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Orders and Instructions for Colonel Henry Knox, 3 April 1776

Orders and Instructions for Colonel Henry Knox

[Cambridge, 3 April 1776]

It being of the Utmost Importance to the Publick Service, that the Main Body of The Regiment of Artillery, together with The Field Cannon, Ammunition, Stores &c., should as speedily as possible be Assembled at New York, I have thought proper to give you The following Orders, and Instructions.

The Legislature of this Colony, having determined to Assemble three Hundred Teams, upon the Common in Cambridge, between this day and Saturday next, You will Order the Commissary of Ordnance Stores, with the Conductors of Artillery, to be properly Assisted in loading all the Ammunition & Ordnance Stores into the Teams allotted for the Service of The Artillery.1

You will send a Conductor with every Brigade of Thirty Teams to Norwich in Connecticut, whom you will Order to receive, and Obey, such directions, as the Commanding Officer at Norwich shall think proper to give.2

In loading the Teams at Cambridge, You will take particular Care, to direct the Stores, & Ammunition, that will be First in Demand at The General Rendezvous, to be First sent Forward, such as the Fixed Ammunition, the Powder, Muskett Ball, Buck Shott, Laboratory Stores, empty paper Cannon Cartridges, Flints, Fuzes &c. &c.—The Heavy Stores, Shott, & Shells, not so immediately in request, may be sent the last, according as upon the best information you shall see proper to give Directions.

The Covered Waggons taken from the Enemy, should Carry all the Powder that is to go from hence; & the Tumbrills, the Fixed Ammunition, with these, it is my Orders you send Mr Commissary Cheever, in whose care, and Guidance, it is proper to place your Confidence, for their Security, & preservation.

All the remaining Field Artillery, & Brass Mortars, should March with the two remaining Companies to Norwich, where they will Find my Orders for their further proceeding.

As soon as the whole of the Artillery, Ammunition, Stores, &c., directed by the Instructions, to be Sent forward, are upon the March; you will yourself proceed to Norwich in Connecticut, and having seen every thing before you from thence, you are then with all dispatch to proceed to New York: Lieutenant Colonel Burbeck, should without any Delay go the directest road thither; and as soon as Lieutenant Colonel Mason is able to Travel, he must follow; your Quarter Master should March with The Two Companies to Morrow, & your Adjutant You do well to keep with yourself, to Carry such Orders as You shall at any Time think necessary to give.3

From the Great Variety of the Stores, and Duties in your Department, there is no such thing as giving all, & every Minute direction necessary to be Given upon this Occasion; Trusting in Your Zeal, Diligence, and Ability, I remain Confident of every exertion in your power for The Publick Service. Given at Head Quarters in Cambridge, this 3rd of April 1776.

Df, in Thomas Mifflin’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1On 1 April the Massachusetts General Court appointed a committee to procure teams to move the army’s military stores and baggage as far as Rhode Island. GW and the committee apparently agreed that 150 teams would arrive at Cambridge on the evening of 3 April or the next morning and the other half would come on Saturday 6 April. Only forty teams appeared by 5 April, however. In response to Knox’s plea for further assistance, the General Court on 5 April appointed additional members to its committee. Six days later the General Court, finding that the necessary teams could not be obtained “the ordinary way,” authorized the selectmen of the colony’s towns to impress teams for Knox if they could not otherwise be obtained from the inhabitants (Knox to James Warren, 5 April 1776, NNGL: Knox Papers; Mass. House of Rep. Journal description begins A Journal of the Honorable House of Representatives. At a Great and General Court or Assembly for the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Watertown, Mass., 1776. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , Mar.–May 1776 sess., 63–64, 69, 83, 110, 113; “Mass. Council Journal,” Mar.–Sept. 1776 sess., 48, 64, 84, 105–6; see also Knox to GW, 21 April 1776). For a listing of the ordnance and ordnance stores belonging to the artillery regiment, see Knox’s return to GW of 1 April 1776 (DNA: RG 93, Miscellaneous Numbered Records, [“Manuscript File”], 1775–84, no. 21064).

2Knox’s orders to this effect are dated 12 April 1776. He instructed the conductors to go from Cambridge to Norwich by way of Medfield and Mendon in Massachusetts and Thompson and Canterbury in Connecticut, a distance of 91 miles, and he empowered them “to impress teams if any should fail you on the road” (NNGL: Knox Papers). The ammunition and stores were to be embarked on transports at Norwich for the final leg of the trip to New York.

3Lt. Col. William Burbeck and Knox’s quartermaster, David Bradlee, both declined to leave Boston with the regiment. Jonathan Pollard replaced Bradlee as quartermaster, and about this same time Thomas Henley succeeded Jeremiah Niles as regimental adjutant. Henley became an aide-de-camp to Gen. William Heath in August 1776 and was killed at Montresor’s Island in September.

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