George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Henry Knox, 5 March 1778

To Brigadier General Henry Knox

Head Quarters Valley Forge 5th March 1778

Dear Sir

I have your favors of the 4th and 16th Feby. I have not yet recd any answer from the Board of War respecting the Artillery at Farmington.1

I would not have you keep any more of the new Arms in the Magazines to the Eastward than you think will be absolutely necessary for the Recruits coming on to the Army, what number that will probably be you can best judge who are upon the spot. I do not know what steps Congress intend to recommend to the States for filling their Regiments, but I am certain that nothing short of the measure you mention will prove effectual. The Committee now here wrote upon this subject to Congress very soon after they arrived, and pointed out the necessity of falling upon some spirited measures for reinforcing the Army, but they have not yet recd any answer, and I very much fear that the States will each proceed in different ways most of them feeble and ineffectual.2

From what I have heard I imagine that the Northern Expedition will fall through, and I therefore hope that what Arms are repaired at Albany and are already fit for use may be brought down this way. But I cannot help again urging you to give the strictest orders to the different Commissaries of Stores to have the old repaired with the greatest industry, as I am certain we shall find the want of them should we draw such a head of Men together as we ought to expect.3

Should you not receive orders from the Board of War for the purchase of Lead, Flints and every other article of military Stores which we shall want, I think you will be fully justifyable in doing it upon the best terms you can, for you may depend the owners will enhance the prices as they find our necessities increase.

I beg you will have all the Artillery and Mortars removed from Boston, more especially as matters are now circumstanced, for I should not be surprised if the Enemy; looking upon themselves as no longer bound by the Convention, should attempt to liberate Genl Burgoine’s Troops.4

I shall be glad to see you at Camp as soon as you have made the proper arrangements to the Eastward and am Dear Sir Yr most obd. Servt.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1At Knox’s prodding GW had inquired about the artillery at Farmington, Conn., in his letter to Horatio Gates of 21 February. Gates evidently replied in a letter of 27 Feb., which GW received on 9 Mar. but which has not been found (see GW to Gates, 9 Mar.).

2In his letter to GW of 16 Feb., Knox had recommended a “decisive resolve of Congress, that every State should draft a certain number of Men”; the Continental Congress camp committee also recommended a draft in its letter to Henry Laurens of 5 Feb. (DNA:PCC, item 33; see also 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 , 9:23–31).

3For the difficulties of the “Northern Expedition,” see Lafayette to GW, 19 and 23 February. For previous directives on the repair of arms, see GW to Knox, 8 and 15 Jan. and 21 February.

4GW is referring to the effects of the congressional resolutions suspending the embarkation of John Burgoyne’s army (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 , 10:35). He had issued a similar warning to William Heath on 22 January.

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