15. Henry Knox and his Books (Young Heroes of the American Revolution)

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Knox and the artillery established a winter cantonment at Pluckemin a hamlet of Bedminster , New Jersey. There Knox established the Continental Army's first school for artillery and officer training. Conditions were exceptionally harsh in the winter of —80, and Washington's army was again largely inactive in while the main action in the war moved south. In Knox accompanied Washington's army south and participated in the decisive Siege of Yorktown. The Marquis de Chastellux , with whom Knox established a good friendship, wrote of Knox, "We cannot sufficiently admire the intelligence and activity with which he collected from different places and transported to the batteries more than thirty pieces Knox was promoted to major general on March 22, ; he became the army's youngest major general.

These negotiations failed because the sides could not agree on processes and terms for matching various classes of captives. After enumerating its defects and needs, Washington appointed him its commander in August The next month he was devastated by the death of his nine-month-old son, and fell into a depression. Knox wrote a memorial, signed by a number of high-profile officers, suggesting that Congress pay all back pay immediately and offer a lump-sum pension rather than providing half-pay for life.

But there is a point beyond which there is no sufferance. I pray we will sincerely not pass it. In the meeting, Knox introduced motions reaffirming the officers' attachment to Washington and Congress, helping to defuse the crisis. With the arrival of news of a preliminary peace in April Congress began to order the demobilization of the army, and Washington gave Knox day-to-day command of what remained of the army. During this time Knox organized the Society of the Cincinnati , a hereditary fraternity of Revolutionary War officers that survives to this day. The hereditary nature of its membership raised some eyebrows, but it was generally well received.

These plans included two military academies one naval and one army, the latter occupying the critical base at West Point , and bodies of troops to maintain the nation's borders. When the British withdrew the last of their troops from New York on November 21, , Knox was at the head of the American forces that took over. He stood next to Washington during the latter's farewell address on December 4 at Fraunces Tavern. After Washington retired, Knox became the senior officer of the army.

The post of Secretary at War became available when Benjamin Lincoln resigned in November , and Lincoln had recommended Knox to follow him. Knox had been considered for the job when it was given to Lincoln in , and expressed his interest in succeeding Lincoln. However, in the absence of a guiding hand in the War Department, Congress attempted to implement an idea for a standing militia force as a peacetime army.

Knox resigned his army commission in early , "well satisfied to be excluded from any responsibility in arrangements which it is impossible to execute", and Congress' idea failed. Knox returned to Massachusetts, where the family established a home in Dorchester. Knox worked to reassemble a large parcel of land in Maine parts of what are sometimes called the Waldo Patent and the Bingham Purchase that had been confiscated from his Loyalist in-laws. He was able to assemble a vast multi-million acre real estate empire in Maine, including almost all of the old Flucker holdings, in part by getting appointed the state's official for disposing of seized lands, and then rigging the sale of his in-laws' lands to a straw buyer acting on his behalf.


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Congress finally appointed Knox the nation's second Secretary at War on March 8, , after considering a number of other candidates. At the time, Knox is reported to have been of "immense girth", weighing nearly pounds and 6 feet 3 inches. Knox was only able to recruit six of the authorized ten companies, which were stationed on the western frontier.

Some members of the Confederation Congress opposed the establishment of a peacetime army, and also opposed the establishment of a military academy one of Knox's key proposals on the basis that it would establish an egalitarian military class capable of dominating society.

Knox personally went to Springfield to see to its defense. Although Benjamin Lincoln raised a militia force and put down the rebellion, it highlighted the weakness of both the military and defects in the Articles of Confederation that hampered Congressional ability to act on the matter. Knox in early sent George Washington a draft proposal for a government that bears significant resemblance to what was eventually adopted. When Washington asked Knox if he should attend the convention, Knox urged him to do so: As part of his duties as Secretary of War, Knox was responsible for implementation of the Militia Act of To resolve this arms shortage, Knox recommended to Congress that the federal government increase the purchase of imported weapons, ban the export of domestically produced weapons and establish facilities for the domestic production and stockpiling of weapons.

