George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nicholas Cooke, 28 October 1775

From Nicholas Cooke

Providence October 28th 1775


When we removed Part of the Live Stock from Block Island in July last1 a Number of Cattle were left, so poor (owing to the severe Drought) that they were totally unfit for the Knife. The plentiful Rains that have since fallen have increased the Feed so much that there are now upwards of 300 fit for Market. The Island is situated so far from the Continent that any Attempt to remove them will be extremely hazardous: And I can think of no other Method to prevent their being taken by the Enemy than killing and salting them. As we have no Demand for salted Provisions in this Colony, I must desire your Excellency to take Order that the Beef, when barrelled, may be received into the Magazines, in Camp, at a reasonable Price; in which Case they will be killed and cured forthwith. You are sensible Sir of the unhappy Situation of this Colony with Respect to the Enemy, it being scarcely any Thing more than a Line of Sea Coast; and I have no Doubt will give us every Assistance in your Power. I am with great Truth and Respect, Sir Your most obedient humble Servant

Nichs Cooke

P.S. I have this Morning dispatched Mr Bowen with Orders to Col. Hopkins for Ten Cannon Four Pounders for the armed Vessel now equipping at Plymouth.2


1The Rhode Island general assembly ordered cattle and sheep to be removed from Block Island in August (Bartlett, R.I. Records description begins John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England. 10 vols. Providence, 1856–65. description ends , 7:362–64, 378–80).

2Ephraim Bowen was seeking cannon for the armed schooner Washington. See Bowen to GW, 16–17 Oct. 1775, n.3, and Bowen to Joseph Reed, 29 Oct. 1775, DLC:GW. Esek Hopkins (1718–1802), a retired sea captain who had commanded a privateer with great success during the French and Indian War, was named brigadier general of the military forces in Rhode Island on 4 Oct., and on 22 Dec. he became the first commander in chief of the Continental navy. Dissatisfied with Hopkins’s performance of his duties, Congress suspended him from command on 26 Mar. 1777 and dismissed him on 2 Jan. 1778.

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