Henry Knox

Henry Knox by Mark Puls Read Free Book Online

Book: Henry Knox by Mark Puls Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mark Puls
proclaimed "[t]hat all Americans are entitled to freedom is incontestable on every rational principle.“ 27
    On the evening of Tuesday, April 18, Knox and others around Boston noticed that many of the British troops were not at their usual posts. Dr. Warren walked through the streets trying to find out if they were preparing to march. He sent for Knox's friend Paul Revere to carry a warning to radical leaders outside of the city. Warren suspected that soldiers were being sent to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were staying at the home of the Reverend Jonas Clark in Lexington, a town about twelve miles north of Boston. Perhaps their mission was to destroy the storehouse of munitions in Concord, eighteen miles to the north. Word spread that the army was collecting boats along the back bay of Boston Harbor. Knox and others watched closely to divine British intentions. By 11 P.M. , 700 soldiers had marched to the west side of town, where they began to climb into boats to cross the harbor. Within a couple hours, the troops formed ranks and began the march from Cambridge. Church bells rang, guns were fired, and flares shot into the night sky as patriots tried to rouse the inhabitants along the road to Lexington.
    Early that Wednesday morning, Knox watched the Forty-seventh and Thirty-eighth regiments of about 1,200 Welsh soldiers, carrying light muskets and carting two cannons, leave Boston to support the mission, marching to the tune of "Yankee Doodle" to mock the colonists. Then news arrived that shots had been fired at Lexington between British soldiers under Major Pitcairnand the patriot militiamen. Seven colonial soldiers were killed and nine others wounded.
    Knox's heart sank. The war so long anticipated had begun. He could no longer stay out of the conflict. He would have to abandon his business and sacrifice everything he had built and all that he owned. Lucy wanted to accompany him if he left the city. William agreed to stay and watch the bookstore, to try to prevent looters and vandals from destroying the shop.
    By Thursday morning, British troops, many wounded, straggled back into Boston. A significant battle had erupted the previous evening in Lexington and Concord as the troops destroyed munitions, spiking two field pieces and throwing 500 pounds of cannonballs and 60 barrels of flour into the river. Samuel Adams and John Hancock had escaped capture. Almost 500 militia-men rushed to Concord's defense and fired at the British soldiers from every direction. After two hours, the king's troops were forced to retreat. On the way back to Boston, they were ambushed by a group of 150 colonists from the line of trees flanking the road. The British suffered nearly 300 casualties. The American loss was 90 men, including 8 killed.
    Shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord, Henry and Lucy dressed in disguises and prepared to sneak out of the city. With his size, however, there was little that Henry could do to hide his identity. Lucy sewed his sword into her coat. The couple said good-bye to William and, under the cover of darkness, slipped out of their house and headed for the waterfront, carefully avoiding the posted guards. If detected, they would be arrested and would spend the war in a British prison. They could even be hanged under charges of treason.
    They reached the water safely, and Henry helped Lucy climb into a small boat. They pushed slowly from shore, under agonizing tension so as not to make a sound.
    As Lucy watched Boston disappear in the night air, she could not help but wonder if she would ever see her family again, her sisters Hannah and Sally and her brother Thomas. She had forsaken everything for Henry and was about to accompany him to the war. Knox wondered how long his business could last. He knew that it almost certainly would be a casualty of the conflict. Everything he had achieved, rising as a fatherless kid from the tough streets of Boston to become a respectable owner of a popular

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