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Knox, William (1756-1795) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01239 Author/Creator: Knox, William (1756-1795) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 18 October 1781 Pagination: 3 p. : docket

Summary of Content: Has not heard from his brother in almost six weeks. News of the operation against Yorktown from General George Washington included the destruction of three of Lord Cornwallis redoubts and a formal demand for surrender, along with Cornwallis' rejection of it. Speculates that defeating Cornwallis will not be easy for the Allied Army, but "Fall he must." Rumors of unsuccessful British activity against General Nathanael Greene near Charleston. Offers high praise for Greene as a potential successor for Washington. Mentions the deaths of 300 soldiers and officers among Colonel William Washington's cavalry. Also mentions the success of General John Stark at Skenesboro. Discusses his plans to travel to Europe on business on a French frigate. Joshua Loring will take over his bookstore. Mentions selling some books and making other preparations for departure.

Full Transcript: [draft]
Boston 18th October 1781
My not having received the least intelligence of or from you my Dear Brother, [inserted since the 8 Ulto] would almost be a sufficient reason for [inserted: ...not] writing, did I not suppose from your past attention that the late omissions [struck: were] must be more from necesity than choice. we have by the last evenings post, the accounts of the commander in chief, having commenced his operations against York Town or rather its environs, that three redoubts of very great consequence to Lord Cornwallis had been reduced, [struck: and] that a formal demand or summons had been sent into his Lordship, & that his Answer contained his determination of defending his possessions [strikeout] as long as he was able! Should his Lordship be obstinate from the formidable number of good troops he has with him, and from the quantity of provisions he is said to have he will in all probability give you much trouble in reducing him, however with [struck: all] those advantages, it appears from all our Accounts that Fall he must I must confess I should prefer he would take up the resolution of falling quietly, otherways many a fine fellow will be reduced to the necesity of taking repose on the Bed of Honor, before he is quite fatigued with the toils and troubles of Life.
We find the Enemy have been attempting Something against General Greene in the neighbourhood of Charlestown, but without Success, he having tis said obliged them to return with nearly 1000 men less than they came out of Charles Town with, but unhappy in this Business 300 fine troops Officers & soldiers have fallen on our side among [2] among whom are many of Col.o Washingtons Corps of Cavalry. The fates appear determined to befriend General G. by raising him to be one of [inserted: ye] greatest Military Characters of any Age, it is a happy consideration that we have a man so perfectly qualified to fill the place of the Commander in chief, should we be so unhappy as to loose him, w.ch I pray Heaven however may not be, [inserted: ye] Case.
Bennington Starks has been doing some Brilliant thing in the neighbourhood of Skenesbourough the Account is that he has killed or taken nearly five Hundred men among whom is said to be the noted Colonel Butler, really General J. shines in those woods up there and it cannot be wishing an Officer any harm to wish he may be always imployed in that situation or quarter where he shines most. But now a word or two upon matters of the Business kind. I think I informed you in my last that after some very small de[struck: mand]bate in my own mind I had ultimately determind to take passage for France on board of the Frigate commanded by the Marquis Kergariou Lormaria, provided I could make myself ready, and she should certainly go to France, (there is about one or two chances out of ten that she may go to the West Indies), I have exerted myself to take advantage of this excellent occasion, & from those exertions find myself with respect to essential matters perfectly ready to embark as soon as the ship may receive her orders, although was I to remain a fortnight longer probably I should find something to do: The Marquis informed me last evening, that he should probably sail 24 Hours after he received his orders which are expected momently, so that between this Day (being Thursday) and Sunday it is possible we may take our departure. I [3] I intend writing you one of the last things I do, and shall inclose you an Inventory of the Books and other matters I have upon Commission with Mr. Joshua Loring, who takes possession of my store to day upon the terms I mention'd in my last exclusive of having him about ~ 60 Stg. cost in [Classicks], and picking out some for a Library (among w.ch are those Books you forwarded me a mem.o of after my return from Europe) nearly all the remainder were sold at Vendue a few days since, as the only method of getting rid of them I believe they will [neat] me the Stg. cost or more, but as I have not yet received the Acco.t of sales I cannot tell. A few articles w.ch I procured for M.rs K & have not been sent on for want of opportunity will be left at the store with M.r Loring to be delivered your or M.rs Knox's orders, I have desired Miss W.s brother to give me a list of the things M.rs had of her, that I might procure those as nearly similar as possible in France. A persons who left Phila a little time since let M.r Knox know that he was coming to Boston, & would take her commands with pleasure but she had none, I however intend myself the pleasure of writing her again before my departure. My love to her & my neice and nephew
As undoubtedly there will be opportunities occurring for France very often from the grand Fleet. Should you not have forwarded any Letter for me by the time you receive this. I wish you would send them by that way under cover to Jona W.ms
I am yours
Most Affectionate Brother
From Mr William Knox
18 October 1781.
See More

People: Knox, William, 1756-1795
Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786
Stark, John, 1728-1822

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Battle of YorktownRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralPresidentMilitary HistoryContinental ArmyArtillerySurrenderGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyBattleDeathCavalry

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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