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Shaw, Samuel (1754-1794) to William Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00707 Author/Creator: Shaw, Samuel (1754-1794) Place Written: Valley Forge, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 3 June 1778 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 21.2 x 16.7 cm.

Summary of Content: Shaw, Henry Knox's aide-de-camp, apologizes for the delay in sending a box owned by William. Reports that the army plans to leave Valley Forge, and Henry Knox is unwilling "to leave any thing of his in this d-n'd State." Refers to military and political matters, noting that England ("John Bull") would leave America if it could do so decently. Comments that "La Francois" intends to speculate pretty deeply in American politics." Remarks that British papers emphasize the advantage America could gain by constitutionally uniting with England, yet the British also highlight the difference between American and British speech, dress, and customs. Mentions bills released by Lord North and authenticated by General William Howe. Discusses preparations for following the British as they leave Philadelphia, bound for New York. Discusses a disagreement between Henry Knox and Thomas-Antoine Mauduit, Chevalier Du Plessis. Some text loss on page three.

Full Transcript: [draft]
Camp Valley Forge 3 June 1778
My dear Friend,
I believe you rather expected to have received your Box before this time, than now to be told the reasons of its ...not coming - however, as you are disappointed, I think it incumbent on me to inform you why and wherefore. Be certain I should have been very happy could I have sent it immediately on my arrival at camp. But it having been recommended a few days before to the army to disencumber themselves of all heavy and superfluous baggage, your Brother took only a few articles with him, and ordered the remainder (your Box among 'em) to be sent to Lebanon, whither Mr. Sweets was then removing - Immediately on the rect. of your Letter I wrote him desiring the Box might be sent on but it has not yet come to hand. It will not be long however before I get it, as the General intends sending a person to bring all our baggage on, for the Army is just on the point of quiting this ground, and he being unwilling (to use his own words) to leave any thing of his in this d-n'd state. You may therefore, my good friend, rely on its being forwarded the first safe conveyance which offers after it comes to my hands.
Having mentioned quitting this state, it will not be amiss to acquaint you a little how matters go. - By the late accounts from Europe poor [2] John Bull appears to be quite sick of his bargain and I believe would gladly be off could he do it with any kind of decency, as it is evident Mons. La Francois intends to speculate pretty deeply in American politics. Our enemy finding he cannot subdue us by open force is trying to disunite, and by that means to ruin us. Drafts of Lord North's Bills have been sent out, properly authenticated, by Sir Wm Howe and distributed thro' the country. Their newspapers are filled which the advantages with America would reap by being constitutionally united with Great Britain; while, on the other hand, they point out the folly of a connection between her and a people differing from us in language, customs, and religion - with a deal more of such stuff - all which however will avail nothing - Arms must decide the matter. the Enemy know this; yet, as our force is pretty respectable, they do not care to hazard a battle with us here, but are endeavoring, according to custom, to maneuvre us from our present position. This it is expected they will do by the way of New York, their heavy cannon and baggage being on board, and the transports daily falling down the river. Their Army will march through Jersey to South Amboy and thence embark for Staten Island and New York. It is not unlikely they will lose a number of men in their route, as we have a Brigade of Continentals in Jersey, which with the Militia of that state (who are turning out with great spirit) will no doubt pick up some of them. - Our whole Army are in readiness [3] to act on the shortest notice, as occasion may require.
Perhaps in our way to the North River, we may take Morris Town and its neighbourhood - have you any thing to say to the dear Creatures there? Our business making it necessary we should cross the Delaware at Easton, when we came to camp prevented us from paying a visit to those seats of hospitality and politeness.
You desired me to beg the Chevalier Du Plissis to write you one letter - I have not done the message, as he has taken leave of the General. Nature never for a more odd genius - his late promotion instead of be[ing] a service will produce quite the reverse. Some Artillery was ordered out with a late detachment under the Marquis, and Du Plissis applyed for the command of it. This was denied him, on the principle of its being [text loss]er he should, by virtue of his brevet commission ta[text loss] rank of officers who were his superiors last campaig[n.] He took the refusal in high dudgeon, told the Gene[ral] he had "sacrificed him to the tranquility of his corps, and threatened to complain to the General Washington and to Congress, and that all that should be inserted in to paper public" - The General told him he might do as he pleased, and left him - He has, in consequence of this matter, changed his quarters, and by a dexterity peculiar to himself at once of that gratitude which the friendly notice and disinterested favors of his Benefactor might justly lay claim to. -
I intended writing more, but I must not exceed the limits of my paper - this goes by the Post, as I really think it would be treating you uncivilly were I longer to wait for a private conveyance. - If you see my Dad, please to tell him I'm well - that's all - Adieu! Believe me very affectionately yours
[address leaf]
Mr. William Knox
Major Shaw
June 3d 1778.
Valley Forge
See More

People: Shaw, Samuel, 1754-1794
Knox, William, 1756-1795
Du Plessis, Thomas-Antoine Mauduit, chevalier, 1753-1791
Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Washington, George, 1732-1799

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Valley ForgeRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryContinental ArmyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyFrancePoliticsJournalismGovernment and CivicsLawImmigration and MigrationArtilleryClothing and Accessories

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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