Knox, Henry,1750–1806, American Revolutionary officer, b. Boston. He volunteered for service and went, in 1775, to Ticonderoga to retrieve the captured cannon and mortar there for use in the siege of Boston. The fortification of Dorchester Heights with this artillery compelled the evacuation of Boston by the British. From that time he was a trusted companion of George Washington. The artillery, under his charge, took a conspicuous part in the battles of Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, and Yorktown. He commanded at West Point (1782–84) and was a founder (1783) of the Society of the Cincinnati. Knox was Secretary of War both under the Articles of Confederation and under the Constitution (1785–94). A conservative, he attempted to raise a force to oppose Shays's Rebellion, and he favored a strong federal government.
See biography by N. Callahan (1958).
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Knox, Henry(1750–1806) soldier, bookseller; born in Boston, Mass. One of ten sons of a shipmaster who died when Henry was 12, he worked as a bookseller. Having joined the Boston Grenadier Corps (1772), he became knowledgeable about military tactics and artillery, and he volunteered for the Revolutionary forces at the outbreak of war with England. He soon became a trusted friend and adviser to George Washington and was appointed to command the Continental army's artillery in November 1775; it was Knox who overcame incredible difficulties in getting the pieces of artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to force the British to evacuate Boston (March 1776). From then on he was with Washington in nearly every major engagement of the war, including the crossing of the Delaware to take Trenton, the winter of 1778–79 at Valley Forge, and the final victory at Yorktown. His suggestion led to the establishment of a military academy at West Point and he was a founder of the Society of the Cincinnati (1783). He served as secretary of war from 1785–94, afterward retiring to an estate in Maine, where he lived in great style. He died of complications after swallowing a chicken bone.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.