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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to John Jay

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01253 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: Yorktown, Virginia Type: Autograph letter Date: 21 October 1781 Pagination: 2 p.; 4 p. + docket

Summary of Content: Indicates that French ships are about to dispatch with official accounts of the Battle of Yorktown. Knox feels he should tell Jay what has occurred because an official account from Congress may not be immediately forthcoming. Although the British had less forces in America than in 1776 or 1777, the Continental Army was compelled to attack Yorktown or consider the southern states lost. The Comte de Grasse was of similar opinion, and plans to attack New York were abandoned in favor of a siege of Yorktown. A detailed, chronological explanation of the Allied forces' actions between 27 September 1781 and 19 October 1781 follows in the clerical copy, Knox's original indicates that the text should replicate that in a letter to John Adams (see GLC02437.01251). A post script indicates that George Washington sent Jay authenticated copies of Lord Cornwallis' capitulation. GLC02437.01253 is the original and GLC02437.01254 is a handwritten clerical copy made by Judge William Jay on 25 August 1856. Concluding paragraph, beginning "This important affair," the closing salutation, Knox's signature, and the postscript are in Shaw's hand.

Full Transcript: Camp before York , 21 October 1781 -
My Dear Sir
A French ship being about to sail with dispatches to the Court of France from Count DeGrasse and Count Rochambeau of the [...struck: important] event which has taken place here, [struck: I cannot refrain] I think it of importance [struck: to write a] [inserted: for you to [review] as early as possible] general sketch [struck: of an] [strikeout] [inserted: of our operations here] as it is probable that Congress, or their servants whose immediate duty it is to correspond with you, may not have it in their power [struck: to give you] to transmit you official intelligence for some time to come.
The Enemies operations in these States although not carried on with great Armies compar'd with those of seventy six & seventy seven, yet [struck: appeard] [inserted: were] so formidable [inserted: as] to dispel every force which the Country of itself were capable of opposing - This rendered it necessary for America [struck: to disposs] to march its Army [2] here or give up the Southern States as lost - [struck: This] [inserted: It] appears also to have been the opinion of the french Court as Count deGrasse [struck: as order'd to] gave intelligence of his intent of Arriving at the capes of Virginia - our previous [views were] New York - the dispositions were made on the [struck: North] [inserted: Hudsons] River for the attack of Lord Cornwallis in Virginia, and every thing has succeeded [struck: to] [inserted: equal] our sanguine wishes.
"This important affair &ca (the remainder the same as to Mr Adams) to "the hands of the English" -
I will thank you to present my very respectful compliments to Mrs. Jay, and remember me to Col. Livingston -
I have the honor to be
with great esteem and respect
Your Excellency's most obed
ient Servant
His Excellency
John Jay Esqr
American Minister at the Court of Madrid.
P.S. Since writing the aforegoing his Excellency Gen. Washington has informed me that he has enclosed to you authenticated copies of the capitulation and returns as far as can be collected.
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People: Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Jay, John, 1745-1829
Jay, William, 1789-1858
Adams, John, 1735-1826
Washington, George

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: NavyFranceBattle of YorktownRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryContinental ArmyArtilleryBattleSurrenderContinental CongressCongressPresidentGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyRailroadGovernment and Civics

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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