Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of volumes kept by Henry Knox as a bookseller, Revolutionary War officer, and U.S. secretary of war, with some personal papers.

Biographical Sketch

Henry Knox (1750-1803) was a bookseller, Revolutionary War officer, and secretary of war from 1785-1794.

25 July 1750
Born in Boston, Mass., seventh son of William Knox (d. 1762) and Mary Campbell Knox (d. 1711).
29 July 1771
Opened bookstore in Boston.
June 1774
Married Lucy Flucker, daughter of Thomas Flucker, royal secretary of the province of Massachusetts Bay.
17 Nov. 1775
Commissioned colonel of the Regiment of Artillery by the Continental Congress.
17 Nov. 1775-17 Jan. 1776
Trek from Fort Ticonderoga to retrieve cannon to fortify Dorchester Heights.
Published "Hints for the Improvement of the Artillery of the United States."
Spring 1776
Fortified Manhattan Island, N.Y.
17 Mar. 1776
British evacuation of Boston.
25 Dec. 1776
Accompanied George Washington across the Delaware River.
Jan. 1777
Trenton-Princeton campaign.
Sep. 1777
Battle of Brandywine.
4 Oct. 1777
Battle at Germantown.
28 June 1778
Valley Forge and Battle of Monmouth.
Winter 1779
U.S. Military Academy at West Point established.
Oct. 1781
Yorktown campaign.
17 Oct. 1781
Cornwallis surrender.
Nov. 1781
Commissioned major general. Appointed secretary of war under the Confederation government.
Society of the Cincinnati established.
Appointed first secretary of war under the Constitution.
Retired to private life at mansion Montpelier at Thomaston, Me.
Died at Montpelier.


Callahan, North. Henry Knox: George Washington's General. New York: Rinehart, 1958.

Fuess, Claude M. "Henry Knox." Dictionary of American Biography. Ed. Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone. Vol. 10. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1937. 475-477.

Collection Description

This collection contains 17 volumes kept by Henry Knox as a bookseller, Revolutionary War officer, and U.S. secretary of war, as well as some personal papers. Volumes related to Knox's "London bookstore" in Boston consist of a wastebook and a letterbook. Among the Revolutionary War materials are Knox's diary of a journey from Fort Ticonderoga, N.Y.; three orderly books; and an undated volume of artillery exercises and experiments. One orderly book also contains orders for the 40th British Infantry Regiment during the New York City campaign. Papers from Knox's tenure as secretary of war include an account book of departmental expenditures and reports and instructions for diplomatic negotiations and treaties between the War Office and the Wabash, Creek, and Cherokee Indians. The collection also contains personal papers, including Knox's notes on the Muscongus (or Waldo) Patent lands in Waldoborough and Thomaston, Me.; his personal account books; and letters of his daughter Caroline Knox Swan (b. 1791).

This collection is not part of the Henry Knox papers on microfilm (P-17). Materials in this collection are not on microfilm with the exception of Knox's orderly books, diary, and bookseller materials, as noted in the Detailed Description of the Collection below.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the estate of David Greene Haskins, Jr., Apr. 1927.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Personal papers, 1736-1803

Box 1Vol. 1
Waldo, Samuel. Defence of the Title of the Late John Leverett Esq.; To a tract of land of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, commonly called Muscongus Lands, lying upon the St. George's, Muscongus, and Penobscott Rivers [with supplement]. [Boston], 1736.

This volume is Henry Knox's personal copy of Brigadier General Samuel Waldo's defense of John Leverett's claim to the Muscongus (or Waldo) Patent lands around Thomaston and Waldoborough, Me., which Henry Knox acquired from General Waldo through Knox's wife and Waldo's granddaughter, Lucy Flucker Knox. Included are discussions and purchase agreements with local Indians, issues of jurisdiction and defense responsibility with the Massachusetts Bay government, and legal history of the patent lands before and after the Utrecht Settlement of 1713. The supplement contains republished copies of deeds, titles, purchase agreements, and depositions pertinent to Leverett's claim as referred to in the text.

The second half of the volume contains Henry Knox's personal manuscript research findings and comments about the history of the patent after 1736, including land divisions and subdivisions and procurement of settlers for the lands in Europe by Waldo around 1738-1739. These notes are undated. Also included in the volume is a Massachusetts Senate resolve correcting a clerical error in a 1785 resolution about the Muscongus (or Waldo) Patent lands. The resolve, dated 1 Nov. 1788, is signed by John Hancock.

