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Letter from Henry Knox, July 8, 1782

TRANSCRIPT GLC 2437.09.028

Henry Knox.  Autograph letter draft signed: New Windsor, to George Washington, 1782 July 08.  4 p. + doc.


New Windsor 8 July 1782


[inserted - different hand: H.K. to Genl. Washington]




Deeply impres’d with the importance of West point to the existence of the United States, I have with [struck: for] [inserted: the] approbation of your Excellency earnestly endeavor’d from its earliest state as a fortification, to have it & its dependencies as amply furnished with Cannon and military stores of all kinds as could possibly be spared from other uses.  But after every exertion for this purpose, still there remains a very capital deficiency, owing principally to a want of money to transport the necessary articles.


I have in the enclosed paper exhibited to your Excellency, in a comprehensive view the actual state of the ordnance and stores, at West point, and of the articles wanted to complete the number of rounds specified for each.  Cannon and mortars It is necessary to remark, that if it were possible for all the [struck: cannon and mortars] [inserted: Artillery] to be employed at the same time, the ammunition requested would scarcely answer for a siege of ten days.  But it is not probable that more than half could be in service at the same moment, which would render this [2] [inserted: the quantity] sufficient for twenty days, indeed there must be a peculiar combination, to require more than the service of one third. [struck: at a time]


A great proportion of the ten inch shells are at mount hope and hibernia Furnaces in Jersey, distant between fifty and sixty miles, and also a large number of the shot.  The furnaces at Salisbury in Connecticut and mount hope are in blast for the public, from these it is probable almost the whole of the deficiencies could be drawn, and the remainder if any, to be brought from [struck: Philadelphia] Pennsylvania.  The powder is at Springfield, and can be brought from thence to Claveracts by [inserted: a] communication  not very long nor difficult.


The aggregate of the deficiencies may at a rough calculation, amount to about one thousand tons, The transportation, taking into consideration the vicinity of Salisbury to Hudson’s-River and the probable quantities to be obtained from thence, compared with the probable quantities to be procur’d from Pennsylvania and Springfield may be averaged at about fifty miles which at [strike-out] two shilling and five pence per ton for each mile would amount to six thousand two hundred and fifty pounds Pennsylvania [3] currency.


From these facts being given, Your Excellency will be enabled to form a judgement whether even the present deranged state of our finances will justify so great a deficiency remaining any longer unsupplied should in any means of the Quarter Master General appear inadequate to the transportation, which perhaps can be effected only by an exertion sanctioned by your Excellency the manner of which you can best determine – I shall be happy to assist in any degree to remedy a defect of such magnitude, which if the Enemy should be capable of acting upon would involve great distress if not absolute ruin.


Being on the subject of stores necessary to be furnished, I must address myself to your Excellency on the preservation of those in possession and of what may be obtained.  It appears [struck:  from] [inserted: by] invariable experience that the <?> in the interior, and exterior works of Fort Clinton are improper for the deposit of powder for any length of time.  This is the uniform report of all the Artillery officers who have had the immediate charge of the Magazines and confirmed [4] by my own observation. The dampn[ess] in those places is inveterate, and cannot be expec but by a long exposure to the dry[struck: ing] winds, This renders the necessity inevitable, of erecting Stone magazines above ground, in different parts of the Garrison, properly secur’d from danger, or suffering the alternative of having the ammunition entirely ruined.  It is necessary to have three of these for the Garrison, each capable of [struck: holding] containing two thousand barrels of powder.  and another of equal size for the reception of the fixed Ammunition [struck: of the Cannon and muskets.] Besides [struck: these] [inserted: the Magazines] there are wanting stores for small arms and accoutrements, & the implements & apparatus of the ordnance, and a large laborers  At present [struck: all these things] [inserted: the Arms musket & Cannon ammunition implements &c] are in great confusion, being huddled together in wretched buildings incapable of resisting the effects of bad weather.  This is the reason that more arms and ammunition are annualy damaged than, the expence of ampl<e> buildings would amount to; [struck: also] & the chance of accidents is greatly multiplied


I am constrained to bring this matter [inserted: to] your Excellencys view.  I have not been wanting in my endeavor to have or affected by other means, but my person has been unequal to the object.  I sincerely hope that you will examine into the posiblty of my request, [strike-out] and <?> measures as you may think [struck: proper] necessary.


[inserted at margin:  I have the honor to be with the
highest esteem and respect, your
Excellency’s most obed servt
H Knox.


B. G. Commanding the Artilleries.


His Excellency General Washington.]


To His Exy Gen. Washington
9 July 1782