George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Henry Knox, 12 July 1779

To Brigadier General Henry Knox

Head Quarters New Windsor July 12th 1779

Dear Sir

I perceive by the last returns, that there is still a number of men wanting Arms1—In addition to this, I am informed we may shortly expect some new levies from Massachusetts and Connecticut particularly the latter.2 The men without arms will be rather an incumberance—than a benifit I request you will take every measure in your power to have a supply ready. For this purpose, you will hasten to the Army all such as are any where under your direction; and will write in urgent terms to the Board of War for a further supply if to be had. I wish you to make this an object of particular attention.

I shall be glad to hear how Mrs Knox is, to whom I beg my respectfull Compliments and best wishes for her health.3 I am Dear Sir Your most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. Since writing the above I have received Information that the Massachusetts levies are Assembling at Springfield & may soon be expected on.4


LS, in Caleb Gibbs’s writing, NNPM; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS, which is addressed to Knox at Pluckemin, N.J., where that officer apparently went after the death of his infant daughter (see n.3 below).

1These returns have not been identified.

2For news of Connecticut militia collecting in response to threatened raids, see Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, 7 July; see also GW to Samuel Holden Parsons, 8 July, and to Trumbull, 9 July.

3Lucy Flucker Knox had been sick since the birth of a daughter, named Julia, that spring. Knox described his wife’s condition in a letter to his brother William, written at Pluckemin on 7 May, reading in part: “Mrs Knox has been most alarmingly ill for a fortnight past. It was occassiond by billious obstructions. we hope the Cause is removd but the effects are yet very considerable. her weakn⟨ess⟩ is uncommonly great” (NNGL: Knox Papers; see also Henry Knox to William Knox, 18 May, NNGL: Knox Papers). In letters of 20 May and 4 June, Knox reported to his brother improvement in Lucy’s condition (NNGL: Knox Papers; see also Henry Knox to Lucy Knox, 14 June, NNGL: Knox Papers). Writing his wife from New Windsor, N.Y., on 29 June, Knox expressed anguish over news of Julia’s serious illness and remarked: “I long to see you to be assured from your own lips that you are getting better daily” (NNGL: Knox Papers). For Julia’s death, see “Elegiac Lines, Inscrib’d to Mrs Knox: occassion’d by the Death of her Infant Daughter, who deceas’d near Pluckemin N. Jersey July 2d 1779” (NNGL: Knox Papers).

4In response to a letter of 5 July from Justin Ely, which has not been found, GW wrote Ely on this date: “I had not the Honor till a few minutes ago to receive Your Letter of the 5th of July. I have directed a number of Officers to proceed without delay to Springfield to receive the Recruits. In the mean time you will be pleased to do the best you can with them” (Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). A letter from GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison to Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall, also this date, reads: “His Excellency has just received a Letter from Justin Ely, Esquire, advising him that the Recruits raised & raising in the Massachusetts State are to rendezvous at Springfield and to be delivered by him to Continental Officers to be appointed to receive them. He adds that a few Men are already assembled and that many would probably be there in the course of the last & present week. His Excellency requests that three or four Officers may be sent as soon as may be from each of the Massachusetts Brigades upon this business—and that a field Officer of that line may also go to superintend it generally. The Recruits are to be marched in the first instance to Fish Kill in detachments of a Hundred or more at a time. His Excellency supposes upon this occasion that One Officer will be fully sufficient to march with a Hundred Men. Such Officers as have not Horses are to apply to Colo. Hay the Qur Master G. who will be directed to furnish them. Their reasonable expences in going to Springfield will be paid—of which they will keep an account. On their return they will be on the footing of Other Officers on detachment” (CSmH). A letter from Harrison to Lt. Col. Udny Hay, again this date, reads: “The State of Massachusetts have appointed Springfield as the place of rendezvous for the Recruits she furnishes for the Army—and have applied to His Excellency to send a number of Officers immediately to receive them. In consequence The General has directed three or four Officers from each of their three Brigades to go on the business—and he requests as they have not Horses of their own that you will furnish them on their application. It is probable they will be with you to morrow. The Horses Saddles &c. are to be redeliverd upon their return” (DLC:GW). For the movement of Massachusetts recruits from Springfield to the Highlands, see GW to Thomas Nixon and to Ezekiel Cheever, both 14 July; Nixon to GW, 18 July; and General Orders, 23 and 31 July; see also William Heath to GW, 7 July, n.2.

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