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Henry Knox

Revolutionary War Leader, Close Friend. Adviser to Washington

Henry Knox joined the Colonial Army in 1775 and saw action in nearly every important engagement during the Revolutionary War from Bunker Hill to Yorktown. He served as U.S. Secretary of War before and during the administration of President George Washington with whom he developed a close friendship. ■ Henry Knox was born July 25, 1750, in Boston, the seventh of ten sons. His mother was a Campbell and his forbears on both sides came to America from Scotland by way of Ulster and the West Indies. ■ On the death of his father in 1762, he got a job in a Boston bookstore. In 1771 he opened his own bookstore and studied military science in his spare time. He joined the local militia at 18, and when war broke out he enlisted in the American Army in time to fight at Bunker Hill. ■ He supervised the field operation where Washington crossed the Delaware to surprise the Hessians on Christmas night in 1776. As a result, he was promoted to brigadier general before he was 27. He was with Gen. Washington at Valley Forge and fought skillfully in the battles of Monmouth, Brandywine, and Germantown. ■ Knox forced British General Howe to evacuate Boston, took part in the Battle of Yorktown, and was present with Washington at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis. ■ On Washington’s recommendation, Knox was promoted to major general after the war. In 1782 he was appointed to head the military academy at West Point. He organized the Society of the Cincinnati to perpetuate the friendships developed by Revolutionary Army officers and to assist those in need of help. ■ He retired from public life to Montpelier, his estate at Thomaston, Maine, in 1794 where he died October 25, 1806.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546