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General Washington to Governour Cooke



Camp at Cambridge, August 14, 1775.

SIR: Your favours of the eighth and eleventh instant are duly received; the former I laid before the General Court of this Province, but one of the Delegates having communicated to them what Mr˙ Ward did to you, of the proceeding of the Continental Congress touching this powder, nothing was done towards the providing of specie, that the vessel might proceed to other places in case of a disappointment at the first. I am of opinion that the collection of any considerable sum here would be difficult in the time proposed, and I think there is the less necessity for it, as there are few Colonies who have not some vessel out on this errand, and will probably bring all tliat is at market. Having conversed with Colonel Porter, and further considered the matter, I am of opinion that it ought to be prosecuted on the single footing of procuring what is in the magazine. The voyage is short; our necessity is great; the expectation of being supplied by the inhabitants of the island, under such hazards as they must run, is slender: so that the only chance of success is by a sudden stroke. There is a great difference between acquiescing in the measure and becoming principals: the former we have great reason to expect, the latter is doubtful. The powder, by


all our information, is publick property, so that, as you observe, it may be settled with our other accounts. The draughting of men from hence would be very difficult, and endanger a discovery of the scheme. I am not clear that I have power to send them off the Continent; and to engage them as volunteers it would be necessary to make their destination known. I should suppose the Captain, who is to have the direction of this enterprise, would rather choose to have men whom he knew, and in whom he could confide, in preference to strangers. From what Colonel Porter informs me, I do not see that Harris' s presence is absolutely necessary; and as his terms would add considerably to the expense, after obtaining from him all the intelligence he could give, his attendance might be dispensed with. The vessel lately sent out to cruise for the powder, seems to me the properest for this voyage; and as the ten days will soon be out, if no objection occurs to you she might be despatched.

I have given directions respecting the lead at Ticonderoga, which I am of opinion, with you, is the surest mode of supply in that article.

I have sent, by this opportunity, a hunting-shirt pattern. I should be glad you would inform me of the number you think I may expect.

I had flattered myself that the vigilance of the inhabitants on the Islands and coasts would have disappointed the enemy in their late expedition after live stock. I hope nothing will be omitted by the several Committees and other persons, to guard against any future attempts, by removing all the stock from those places where their shippings; can protect them in plundering. I do assure you, Sir, that it would be rendering a most essential service to the publick interest. Their distresses before were very great, and if renewed after their present supply is exhausted, must be productive of very great advantages.

I am, Sir, &c.,


To Governour Cooke, Rhode-Island.