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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3


From Henry Knox

29 June 1776

From Joshua Howell

5 July 1776
From Henry Knox
Knox, Henry RTP
Dear Sir, New York July 3. 1776

My servants is not punctual or at the post Office they do not know what Letters they have come. Twice I have recived your favors after the post was gone. I have spoken to Mr. Byers, the Cannon founder here, and he says that he can procure brass enough to cast 12—6 pounders each weighing about 600. We have two brass six pounders that weigh about 4.2.10 each they were taken at St. Johns. This same man has cast 14. six pounders sometime since 8 for the Continent and 6 for this Colony. The price he had for those were 3/9 per lb. New York Currency. That is much cheaper than in England where I beleive they have 3/6 Sterg. per lb. He says that metal is so scarce now that he cannot do them under 4/6 or 4/8 New York per lb. Even this is much Cheaper than could be imported from England. The Continent will reap an infinite advantage by having light Artillery. If he is to cast them I think he had better Come to Philadelphia or go to Connecticut & build an air Furnace there. The present Furnace is upon the river where I should suppose the buildings to be precarious. You ask my opinion concerning the proper Calibre, for Iron feild peices. 3 pounders Iron are certainly the best on account of their weight. I do not remember to have ever seen an Iron 6 pounder weigh dbl testified less than 1500. 3 pounders may be made to weigh about 600. I do not know that any feild peices were ever cast at Newark but The owner of the Furnace told me that he will undertake to cart any cannon under that will weigh less than 3000. An Iron 12 Dble. Testified will weight about 27.00. The Additional cost of the brass provided the metal is to be had is so vastly counterbalanc’d by their utility than I should think the Expence would be hardly a Question.

You have undoubtedly heard of the approach of the enemy to us. They by information have about 7 or 8 men of war 4 of about 50 Guns 1 frigates and 2 or three Sloops—about 120 topsail vessells—30 or 40 Sloops and schooners—it does not appear that they have any reinforcement since they left Halifax Boston. They seem timid or cautious. Yesterday in the forenoon they appeard Resolute and part of the fleet came through the narrows and seemd as if they intended to come up to us. they The greater part are now at Staten Island where they have landed some men. The Cattle I beleive are mostly drove off. The people ought 240also to have been driven away if the Island cannot be defended. We are pretty well prepar’d for them and wish they may us an opportunity of deciding the British pretensions to America. As they are cautious so should we be, our troops are in good spirits and generally most devoutly long for a good opportunity of Retrieving the honor of american Arms. Unfortunately, not successful in Canada—let the June be as it may we are determin’d to do our duty. I am Sir Your Most Hble. Servt.

Henry Knox

My time is so fully taken up that I have no time even to mend my pen. My penknife is lost. Excuse my scrawl.

RC ; addressed: “Honorable Robert Treat Paine Esqr. Phildelphia”; postal stamps: “FREE,” “New-York: July 3.”