Henry Knox and the Siege at Boston, Research Proposal Example

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Research Proposal

Introduction

This paper addresses the contribution of Henry Knox during the American war of Independence and in particular the military campaign at the Siege of Boston. (N. Brooks)

Henry Knox was born in Boston and descended from Scottish-Irish immigrant background. His father was a ship’s Captain. He married Lucy Flader and they remained devoted to one another for life. Lucy being the daughter of a Boston loyalist. Knox established a substantial military career at the time of the revolutionary wars. He achieved particular notoriety at the Battle of Bunker hill where he was observed by General George Washington. The two became trusted friends and allies and Washington later promoted him to the rank of Colonel. He placed Knox in command of the siege at Boston in order to retrieve the captured canons of Fort Ticonderoga. (American Silversmiths 2010).

Arguments

Supporting Arguments

  • Brilliant military campaign capturing canons from the enemy, transporting them over harsh terrain and placing them in a strategic position at Boston (Drew)
  • Pivotal course of action in the War of Independence
  • Galvanised his position as a Military leader in the War of Independence

Literature Review

The Siege at Boston

It was Knox who suggested to Washington the important significance of moving the canons from the recently captured Fort Ticonderoga.  During the siege of Boston, it was Knox who advised Washington about capturing the canons of Ticonderoga and deploying these against the British army.  Washington commissioned Knox to retrieve them and he led an expedition bringing the canons on ox drawn gun carriages to Albany, by way of the west bank of the Hudson River. From there he travelled east through the Berkshires and ultimately to Boston. (Callahan 2010)

They managed to move 59 canons and mortars weighing over 60 tons. On arrival at Boston Washington’s army had captured the Heights of Dorchester. Here they placed the canons in a heavily fortified position where they were in range of the British Fleet. This resulted in the British Army withdrawing to nearby Halifax on March 17th, 1776. Following the victory at Boston, Knox was sent to Rhode Island and Connecticut to oversee the construction of fortifications (Hickman 2010).  Knox continued to have additional military successes and soon became Washington’s chief of artillery. After overseeing the campaign that resulted in moving artillery over the Delaware River Washington promoted Knox to the rank of Brigadier General.  (Awesome Stories 2010)

The Significance of the Siege

Getting the mortars and canons to the top of Dorchester Heights was nothing short of a miracle and inspirational leadership.  Without getting this fortification and emplacement it is highly unlikely that they would have forced the British out of Boston. This would have resulted in further decline of the continental troop’s morale and increased levels of desertion. The standoff would have continued and ultimately the siege ending in failure. It also strengthened General Washington’s position to make further advances and he now had a senior officer that understood the importance and placement of artillery (Ohlhous 2010)

Knox later became the inspiration behind the Springfield Rifle Company Knox returned to Massachusetts with the goal of improving weapons production. Traveling to Springfield, he established the Springfield Armoury which operated for the rest of the war and became a key producer of American weapons for almost two centuries.  (Hickman, 2010).  When Washington resigned in 1783 Knox became the most senior officer of the continental army.  Congress appointed him Secretary of War in 1785 and he later returned in Washington’s Presidential cabinet. A staunch supporter of the new Constitution, he remained in his post until becoming Secretary of War in George Washington’s first cabinet in 1789. As secretary, he oversaw the creation a permanent navy, a national militia, and the construction of coastal fortifications. (Hickman, 2010).

On the way to collection of the guns at Fort Ticonderoga the patriots had another coup by capturing the British Brigantine Nancy enroute to London. To their amazement the ship had the following inventory:

  • 2,000 muskets
  • 105,000 Flints
  • 31 tons of Musket shot
  • 3000 rounds for 12 lb. canon
  • 4000 rounds for 6lb canon

Knox added this to the inventory with the canons to be transported to Boston.  (Brooks 2007). This was of significant consequence because the army at Boston was running short of ammunition and supplies.  So in addition to the canon this had a big impact in terms of lifting the morale of the men.  Knox was later responsible for the founding of the US Navy and establishing the Military Academy at West Point.  Knox later sanctioned the American navy and promoted the creation of a military academy at West Point.  (Puls 2010)

Conclusion

Henry Knox was an outstanding military leader with a strong relationship with General George Washington.  Some have made comparisons with the relationship that General Lee had with Stonewall Jackson in the later Army of North Virginia (American Civil War).  Knox was a great military campaigner and understood the importance of logistics and use of artillery in support of armed incursions.  Knox was a very honourable man and there are many examples that demonstrate his high degree of ethical and moral behaviour.  (Fact Index 2010).

Works Cited

American Silversmiths. Henry Knox. 2010. 30 3 2012 <http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~silversmiths/makers/silversmiths/121084.htm>.

Awesome Stories. Artillery transportation from Ticonderoga. 2010. 30 3 2012 <http://www.awesomestories.com/assets/Artillery-Transport-from-Ticonderoga>.

Brooks, N. Henry Knox: A Soldier of the Revolution, Major-General in the Continental . New York: Cosmo, 2007.

Brooks, Noah. Henry Knox: A Soldier of the Revolution, Major-General in the Continental . New York: Cosimo, 2007.

Drew, Bernard A. Henry Knox and the Revolutionary War Trail in Western Massachusetts. New York: McFrarland & Co, 2012.

Fact Index. Henry Knox. 8 10 2010. 30 3 2012 <http://www.fact-index.com/h/he/henry_knox.html>.

Hickman, K. American Revolution: General Henry Knox. 8 12 2010. 30 3 2012 <http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/army/p/knox.ht>.

Ohlhous, H.C. Gen Henry Knox Trail. 10 8 2010. 30 3 2012 <http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=26921>.

Puls, M. Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution . New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010.

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