A Noble Train of Artillery (1775-1776)


~by James Still ~

Lacking artillery in the Continental Army, Washington approved Henry Knox’s bold plan to transport 60 Tons of captured British artillery from Ft. Ticonderoga to Boston.  During the dead of winter and over the course of 56 days, Colonel Knox transported the artillery 300 miles across swamps, lakes, rivers and hills.  The artillery’s presence in Boston forced the British to quickly retreat.  Here are a few entries from Knox’s tattered Diary:

Dec ?, 1775  “We had not been out above an hour when the wind sprung up very fresh & directly against us — the men after rowing exceedingly hard for above four hours seemed desirous of going ashore, to make a fire to warm themselves, I readily [consented] knowing them to be exceedingly weary.”

Dec 13, 1775  “… Received advice that… the Scow [flat-bottom boat] had gotten from off the rock on which she had run… & on the same Night the wind being exceeding high the sea had beaten her in such a manner that she had sunk…”

Dec 26, 1775  “In the morning we sat out & got about 2 miles when our horses tired and refused to go any farther — I was then Obliged to undertake a very fatiguing march of about 2 miles in snow three feet deep…  almost perished with the Cold”

Jan 7, 1776  “The Cannon… fell into the River notwithstanding the precautions we took, & in its fall broke All the Ice for 14 feet around It.”

Jan 8, 1776  “Went on the Ice About 8 o’Clock in the morning &… were so lucky as to Get the Cannon out of the River, owing to the assistances the good people of the City of Albany gave, In return for which we christened her the ‘The Albany'”

James Still (Jan 2016), RetraceOurSteps.com

“… It is not easy to conceive the difficulties we have had in getting [the canon] over the lake, owing to the advanced season of the year and contrary winds…  I hope in sixteen or seventeen days’ time to be able to present to your Excellency a noble train of artillery.”  Henry Knox, Letter to George Washington, December 17, 1775

“I was in hopes that we should have been able to have had the cannon at Cambridge by this time…  These inevitable delays pain me exceedingly…”  Henry Knox, Letter to George Washington, January 5, 1776

“Should we wander from [The Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801