George Washington Papers

Circular to Pilots, 5 October 1779

Circular to Pilots

Hd Qrs [West Point] 5th Octor 79


An event may very soon take place which will render your services of the greatest importance to the public.1 I shall therefore be glad to see you without delay at Head Quarters—when I will explain to you in what manner your services will be necessary.2 You will come prepared for a journey of some length—Your expences shall be borne and your trouble amply rewarded; of this I shall myself take care. All possible dispatch ought to be made and the greatest secrecy observed.3 I am Sir Your most Obed. servant.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. A note on the draft indicates that copies of this letter were sent to pilots William Dobbs at Fishkill, N.Y., James Howlett and Martin Johnson, both at Stamford, Conn., and Abraham Marling.

Abraham Marling (Martling), of Continental Village, N.Y., was a Hudson River pilot. For additional biographical details on Marling, see GW to John Mathews, 10 Oct., n.1. GW called on Marling again in 1780 (see GW to Alexander McDougall, 2 July 1780 [first letter], CSmH).

1GW was preparing for operations with the French fleet and needed pilots to guide the ships in New-York waters (see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 Oct.).

2Dobbs answered GW’s call and had arrived at headquarters, along with another pilot, by 6 Oct. (see GW to the Continental Congress Marine Committee, that date). Marling arrived at headquarters on 10 Oct. (see GW to John Mathews, that date, and the notes to that document). Johnson, described by Maj. Henry Lee, Jr., as “particularly active,” also answered GW’s call; he was sent to Monmouth County, N.J., and then to join Brigadier General Duportail and Lt. Col. Alexander Hamilton at Lewes, Del., to await d’Estaing (Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 2:208–9).

3For GW’s other calls for pilots, see GW to William Livingston, 4 Oct., and GW to Thomas Hunt, 5 October.

Index Entries