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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) [Draft of an opinion for General George Washington]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00637 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph document Date: 20 August 1777 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 32 x 19.1 cm. Order a Copy

"From the time which has elapsed since Genl Howe disappeared from the Capes, it may be fairly and certainly deduce'd that he has gone very far either to the Southward or eastward... and it may be concluded with the same probability that neither Philadelphia or the North river is the immediate object of his destination." Discusses William Howe's possible movements. Suggests mounting an offensive against John Burgoyne in the north, "as no longer to leave it in doubt who shall have the Ascendency in that quarter..." Knox predicts that a large scale attack in the north would draw Howe's forces, and the Americans would be able to stop guessing his location while securing the northern frontier. Suggests taking troops from Peekskill and New Windsor to Albany, New York, and leaving a large force at West Point for defense. Also reports, "from different accounts it appears that the savages are taking up the hatchet in several places..." Knox's retained draft.


From The [struck: length of] time which has elaps'd since Genl. Howe disapear'd from the Capes, it may be fairly and certainly deduc'd that he has gone, [struck: far] very far either to the southward or eastward, - The danger of the seas which is augmented, in proportion to the [struck: greatness] number of the fleet, forbid his making a feint [struck: to] far either way - and it may be concluded with probability, that the place where [struck: they] [inserted: he] lands with [struck: their] [inserted: his] cannon and stores will be the scene of [struck: their] [inserted: his] operations for some time - and it may be concluded with the same probability that neither Philadelphia, or the North river is the immediate object of their destination -
Taking it for granted then, that Gen.l Howes immediate operations will be far distant from the two, last mentiond places - [struck: it remains] The Consideration arises, what shall be the employment of this army - to Guard places where [struck: there] its probable there will be no attack would be wasting or losing a precious moment -
Would it not be [2] much more for the honor and interest of America to turn such a part of our force, against our enemy to the northward as no longer to leave it in doubt who shall have the Ascendency in that quarter? to endevor to bring Genl Burgoyne to action [struck: against] [inserted: with] such superior numbers as to reqire [sic] but very little on our part and to oblige him to risque evry thing - which if he refuses to do he must be chas'd out of the Country with disgrace? - The way is easy Vessells may be provided at Peekskill or New Windsor to take [struck: the] [inserted: A] great number of men up [struck: at once] [inserted: to Albany at once] - a sufficient Force may be left at the highlands & [inserted: in the defences on] the river to secure [struck: it] [inserted: them] against any assaults - if success crown'd our arms against Mr Burgoyne New York might be then thought an object [struck: against which] [inserted: to [reduce] which] the united force of both armies might be employ'd - This would effectualy call Mr Howe from any easy Conquest he might have made, if not he must consent to lose the object which has given him the most [splendor] and we should bring the Campagn [sic] to a happy [struck: close] [issue]
[3] [struck: if General Burgoynes temerity should]
It is probable that the temerity of General Burgoyne will induce him to push far into the County, if so as his force is not [struck: large] [inserted: great] [struck: his destination if this army advances up is there will be almost certain] a large body of good troops will [strikeout] render his destination [struck: about certain on land] very probable. - [struck: The our Savages are for] from [inserted: different] accounts it appears that the Savages are taking up the hatchet in several places - the cruelty and confidences [struck: increases] [inserted: will increase] with the [struck: power of the party this] successes of the power that supports them. [struck: who] This power ought to be crush'd at all hazards immediately - or the whole frontiers will be delug'd in blood - as [struck: Mr] the British Forces have got [struck: footing] [inserted and struck: [strikeout] possession] on the Continent we can always command the attention of their principal army by carrying on our operations against their posesions - & [struck: who] [inserted: they] will [struck: undoubtedly] [inserted: certainly] return to defend [struck: their acquisitions] [inserted: them] if there is the reason to doubt their security
[4] These are some of the principal reasons among many others which urge the immediate employment of this army either to the northward or against New York as shall be thought most proper upon a nearer examination of the circumstances attending each -

An Opinion rende[red]
His Excellency [General]
Washington Augt 20th. 1777.
From the [disapearance] of General Howe

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