Lucy Flucker Knox: "Oh, My Sister, How Horrid Is This War"

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Lucy Flucker Knox wrote this letter to her sister, Hannah Flucker Urquhart. Lucy's family were Loyalists, but she chose to marry an American Revolutionary—Henry Knox—in 1774. This letter reflects the division that she felt because of the conflict. The crossed-out words are as they appear in the original, published transcription.


April 1777.

The very sincere or tender affection that I entertain for you, my dear sister, induce[s] me to write you at this time, notwithstanding the great neglect with which I think I have been treated both by you and my dear Mama. To her, I wrote several times during the siege of Boston, but never obtained a line in answer, a circumstance that surpprised and grieved me not a little. Where she is now, I know not. I am not only deprived of father, mother, Brother & sisters, but also denied the satisfaction of hearing of their wellfare. You, I am told, are at Halifax. If you are, it is probable this may reach you, and if it should, I beg of you to give me a particular account of my friends and relations. Is your little Boy living, is he well? Is Capt. Urquhart with you? when did you hear from him, [or] my Brother? Is Sally married or not? Where is she? I much wish to know all these particulars. For my father and mother I love with entertain the most Dutiful and tender affection. . . . Therefore [I] am greatly interested in the above particulars, the answer[s] to the above Querys. My dear Harry is well. He, my dear sister, is as when you knew him, the best and tenderest of friends. Never were two persons more happily united than we. We have a lively little girl. . . . She is very like her gran mama. She looks vastly like our Mama, who I hope will one day see her. She will love her, I am sure she will. I am going at last to take the small pox, more for the sake of my little Lucy than myself. The Army and the country in general, having been innoculated, will make it dangerous for me to go from home without having had it, and in the present state of things, I wish to be in such a situation that I can go to all parts of America without danger. My Harry is not much home and I do not like to [be] from him. Oh, my sister, how horrid is this war, Brother against Brother and the parent against the child. Who were the first promoters of it, I know not, but god knows and I fear they will feel the weight of his vengeance. Tis pity the little time we have to spend in this world, we cannot enjoy ourselves and our friends, but must be devising means to destroy each other. The art of killing has become a perfect science. That man is most esteemed who has the best knack at destroying the human species. In our juvenile days, my Hannah, we light thought this Barbaras [barbarous] art would so soon have reached America, but alas her fruitfull fields of war [have] been covered with the dead and dying of the heartfelt. The grief their sister and brothers must have suffered can never be told.

But enough of this. god send a speedy issue to this war and give us a happy meeting is the sincere wish and prayer of her who thro all the changing scenes of life never will cease to be your affectionate friend and sister




The Revolutionary Lives and Letters of Lucy and Henry Knox, edited by Phillip Hamilton (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2017)