the United States during World War One.

He was married to Maria Bissell Hotchkiss, who founded the Hotchkiss Library in Sharon in her husband's memory, as well as the Hotchkiss School at Lakeville, Connecticut.