The Impact of the King of Battle in the Siege of Boston Essay Example


When it comes to the term “King of Battle” in the U.S Army, the Field Artillery branch own up to that name.  They are known for their powerful guns and munition that they bring to the battlefield which can cause mass destruction to enemy territory.  In the American Revolution, the Field Artillery marked its named for years to come.  One of artillery’s biggest and historical battle was The Siege of Boston.  A young man known today by the name of Major-General Henry Knox did everything within his power to gain a victory for the continental Army, alongside President George Washington.

In June of 1775, George Washington was elected Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.  A difficult time to take command since there were many battles going on that made up the American Revolution war.  Washington was put in charge of an army to direct the Siege of Boston.  Leaving his wife behind he headed to Boston, and upon his arrival to Cambridge he ordered an attack on Boston towards the British.  His line of Officers refused on the attack informing him that the British had more supplies and weapons than they did.  They insisted to wait until the waters around Boston froze to plan an attack. 

With many other battles going on Washington was running out of ideas. The British had control of Boston and General Thomas Gage the commander in chief for the British Army knew that if he wanted to keep control of Boston, they had to take over the hills of Dorchester and Charlestown.  Both hills not only overlooked Boston but it also overlooked Cambridge, the position of Washington and his men.  Even with the waters around Boston Frozen, Washington’s officers refused to attack the city.  A frustrated and desperate George Washington looked for another way to attack and keep the British pinned down in Boston, he ordered his troops to fire on the red coast.  At this point Washington found himself in a difficult situation, they had Boston under siege and they were on high grounds.  At the time the Americans needed big guns but didn’t have any.

In the Winter of 1775, a young man by the name of Henry Knox went up to General George Washington in Cambridge with a courageous plan.  He intrigued Washington with his knowledge on artillery and determination to get him a great victory.  Knox told General Washington he knew where to get the guns needed by his troops and how to get them.  In May of 1775, the British were forced to surrender in Fort Ticonderoga, NY leaving 59 pieces of artillery behind.  Knox discussed traveling 300 miles to Fort Ticonderoga to retrieve the cannons and used them against the British in Boston.

Washington’s officers disagreed with the plan and said there is no way this plan could work because of all the trouble they would go through to transport them so far.  The mission would involve men to build flat bottom boats, sleds and eighty yoke of oxen to pull the heavy sleds. Knox was committed and knew that if the mission worked this could be a great advantage for the American troops.  Washington said yes to the idea and sent off Henry Knox horseback riding to New York.  He arrived four days later ready to get to work and transport the cannons back to General George Washington in Cambridge.

The question on how to transport fifty-nine guns for so many miles was still in the air.  This did not stop Knox from wanting to accomplish the mission.  Upon arrival forty-three guns, six cohorts, eight mortars and two howitzers needed to get loaded up and transported down to Boston.  He came up with the idea of taking them apart so it would make it easier to handle and transport on their long journey back to Boston.  Despite the weather on December 9th,  Knox and his men had all 59 guns loaded on flat bottom boats and headed down Lake George.  With freezing temperatures his men rowed tirelessly until they reached the southern part of the lake before it froze over. Knox realized that moving these cannons was a battle of its own,  but kept in mind that it was to win a bigger war which kept him and his men eager and motivated to continue.

Arriving to land the next step was to move the artillery pieces on land.  He asked local farmers to gather strong sleds,  oxen,  or  horses to move all the heavy equipment.  The sleds had to be strong enough to haul the cannons and make it down to Boston to General Washington.  In less than a week he gathered all the sleds he needed in order to move the cannons down to Boston.  Henry Knox (1776) than wrote a letter to Washington that stated “ I have had made forty two exceedingly strong sleds & have provided eighty yoke of oxen to drag them as far as Springfield where I shall get fresh cattle to carry them to camp. . . . I hope in 16 or 17 days to be able to present your Excellency a noble train of artillery”.

Henry Knox then started moving towards Boston, but the weather wasn’t cooperating with his mission, he needed some snow so that the sleds were easier to be dragged by the oxen.  Once snow was on the ground, he started his movement and reached Albany.  Then again in Albany the weather wasn’t on his side, the ice on the river was not solid enough to support the weight of the cannons.  The few attempts they took to cross the river they lost a few cannons but were able to get them back with the help of the people from Albany.  Carefully they crossed the rest of the sleds and continued on with the mission.

Continuing with the journey Knox and his men struggled through the bad weather and freezing temperatures to make it to Boston.  On January 24, 1776, Knox’s train of artillery arrived at Cambridge.  Six weeks later on March 4th, Washington’s Gun batteries positioned their artillery pieces on the hill of Dorchester Heights, along with made up silhouettes to make it seem like they had more fire power than they actually did looking over the hill aiming at the British.  The following morning a shocked British General Howe (1776) looked up at Dorchester Heights and remarked “ The rebels did more work in one night than my whole  army would have done in one  month”.  Thanks to General Henry Knox’s courage, artillery knowledge and his dedicated men the Siege of Boston came to an end.  On March 17th the British began to leave Boston making this a great victory for George Washington and his American troops.

The artillery fire power and lethality put fear in enemy lines, since the branch was first introduced into combat arms, back when the Army was established.  Men like General Henry Knox we were able to earn the title “The King of Battle”.  Like many battles won before our time and future battles to come, the Field Artillery will always have an impact in history.  The battle of The Siege of Boston is only one example of many battles won by the Field Artillery in today’s history.

References

Brooks, R. B. (2018, August 19). The Siege of Boston. Retrieved March 17, 2019, from https://historyofmassachusetts.org/the-siege-of-boston/

Henry Knox Brings Cannon to Boston. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2019, from https://www.massmoments.org/moment-details/henry-knox-brings-cannon-to-boston.html

Knox, H. (n.d.). The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Retrieved March 17, 2019, from https://www.gilderlehrman.org/content/dragging-cannon-fort-ticonderoga-boston-1775

M. S., Ph. D. (n.d.). Siege of Boston. Retrieved March 17, 2019, from https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/siege-of-boston/

Rice, C. (2013, June 8). Why is Field Artillery called the King of Battle? Retrieved March 17, 2019, from http://militaryringexpress.blogspot.com/2013/06/why-is-field-artillery-called-king-of.html

 

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