Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Washington, George (1732-1799) to Henry Knox

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.09353 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Valley Forge, Pennsylvania Type: Manuscript letter Date: 21 February 1778 Pagination: 2 p. ; 33.5 x 21.5 cm.

Realizes that supplies are badly needed in many locations, but wishes to transport supplies as little as possible. Also mentions how well Knox has performed as superintendent of his division. Washington's signature has been clipped out of the letter.

Signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Head Quarters Valley Forge Feby. 21st. 1778.

Sir
I duly received your favour of the 18th. of January, which hurry of business has prevented my answering sooner.
As transportation, at this season, would be [text loss: difficult, tedious] and expensive, I approve of the plan you adopted [text loss: with respect] the cannon at Albany; but that no risk may be run, and in order to have them as early as possible, so near the scene of action, as that we may be able to make use of them, if necessary, it is my wish, the moment the River is Sufficiently open to permit it, they may be brought forward with all speed. - It would be altogether improper to send them to Springfield.
Neither does it appear to me eligible to send the small arms at Albany, so far out of the way. - If those requiring it, can possibly be repaired there, it ought to be done; or if they cannot, and it is practicable in this Quarter, they ought to be sent to the Armouries, this way. Nothing but necessity and its being impossible to have the business done, otherwise, will justify their being sent to Springfield - to be brought from thence to this army.
I am exceedingly apprehensive, from the immense waste, which has constantly attended them, that we shall be very much distressed for arms, at the opening of the next Campaign. I am [inserted: also] much afraid that without the greatest care we shall come far short of having a sufficiency of Cartridge boxes - These are matters to which I most urgently request your particular attention - that every possible exertion may be used to avoid a deficiency in such essential articles.
I dare say you will in your [2] absence be very usefully employed, but your presence here, to Superintend your department at large, is so extremely requisite, that I flatter myself you will make a point of rejoining the army as expeditiously as circumstances will admit. -

I am with real regard & esteem
Sir
Your most hum: Servt.
[signature purloined]

P.S. I this moment received your letter of the 21st. of Jany. I shall immediately write to the Board of War on the subject of the artillery sent to Farmington, and transmit you directions concerning them, as soon as I receive an answer; but would not have you to wait, till those arrive, at Boston, as I cannot help [struck: again] expressing my fear that the business of your department will will be exceedingly behind hand, as Flower is not yet able to look into it, with that degree of attention it requires.

Brigr. Genl. Knox.

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources