1808: Capt. Moses Hook to Hon. Henry Dearborn

Capt. Moses Hook, ca. 1808

This letter was written by Capt. Moses Hook, First U. S. Army, to Henry Dearborn, the Secretary of War at Washington D. C. It acknowledges the receipt and acceptance of a previous letter sent to the Secretary requesting his retirement from military service and, at the same time, requests the discharge of private Edward Cossgrove who has served as his personal waiter.

Hook wrote the letter from his plantation located between the towns of Woodville and Pond in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. We know from the letter, written in 1808, that Hook called his plantation “Woodstock.” Hook owned lands in both Mississippi and Louisiana. It appears that Hook later named this plantation “Salisbury” in honor of his birthplace in Salisbury Township, Massachusetts.

Henry Dearborn

The home that Hook built on this plantation three years later (1811) eventually became known as the Salisbury-Shepherd House and is historically significant because it is the oldest documented residence in Mississippi featuring detached columns with a recessed gallery.

Capt. Moses Hook (1780-1821) was the son of Francis and Mary White (Rand) Hook of Salisbury, Essex County, Massachusetts.

Henry Dearborn (1751-1829) was an American physician, a statesman and a veteran of both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. He served as Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of War from 1801-1809.

Addressed to Hon’ble Henry Dearborn, Secretary at War, Washington City

Woodstock plantation,
February 26th 1808


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22nd of December last permitting me to retire from the Army of the United States. I now take the liberty to request feeling myself justified by precedent as well as presuming on your goodness, the discharge of Edward Cossgrove  — a private soldier in my late company & my waiter. This man has about eighteen months to serve, has been attached to my person since the time of his enlistment and is unfit for any other service. He is anxious to remain with me & if Sir, you should deem it compatible with the interests of the service, you will confer an obligation on me by granting him his discharge.

I have the honor to be with great respect, Sir, your obedient servant, — M. Hook


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