The “noble train of artillery”led by the young and unassuming Continental Army Colonel, Henry Knox could only be called an unbelievable display of technical brilliance and sheer determination.
Just what was this train and what is its significance to the advancement of the cause of freedom? Well, the train involved the transfer of much-needed heavy weaponry by Continental Forces from captured Fort Ticonderoga in New York to Continental camps near Boston Massachusetts. What’s even more astounding is that this incredible feat occurred over a frigid New England winter season.
In the end the expedition successfully hauled 60 tons of cannon and other weaponry across frozen water bodies and over primitive roadways by horse, oxen and sailing vessel (gundalow) until they reached their destination near Boston.
Interestingly, the “soon to be infamous” Benedict Arnold was credited with being the first to take stock of the impressive array of cannon and other weapons at the Fort after patriot, Ethan Allen, and the Green Mountain Boys handily captured it on May 10th, 1775.
When Washington took command of troops near Boston, he quickly became concerned about the lack of heavy weaponry available for use there. While it’s not known whether it was Knox or rather Arnold who clued General Washington in to the virtual treasure trove of formidable weapons at Fort Ticonderoga, Knox was the lucky soul charged with the task of orchestrating the transfer of said equipment from New York to Boston, Massachusetts!
Knox, a former “bookseller” was dispatched from Washington’s camp on November 17th and on this day in 1775, he had finally reached his destination at Fort Ticonderoga.
All in all, approximately 119,000 pounds of weapons were transported, including mortars, howitzers and even cannon that could accommodate 24 pound cannonballs, aptly nicknamed “Big Berthas!”
Needless to say, there were more than a few “bumps in the road” on the journey back to Boston and even the bailout of a sunken gundalow and the subsequent and miraculous retrieval of weapons placed upon it. Yet, Henry Knox and his compatriots rose to the challenge and defeated every single hardship they faced and fulfilled the duties with which they were charged by General Washington.
It’s certainly worth considering what might have been the effect on the impending Revolution had the outcome of the “noble train of artillery” been less than an unfettered success.
Tenacity and the refusal to walk away from a seemingly impossible task are traits that are evident time and time again in the character of the founders as well as the many patriots who pledged their fortunes and even their lives for a cause that was much larger than any single person.
Because they understood this, they accomplished that which seems impossible by today’s standards.