Letter, Henry Knox to Clement Biddle, November 11, 1781

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  • Letter, Henry Knox to Clement Biddle, November 11, 1781

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Letter, Henry Knox to Clement Biddle, November 11, 1781


death of John Parke Custis (Jacky)


Henry Knox (future Secretary of War) and Clement Biddle were Continental Army officers in 1781, and both were close to General Washington. This letter informs Biddle of the death of Jacky Custis, Martha Washington’s lone remaining child, from an illness (possibly smallpox) contracted at the siege of Yorktown. Knox tells Biddle that the General and his wife were both present at Jacky’s death.


Henry Knox





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Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery

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“His excellency – the General & Mrs[.] Washington amidst flattering public prospects have Received the most fatal blow to their Domestic felicity – the amiable Mr[.] Custis, Mrs[.] Washington’s only child has just been obliged by the rigid hand of fate to pay his last Debt to nature – his patriotism led him to camp to participate above degree of [ ] of his amiable & illustrious father, where he contracted the [buds or seeds?] of his disease which in a night or two terminated his life, at Colonel Bassetts [sic] Mrs[.] Wahington’s Brother in law about 30 miles distant from Wmsburg.- Mrs[.] Washington & Mrs[.] Custis and the General were present at his last Gasp – It is only for an affectionate parent to form a totally adequate idea of [this family’s most afflicted?] state.”


How to Cite this Item

Henry Knox, "Letter, Henry Knox to Clement Biddle, November 11, 1781," in Martha Washington, Item #8, https://marthawashington.us/items/show/8 (accessed April 6, 2021).