George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Henry Knox, 6 April 1779

From Brigadier General Henry Knox

Artillery Quarters, Pluckemin [N.J.] 6 April 1779.


I had the honor to deliver your Excellency a paper in Philadelphia, urging the necessity of recruiting the Corps of Artillery and completing its numbers to the establishment, which your Excellency gave to the Committee of Congress.1

I was in hopes the necessity was so apparent that the honorable Congress would have pointed out some effectual methods to supply the deficiencies before the opening of the campaign, but I am sorry to find it otherwise. I have taken the liberty to enclose a return of the non commissioned Officers and matrosses in the Corps, according to the last returns received, and the States by which they were raised, so that the numbers and deficiencies of those raised, and in each State, will be seen at one view.2

The honorable Congress in their resolves of the 15 March last have been pleased to determine that each State shall have credit, as part of their quotas for all men in the Corps of Artillery and Cavalry raised in their respective States.3 Had they have been pleased to have passed one more resolve, vizt That each State in which the companies or battalions were raised should take proper measures immediately to fill up to the establishment said companies and battalions, it would have been effectual.

The demands for Artillerymen, from every quarter where there are any enemy or prospect of any, being so great as to leave the main Army, where the principal stress of the war is and must be, rather deficient, as your Excellency well knows by the unavoidable and frequent calls for additional men from the battalions of infantry to assist in working the cannon. There is no remedy for this evil but filling up the companies of Artillery. I hope your Excellency will be pleased to make such a representation to Congress as will have the desired effect.4

When the Committee of Congress were at White Plains last campaign, they annexed Capt. Clark’s and Capt. Randalls companies, raised in the State of Jersey—and Capt. Kingsbury’s raised in North Carolina & Capt. Jones’s in Pennsylvania, to Col. Procter’s battalion then consisting of eight companies, raised in Pennsylvania. Capts. Lee’s & Porter’s, raised in Pennsylvania, were annexed to Col. Lambs. The resolution of Congress of the 15 March last renders it necessary that the troops from the same State be Kept as much as possible together. Therefore, as the arrangement of the Artillery is not yet completed, I would propose that Captains Lee’s, Porter’s, Jones’ a⟨nd⟩ Coren’s companies, all raised in Pennsylvania, ⟨be⟩ annexed to Col. Procters battalion, which will ⟨make⟩ the number of his companies twelve, agreeable to the establishment. Capt. Corens company is very large and has hitherto been stationed at the Laboratories in Pennsylvania. Randall’s and Clark’s, raised in Jersey, being annexed to Col. Lambs in the room of Lee’s and Porter’s, will make Lamb’s battalion complete as to companies—Kingsbury’s company from North Carolina, being weak, to be a supernumerary company attached to the North Carolina Brigade.5 I am, with the greatest respect, your Excellency’s most obed. serv.

H. Knox Brigr Genl Artillery

LS, DLC:GW; copy (extract), enclosed in GW to James Duane, 7 April 1779, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 169. The extracts consist of the second sentence of the second paragraph and the entire third and fourth paragraphs.

2The enclosed “Return of the Non-commissioned Officers and Matrosses at present in the Corps of Artillery,” dated 5 April and signed by Knox, is in DLC:GW. It shows in tabular form, by battalions and companies, the number of men raised in each of eight states and the number needed from each state to complete its quota. Only Maryland had exceeded its artillery recruiting goal, being credited with 130 men, 22 over its quota of 108. The other seven states were deficient. Their numbers recruited and numbers needed are as follows: Masschusetts, 480, short 168; Connecticut, 157, short 59; New York, 156, short 114; New Jersey 53, short 109; Pennsylvania, 330, short 318; Virginia, 266, short 274; North Carolina, 35, short 19. The totals for the corps are 1,607 men recruited, including Maryland’s extra 22 men, and 1,061 recruits needed to complete the corps’s establishment of 2,646 men, a number that did not take into account Maryland’s extra 22 men.

3Knox is referring to Congress’s resolution of 15 March, which provides that the Continental officers and men not serving in the eighty-eight infantry regiments “originally apportioned on the states,” be so apportioned, so that all who served would be eligible for state support and benefits (see John Jay to GW, 15 March, and n.1 to that document; see also 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 , 13:316–18).

4For GW’s compliance with Knox’s request, see his letter to James Duane of 7 April.

5A congressional committee of arrangement had arrived at White Plains, N.Y., on 23 Aug. 1778 and remained there into September assisting with army reforms (see Committee of Arrangement to Henry Laurens, 27 Aug. 1778, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 10:504–5). For this committee’s impact on the artillery corps, see General Orders, 10 and 15 Sept. 1778; Continental Congress Committee of Arrangement to GW, 10 Sept. 1778; and GW to a Board of General Officers, 11 Sept. 1778.

Knox is referring to the artillery companies of captains Thomas Clark, Thomas Randal, John Kingsbury, Gibbs Jones, James Lees, Andrew Porter, and Isaac Coren. Colonels John Lamb and Thomas Proctor commanded, respectively, the 2d and 4th Continental artillery regiments. John Kingsbury, who became captain of an independent company of North Carolina artillery in July 1777, was taken prisoner when the British captured Charleston, S.C., on 12 May 1780. For Congress’s denial on 26 Nov. 1781 of Kingsbury’s petition for funds to pay for his return on parole to North Carolina to address matters related to his company, see 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 , 21:1141–42.

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