When the French Revolutionary Wars broke out in , American merchant shipping began to be affected after Washington formally declared neutrality in the conflict. Both France and Britain began interfering with American shipping. Most of the Continental Navy's few ships were sold off at the end of the revolutionary war, leaving the nation's merchant fleet without any defenses against piracy or seizure on the high seas. Knox was responsible for managing the nation's relations with the Native Americans resident in lands it claimed, following a act of U.

He stated that Indian nations were sovereign and possessed the land they occupied, and that the federal government and not the states should therefore be responsible for dealings with them. These policies were implemented in part by the passage of the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act of , which forbade the sale of Native American lands except in connection with a treaty with the federal government.

Knox wrote, "The Indians, being the prior occupants, possess the right to the soil. It cannot be taken from them except by their consent, or by rights of conquest in case of a just war. To dispossess them on any other principle would be a great violation of the fundamental laws of nature. American Indian wars , including the Cherokee—American wars and the Northwest Indian War , would occupy much of his tenure.

During the years of the Confederation, there had been insufficient Congressional support for any significant action against the Nations on the western frontier. The British supported the northwestern tribes from frontier bases that they continued to occupy after the Revolutionary War ended in violation of the Treaty of Paris , and the Cherokee and Creek continued to contest illegal encroachment of colonial settlers on their lands.

Knox and Duer failed to provide enough supplies for the Army, [93] which led to the American Army's greatest defeat in history. These campaigns failed to pacify the Native Americans, and Knox was widely blamed for the failure to protect the frontier. Seeking to close the issue before he left office, he organized an expedition led by Anthony Wayne that brought the conflict to a meaningful end with the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The result of American military action in the Northwest led to the Treaty of Greenville , which forced the defeated Native Americans to cede lands in the Ohio area.

The bloody campaigns that Secretary Knox oversaw in some cases involved armies many times larger than later battles in the s. The Native American nations refused to be removed from their lands without a fight, and they opposed the Americans' attempts to forcefully remove them in warfare, by trickery or by treaties, since they had owned and lived on the lands for thousands of years. They generally though not always felt the use of force would be too costly to Americans, and sought other means to take Native American lands.

He went on to cite the fact that where there was white civilization, there was "the utter extirpation" of natives, or almost none left. Many thousands of Native Americans refused to accept treaties, claiming that they had not approved them and that their only purpose was to remove them from their lands. They specifically cited the Treaty of Greenville , and reoccupied ancestral lands, beginning renewed resistance in the Northwest that was finally crushed in the War of On January 2, , Knox left the government and returned to his home at Thomaston , Maine prior to becoming a state in Maine was a district in Massachusetts , to devote himself to caring for his growing family.

He was succeeded in the post of Secretary of War by Timothy Pickering. Knox settled in Thomaston, and built a magnificent three story mansion surrounded by outbuildings called Montpelier, the whole of "a beauty, symmetry and magnificence" said to be unequaled in the Commonwealth.

Connections formed during the war years served Knox well, as he invested widely in frontier real estate, from the Ohio valley to Maine although his largest holdings by far were those in Maine. Although he claimed to treat settlers on his Maine lands fairly, he used intermediaries to evict those who did not pay their rents or squatted on the land.

These tactics upset those settlers to the point where they once threatened to burn Montpelier down. Knox briefly represented Thomaston in the Massachusetts General Court , but he eventually became so unpopular that he lost the seat to a local blacksmith. Many incidents in Knox's career attest to his character, both good and bad. As one example, when he and Lucy were forced to leave Boston in , his home was used to house British officers who looted his bookstore. In Maine, however, he would be remembered as a grasping tyrant and was forever immortalized in Nathanial Hawthorne 's The House of the Seven Gables , for which he served as the model for Col.

