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General Greene to Govenour Cooke



Coryell' s Perry, December 21st, 1776.

DEAR SIR: By your letter to General Washington, I find the British troops have landed on Rhode-Island. Although I am sorry my own country should be subject to their ravages, yet I rejoice that they are surrounded by a people who are united, and firmly determined in opposition. You may be subject to a partial evil, but America cannot fail to reap the advantage. You think you are greatly infested with Tories and disaffected, but there is but the shadow of disaffection with you to what there is here. The Friends, or Quakers, are almost to a man disaffected. Many have the effrontery to refuse the Continental currency. This line of conduct cannot fail of drawing down the resentment of the people upon them. The fright and disaffection was so great in the Jerseys, that in our retreat of one hundred and odd miles, we were never joined by more than a hundred men. I dare say, had that Army been in New-England, we should not have been under the necessity of retreating twenty miles. We are now on the west side of the Delaware, our force, though small, collected together; but small as it is, I hope to give the enemy a stroke in a few days. Should fortune favour the attack, perhaps it may put a stop to General Howe' s progress. His ravages in the Jerseys exceed all description. Men slaughtered; women ravished; mothers and daughters ravished in presence of the husbands and sons, who were obliged to be spectators to their brutal conduct. I thereby, notwithstanding the general disaffection of a certain order of people, the Army will fill up. Should that be the case, nothing is to be feared.

By a vessel just arrived from France, with a valuable cargo, we learn a French war is inevitable. Short inlistments


has been, in a great measure, the source of all the misfortunes that we labour under, though, thank God! but few to what we at first expected. The Congress, in the infancy of politicks, could not be brought to believe many serious truths. By attending to speculative principles rather than real life, their maxims in war have been founded in folly. However, experience ripens judgment, and enables us to correct many an errour in business that at first we could not conceive of; and I don' t doubt the Congress in time will be as able politicians in military matters as they are in civil government.

The Eastern Delegates made application to General Washington for me to come to Rhode-Island, but the General would not consent. He thinks more is to be trusted to the virtue of your people than to the force of this country. As the enemy have got possession of Rhode-Island, and done all the mischief they can, it will not be bad policy to let them remain in quiet until spring. To attempt any against them, unless you are sure of success, will be a very dangerous manoeuvre. ' Tis an endless task to attempt to cover all the country. You must drive back the stock from the shores, and make a disposition to cover capital objects. By too great a division of your force, you' ll be incapable of making any considerable opposition whenever they may think proper to make a descent. But it is my opinion they will be peaceable if you will; for, from the best accounts we can get, they consist of the invalids of the Army. They may attempt to plunder the shores, but nothing more than that this winter; for I am confident they have no hopes of penetrating into the country. If they make any descent, it will be against Providence, to seize the stores and burn the town. This is very probable, as the Tories will endeavour, in Newport, to spirit them on to such an attempt; but unless it is already done, you have nothing to fear.

I am told some malicious reports propagated industriously about me, respecting the loss of the baggage and stores at Fort Lee. They are as malicious as they are untrue. I can bring very good vouchers for my conduct in every instance; and have the satisfaction to have it approved by the General under whom I serve. Every thing was got off from that place that could be, with the roads and wagons we had to move the stores with. The evacuation of Fort Lee was determined upon several days before the enemy landed above us, and happily all the most valuable stores were away. The enemy' s publication of the cannon and stores then taken is a grand falsehood; not an article of military stores was left there, or nothing worth mentioning.

The Congress have removed to Baltimore. General Spencer and General Arnold are coming to take the command at Rhode-Island. Arnold is a fine, spirited fellow, and an active General. I hope they keep the enemy at bay. My respects to your family, and all my Providence friends.

Believe me to be, with the greatest respect, your most obedient and very humble servant,