George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Henry Knox, 23 March 1779

To Brigadier General Henry Knox

Head Quarters [Middlebrook] 23d March 1779

Dear Sir

For the more speedy assembling of the Militia upon an emergency, I have agreed with the Feild Officers in this and the next County to erect Beacons upon the most conspicuous Hills, the firing of which shall be signals for them to repair to their different Alarm Posts—You will be pleased to have one erected upon the Mountain in the Rear of Pluckemin, upon the place that shall seem most visible from the adjacent Country. The Beacons are proposed to [be] built of Logs in the form of a Pyramid, 16 or 18 feet square at the Base, and about 20 feet in height, the inner part to be filled with Brush—Should there be occasion to fire it you shall have proper notice.1

Be pleased to send me one of the Copies of the last Arrangement of the Ordnance department.2 I am Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. As The inclosed Resolve of Congress includes the Artillery I have transmitted to you, and request you to order Returns to be made agreeable thereto.3

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, owned (1980) by Mrs. Webster B. Todd, Oldwick, Pa.

1Militia officers from Middlesex and Somerset counties participated in consultations that led to GW’s decision to construct beacons in New Jersey. For additional information, see Stirling to GW, 20 and 22 March; GW to Stirling and to William Livingston, both this date (see also GW to Arthur St. Clair and to William Smallwood, both this date). The Artillery Park at Pluckemin under Knox’s command was about seven miles northwest of the infantry camps at Middlebrook. The site of this beacon was less than a mile north of the Artillery Park.

2For Knox’s inability to comply promptly with this request, see his letter to GW of 25 March.

3GW is referring to a 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). For Knox’s criticism of this resolution for its failure to secure additional recruits from states with incomplete artillery units, see his letter to GW of 6 April.

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