Noble train of artillery

As well as building a landed estate, Knox attempted to enlarge his fortune through industrial craft enterprises. He had interests in lumbering, ship building, stock raising and brick manufacturing. Unfortunately for him, these businesses failed due in part to a lack of focused investment , and Knox built up significant debts. Knox was forced to sell large tracts of land in Maine to satisfy some of his creditors. The purchaser of his Maine lands was a Pennsylvania banker named William Bingham , leading those tracts to become known locally as the Bingham Purchase.

In while visiting a close friend, Knox swallowed a chicken bone, which lodged in his throat and became infected. Lucy died in , having sold off more portions of the family properties to pay the creditors of Knox's insolvent estate. Montpelier remained in the family until it was demolished in [] to make way for the Brunswick-Rockland railroad line.

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The only surviving structure is an outbuilding that currently houses the Thomaston Historical Society. Knox has been honored by the U. Two forts, one in Kentucky and another in Maine were named after him. Army Field Artillery School , [] is named in his honor, as is an annual award recognizing the performance of U. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Shays' Rebellion and Northwest Indian War.

Visionary General of the American Revolution. Life and Correspondence of Henry Knox. Knox tends to be the person most often given credit for the idea. Brooks , pp. He would discuss tactics with the British officers who frequented his store. It was through this mutual interest that he met another military enthusiast who became a lasting friend, Nathanael Greene. At age 23, Henry went hunting on Noddle Island in the harbor.

General Henry Knox, The Continental Army’s Commander of Artillery in the Revolutionary War

A fowling piece was discharged accidentally and the second and third finger of his left hand was lost. After the accident, Henry wore a handkerchief over that hand whenever he appeared in public. An impressionable youth, Henry was drawn to the protest movement which blanketed the colonies during the late eighteen sixties and early seventies, identifying with what was known as the rebel group Sons of Liberty.

During this time Knox remained good acquaintances with many British officers who continued to frequent his store, where henry, ever the enthusiastic artillerist, picked their minds on tactics. In , Knox was spotted by his future wife during a parade of militia: Lucy Flucker, daughter of royal secretary Thomas Flucker of the Province of Massachusetts, a devout loyalist.

She was thrilled to learn, some time later, that the handsome patriot also ran a book store. She soon became a regular patron.

It was during this time, , that General Gage placed Knox on his list of most dangerous persons. Lucy was 18 and Henry was During the siege of Boston in , Knox was stationed at Roxbury and helped to design and build the fortifications there. Knox first met George Washington while the general was inspecting the defenses at Roxbury on July 5, only three days after the tall Virginian had taken command of the army.

Knox was impressed with the new commander, writing: Knox and his friend Greene were invited to dine with the general and his guests on several occasions. Soon after, Knox was made Colonel of the Continental Artillery. Henry actually helped the appointment along by writing to Samuel Adams that Colonel Gridley, the incumbent Artillery Commander under General Ward, was old, in poor health, and was disliked by his men.

Washington, when approached by Adams, immediately agreed to a change in leadership. There may have been similarities in himself that Washington appreciated: Benedict Arnold, prior to his command of an American force to aide General Montgomery in the attack on Quebec, had suggested delivering cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston, this to advance the seige of Boston. It was a trip of about miles.

Henry Knox - Wikipedia

The idea was so fraught with difficulties, many people thought it impossible. Nevertheless, Washington agreed, and immediately put Knox in charge. He discovered mortars, 12 and 18 pound canon, not all in usable condition , and a massive 24 pound brass cannon. Frozen rivers, sinking boats, lack of snow for sleds, and intense blizzards made for an arduous journey.

The three month ordeal ended on March 4, when 2, men and oxen hauled the cannon up Dorchester Heights. A point to note that during this trip to retrieve the cannon, Knox made an acquaintance with Captain John Andre, British officer stationed at Fort Ticonderoga. They spent an evening in conversation and struck up a lasting friendship. After the army moved to New York City to confront the invading British forces, Knox, along with General Putnam, supervised the fortifications and batteries defending the city.

After the battle of Trenton, Knox distinguished himself in several more battles: Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown in , and Monmouth in


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