The original Massachusetts Senate resolve, 1 Nov. 1788, has been moved to Special Collections. A photocopy is available for use in this collection.

Visit to the Patent, 1788

These two notebooks contain information, in diary form, collected by Henry Knox in Thomaston and Waldoborough, Me., during his visit to his lands in the Muscongus (or Waldo) Patent to clarify questions of titles, claims, deeds, and land ownership disputes amongst the inhabitants. Included are comments on the lands' natural resources, inhabitants, future land purchases by current residents, town organization and incorporation, and road and bridge development and improvement. The notebooks also contain transcripts of census lists and tax collectors' documents and records, expenses incurred, and notes concerning individual residents.

Box 1Vol. 2
Notebook 1
Box 1Vol. 3
Notebook 2
Box 1Vol. 4
Cash received, 1789

This volume is Henry Knox's personal record of cash paid out in 1789, with receipts and acknowledgements from the recipients. Figures are registered in British pounds sterling and American dollars.

Box 1Vol. 5
Account book, 1 Jan. 1792-19 Jan. 1803

This volume contains a record of Henry Knox's personal debts.

II. Professional papers, 1771-1823

A. Revolutionary War papers, 1775-1781

Box 2Vol. 1
[Artillery exercises and experiments], undated

This volume contains a series of tables and charts, possibly transcribed from a published source for Brigadier General Henry Knox's use during his command of the Continental artillery in the American Revolution. Subjects include fuses, artillery practice, effective ranges, experimental results and timing, naval artillery, various field pieces, different types of shot, time/range determination, and diameter/gauge conversions.

Box 2Vol. 2
Diary of a journey from Fort Ticonderoga, 20 Nov. 1775-13 Jan. 1776

Henry Knox's manuscript journal and record book covers his travels from Fort Ticonderoga to obtain artillery for the fortification of Dorchester Heights during the Siege of Boston and the creation of a Continental artillery regiment. Entries describe his journey with cannons from Ticonderoga, through Albany and western Massachusetts to Westfield, Mass., four days before his arrival in Cambridge. Included are daily accounts of occurrences and progress, expenses incurred, labor costs, and correspondences sent.

Henry Knox's diary of a journey from Fort Ticonderoga is available in three alternate formats:

1. The diary was digitized as part of Massachusetts Historical Society's website "The Coming of the American Revolution, 1764-1776." View the web presentation here.
2. The diary was published in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, July 1876, pp. 321-326. The published edition contains entries from 1-26 Dec. 1775, which are no longer part of the original diary or on the microfilm.
3. The diary is available on the Henry Knox diary microfilm, P-95, 1 reel.

The original diary has been moved to Special Collections.

Box 2Vol. 3
[Orderly book], Crane's Continental Artillery Regiment, 6 Oct. 1776-7 Sep. 1777

This volume contains general, division, and brigade orders from Nathaniel Greene and General Henry Knox to Captain Benjamin of Frothingham's company of the Crane Continental Artillery Regiment at Morristown, N.J., and en route to Brandywine, Penn. Entries were written from 25 Mar.-22 Apr. 1777, 24 May-29 July 1777, 6-19 Aug. 1777, and 27 Aug.-7 Sep. 1777. Subjects include drills, preparations for battle, marching orders, artillery deployment in the camp, and personnel and ammunition reports.

The volume also contains general, division, brigade, and regimental orders for the British 40th Regiment under General James Grant while stationed in and around New York during the campaign for New York City, 6 Oct.-24 Nov. 1776 and 23-27 Dec. 1776. Orders relate to the organization and deployment of forces in preparation for New York engagements, courts-martial, duty assignments, discipline, and provisioning of troops.

Available on the Revolutionary War orderly books microfilm, P-394, reels 5 (Continental Army portion) and 6 (British portion).

Box 2Vol. 4
[Orderly book], Third Continental Artillery Regiment, 9 Aug. 1779-31 Mar. 1780

This volume contains general and brigade orders given by George Washington and Henry Knox concerning officers' commissions and pensions, announcements of American victories, marching orders, inspection of the army and guard boats for West Point, courts-martial, assignments of artillery units, and examination and repair of artillery ammunition. The orders were recorded by First Lieutenant Samuel Shaw at Morristown, N.J., and West Point, N.Y.

Available on the Revolutionary War orderly books microfilm, P-394, reel 5.

