Lucy Knox

When Major Henry Knox, then a resident of Boston, was parading the company to the command of which he had just been elected, he was seen, among many who admired the young officer, by Miss Lucy Flucker, the daughter of the Secretary of the Province of Massachusetts. His noble form and martial appearance naturally attracted the attention of the young lady; and on a personal acquaintance, a mutual sentiment of regard grew up and ripened into love. Interruption to its course was threatened by the growing troubles of the times. Thomas Flucker, the father of Lucy, who had long held office under the British government, adhered to the royal side amidst popular discontent. The maiden had adopted her lover's views and feelings. In the gathering storm, the time came when her decision was to be made. It was made with a true woman's faith and self-devotion; and she pledged herself to the fortunes of a soldier's wife. The separation from her family that became necessary was a painful trial, but submitted to with firmness and resolution. Mr. Flucker and his family removed from the country soon after the battle of Lexington; and Mrs. Knox, with her husband, joined the American army at Cambridge. From this time she adhered to her determination to encounter the perils and hardships incident to a military life. Neither her courage nor her powers of endurance failed. When Boston was occupied by the British, she escaped with her husband; and in their precipitate retreat, it is said that she concealed the sword he wore through the war, by having it quilted within the lining of her cloak.

In various journals we find the presence of Mrs. Knox noticed in camp. Chastellux describes the hut on a small farm where she lived with her children, a short distance from head-quarters at Verplanck's Point. Whenever her health permitted, she followed the army; and it is represented that her presence and cheerful manners did much to diffuse contentment and enliven dreary scenes. The soldiers could not murmur at privations which she endured without complaint. Sad it is, that no record remains of the ministrations of women in thus softening war's grim features. The good they did, however, was at the time acknowledged with respectful gratitude. There is reason to believe that General Knox often deferred to his wife's judgment, regarding her as a superior being; and it is said that her influence and superiority were owned by Washington himself. Her mind was undoubtedly of a high order, and her character a remarkable one. She appears to have possessed an ascendancy over all with whom she associated. After the close of the struggle, while General Knox held the office of Secretary of War, his wife's position was next to that of Mrs. Washington, whom she advised in matters of ceremony. Mrs. Knox had a taste for the management and show of public life, and was a leader of the ton in the social circles at the seat of government. When the General retired from the political arena, she accompanied him to his, or rather her, estates in Maine. She had inherited a share of the domain on Penobscot River and Bay which belonged to her mother's father, General Waldo, the proprietor of the Waldo patent in Maine. The property had been confirmed by government to her and General Knox after the peace.

Their residence was at Thomaston, in a splendid mansion at the head of St. George's River, furnished with taste and elegance. Here the soldier enjoyed the honors he had won, and spent his time in the indulgence of his literary tastes, and the companionship of his friends. His hospitality was unbounded, and numerous visitors frequented his house.

Sullivan, in his "Familiar Letters on Public Characters," speaks of the hospitality of Knox at his superb mansion. It was not unusual for him in summer, when visited by great numbers of his friends, to kill an ox and twenty sheep every Monday morning, and to have a hundred beds made up daily in the house. He kept for his own use and that of his friends, twenty saddle horses and several pairs of carriage horses in his stables. This expensive style of living encroached greatly on his means.

The influence of "Madam Knox," as she was called, on all within the circle of her acquaintance, was decided; and she shared the lot of all remarkable persons in having enemies as well as friends. Tradition speaks much of her; but little of what is said is sufficiently well authenticated to relate. With rare powers of conversation, a memory stored with interesting incidents, and much knowledge of the world, she was, when she pleased, one of the most charming and entertaining of women; and her society was much sought by men of taste and talent, while the unreserved expression of her opinions to those with whom she conversed, sometimes displeased persons who could not appreciate the independence of an original and intelligent mind. The military life of which she had partaken, and her association with those in command, with her engrossing interest in political measures, perhaps imparted a tone to her character and deportment; none, it is said, could forget her superiority of intellect, though, in her the loftier qualities of woman's nature were softened by the generous feelings that impel to the kindly courtesies and charities of life. Having accompanied her husband through the vicissitudes of an eight years' war - and shared with him the splendors of exalted public station - she was content to retire with him to the privacy of domestic life, and devote her talents to the education of her children. Her taste created the elegance that surrounded the General's home, and diffused a beneficial influence throughout the section of country in which they resided. With her strong mind and remarkable traits of character, it is not singular that the popular remembrance of her should be abiding, as of one who had filled more than the ordinary sphere of a woman. She had ten children, only three of whom lived beyond infancy. She lived at her place after the death of General Knox, continuing active in her charities, and in the exercise of hospitality, during her almost eighteen years of widowhood. She died in 1824.

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