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.

Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to Lucy 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 #: GLC02437.10455 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 15 October 1777 Pagination: 3 p. ; 37.4 x 23.3 cm.

Written from camp 24 miles from Philadelphia. Sends this letter by Captain Randall, who had "the misfortune to be again made a prisoner after being slightly wounded in 7 or 8 places." Asks why she has not mentioned a gold watch he sent, worrying that the watch has been lost or stolen. Addresses Lucy's concerns regarding their future provision, assuring her to trust God. Reports that Continental defense along the Delaware River has hampered British shipping to and from Philadelphia: "If the enemy cannot get their shipping up Philadelphia is one of the most ineligible places in the world for an army..." Relates that the Continental Army hopes to spend winter in Philadelphia. Discusses the recent American loss at Fort Montgomery, New York. Expresses optimism, convinced of "the kindness of providence towards us [America]..." Complains he has not received a letter from friends in Boston recently.

[Draft]
Camp 24 Miles from Philadelphia 15th octb 1777
My dearest and only Love
I have received your short Letter by Doctor [Lulling] but am extremely sorry to observe that [struck: you] two posts have arrivd here by [whom] I have not received a single Line - it is impossible that my Lucy should [struck: be] have known of [these] circumstance of the posts going from Boston otherwise she would have written to the man who adores her - nothing gives me half so much pain as not hearing from you by the same medium which other people hear from their friends in Boston I mean not to complain but hope you will not give me the least reason for the [future] - I send you this by Capt Randall who has the misfortune to be again made a prisoner after being slightly wounded in 7 or 8 places
I sent you early in the summer a certain gold watch - you never have mentioned to me whether you received which induces me to believe that something unfair has happened with it - The matter you mention about rations cannot be complied with - and I thank God I have too much reliance for his divine providence to have any of those [2] misgivings and forebodings of which my dear Lucy seems so apprehensive I trust the same divine being who brought us together will support us -
The enemy have not yet reduc'd our obstructions in the river Delaware below Philadelphia and consequently have not got their shipping up to the Town - they have made several efforts, but [struck: in v] hitherto in vain, in one of which we took 2 officers & 56 privates prisoners -
If the enemy cannot get their shipping up Philadelphia is one of the most ineligible places
in the world for an army - surrounded by rivers which are impassable - and an army above them - we have been pretty quick since the action of the 4th but we have yet to tolerable prospects and hopes to winter in Philadelphia I mean our army - for however clouded the prospect may be yet I have sanguine hopes of being able to live this winter in sweet fellowship with the dearest friend of my heart - however I cannot as yet point out the Way -
Ere' you receive this you will receive the Account of the loss of Fort Montgomery, which I own to you is in my opinion exceedingly heavy but it must stimulate us to much greater exertions - America almost deserves to be made slaves for her non exertions in so important an affair - an affair [3] of the most infinite consequence to ourselves and prosterity - observe my dear Girl how providence supports us the advantages gain'd by our Northern army altho we have not yet heard the minute particulars - yet we have in General and very authenticly [sic] too gives almost a decisive turn to the contest. For my own part I have not yet seen so bright a dawn as the present & I am as perfectly convinc'd in my own mind of the kindness of providence towards us, as I am of my own existence.
I most earnestly wish the contest finished that I might return to the arms of her who I flatter myself [strikeout] loves me equal to my love for her - without this hope I should [Lucy me] the most miserable of the human species - kiss my dear babies & pray for it, Give my love to Mr & Mrs Jarvis and all other friends - I have to complain that I have not received a Line from [struck: Harry for about month] for those two posts past nor from any other person in Boston
I am my dear Lucy with the utmost purity of [strikeout] affection your
Harry Knox

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources