George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Henry Knox, 8 January 1778

To Brigadier General Henry Knox

[Valley Forge, 8 January 1778]


I have thought proper to give you the following Instructions relative to the Ordnance Department under your command.1 My wish to have so essential a Department of the Army in the best order the next Campaign induces me to desire that no time may be lost in geting every thing forward with the utmost expedition.

As the short enlistments of the Artificers have been, and still may be, productive of bad consequences, you are to enlist for the war, or during the pleasure of Congress, all the different Artillery Artificers necessary to carry on the different branches of work at Carlisle and Springfield, upon the best terms; the whole to be on one establishment as to pay, rations, cloathing, &ca so as to be formed into as many Companies as shall be necessary for their good government, and consistent with oeconomy.

The Laboratory Companies at Carlisle and Springfield to be augmented to one hundred men each.

You are hereby authorised to procure and collect such Ordnance Stores as shall be wanted for next Campaign, and to form Magazines of Fixed Ammunition at such places as shall be pointed out to you. But before any Stores are procured you are to give notice to the Board of War, of the intention and manner of doing it, in such season, that if it should interfere with any measures formed by them it may be prevented in time.

The Ordnance Departmen⟨ts⟩ are to be fixed on a proper plan without loss of time, if any thing is yet wanting to render them more complete. Carlisle, Lebano⟨n⟩ and Springfield to be the Magazines.

The Stores and Artillery not essentially necessary in Camp to be transported to Lebanon. Perhaps it may be best to deposit some of the Stores at an intermediate distance.

If there is not every reason to believe that the business of the Laboratories will go on with expedition at Lebanon and the other places, Materials should be ordered to camp and each Regiment employed in making and storing Musket Cartridges. At all events, I think this would be proper, as a store of them cannot be hurtful to us.

All the spare Arms should be inspected and thoroughly repaired: too many hands nor too much vigilance cannot be used in this business, as it is to be hoped that the augmentation of the Troops will render them necessary in the Spring.

At the opening of the Campaign a Travelling Forge for each Division will be necessary to keep the Arms in repair.

The Artillery at Portsmouth must be brought forward to Springfield; and that at Albany, except what may be necessary for the Troops on Hudson’s River, to Lebanon, or [ ] in the State of Pennsylvania.

The Artillery allotted for the field and reserve, in your estimate, I think amply sufficient; but a new arrangement of the Army may make some change necessary.

You are to procure as many waggoners as will be necessary for the Artillery, to be enlisted for the war on such terms as shall be given to you by the Quarter Master General.

You are to give an estimate of the number of Horses, and such other things for the Artillery as will probably be wanted, to the Quarter Master General.2

I think the following will be a proper arrangement of the Battalions of Artillery; and the number of men to be furnished by each State in addition to those already raised, and I shall accordingly recommend it to Congress.3 each Company to consist of sixty men, Officers included.

Comps. Men
Virginia—Harrison— 10   600
Maryland 2   120 720
Pennsylvania—Procter— 8  
present 251
wanting 229
present 55
wanting 65
present 95
wanting 25
Jersey—Clark & Randall4 2  
Lee, Porter, & Jones5 2  
120 720
Connecticut &ca—Lamb
present 73
wanting 47
New York—Bauman & Doughty 2  
New Hampshire 2   120
Rhode Island 1   60
Wanting in the whole 21 720
Massachusetts—Crane 12   present 497
wanting 223 720

You are to procure Cloathing for your Corps, provided it does not interfere with any arrangements made by the Clothier General, to whom you are to write on the subject.

You will make a particular report of your doings to me as soon as may be convenient. Given at Head Quarters near the Valley Forge January 8th 1778


N.B. Let the article of Tents be particularly attended to & a large number provided.

Copy, in Samuel Shaw’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The closing and postscript are in John Fitzgerald’s writing.

1GW apparently wrote this letter in response to Knox’s memorandum to GW of 29 Dec. 1777.

2For an estimate by Knox of the number of horses required for the artillery, see Knox to GW, 29 Dec. 1777, n.3.

4Thomas Clark was appointed first lieutenant of the eastern company of New Jersey artillery in March 1776; he was afterwards promoted to captain-lieutenant, and on 8 Jan. 1778 he became captain of the company.

5Andrew Porter (1743–1813) of Montgomery County, Pa., was commissioned captain of a company of marines in June 1776 and became a captain in the 2d Continental Artillery in January 1777. In January 1781 he transferred to the 4th Continental Artillery Regiment, and in March 1782 he was promoted to major, with his commission dating from April 1781. He later became lieutenant colonel commandant of the regiment. After the war Porter served as brigadier general and major general of Pennsylvania militia, and he was surveyor general of Pennsylvania from 1809 until his death.

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