Box 2Vol. 5
[Orderly book], Corps of Artillery, Continental Army, 1 Jan.-8 Aug. 1781

This volume contains orders given by General George Washington, Major General Henry Knox, and Major General Lord Stirling concerning artillery reorganization and training in preparation for a rendezvous with Rochambeau, as well as watch orders for Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. The orders were kept at Dobbs Ferry and West Point, N.Y.

Available on the Revolutionary War orderly books microfilm, P-394, reel 5.

B. United States War Office papers, 1786-1790

Box 3Vol. 1
[Account of the War Office], [4 Jan. 1786-18 Aug. 1790]

This volume contains a daily list of expenditures, including department-by-department allocation and itemization of expenses during Henry Knox's administration of the War Office under Washington's administration.

Box 3Vol. 2
Indian Department No. 1: The Wabash Tribes, 15 June 1789

This report to President Washington, signed by Secretary of War Henry Knox, describes possible methods for assimilating the Wabash Indians, the expenses and diplomatic merit of each method, and the need to appease American demands for more land while keeping peace with the local tribes.

Box 3Vol. 3
Indian Department No. 2: Southern District; The Creeks, with an appendix, 1789

This report to President Washington, signed by Secretary of War Henry Knox, relates to the existing treaties between the state of Georgia and the Southern Indians and includes references back to 1787. The volume refers to dealings with George McGillveray, chief negotiator for the Creeks; his financial interests and holdings; and previous correspondences. Also included are instructions for the negotiation of a new agreement between the United States and the Creeks.

Box 3Vol. 4
Southern District: The Cherokees, 7 July 1789

This report to President Washington from Secretary of War Henry Knox concerns standing relations between the Cherokee Indians and Creek Indians (in and around the Ohio River) and frontier settlers, as well as relations among the Cherokees, Creeks, and the American government. Included are transcripts of documents, negotiation proceedings, correspondences between the federal government and its diplomatic representatives, and treaties in effect.

Box 3Vol. 5
Instructions [for Indian negotiations], ca. 1789

This volume contains instructions from the War Office under Henry Knox to Benjamin Lincoln, Cyrus Griffin, and David Humphries, commissioners plenipotentiary of the United States, for the negotiation of a treaty between the United States and the Indian tribes within U.S. borders south of the Ohio River.

C. Bookseller papers, 1771-1823

Cased Vol. 1
Henry Knox's wastebook, 22 July 1771-15 Apr. 1775

This volume contains a list of daily transactions and expenditures from Henry Knox's "London Bookstore" in Boston.

Available on the Henry Knox bookseller papers microfilm, P-467, 1 reel.

Cased Vol. 2
Letterbook, 8 Jan. 1774-9 Mar. 1775

This letterbook contains copies of Henry Knox's outgoing letters related to his bookstore. Included at the end of the volume are letters written by Knox's daughter Caroline Knox Swan of Thomaston, Me., 29 Apr. 1822-13 Oct. 1823.

Available on the Henry Knox bookseller papers microfilm, P-467, 1 reel (Knox's letters only).

Preferred Citation

Henry Knox papers II, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Great Britain. Army. Infantry Regiment, 40th (1775-1783).
United States. Continental Army. Continental Artillery Regiment, Henry Knox's.
United States. Continental Army. Continental Artillery Regiment, 3rd (John Crane's).
United States. War Dept.


Account books--1771.
Account books--1786-1790.
Account books--1789.
Account books--1792-1803.
Booksellers and bookselling--Massachusetts--Boston.
Boston (Mass.)--History--Siege, 1775-1776.
Cherokee Indians.
Creek Indians.
Fort Ticonderoga (N.Y.).
Indians of North America--Government relations--1789-1869.
Indians of North America--Treaties.
Muscongus Patent (Me.).
Real property--Maine--Thomaston.
Real property--Maine--Waldoborough.
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Campaigns.
United States--History--1783-1815.
Waldo Patent (Me.).
West Point (N.Y.)--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.

Materials Removed from the Collection

The following item has been removed from the collection and cataloged with MHS printed materials:

United States Continental Congress, 1775. Rules and Articles, for the better government of the troops raised, or to be raised, and kept in pay by and at the joint expense of the twelve United Colonies of North America. Philadelphia, printed: Watertown, reprinted and sold by Benjamin Edes, 1775 (with a list of officers of Col. Henry Knox's regiment in manuscript following text).