J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Henry Knox “after about three hours perseverance”

Here’s a link to the podcast recording of my conversation with Bradley Jay of WBZ last month about Col. Henry Knox and his mission to Lake Champlain to obtain more cannon for the Continental siege lines.

And here’s a timely question about Knox: Was 12 Jan 1776 the last day that he kept his diary of his mission to bring back cannon from the Lake Champlain forts?

The diary pages are visible on the Massachusetts Historical Society’s website. The last entries (pages 24-26) show Knox dealing with the Berkshire Mountains:
10th [January] reach’d [No 1,?] after have Climb’d mountains from which we might almost have seen all the Kingdoms of the Earth —

11th [January] went 12 miles thro’ the Green Woods to Blanford

It appear’d to me almost a miracle that people with heavy loads should be able to get up & down such Hills as Are here with any thing of heavy loads —

11th at Blanford we overtook the first division who had tarried here untill we came up—and refus’d going any further On accott that there were no snow beyond five or six miles further in which space there was the tremendous Glasgow or Westfield mountain to go down—but after about three hours perseverance & hiring two teams of oxen—they agreed to go
On the next page are a couple of receipts, the second apparently about those “two teams of oxen” that Knox hired:
Blanford Jany. 13. 1776—
Recd of Henry Knox eighteen shillings Lawful money for Carrying a Cannon weighing 24.3 p from this Town to Westfield being 11 Miles —

Solomon Brown
It looks to me like Knox arrived in Blandford on the 11th, catching up with men and horses he’d sent ahead. That evening or the 12th, he learned that those teamsters didn’t want to proceed because the lack of snow on the ground meant the road would be rough. In addition, they faced the steep slopes now in the town of Russell.

Knox overcame that problem with “three hours” of arguing plus two ox teams from Solomon Brown (1737-1786), a war veteran and a committee member for Blandford. Brown’s gravestone appears here at Find a Grave. I’m guessing that took place on 12 January, Knox remained in Blandford awaiting another set of men, and Brown returned to sign the receipt on 13 January.

And there are no more dated entries in that notebook.

TOMORROW: Blandford in the eighteenth century.

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