George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Gunning Bedford, 9 March 1778

From Gunning Bedford

Philadelphia March 9th 1778

Honored General,

I was unfortunately made a Prisoner the day after I had the pleasure of seeing your Excellency at your Head Quarters last month. I was overtaken by a company of new raised Dragoons about twelve miles from town, on my way to my family. I took the earliest opportunity after I was brought here, to inform General Howe of my bearing no commission in the service of the States, & requesting the liberty of the city on Parole. I never have received any answer to my Petition, but am informed by Mr Ferguson the commissary of Prisoners here, that with Genl Howe’s approbation, he proposes my exchange for a Mr Cook a merchant of New Jersey near Crosswoix bridge, taken about a twelvemonth ago & now confined in Northumberland of this state.1

Your Excellency is well aware how uneasy my situation must be here, I flatter myself therefore, you will do me the favour to consent to my exchange for this Mr Cook; or if there is any particular objection to him, I have reason to think, any other person in a similar situation with myself, would be accepted on the part of General Howe.

I should be greatly oblidged, by a line thro’ the hands of some one of your Excellencys family on the subject. I have the honor to be with the greatest respect, Your Excellcys most Obedient very Hbble Servant.

Gunng Bedford

ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection; Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

1Charles Cooke, a native of Ireland, was a merchant at Crosswicks, N.J., who volunteered his services to the British soon after the capture of New York. He gathered provisions at Crosswicks Creek, which the British army collected and paid for after they captured Trenton in December 1776. Immediately after the defeat of the Hessians at Trenton later that month, Cooke was commissioned to raise a regiment of New Jersey volunteers, but he was captured and imprisoned in Philadelphia. With the advance of the British on Philadelphia in July 1777, Cooke was moved to Shamokin in Northumberland County, Pa., where he remained in captivity at least until October 1778. He received a Loyalist pension of £80 from 1783 to 1786 and a military allowance of £100 from 1786 to 1816 (Coldham, American Loyalist Claims description begins Peter Wilson Coldham. American Loyalist Claims. Washington, D.C., 1980. description ends , 100–101; Jones, Loyalists of New Jersey description begins E. Alfred Jones. The Loyalists of New Jersey: Their Memorials, Petitions, Claims, Etc., From English Records. Newark, N.J., 1927. In Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society, vol. 10 description ends , 48). For more on the effort to arrange an exchange of Cooke and Bedford, see Samuel Chase to GW, 20 April, and GW to Chase, 27 April.

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