Charles Tillinghast James was born in West Greenwich, Rhode Island September 15th 1805 the son of Silas and Phebe (Tillinghast) James. He was mostly self-educated and in the 1830’s was working in the mills in the Quinesbaug Valley in Connecticut. He was well enough known that in 1834 Samuel Slater recruited him to overhaul the Steam Cotton Manufacturing Company in Providence. After 1839 James was the half owner of the Brewster Coffin House in Newburyport, Massachusetts, while working on the Bartlett Mill, the Globe Steam Mill, the Conestoga Steam Mill, and the Graniteville Mill in South Carolina with William Gregg.
James developed an early rifled projectile and rifling system for artillery. James rifles and projectiles were used in the American Civil War. The greatest triumph of his system was the breaching of Fort Pulaski in Georgia. It was during a demonstration of these new projectiles for the James Rifle in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York that a shell exploded when a worker tried to remove a cap from the shell. The explosion killed the worker and mortally wounded James, who died October 17th 1862.
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