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Henry Knox

Born: 25-Jul-1750
Birthplace: Boston, MA
Died: 25-Oct-1806
Location of death: Thomaston, ME
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Elm Grove Cemetery, Thomaston, ME

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Government

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: US Secretary of War, 1785-94

Military service: Boston Grenadier Corps (1772-75); Continental Army (1775-84)

American general and the first US Secretary of War, born in Boston of Scottish-Irish parentage, on 25th July 1750. He was prominent in the colonial militia and present at the Boston Massacre. He was employed in a bookstore and in 1771 he opened his own "London Book-Store" in Boston. He had read much of tactics and strategy, joined the Boston Grenadier Corps and later the Continental Army at the outbreak of the War of Independence, and fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, planned the defense of the camps of the army before Boston, and brought from Lake George and border forts much-needed artillery. At Trenton he crossed the Delaware River before the main body, and in the attack rendered such good service that he was made brigadier general and chief of artillery in the Continental Army on the following day. He was present at Princeton; was chiefly responsible for the mistake in attacking the "Chew House" at Germantown; urged New York as the objective of the campaign of 1778; served with efficiency at the Battles of Monmouth and Yorktown; and after the surrender of Cornwallis was promoted major general, and served as a commissioner on the exchange of prisoners. His services throughout the war were of great value to the American cause; he was one of George Washington's most trusted advisers, and he brought the artillery to a high degree of efficiency. After Washington's retirement, from December 1783 until June 1784 he was the senior officer of the United States Army. In April 1783 he had drafted a scheme of a society to be formed by the American officers and the French officers who had served in America during the war, serving as first Secretary-General (1783-99) of the Society of the Cincinnati. In 1785-94 Knox was Secretary of War, being the first man to hold this position after the organization of the Federal government in 1789. He urged ineffectually a national militia system to enroll all citizens over 18 and under 60 in the "advanced corps", the "main corps" or the "reserve," and for this and his close friendship with Washington was bitterly assailed by the Republicans. In 1793 he had begun to build his house, Montpelier, at Thomaston, Maine, where he speculated unsuccessfully in the holdings of the Eastern Land Association; and he lived there until his death on the 25th of October 1806. The cities of Knoxville in Tennessee and Maine, and Fort Knox are named for him.

Father: William Knox (shipmaster, d. 1759)
Mother: Mary Campbell
Wife: Lucy Flucker (m. 16-Jun-1774, d. 1824)

    US Secretary of War (1785-94)
    Society of the Cincinnati
    Irish Ancestry
    Scottish Ancestry


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