Diligence and History

The Continental army huddled together, desperately fighting to preserve what little cohesion they possessed. They were short on food, clothing, ammunition, manpower, and everything else that armies run on. Not a good situation anytime, but especially for January 18, 1776.

But, there was a plan and a man of diligence executing it. The course of history was soon to be altered.

Boston had fallen in the spring of 1775 when the British won the Battle of Bunker Hill. The task now facing the Continentals was the regaining of Boston—an impossibility without heavy artillery.

In November of 1775, General Washington commissioned a twenty-five year old, 250 pound amateur engineer named Henry Knox to bring the artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. This would be a simple task for today’s army with its cargo planes and trucks. But for Henry Knox, this was a monumental request that would tax every ounce of diligence and ingenuity he could muster. Two mountain ranges, multiple rivers, and a harsh New England winter lay along the 300 miles that separated Fort Ticonderoga from the city of Boston.

The initial step was to build rafts and transport the guns across the southern tip of Lake Champlain. As history recounts, some of the rafts sank—but the guns were recovered. Think for a moment about swimming in Lake Champlain in the winter. Many men would have moved on toward Boston without the entire inventory.

As the commissioned contingent reoriented itself and prepared to launch again toward Boston, Old-Man Winter plunged an icy finger into the northeast. Many men’s lives were spent fighting the icy blast, but the cold that stole those lives also froze the ground and waterways.

Knox seized his opportunity. He reconstructed the rafts into sleds and skidded his iron-laden procession across the Berkshires and Taconics toward Framingham and the outskirts of Boston where Washington and the balance of the Continental army waited.

All of the artillery was delivered in just a little over two months from when he was given his assignment. Henry Knox was diligent, to say the least.

In one of the most phenomenal nights ever recorded in military history, a fourteen-mile perimeter was established around Boston. Dorchester Heights was fortified using the larger of the canons and mortars. When the British spied the heavy armaments lurking down on the city from the heights, they silently left Boston, sailing for Nova Scotia. Not a shot was fired, not a life was lost through armed conflict.

Proverbs states, "The precious possession of a man is diligence" (12:27). Conversely, it declares, "The complacency of fools shall destroy them" (1:32).

Next, I want to explore what scripture has to say about diligence, how it recommends building it, and why diligence matters.