George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Nicholas Cooke, 17–19 March 1776

To Nicholas Cooke

Cambridge March 17.[- 19] 1776


I have the pleasure to Inform you that this morning the Ministerial Troops evacuated the Town of Boston without destroying It, and that we are now in the full possession, upon which events I beg leave to Congratulate you, and sincerely wish If the Ministry persevere in the same unconstitutional and despotic measures which too long have marked their conduct, that our opposition and resistance in every quarter may be crowned with the success they have been here.1

where their destination is or what plans they have in view, is altogether unknown, most probably the next attempt will be against New York or some more Southern Colony; However I shou’d think, tho I do not beleive they have any design against Rhode Island, that It will be advisable to keep a strict look out, & Submit It to you, whether It may not be proper, against the time you apprehend they might arrive, to call in a number of the Militia and have ’em posted in proper places—I do not mean to direct the measure, but only to mention It for your consideration, to me It appears worthy of attention. I am Sir with great esteem Yr Most Hble Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. March 19. The fleet are yet in King & Nantasket Roads.


P.S. At the request of Colo. Babcock, I wou’d Inform you that It is not usual to fire upon an Enemy while a Flag is passing between the armies, But as to the propriety of the Flag alluded to & respecting Col. Babcocks case, I know nothing of It, I think every kind of Intercourse with the Ships shou’d be stopped, we cannot be benefitted by It—they may and certainly will very greatly.2


LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, MH: Cooke Papers; LB, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The second postscript does not appear in the letter-book copy or the Varick transcript.

1For a contemporary account of the American entrance into Boston on this date, see the Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal, 25 Mar. 1776.

2On 12 Mar. 1776 Stephen Moylan wrote to Col. Henry Babcock of Rhode Island: “I have it in Command from his Excellency Genl Washington to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 10th Instant with the inclosures, but as you have not favor’d him with Copies of what you wrote on the occasion, he is at a loss how to give his opinion. The General would by no means interfere with any Stipulations entered into by the Assembly of Newport but is clearly of opinion that all intercourse with the British Ships of War, ought to be stop’d immediately, as by it the Enemy derive every advantage they can wish for and none can possibly result to the Colonies” (DLC:GW). Babcock’s letter of 10 Mar. has not been found. For a discussion of the controversy over the supplying of provisions to the British warships at Newport, see GW to Nicholas Cooke, 6 Jan. 1776, n.1.

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