Henry Knox. Autograph
letter draft: to George Washington, 1778 October 19. 7 p. + doc.
– different hand: Oct 19
– different hand: K. opinion
agt detaching a part of the main army towards Boston –; and in favor of
keeping the army in a “collected state” during the winter –]
considered the information which your Excelleny on the 16th instant
was pleas’d to give to the board of Genl Officers. and of the propositions
then given, for their [struck: of]
considera[tion] and opinions.
The first of which whether] [inserted:[struck: An answer to but answer in writing to the best hiring or
proposition <?>]] vizt. whether it will be prudent and adviseable to make
a Detachment of the main Army towards Boston and if so of what force?
was so fully discus’d at the time it was propos’d and the conclusion
drawn that it would be unnecesary to say any thing further on the subject.
second was “Whether the Army shall be held in a collected state during the
Winter and where”?
are several weighty reasons why the Army should be held in as collected a state
as possible. vzt The safety of it – its readiness to act offensively upon any
opportunity being given by the Enemy. Its
discipline. Its reputation, for if
the Army is dispersed into [struck:
many] [inserted: several] cantonments
or not The Calls of [strike-out] many
officers who have <?>  Families will be so great as to oblige them to
obtain [struck: either] furlowe or
leave the service – The chance will be equal that the officer who go home for
the winter are as good as any in the service.
If the army is divided in to several cantonments the loss of these
officers for the time will be much greater than if the Army is collected.
Duty in the Cantonments will be much more more long than in the main
Army. The men will maraud. and most
probably the body of troops will be much more unfit at the opening of the
Campaign to take the field than when they went into Quarters –
Army is collected, discipline [inserted:
of all kinds] will be more [struck:
promptly] readily kept up, as all officers of all Classes will be immediately
under the direction of the Commander in Chief.
only [struck: thing] [inserted:
argument] to be oppos’d to the Army’s being collected will be the difficulty
of supplying it with Provisions and Forage – But [struck:
I believe it] if the Army take a proper position These difficulties will in a
would with defference propose that the Army should take a position either at Ri[inserted:
d]gefield  or [struck: the] the
Communication from [struck: th] [inserted: that place] to <?> Pond – [struck: My reasons for it are these] The Majority to be Fish-Kill or
some place on the road from it to Ridgefield, [inserted: [struck:
<?>]] [struck: and] at Danbury,
and some place immediately in the rear of the Army – all the supplies coming
on from the Eastward to be deposited at Danbury – all down the North River at
Fish Kill – all from Pensylvania and the Southward to be crs’d over at Kings
ferry and deposited at or in the rear of the Camp – To protect the
Communication thro’ the Jersies – a Division to be posted at or near the
Clove – one regiment of which to be at <?> – [inserted:
[struck: part of a]] a brigade to be
posted at the Continental Village or Peeksill [struck: and two Regiments of which to be posted at] [inserted:
and] Kings Ferry with some Artillery – a Redoubt to be thrown up with Battery
on each side [inserted: of the River]
to guard against a suprize – The Communication thus guarded from the Southward
would afford ample security to all supplies being forwarded. [struck: The
goodness of] the road [struck: thro’
the Jersies] below the the Mountains thro the Jersies being so much better than
above and  Country abound with much more Forage will be sufficient
inducements to perfer the road thro morris Town than that the upper road this
sufizes – The road from Kings ferry to Ridgefield is very tolerable – I
should perfer the above position to any other that I have heard propos’d and I
think the only objection than can be made to it, is the Subsistence which upon a
nearer examination and experience could be found to be very practicab<l>e
– The posts in the highlands will be unatachated in Winter, Indeed to render
that matter absolutely certain, [struck:
a couple] two additiona<l> regiments or a brigade might be posted at the
Continental Village or Peeks Kill – [struck:
disposition would afford an apparent and real security to Connecticut, and from
the exertions of that state they are entitled to every protection in our power.
– it would secure a much greater proportion of this state than if we took post
at Fish Kill or in the mountains near it.
is another consideration [struck: what
in wh] in which there is considerable weight – The officers of the Army are
allowed but one ration. every body
knows most of them do not constantly subsist on it  It is expected that they
get Refreshment from the adjacent Country.
let them be cut off from this advantage and oblig’d to subsist on their
one ration [struck: and they will soon
become discontented] [inserted:
immers’d amid [struck: might
<?>] mountains] of snow & Ice [struck:
as] such as the highlands. They [struck:
The Consequence of which will be ] will be soon discontented.
Resignations will prevail. &
each resignation of a good officer at this time will be an irreparable loss –
very few will [struck: at this period]
[inserted: now] enter the army.
When they are certain it is the high road to poverty & when they can
make immense fortunes [struck: out of]
[inserted: in] Trade.
Country [struck: contiguous]
contiguous to the highlands is barren and produces but little, that about Fish
Kill is exhausted – The Country near Ridgefield is plentiful and unexhausted.
“Whether [struck: it] [inserted: the
Army] shall be distributed [struck:
& where ?] into Cantonments
& in what particular manner”?
opinion is against the Army being distributed, [struck: for the] other than as above and for the reasons given.
“What precautions shall be adopted in either case [inserted:
to shelter the troops [struck: and
provide]] to provide subsistence [struck:
and <?>] both of forage & provision?”
can best be answered by the Commossaries of Provision & of Forage.
But I make now doubt were your Excellency to inform the Governor of this
state of the information which has been given to you, by of the large quantities
of grain secreted by the neutral and disafected part of the people of this
state” That he with the
Legislature would find some effective method with the assistance of the Army to
draw forth those hidden [struck:
<?>] [inserted: Stores –] –
Respect to forgage – The horses of the Artillery and baggage Waggons – and
the [struck: a] great part of the
Cavalry to be sent to in this state Connecticut, and the Jersies –
5th] We can shelter the troops in the same manner as last Year, with some
additional advantages [struck: of
size] [inserted: of] boards for the doors & which I should supposed
might be procur’d. I am pretty
confident that a position which would afford sufficient mobility  might be
found near Ridgefield –
An opinion &ce
Octo 19th. 1778