On 2 July 1775, in the afternoon, Gen. George Washington and Gen. Charles Lee arrived in Cambridge and sat down with Gen. Artemas Ward to shift the command of the American army. On 3 July, as these soldiers’ diaries show, Washington and Lee visited the fortifications and camps on the north wing of the American siege line. The next day they were at Cambridge since they met some Gen. Nathanael Greene’s Rhode Island troops there.
And on 5 July, Washington made the acquaintance of a young man who would become one of his closest and most loyal associates.
That man (shown here, a few years later) was Henry Knox, then a twenty-four-year-old bookseller who had made his way out of Boston with his new wife Lucy, daughter of Massachusetts’s royal Secretary, Thomas Flucker. In late June, Knox volunteered to help lay out fortifications for the provincial troops. He had never been in a siege, and his military experience was limited to a few years as a lieutenant drilling Boston’s militia grenadier company. But Knox had read a lot about fortifications.
Early on the morning of 6 July, Henry wrote to Lucy in Worcester from Capt. Lemuel Childs’s house at Roxbury. The previous day, he was excited to report, his work had caught the eyes of two very important men:
Yesterday, as I was going to Cambridge, I met the generals, who begged me to return to Roxbury again, which I did. When they had viewed the works, they expressed the greatest pleasure and surprise at their situation and apparent utility, to say nothing of the plan, which did not escape their praise.By the end of the year Washington and the Massachusetts delegates to the Continental Congress, particularly John Adams, had gotten Knox installed as colonel of the American artillery regiment, replacing Col. Richard Gridley. Within a couple of years Knox was a general, and later he served as U.S. Secretary of War under the Confederation and then under the new federal government’s first President.