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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3

To Samuel and Daniel Hughes
RTP Hughes, Samuel Hughes, Daniel
Sr., Philada. Augt. 24. 1776

Yours which I recd. by the bearer I showed to Govr. Hopkins & we were of opinion that at so short notice we could not determine the size & No. of each Cannon. The Opinion of Congress Should be had, & there was not time for that, but I do not see that you need be in the least hindred for doubtless there will be wanted cannon of all the sizes. If your preparations should be applied towards making Cannon of the largest Sizes mentioned I believe it woud be profitable; from the good Success you have had of making long 18 pounders I have great Expectations that 272you will furnish us with good 32 & 24 pounders. I believe the length you mention are right for battery Guns. They are 19 diameters. By the Question in yr. letter I understand you to refer to Cannon to be made in the new furnace you mean to build. If you expect to be able soon to make Cannon for Congress in the Furnace you now have (beside those you are about making for the Frigate) you will please to let us know it soon & we will give an Answer to that particuarly. I heartily wish you Success in this Undertaking & am yr. hble. Svnt.,


P:S If you write on this Subject, please to add these words to the Direction (of the Cannon Committee)1 So that So that should I be absent it may be Opened by the Cmttee.

Dft. ; internal address: “To Saml. & Daniel Hughes at Baltimore Annapolis per John Simkins”; endorsed; letter of October on verso.


Parentheses here replace brackets in the manuscript letter.

From Henry Knox
Knox, Henry RTP
Dear Sir, New York Augt. 25 1776

I received your favor of the 22 instant Respecting the buisness of casting Cannon &c.

I have repeatedly press’d it upon Mr. Byers to make the tryal of wood in the air furnace in lieu of Sea Coal. He says that the river having been stop’d by the men of war dry wood was not to be procur’d, and his time being taken up so much in endevering to finish the Howitzers he had undertaken. He thinks that the air furnace now building at Philadelphia would be the most proper of any place he has been to for making the experiment with wood. He has been to the smelting furnace at Rariton and finds it will not do as they do not flux above 300 lb. metal at once. I think considering the Circumstances of this City he had better not attempt to cast any more here. I have this day sent him to Newark to veiw the Air furnace there and if it will answer I will let you know as soon as I see him again. If it would do I think he had better engage as many hands as he can any ways work with, and drive on the buisness in the large way. 273He then can go to work immediately on the peices you mention.

We have engag’d at Rariton the Copper that was there but not yet deliver’d amounting to
at this place 4000
of the old stock not yet workd up 1200
I shall endevor to procure as much more as possible. I hope you will do the same at Philadelphia. The Congress mortar will yet stand for small charges. I have His Excellency has sent to Boston for 2 large thirteen Inch mortars & when they arrive I propose the Congress shall change its form. I should be sorry not to have so cogent an argument as a thirteen Inch Shell to salute Lord Howe. The want of it woud. be a deficiency of Respect, especially to so polite a man. You undoubtedly are inform’d that the emeny landed on long Island last Thursday, the very place of any here abouts that I should have pray’d for them to make their descent. There was no opposition to their landing owing to the distance of our works; the place is a flat level county a considerable distance down the Island and for five or six miles to within 3 miles of our works where it is hilly uneven Ground, full of woods, and fine passes. From our works to this place the Ground is broken and woody & in the Woods are plac’d large parties of troops. The Works are good, & well supplied with every requisite to make a good defence. From this veiw of things I think we are to expect great advantages from our army. There is one alley which is General Greens being unfit for Duty. Poor Man he has been very sick. I thank God he now is upon the Recovery. It is to this man if God spares his Life that america is to look up to for great actions. He has a solid judgement and a Liberal view of things; a penetrating mind & magnanimous spirit. General Sullivan1 Commands there at present and under him Generals Nixon Parsons & Heard.2 The post is important for if we lose it New York follows. They have continual Skirmishes in which I think the prince of Hesse must be a considerable gainer. One of his subjects has been knock’d over and we get his body for which his master will receive thirty crowns banco3 three wounded men makes one killd, some considerable number must have been wounded so I suppose for two days skirmishing this said prince of Hesse will Receive for kill’d and wounded two or three hundred Crowns banco—a good way of growing Rich.4 I think the important day must be at hand on which if we shall be victorious a 274dieu eternally adieu Britain. In one of these Skirmishes yesterday we had a good officer mortally wounded, a Colo. Martin from the Jersies.5 I am Dear Sir with Respect and Affection Your very Hbl. Ser.

Henry Knox

RC ; addressed: “Honorable Robert T. Paine Esqr. M.C. Philadelphia”; endorsed; postal stamps: “FREE,” “N*York, Aug: 26.”


Gen. John Sullivan (1741–1795), a New Hampshire lawyer, served in the First Continental Congress. Congress appointed Sullivan a brigadier general in the Continental Army in June 1775, and he served through the siege of Boston. In March 1776 he was assigned to the army invading Canada and succeeded to its command following the death of Gen. John Thomas. Later, the British captured Sullivan at Brooklyn Heights, but he was eventually exchanged and returned to service. Although often under criticism for his lack of military expertise, Sullivan nonetheless remained in command positions until his resignation in November 1779. He returned to the Continental Congress (1780–1781) and served New Hampshire as attorney general (1782–1786) and president (governor, 1786, 1787, 1789). He was a brother of James Sullivan, who succeeded RTP as attorney general in Massachusetts ( ANB ).


John Nixon (1727–1815) and Samuel Holden Parsons (1737–1789) were both promoted to brigadier general in the Continental Army on Aug. 9, 1776, and were serving under Gen. John Sullivan along with Nathaniel Heard, commissioned as brigadier general of the New Jersey militia on Feb. 12, 1776. Parsons was a Harvard graduate and before the war practiced law in Connecticut (Boatner, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, 808–809, 833; Heitman, Historical Register, 283).


A term used to indicate the bank money of account in certain places, as distinguished from the current money, or currency, when the latter had been depreciated from the earlier value retained by bankers in calculating exchanges with foreign countries ( OED ).


The first Hessian troops anchored below Staten Island on Aug. 12, and within two years provided a third of the British forces in America. Friedrich II, Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel (1720–1785), King George III’s uncle by marriage, was one of several German princes who hired out troops to serve in foreign armies. See Rodney Atwood, The Hessians: Mercenaries from Hessen-Kassel in the American Revolution (Cambridge, 1980).


Col. Ephraim Martin recovered from his wounds (The Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, 6:131).