TRANSCRIPT GLC 2437.04.076
Henry Knox. Letter (copy): Artillery Park, to George Washington,
1777 December 01. 3 p. + doc.
Artillery Park Decr. 1. 1777.
[inserted - different hand: H.K. to Washington]
Your Excellency last evening referd to your General
Officers the consideration of the position proper for Winter
Quarters and orderd us to give our opinions respectively
on that Subject.
I shall be concise in my opinion establishing the proposition
that Winter Quarters are indispensably necessary for the Army
in order to give it that rest and refreshment of which it
stands much in need; to repair the Carriages of various kinds
which are damagd: to recruit the exhausted horses; to
recruit and fill up the regiments; to reform the army in some
essential particulars, in a word to put the army in all its
branches on such a footing as to be able to take the field
next Campaign with the greatest probability of Success.
The King of Prussia says the first object in Winter
Quarters is Tranquility it is very evident if
we take our Winter Quarters so near the enemy as to be Subject
to frequent alarms and constant hard duty, we shall have but
a small part of the present army to oppose to our enemies.
Could a place be found about 30 miles distant from
& North or N.W. of Philadelphia in which it was possible
to quarter the troops I should prefer it to a great distance,
or different direction as by it we should be able to cover
a greater extent of  Country than by taking post at Wilmington
or retiring so far back as Lancaster & Reading
Two Ideas present themselves in considering a place proper
for Winter Quarters. The care and safety of the troops, and
the covering the Country, thereby preventing the enemys
drawing supplies from it I consider the first the greatest
objects and all inferior ones should give place to them and
therefore give my opinion that the troops should at the time
appointed retire into Winter Quarters, the right of the Cantonment
to be at Lancaster & the left at Reading, provided a sufficiency
of houses and good cover can be procurd there
an officer of reputation on whose veracity your Excellency
could rely can easily ascertain this matter. parties of 500
or 600 to be kept out on command advancd 30. or 40.
Miles under the command of active partizan officers who should
be directed to be constantly moving about to prevent the enemy
making any disposition to surprize them. Advantages may by
these means be taken of any smaller detachments sent out by
the enemy indeed the Militia of the State may be kept
considerably advancd, they being light troops will cover
the Country & be but in little danger of being surprizd.
If the cover in the range from Lancaster to Reading should
be found to be insufficient. I should be for hutting
the whole  army about 30. Miles distant from Phila. in
some position which should have the Schuylkill about
10. or 12 miles on the right or left the goodness of
the position to determine this General Muhlenburgh
mentiond a position which comes within this description
which perhaps on examination might be found to be proper
I have the honor to be with
the greatest respect
Most Obt. Hble. Servt.
An Opinion &c.
Decr. 1. 1777