George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Henry Knox, 28 July 1780

From Brigadier General Henry Knox

Camp at Pracaness, 28 July 1780.

Dear Sir,

The great demand we probably shall have for musket cartridges the present campaign must induce every exertion to procure as adequate supplies as possible. We have at Fishkill, West Point, and with the spare stores of this army, materials sufficient for six hundred thousand. I therefore take the liberty to propose that one hundred men be immediately set to work at Fishkill, or West Point, as shall be most convenient, and to request that Your Excellency would please to direct Gen. Howe to order seventy or eighty infantry and about twenty artillery men at this business.1 I have written particularly to Col. Lamb, commanding Officer of artillery at West Point, On this subject, who will direct the detail of the affair.2

Enclosed is a return of all the lead and musket cartridges I know of, and the places where they are deposited, by which you will be able to see at one glance how unequal the numbers are to the probable services of a siege.3 I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, Your Excellency’s most obedient servant

H. Knox


2This letter from Knox to Col. John Lamb has not been identified.

3The enclosed “Return of musket cartridges and lead on hand, at the times and places hereafter mentioned, selected from the respective returns,” dated 28 July at “Park of Artillery” and signed by Knox, listed the cartridges, pounds of ball, and pounds of lead at the given locations on the stated dates. The respective numbers at Rhode Island on 12 March were 237,566; 4,008; and none. The amounts at Springfield, Mass., on 31 May were 201,983; 800; and 822. The respective quantities at Litchfield, Conn., on 1 May were 300,636; 211; and 750. The numbers at Fishkill, N.Y., on 1 June were 219,982; 6,223; and 19,951. The respective amounts at West Point, N.Y., on 1 May were 210,406; 736; and none. The quantities at Chester, N.Y., on 1 July were 191,110; 3,880; and none. And the respective numbers at the park of artillery on 15 July were 66,696; 200; and none. The totals were listed as 1,428,379 cartridges, 16,058 pounds of ball, and 21,523 pounds of lead (DLC:GW; filed with this letter).

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