Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Knox, Lucy Flucker (ca. 1756-1824) to Henry Knox

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Log in
to see this thumbnail image

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00638 Author/Creator: Knox, Lucy Flucker (ca. 1756-1824) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 23 August 1777 Pagination: 4 p. ; 31.6 x 19.8 cm.

A high-resolution version of this object is available for registered users. LOG IN

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00638 Author/Creator: Knox, Lucy Flucker (ca. 1756-1824) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 23 August 1777 Pagination: 4 p. ; 31.6 x 19.8 cm.

Notes that she is recovering from a four day illness. Describes her daily life in detail as requested by Henry. Rises at eight a.m., has breakfast for an hour, then reads, writes, or works until her "solitary dinner" at 2 p.m. Misses Henry intensely, noting that even the company of their daughter, Lucy, reminds her of his absence. Describes her afternoon rides in her chaise, and her visits to several friends. Mentions the loss of her immediate family, who as Loyalists fled from Boston. Expresses her wish to be with Henry. Refers to the Hero, a ship, which will soon sail for France. Discusses the loss of Ticonderoga (July 1777), mentioning Generals Arthur St. Clair, Phillip Schuyler, and Horatio Gates. Asks if Mrs. Greene (Catherine Littlefield Greene, Nathanael Greene's wife) is with Henry. Also asks if Henry's brother William will remain with Knox or if he will receive a commission. Discusses how men's fortunes have shifted due to economic change wrought by war. Also writes, "...I hope you will not consider yourself as commander in chief of your own house- but be convinced tho not in the affair of Mr. Coudre that there is such a thing as equal command" ("Coudre" refers to the recent threat of the appointment Phillippe du Coudray to the head of artillery). Asks for square dollars so she can buy linen. Worries that Henry's long absence will lead him to forget her.

When General St. Clair surrendered Fort Ticonderoga in July, Congress replaced Schuyler with General Gates as commander of the Northern Department. Knox was nearly displaced of his position in charge of artillery by [Phillippe Du Coudray] (sources disagree on the spelling), secured by Silas Deane, the American Minister to France. Knox planned to resign from the military altogether if Du Coudray was appointed. Washington supported Knox, and Du Coudray was permitted to join the troops under Washington as a volunteer before drowning in September 1777.

Boston August 23rd 1777 -
My Dearest Friend -
I wrote you a line by the last post just to lett you know I was alive which indeed was all I could then say with propriety for I [struck: then] had serious thoughts that I never should see you again - so much was I reduced by only four days of illness but by help of a good constitution I am surprisingly better today - I am now to answer your three last letters in one of which you ask for a history of my life. it is my love so barren of adventures and so replete with repetition that I fear it will afford you little amusement - however such as it is I give it you - In the first place, I rise about eight in the morning (a lazy hour you will say - but the day after that, is full long for a person in my situation) I presently after sitt down to my breakfast, where a page in my book, and a dish of tea, employ me alternately for about an hour - When after seeing that family matters go on right, I [struck: repeair] repair to my work, my book, or my pen, for the rest of the forenoon - at two oclock I usually take my solitary dinner where I reflect upon my past happiness when I used to sitt at the window watching for my Harry - and when I saw him coming my heart would leap for joy - when he was all my own and never happy from me when the bare thought of six months absence would have shocked him - to divert these ideas I place my little Lucy by me at table - but the more engaging her little actions are so much the more do I regret the absence of her father who would take such delight in them. - in the afternoon I commonly take my chaise, and ride into the [2] country or go to drink tea with one of my few [struck: acquaintance] [inserted: friends]. They consist of Mrs Jarviss Mrs Sears Mrs Smith Mrs Pollard and my Aunt Waldo - I have many acquaintance beside these whom I visit but not without ceremony - when with any of [inserted: the] former I often spend the evening - but when I return home - how shall describe my feelings to find myself intirely alone - to reflect that the only friend I have in the world is at such an immense distance from me - to think that [inserted: he] may [inserted: be] sick and I cannot assist him ah poor me my heart is ready to burst, you who know what a trifle would make me unhappy, can conceive what I suffer now. -
when I seriously reflect that I have lost my father Mother Brother and Sisters - intirely lost them - I am half distracted true I chearfully resigned them for one far dearer to me than all of them - but I am totally deprived of him - I have not seen him for almost six months - and he writes me without pointing out any method by which I may ever expect to see him again - tis hard my Harry indeed it is I love you with the tenderest the purest affection - I would undergo any hardships to be near you and you will not lett me - suppose this campaign should be like the last carried into the winter - do you intend not to see me in all that time - tell me dear what your plan is -
I wrote you that the Hero sailed while I was at Newburg - she did but has [jnserted: been] cruising about from harbour to harbour since - to get met - she is now here, and will sail in a day or two for france -
[3]I wish I had fifty guinies to spare to send by her for neccessarys - but I have not - the very little gold we have must be reserved for my Love in case he should be taken - for friends in such a case are not too common. - I am more distressed from the hott weather than any other fears - God grant you may not go farther south'ard - if you should I possitively will come too - I believe Genl Howe is a paltry fellow - but happy for as that he is so - are you not much pleased with the news from the Northard we think it is a great affair and a confirmation of St Clairs villainy baseness - I hope he will not go unpunished - we hear also that Genl Gates is to go back to his command. - if so Master Schuyler, cannot be guiltless - it is very strange, you never mentioned that affair in any of your letters -
What has become of Mrs Greene, do you all live together - or how do you manage - is Billy to remain with you payless or is he to have a com[inserted: m]ission - if the former I think he had much better remained where he was - if he understood business he might without a capital have made a fortune - people here - without advanceing a shilling frequently clear hundreds in a day - such chaps as Eben Oliver - are all men of fortune - while persons - who have ever lived in affluence - are in danger of want - oh that you had less of the military man about you - you might then after the war have lived at ease all the days of your life - but now I don't know what you will do - your [4] being long acustomed to command - will make you too haughty for mercantile matters - tho I hope you will not consider yourself as commander in chief of your own house - but be convinced tho not in the affair of Mr Coudre that there is such a thing as equal command - I send this by Capt Randal who says he expects to remain with you - pray how many of these lads have have you - I am sure they must be very expensive - I am in want of some square dollars - which I expect from you to by me a peace of linen an article I can do no longer without haveing had no recruit of that kind for almost five years - girls in general when they marry are well stocked with those things but poor I had no such advantage -
little Lucy who is without exception the sweetest child in the world - sends you a kiss but
where [inserted: shall] I take it from say you - from the paper I hope - but dare I say I sometimes fear [struck: what] [inserted: that] a long absence the force of bad example may lead you to forget me at sometimes - to know that it ever gave you pleasure to be in company with the finest woman in the world, would be worse that death to me - but it is not so, my Harry is too just too delicate too sincere - and too fond of his Lucy to admit the most remote thought of that distracting kind -away with it - don't be angry with me my Love - I am not jealous of you affection - I love you with a love as true and sacred as ever entered the human heart - but from a diffidence of my own merit I sometimes fear you will Love me less - after being so long from me - if you should may my life end before I know it - that I may die thinking you wholly mine -
Adieu my love

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources