Springfield Armory - Founding The Arsenal (1777)

Founding The Arsenal (1777)

Local and colonial militia used the bluff on which the Springfield Armory would become located during the 17th century for militia training, particularly after the Attack on Springfield during King Phillip's War.

In 1777, George Washington himself scouted and approved the site of the Springfield Armory, after it was referred to him by Henry Knox. Although a small town at the time, Springfield, Massachusetts, offered obvious geographical advantages—it lay at the intersection of three rivers (including the major Connecticut River), and four major highways headed toward New York City, Boston, Albany, New York, and Montreal, Canada. Additionally, Springfield is located just north of the Connecticut River's first waterfall, (Enfield Falls,) which is too steep to be navigated by ocean-going vessels. Thus, Springfield was the first town on the Connecticut River protected from sea attack.

The Armory site itself sits atop a high bluff like a citadel, overlooking a wide stretch of the Connecticut River, and it confluence with the Westfield River. Colonel Henry Knox, Chief of Artillery for General Washington, concurred with Washington that "the plain just above Springfield is perhaps one of the most proper spots on every account" for the location of an arsenal.

In 1777, patriot colonists established "The Arsenal at Springfield" to manufacture cartridges and gun carriages for the American Revolutionary War. During the Revolution, the arsenal stored muskets, cannon, and other weapons. Patriots built barracks, shops, storehouses, and a magazine. Some doubt exists regarding whether the colonists manufactured arms during the Revolutionary War. After the war, the Army kept the facility to store arms for future needs. By the 1780s, Springfield Arsenal functioned as a major ammunition and weapons arsenal.

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