Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to Lucy Knox [incomplete]
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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00652 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter Date: 24 September 1777 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 32 x 19.4 cm.
Reports that in a previous letter to Lucy, he gave an account of the Battle of Brandywine. Relates that his army came in sight of the enemy, when a pouring rain ruined their cartridges. Describes how his army followed the British from across the Schuylkill River, and the British eluded them, intending to enter Philadelphia: "They have declin'd to combat our army and have taken possession of the prize for which we both contended." Reports that American Generals [Anthony] Wayne and [William] Smallwood were attacked on 20 September (later known as the Battle of Paoli or the Paoli Massacre). Comments on the American soldiers' lack of shelter and supplies, which "they endured with the perseverance and patience of Good Soldiers." Of losing Philadelphia, writes, "I consider the loss of Philadelphia as only temporary to be recovered when expedient..." Notes that the British will need to start shipping to and from Philadelphia in order to maintain their hold on the city. Reports that his brother William endures the hardships of this campaign surprisingly well.
Pottsgrove 24th Septr 1777
my dearest hope and only Love
I have received your letter [inserted: dated] somewhere about the beginning of this month, it was short because my dear Girl had lyen too long in her bed and the post was about going - I wrote you from near Schuylkill on the 13th giving you an account of the Battle of Brandywine on the 11th instant - the same day I wrote you we cross'd the Schuylkill in order to try the [Issue] of another appeal to him who directs all human events. after some days manoevring we came in sight of the enemy and drew up in order of Battle, [inserted: which the enemy declin'd] but amost violent rain coming on oblig'd us to change our position, in the course of which nearly all the musket cartridges of the Army that had been deliver'd to the men were damag'd consisting of above 400,000 - this was amost terrible stroke to us - and owing entirely to the badness of the cartouch boxes which had been provided for the army
This unfortunate event oblig'd us to retire in  order to get [struck: reinstated] [struck: replenish'd] supply'd with so essential an article as [cartridg's] - after which we [strikeout] forded the Schuylkill in order to be opposite to the enemy, accordingly we took post opposite to them at a place call'd Flatland Ford - a defensive war is the most difficult to [struck: conduct] [inserted: guard] against because one is always oblig'd to attend to the feints of the enemy - to defend an extended River when it is unfordable is almost impossible, but when the River is fordable in every part [inserted: it] [struck: is imp] [inserted: becomes impracticable] & nothing is more easy than to cross it - This we well knew and the enemy knew it full well too - on the afternoon of the 21st. they made a most rapid march of 10 or 12 miles to our right, this oblig'd us to follow them they kindled large fires and in the [next] night march'd as rapidly back and cross'd at a place where we had but few Guards and immediately cross'd and push'd towards Philadelphia and will this morning enter the city without opposition - They have declin'd to combat our army and have taken possession of the prize for which we both contended - we fought one battle for it and it was no deficiency in [illegible] that we loss the day - we fully intended to have tried the [efficacey] of another day which we intended should have been well fought but heaven interposed - they boastingly gave out that they wish'd not to go to Philadelphia  for two months to come - but have taken the first opportuny to give us the slip. Philadelphia it seems has been their favorite object, and for which they have made some bold pushes - their shipping has not join'd them there, they will first have to raise the Cheveux de frize on the Delaware and defeat the naval force there which is considerable tho perhaps nothing near equal to what they can bring against it - we likewise met with another misfortune, General Wayne and Genl Smallwood who were on the Westside of Schuylkill were attack'd in the night [struck: and] of the 20th and oblig'd to retire [strikeout] after having done every thing that was possible
the troops in this excursion of 10 days without [strikeout] baggage suffer'd excessive hardships, without tents in the rain, several marches of all night, and often without sufficient provisions - this they endur'd with the perseverance and patience of Good soldiers - Genls Smallwood Wayne McDougal and a considerable body of militia will join us to day and tomorrow - This day we shall move towards Philadelphia in order to try the fortune of another  battle in which we devoutly hope the blessing of heaven.
I consider the loss of Philadelphia as only temporary to be recover'd [struck: by] when expedient - it is no more than the loss of Boston, nor in my opinion half so much when the present trade of the latter be considered and the difficulty of interruption be consider'd, compar'd with the stoppage of the trade of the Delaware -where one or two frigates is sufficient - It is situated on a point of land form'd by the Rivers Delaware and Schuylkill so that it would been highly improper to have thrown ourselves into it had we have taken both these and been unsuccessful in our action we should have been ruin'd having no retreat - if the enemy do not get their shipping up soon and go into Philadelphia, they will be in a very ineligible situation - I do not under the present circumstances consider Philadelphia of so much consequence as the loss of reputation to our army but I trust in God we shall soon make up that matter - Billy is well and [undergoes] the hardships of [struck: a] this Campaign surprizingly well - and they are neither few nor small -
I am perfectly well and
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