Henry Knox, an American general, born in Boston, July 25, 1750, died in Thomaston, Me., Oct. 25, 1806. He was of Scotch and Irish Presbyterian stock, and his father came from St. Eustatius, one of the Dutch West India islands. He received the common school education of his time in Boston, where he became a thriving bookseller, his shop being a favorite resort of cultivated persons. He was an officer in Major Dawes's corps of grenadiers, and by practice and study became an adept in military science. He married Miss Lucy Fluker, a daughter of the provincial secretary. Shortly before the battle of Bunker Hill he managed to escape the guards of Gen. Gage with his wife, and to make his way to Cambridge with his sword carefully concealed in the folds of her dress. He was actively engaged in that battle as a volunteer aid to Gen. Ward, reconnoitring the movements between the heights and the headquarters; and upon his reports Ward issued his orders. He soon attracted Washington's attention by his skill as an engineer in planning and constructing fortifications, and as an artillerist. Attached to the regiment of artillery which had been formed under the veteran Gridley, he was soon raised to its command.
He was sent in quest of cannon and ordnance stores, and succeeded in bringing to camp early in 1776 a long train of sledges bearing more than 50 cannon, mortars, and howitzers, which proved of great service in the siege and bombardment of Boston. He subsequently took the management of all the artillery in New York. He was almost the last officer to leave the city, remaining so late that he escaped capture only by seizing a boat and making his way by water. He distinguished himself in the New Jersey campaign, and on Jan. 2, 1777, his well directed cannonade repulsed Cornwal-lis in repeated attempts to pass the Assumpink. He shared in the brilliant action at Princeton on the following day. Having been made by congress brigadier general of the artillery, he was sent to Massachusetts to expedite the raising of a battalion of artillery, and became the organ of communication with the executive council of the state concerning the military events of that year. At the battle of Brandy-wine the fire of the artillery against Knyphau-sen at Chad's ford was maintained by Knox with vigor from morning till evening.
The failure at Germantown was partly attributed to his tenacious adherence to the military maxim never to leave an enemy's fort in the rear, causing the pursuit to be abandoned at Chew's garrisoned house. After the fall of Fort Mifflin, Nov. 15, 1777, he was sent with De Kalb and St. Clair to provide for the security of Red Bank. He passed the winter at Valley Forge, laboring to improve the discipline and efficiency of the army, and was prominently engaged in the hot battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778. In the general order after the battle Washington had "the satisfaction to inform Gen. Knox and his officers that the enemy had done them the justice to acknowledge that no artillery could be better served than theirs." Knox accompanied Washington and Lafayette to Hartford to mark out their future plans of cooperation, and returned by way of West Point, where he sat on the court martial for the trial of Andre. In the ensuing winter he was again sent to New England to gather men and means for the next campaign. During the heaviest part of the cannonade at Yorktown, Knox was in the grand battery by the side of Washington. He was now advanced by congress to the rank of major general, and was commissioned with Gouverneur Morris to arrange the exchange of prisoners and settlement of expenses.
He was placed in command at West Point after the announcement of the cessation of hostilities, and on him devolved the delicate task of disband-ment. He was appointed to arrange the surrender of New York with Sir Guy Carleton. After the peace he was a candidate with Greene and Lincoln for the secretaryship of war, in which office he succeeded the latter in March, 1785. There was no separate department for the navy, and its duties therefore devolved chiefly on him. He retained his department after the organization of the new government. In December, 1795, following the example of Hamilton, he retired from the cabinet, and removed to St. Georges in Maine for the improvement of an estate, acquired partly in the right of his wife and partly by purchase, upon which he expended large amounts. When in 1798 the army was reorganized at the prospect of war with France, his feelings were deeply wounded by the cabinet's reversal of President Adams's order of appointments, and the precedence assigned to Hamilton in the new military arrangements.
His proposal was to serve as aide-de-camp to Washington. - See "Life and Correspondence of Henry Knox," by Francis S. Drake (Boston, 1874).