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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to George Washington

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00671 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 3 December 1777 Pagination: 2 p. : docket ; 33.1 x 20.2 cm.

Offers Washington his sentiments "upon the advisability of a Winter Campaign and practicability of an attack upon Philadelphia with the aid of a considerable body of Militia asembled [sic] at an appointed time and place ... I think a Winters Campaign under the present circumstances will be the inevitable destruction if not of the Liberties of the Country yet of the present Army ... " Gives his reasons for arguing against a winter campaign, including the Continental Army's lack of suitable clothing, the strength of the British fortified at Philadelphia, and the uncertainty of gathering enough militia to make the endeavor possible. Instead, advises for the army to rest in winter quarters and attack the British in the spring.

Camp White Marsh 3d. Decembr. 1777
Sir
I receivd your Excellencys orders to give you my sentiments "upon the advisability of a Winters Campaign and practicability of an attack upon Philadelphia with the aid of a considerable body of Militia asembled at an appointed time and place". - Were it probable that Sr. Wm. Howes destruction would be the consequence of a Winters Campaign, I would most chearfully give my voice and opinion for one - I think a Winters Campaign under the present circumstances will be the inevitable destruction if not of the Liberties of the Country yet of the present Army: my opinion is founded on the following reasons
Our entire want of Cloathing to keep the men from Perishing form the cold Winter's Season.
The improbability & impracticability of surprizing 10.000 veteran troops in a well fortified city.
The impossibility of our keeping the field to besiege their works and City regularly and, being almost totally deficient of any Warlike apparatus for so arduous an enterprize.
The uncertainty of obtaining such a sufficient number of Militia, as to make the enterprize warranted by reason or common M [2] Military knowledge. - My Opinion is for putting the Army in good Winter Quarters: to repair the damages done: to recruit & reform the Army: to provide Magazines &c. In the Spring we may be enabled to strike the enemy a decisive blow: which by making a Winters Campaign I think improbable and impracticable.

I am Sir with the greatest
Respect Yr Excellencys most
Obt. Hble Servant -
HKnox
B.G. Artillery
His Excellency General Washington -

[docket]
An Opinion &c.
Decr 3d. 1777
on a Winters Campaign

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