Primary tabs

William Ellery to Governour Cooke



Philadelphia, October 11, 1776.

SIR: The President of Congress hath sent you, by express, all the resolves which have passed since my last, which he had in charge to communicate to you. You will receive by this post a letter from the committee to procure clothing for the army, enclosing two resolves of Congress on that subject. I hope the General Assembly will take effectual care that our quota of new levies shall be in the field in season, well equipped at all points, and well officered; and that suitable persons in each County be appointed to collect clothing immediately, agreeable to the request of the aforesaid committee.

A naval expedition is on foot, which if carried into execution, will be very advantageous to the United States, and to the officers and seamen in the navy. If the Cabot should not be in port, the Marine Committee have ordered that one of the frigates should be employed in it.

Commodore Hopkins, in a letter to that Committee, hath informed them that one of the frigates could soon be got ready, and intimated that he could man her with drafts


from our troops. I hope that the General Assembly will countenance this measure, and give every other assistance in their power to forward the sailing of the fleet.

On the 6th instant, General Lee arrived here, and on the 8th set out for the camp on the Heights of Harlem. He brings the good news, that the Carolinians had utterly defeated the Cherokee tribe of Indians, had burnt their towns, killed two hundred and fifty of their warriours, got seventy-five scalps, and that the remainder of that tribe had fled to the Mississippi. This expedition, the sickliness of the.troops, and the strong garrison at Augustine had prevented an attempt upon East-Florida. That the garrison at Augustine consisted of eighteen hundred German and one thousand British troops. That the Sphinx and Raven were at Georgia, and that the Govemour of that State had ordered all the stock on the islands on that coast to be moved off to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy. The Scorpion, Falcon, and Cruiser, are at Cape Fear.

The Committee have not returned from Ticonderoga. By the last accounts from thence, they expected to be attacked very soon, and were preparing to give the enemy a proper reception. I saw General Mifflin lately, and he informed that in the fight the day after the enemy took possession of New-York, by the best accounts he could get, and from the appearance of the field of battle, they lost between four and five hundred killed and wounded; and that we lost about one hundred killed and wounded. In the first part of this account, Jared Hopkins, son of the minister in Newport, who saw the fight, agrees with the General, but says, that he saw our killed and wounded, and that they were much short of that number. They both, too, agree that some of our men who had behaved shamefully the day before fought gallantly there, and that with equal numbers we drove the enemy from the field. I believe they think the Americans will fight, notwithstanding we have retreated and retreated.

General Washington, as I am told, played off a pretty manoeuvre the other day. Determined to remove the grain and the furniture of the houses from Harlem, he drew out into the field a party of seventeen hundred. The enemy turned out as many. They approached within three hundred yards and looked at each other. While they were thus opposed front to front, our wagons carried off the grain and furniture. When this was accomplished, both parties retired within their lines. It is said that our men preserved very good faces. It would be of use to draw out our men in battle array frequently, to let them look the enemy in the face, and have frequent skirmishes with them.

General Washington in a letter of the 8th instant, informed Congress that two forty-gun and one twenty-gun ship with some tenders had passed the chevaux-de-frise and Fort Washington without interruption or damage, and" between the latter and Fort Constitution. How the chevaux-de-frise came to be insufficient, I know not; but I am afraid that the enemy' s ships will cut off the communication by the North River.

Thus, sir, I have given you all the news I can recollect, with a few observations. I wish I had more — I mean good news — to communicate, for it would give me great pleasure to gratify the Assembly. Whenever I shall receive any intelligence that is well authenticated, and I can be at liberty to transmit it, you may depend upon having it.

I continue to be, with great respect, your Honour' s and the State' s sincere friend and humble servant,


To the Hon˙ Nicholas Cooke, Esq.