George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nicholas Cooke, 15 September 1775

From Nicholas Cooke

Providence Septemr 15th 1775


I observe that in the Cambridge Paper of Yesterday there is an Extract of a Letter from Bermuda to New York giving an Account that upwards of 100 Barrels of Powder had been taken out of the Magazine, supposed to have been done by a Vessel from Philadelphia and another from South-Carolina. This Intelligence appears to me to be true; and I beg to know your Excellency’s Opinion of it as soon as possible, that if it be thought best to relinquish the Expedition I may recall Capt. Whipple as soon as his Cruize for the Packet is out.1 His Station in this River is very necessary as Capt. Wallace hath equipped a Sloop with Six and a Schooner with Four Carriage Guns who may be very troublesome here.2 I am with great Respect Sir Your most humble Servant

Nichols Cooke

LS, DLC:GW; Df, RHi: Cooke Papers.

1The extract of this anonymous letter from Bermuda, dated 21 Aug. 1775, appears in the New-England Chronicle: or, the Essex Gazette (Cambridge, Mass.), 14 Sept. 1775: “Upwards of one hundred barrels of gun-powder has been taken out of our magazine: supposed by a sloop from Philadelphia, and a schooner from South Carolina: It was very easily accomplished, from the magazine being situated far distant from town, and no dwelling house near it.” For an account of the raid on the magazine on 14 Aug. by a group of Bermudians, see Cooke to GW, 11 Aug. 1775, n.2. The sloop was the Lady Catherine, which the Pennsylvania committee of safety sent to Bermuda to obtain gunpowder, and the schooner was the Charles Town and Savannah Packet, dispatched on the same mission by the South Carolina committee of safety. The Lady Catherine arrived at Philadelphia on 26 Aug. with about eighteen hundred pounds of gunpowder, and the Charles Town and Savannah Packet apparently reached Charleston with its cargo about the same time. For Cooke’s unsuccessful efforts to recall Abraham Whipple from his voyage to Bermuda, see Cooke to GW, 26, 29 Sept. and 25 Oct. 1775.

2Vice Admiral Samuel Graves wrote on 1 Sept. 1775 that “it was by the Admirals allowing Captain [James] Wallace to keep on board the Rose a party of 37 Marines above his Complement, besides many supernumerary Seamen in his own and the other Ships and Vessels with him, that he was enabled to arm Vessels suited to the Navigation of the small Rivers and Creeks, and whenever occasion required to land a hundred men and upwards and ravage the coast” (Graves’s narrative in Clark, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends , 1:1282–83).

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