From Nicholas Cooke
East Greenwich [R.I.] March 22d 1776
At the Request of the General Assembly now sitting here I make Application to your Excellency for Six Seamen taken from the Enemy and now your Prisoners to be exchanged for Six Inhabitants of this Colony who were taken & are detained by Capt. Wallace.1 Four of these Men have Families who are greatly distressed. I send this by Express by Reason of the Danger of Capt. Wallace’s being removed from this Station and carrying these unfortunate People with him, or if that should not be the Case of his sending them to Britain to the utter Ruin of them and their Families. We have but Two Prisoners in this Colony both Officers and active enterprizing Men, whom we should be extremely unwilling to give up.
I beg the Favour of your Excellency to give this Matter the quickest Dispatch, and to deliver the Seamen to Mr Burr the Bearer to be immediately brought into this Colony.2 I am with great Truth and Respect Sir Your most obedt hble Servt
LS, DLC:GW; Df, R-Ar.
1. For the general assembly’s resolution on this subject, see 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 , 7:473–74.
2. Stephen Moylan replied to Cooke on 23 Mar.: “Your request for Six Seamen taken from the enemy, to be exchanged for Six inhabitants taken & detaind by Captain Wallace, is now Complied with, tho realy Contrary to a Resolve of Congress past the 30th Novemr which mentions that Citizen Should be exchanged for Citizen—Officer for Officer, of equal rank, & Soldier for Soldier, the Seamen go under the Care of Mr Burr” (MH: Cooke Papers). The general assembly subsequently authorized the payment of £14.11.7 to Ezekiel Burr for “expenses of express to General Washington, and for bringing prisoners from Boston” (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 , 7:576).