George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nicholas Cooke, 6 September 1776

From Nicholas Cooke

Providence September 6th 1776.


The Necessity which caused the unexpected Evacuation of Long-Island hath alarmed the General Assembly of this State, as it seems that Communications cannot be kept open with an Island where the Enemy’s Ships can approach. This hath filled us with Apprehensions for the Town of Newport and the Island of Rhode-Island, which are of so great Importance to this and the other United States. Upon which the Assembly have thought proper to appoint John Collins, Joshua Babcock, and Joseph Stanton Esquires a Committee to wait upon your Excellency, to acquaint you with the State of this Government, and to confer with you upon the best Measures to be taken for its Defence, and with Respect to the Island of Rhode Island. I beg the Favour of your Excellency to treat them with the most entire Confidence, and have no Doubt but that the same Disposition which hath always induced you to manifest your Regard to this State will induce you to give us your best Advice and Assistance.1

Upon receiving Information of the landing of the Enemy upon Long-Island, and a Letter from Governor Trumbull acquainting us with your Request that a Body of Men might be thrown upon the East End of that Island, this State ordered the whole Brigade with the Two Gallies and a sufficient Quantity of Provisions and Ammunition to proceed to that Island, and ordered them to be replaced by the Militia of the State. We exerted ourselves to get them in Readiness, and some of them were under Orders to proceed, when we received the most uncertain and aggravated Accounts of the Evacuation of Long-Island, which occasioned us to stop the Men until we could receive Intelligence to be depended upon; which we did not gain until the last Evening.2 I beg Leave to observe to your Excellency the Advantages that may accrue to the common Cause from the several States having early and authentick Intellignece of all Matters of Importance that shall happen, and to request your Excellency to favour us with Accounts of every Thing material. I have the Honor to be with every Sentiment of Esteem and Respect Sir Your Excellencys Most obedt humble Servant

Nichs Cooke

LS, DLC:GW; Df, R-Ar.

1This recently appointed committee arrived at GW’s headquarters on 13 Sept. and conferred with him during the next two days (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 , 7:609; GW to Cooke, 17 Sept., and Joshua Babcock to Cooke, 21 Sept., in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 2:442–43).

Joseph Stanton, Jr. (1739–1807), of Charlestown, R.I., represented Kings (later Washington) County in the general assembly almost continuously between 1768 and 1790, when he became a U.S. senator. A veteran of the French and Indian War, Stanton served as colonel of a state regiment from December 1776 to November 1777. In 1779 he was appointed a brigadier general of militia, and in 1788 he was promoted to major general. Stanton returned to the general assembly in 1794, and in 1801 he was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he served until his death.

2On 2 Sept. the general assembly ordered the two regiments that composed the state garrison brigade to proceed with a detachment of artillery to Long Island “for the protection of the inhabitants and the stock” (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 , 7:606). For the subsequent orders given to these regiments, see William Bradford, Sr., to GW, 14 September.

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