Henry Knox

Henry Knox

Revolutionary War


Henry Knox rose through the ranks during the American Revolution to become chief of artillery in George Washington’s army.



Image Source: Gilbert Stuart, Oil painting of Henry Knox, 1806, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston

 Painting of Henry Knox in a navy and gold uniform. Knox is posing with one hand on his hip and the other resting on a cannon.

Henry Knox’s Biography

Primary Source: Henry Knox to his wife, Lucy Knox

In this July 8, 1776, letter to his wife, Lucy, Henry Knox wrote from New York City that “the eyes of all America are upon us” after the landing of “the enemy . . . on Staten Island.”

First page of a manuscript letter from Henry Knox to Lucy Knox

Henry Knox in New York City to Lucy Knox, July 8, 1776, Gilder Lehrman Collection, GLC02437.00363, p. 1.

Full Transcript


New York July 8. 6 oClock in the Morng.        

My dear Lucy

        I received yours of last Saturday by Mr Belford, M.rs Greenes Return to was a vast surprize to us as to miss Airey I conjecture he[r] whimsical mother sent these Gentlemen up after her. – my Lucy acted herself and acted right in not returning to this place – It is a happiness and the greatest happiness for me to be with you, but to be under a continued uneasiness on account of your safety is what You would not wish – as to M.rs G. husband being happy to see her in all times and in all places [&] much mistaken if it would not have Di[s]abled him from the service whether he had not have rather lost his arm than have seen her here at this time – he was over here at the time she arriv’d and would not beleive she was coming untill he saw her – Genl Putnam ask’d her if she had ever read Betsey Thoutghtely [sic: Betsy Thoughtless], – [struck: other Gentlemen] other people may view the light in a different manner from me – But we must stand and fall by our own opinion and not by theirs – The peace of this Town and [inserted: &] the safety [strikeout] Safety of the Ladies is upon the most precarious tenor imaginable – The enemy at farthest not more than three quarters of an hours sail from us, and if they should come of a dark night not more possibly than ten


minutes before we must be in action – Think my dear Lucy of ten minutes to get your carriage tuck’d to get [on] and dress yourself and get out of Town in a dark night not knowing whether to go not knowing the road the Carrige [sic] as likely as not oversetting & my dear Girl fright’d to death – add her heavenly Gift the sweet babe to it & the very view would be insupportable, the reality would kill me – You say the enemy are landed on Staten Island waiting a reinforcement, what security have we of this? by the best accounts they are 10,000, and the reinforcement may be in to day – The eyes of all America are upon us, – the matters which we are to act are of infinitely high importance as we play our part posterity will bless or curse us – and my dear it will be no common blessing or cursing – it will be In the most divine gratitude or the keenest execrations of the heart – As to what you mention of Leaving our dear little pledge at Fairfield I am very certain you could not be serious. – I know not what You will do for a servant I think it must be difficult where you are, if possible I will send you one by the return of Mrs. Green which I think cannot be long – the Ladies tell dismal stories of your Living – you did not go where you were told to – but there were some of you who think you know more than you surly do – advice when it comes from Disinterested parties ought to be followed – I am really afraid of one thing. Palfrey tells me he has wrote for his Wife & she is at Fairfield – take not her advice in the


Second page of a manuscript letter from Henry Knox to Lucy Knox

Henry Knox in New York City to Lucy Knox, July 8, 1776, Gilder Lehrman Collection, GLC02437.00363, p. 2.

Third page of a manuscript letter from Henry Knox to Lucy Knox

Henry Knox in New York City to Lucy Knox, July 8, 1776, Gilder Lehrman Collection, GLC02437.00363, p. 3.

present circumstances of things it must be certained she wants to see her husband and he wants to see her because she is a Woman – I don’t mean to say that is solely the reason – besides Mr Palfrey is in very different department from me – he must fly & shall as Mrs Palfrey – they are at a distance from where the action must commence – we are at advanc’d post he is two miles in the rear – a peice of News. a party of [struck: men] [inserted: Artillery] with 2–12 pounders last thursday morning shatter’d one of his majestys sloops or tenders so much that the people quitted her – she mounted 14. Guns mostly six pounders – it is reported the enemy have since burnt her – we kill’d a few and wounded some more – the enemy were so supriz’d they [Descern’d] very little spirit – we also have had another shooting match at the ships as they come [text loss] narrows we like to have killd [inserted: a] Capt [inserted: of one of] [text loss] shot away his bed from under him and kill’d a number of his people – write me my love as often as lays in Your power and beleive me to have no other Earthly love but you

Harry Knox

    Kiss and bless your babe for me –

    remember me to Mrs Pollard


    I live at the house – I don’t like Mrs. A.

    I have turn’d packard away – I think he must have cheated you in his market accounts most egregiously.