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Letter from General Washington to Governour Cooke



Cambridge, March 21, 1776.

SIR: Your favours of the 18th and 19th -instant I received, and am extremely sorry to hear that your Militia are so deficient in arms. I fear the misfortune is too common; nor do I know how it will be remedied. In this Army, although I have pursued every mode I could devise for procuring them, there is still a great deficiency, and a considerable number of men without any in their hands. The peculiar situation of Rhode-Island, and the extensive sea-coast, had not escaped my mind. I well know the enemy have it in their power to do it considerable damage, unless there is a sufficient force to repel their attempts. But it is the opinion of the General Officers here that their destination is against New-York; the importance of which (as it secures the free and only communication between the Northern and Southern Colonies, which will be entirely cut off by their possessing it, and give them the command of Hudson' s River and an easy pass into Canada,) makes it absolutely and indispensably necessary for the whole of this Army, which is but inconsiderable, except that part of it which will be left here to secure the stores, barracks, and other publick property, to be marched from hence for its defence, with all possible expedition. It is an object that should command our first attention, and if lost, will be of the most fatal consequence to us in the present unhappy and interesting


struggle. Lest any attempts should he made against you, I shall give orders to the officers commanding brigades, if they have intelligence of an invasion upon their march, that they forthwith return to your succour. I shall also order the officer who will be left here to do the same with the troops under his command, whenever occasion may require it.

Agreeable to the request made by you and your honourable General Assembly, I shall with cheerfulness and pleasure direct some of the last divisions that go from hence to pursue the route you wish, if they can be accommodated with covering and provisions, and shall be ever ready and happy to render Rhode-Island, or any other place, any services in my power that may be compatible with the general good.

I am, sir, with sentiments of the highest regard, your and their most obedient servant,


To Governour Cooke.