George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Henry Knox, 25 March 1779

From Brigadier General Henry Knox

Park of Artillery [Pluckemin, N.J.] 25th March 1779.


I have just received your Excellency’s directions concerning the Beacon dated 23d instant. I will have it executed immediately and inform your Excellency of the Spot.

I have only one Copy of the late Arrangement of the ordnance department which I have lent to an officer who is gone out. I will get it from him and send it to head Quarters.

The Corps of Artillery being so dispers’d it will take considerable time before the returns can be procur’d, agreable to the resolves of the 15th instant.1 as soon as it can be effected I will transmit them to your Excellency.

I shall be much oblig’d by being inform’d whether Congress have taken any measures to recruit the Artillery in consequence of a paper given their Committee by your Excellency when in Philadelphia. The resolves of the 15th instant appear to be intended as a remedy to the defective methods of supplies of Cloathing &c. a Representation of which was contain’d in the same paper.2

The last time I saw your Excellency I mention’d the appointment of Conductors to the Brigades, but on receiving the Ordnance regulations of the 18th February I find their appointment confin’d solely to the board of War. I have written to them on the subject and expect their answer daily.3 I am with the warmest Affection & Respect Your Excellencys most Obedient Humble Servant

H. Knox


1Knox is referring to a congressional resolution of 15 March that called for the apportionment of Continental troops to the states so that all who served would be eligible for state benefits and that the number of men raised in each state would be known with greater precision (see John Jay to GW, 15 March, and n.1 to that document).

2Knox is referring to GW’s memorandum of 8 Jan. to the Continental Congress Committee of Conference, enclosed in his letter to the committee of that date.

3Knox was troubled by the section of the new arrangement of the ordnance department, which Congress had approved on 18 Feb., that provided for “a field commissary of military stores, to be appointed by the Board of War and Ordnance, who shall receive and issue all ordnance, arms, and military stores, in the field, pursuant to the orders of the Commander in Chief and commanding officer of artillery; all orders for this purpose from the Commander in Chief, to be directed to the commanding officer of artillery. The field commissary shall have so many deputies, conductors and clerks, to be likewise appointed by the Board of War and Ordnance, as, in the opinion of the Board, the Commander in Chief and commanding officer of artillery, the service shall, from time to time, require” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:202). Correspondence between Knox and the Board of War on the appointment of conductors has not been identified.

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