1 October 2013
Henry Knox: Major-General and First Secretary at War
Henry Knox was an average man who through hard work and passion became a historical icon of war. Born in Boston in 1750, he and his parents William and Mary Knox struggled in poverty. While attending Boston Latin Grammar School in 1759, Henry’s father William passed away. Due to a poverty-stricken widowed mother and younger brother, Knox eventually left school to apprentice a bookbinder. By age 12 he became a clerk at a bookstore to help support his family. In 1771 at the age of 21, Knox opened his own book store called the London Book Store.
While Knox ran his own bookstore to support his family, he kept a personal interest in military strategy and matters. Picking up books of military science and strategy, Knox self-educated himself and became quite competent in the field. Making his interest and knowledge practical, he joined the local militia. In 1772 he cofounded the Boston Grenadier Corps where he served second in command. By 1775 when the American colonies and Great Britain were in intense disagreement, Knox’s rampart design at Roxbury was praised by General George Washington. Washington was impressed by Knox’s design and soon after appointed Knox as his Chief of Artillery. The General Henry Knox Museum states that he “earned a place in history in the winter of 1776 by carting sixty tons of captured cannon from Fort Ticonderoga in New York to Dorchester Heights, driving the British from Boston Harbor.” ().
Throughout the Revolutionary war Knox and Washington were side by side. Eventually, Washington saw it fit to appoint Knox Major-General. When the war was through Knox was officially appointed the first Secretary at War.
According to a biography in the Daughters of the American Revolution; Americana Collection “Henry Knox and George Washington were great friends as well as colleagues and often socialized together with their families.” () They ended up as life-long friends....
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