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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to Alexander McDougall

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01999 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: West Point, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 12 March 1783 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 34.5 x 20.8 cm.

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Summary of Content: Written by Major General Knox to General McDougall. Says he wrote a letter to McDougall on 3 March. Says the officers were quiet at that point, but that their impatience and unhappiness is coming to a crescendo now. Makes a reference to the first Newburgh Address, which had been making the rounds among the officers. Reports that it asked for a meeting of general and field officers. Says that "The Commander in chief has requested the meeting to be postponed untill next Saturday." Says he does not know the influence of the letters on the officers as the ice in the Hudson has kept him from travelling or hearing news. Says the officer want to do something to obtain justice though and that "What will be the result God Knows." In reference to half-pay pensions says "I know not how by any violence we can obtain a settlement of accounts." Goes on to discuss the implications of the Newburgh letters and the upcoming meeting of officers. Post references McDougall's letter of 27 February, which appears to have sent bad news. Hopes the army will not take matter into their own hands.

Full Transcript: [draft]
West Point 12 March 1783

my dear friend. my last to you was on the 3d instant the officers were then quiet, but their impatience [struck: again] & unhappiness again appear manifest ...- [struck: some] papers [inserted & struck: by] [inserted: [unkind] [illegible] [whom]] have been circulated through the Cantonment [sic] requesting all the Genl & field officers [inserted: and the officers present company] to meet at the public building [struck: accompanied] on yesterday accompanied by an address [struck: almost] in the language of despair. The Commander in Chief has requested the meeting to be postponed untill next Saturday.
I am unacquainted what influence the papers have had above, as the ice has been [struck: such] now in such quantities as to prevent all passing by water. But this is certain that the officers expectations are [struck: pretty much] at an end, [struck: and] [inserted: that] they wish to do something [struck: that will] [inserted: to] obtain [struck: them] that justice, which they [text loss: have to] hitherto from a variety of causes been denied them, or delayed in such a manner as to operate like a denial. What will be the [2] result God knows. I sincerely hope we shall not be influenced to Rations, which may be contrary to [strikeout] [inserted: our] uniform cause of service for eight years.
The men who by their illiberality and injustice drive the Army to the very brink of destruction, ought to be punished with severity - The measures we can take to remedy our evils are not known to me. I know not how by any violence we can obtain a settlement of accounts, and [inserted: have] the half pay [plaicd] upon proper principles, except by the applications we have made.
Indeavers my dear friend are made to convince the obdurate, of the awful evils which may arise, from postponing a decision on the subjects of our address
As I wish to stand as fair in your mind as you do in mine I shall [inserted:
in the confidence of friendship [inserted: refrain] what] mention a circumstance which has given me [struck: some] pain - some considerable time past, [strikeout] [inserted: a] person to me wholly unknown, but [inserted: in] the fish kill papers [text loss] [3] [struck: concerning the custom] of exultation at the present state of the Army, in which after [struck: mentioning] the [Cantons of Newburg] was spoken of, West Point was mentioned [struck: with] in terms of undue approbation. the matter appeared to me at the time [strikeout] [inserted: trifling &] [illegible] [struck: & [ch] but] it seems however from a late paragraph [inserted: in the same paper] that it must have hurt the feelings of Gentlemen who commanded before me at this place. I can make no apology for [inserted: the] [struck: folly] [struck: folly] [inserted: folly] printer or printers [struck: have] [inserted: [illegible] &] I [struck: must] [inserted: illegible] be convinced that you [struck: cannot] [inserted and struck: put that] [strikeout] [inserted: must] suppose [strikeout] [inserted: this] a circumstance [struck: could not be agreeable to me] [inserted: is extremely disagreeable to me] - I mention that affair [struck: only that] to prevent any [struck: little minds for] "ear wigs" interrupting that honest and open communication, [inserted: between us] [strikeout] I hope will last for ever.
I am my Dear friend
your affectionate
I received a letter from our friend B. of the [struck: 22] [inserted: 27 ultimo] informing that the motion [struck: had] intended to be made had miscarried, for the people would take [strikeout] [alarm] against Congress. - If Congress hesitate, the Army must not sacrifice themselves. I hope [4] they will not.

[struck: from] To Genl McDougall
12 March 1783
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Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Newburgh ConspiracyRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryContinental ArmySoldier's PayFinancePensionsMutinyRebellionPresidentTravel

Sub Era:

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