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 #: GLC02437.09370 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania Type: Manuscript letter signed Date: 26 October 1777 Pagination: 2 p. ; 33.5 x 21.5 cm.

General Washington writes to Knox, Chief of Artillery for the Continental Army. Informs Knox he will soon be called to a council of War, and will be asked his opinion on several issues: whether the Continental Army should engage in a general attack against the British; if not, what stance the army should take; where Continental troops should be stationed in reference to the British occupation of Philadelphia; how to prevent the British from drawing supplies from the city during the winter, etc.

Head Quarters 26th. October. 1777.

You will, very shortly, be called to a council of War, when your sentiments on the following questions will be asked -
Whether it will be prudent in our present circumstances, and Strength, to attempt by a General Attack, to dislodge the Enemy; & if it is, and we unsuccessful, where we shall retreat to? -
If such an attack should not be thought eligible, what general disposition of the Army had best take place till the weather forces us from the Field? -
3 -
Where and in what manner supposing the Enemy to keep possession of Philadelphia, had the Continental Troops best be Cantoned after they can no longer keep the Field?
What measures can be adopted to cover the country near the City, and prevent the Enemy from drawing Supplies therefrom during the Winter? -
Will the Office of Inspector General to Our Army, for the purpose principally, of establishing one uniform set of Manoeuvres, and manual, be advisable as the time of the Adjutant General seems to be totally engaged with other business? -
Should Regimental promotions extend only to Captains Inclusively, or to that of the Majority - ? -
Will it be consistent with propriety and good policy to allow Soldiers the reward offered to others for apprehending Deserters? -
The Commissaries Complaining of the number, and disproportion of the Rations which [2] are Issued to the Troops and at the same time of the advanced price of all kinds of Spirits, owing to the Imposition of the Sutlers upon the Soldiery what regulation, & Remedy can be applied to rectify the one, and prevent the Other? -

I am Sir
Your Most. Obedt. Servt.
Go: Washington

Br Genl Knox

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources