George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Mathews, 10 October 1779

To John Mathews

Hd Qrs [West Point] 10 Octbr 1779


Mr Abraham Martlin a pilot for the North River, called here to day to receive my orders.1 I thought it best to direct him to Major Lee—to wait the Counts appearance off the Hook,2 Of this you will be pleased to give information to the Count should he be at the Capes of Delaware.

Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For GW’s call for pilots, see his Circular to Pilots, 5 Oct., a version of which was sent to Abraham Marling. A letter from GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman to Maj. Gen. William Heath, dated 11 Oct. at headquarters, reads: “A Mr Martlin, (whose family is at the Continental Village,) the only person who is acquainte[d] with the passage thro’ the Frize at Fort Washington, has gone down to serve as a pilot to the Count D’Estaing. As he has left his Wife and small family alone, he requested of His Excellency that the officer on duty at the Village might have directions to see that they were not injured or used ill in his absence, and that the soldiers might occasionally assist his Wife in getting Wood or such little matters. His Excellency will be obliged to you for giving the necessary orders. Mr Martlin’s family live in the Yellow House near the Continental Barn” (MHi: Heath Papers).

On 12 Oct., Heath wrote from Mandeville’s in Dutchess County, N.Y., to the officer commanding the picket guard at Continental Village, N.Y.: “A mr Marlling who live⟨s⟩ in the yellow House beyond the Continenta⟨l⟩ Barn at the village is on a Special occasion called into the public Servic⟨e⟩ he has left his wife and a Small Family alone at the House, before his departure he requested of his Excellency the Commander in Chief that the officer on duty at the village might have directions to See that they were not Injured or used Il⟨l⟩ I am therefore to desire that you would daily enquire whether any abuse is offered them by the Soldiery, and if any assistance in geting or Cutting wood for the Family Should be necessary that you would order it to be done, or any other Little matters that may tend to the releif or Comfort of the Family, please to pay a particular attention to this matter, and let this order be delivered from officer to officer at every releif of the Picket” (MHi: Heath Papers).

2GW’s letter to Maj. Henry Lee, Jr., dated this date at headquarters, reads: “You will observe by the certificate in possession of the bearer Mr Martlin—that he is acquainted with the navigation of the North river.

“I have directed him to you instead of sending him on to Philadelphia lest the Count may have been at the Capes of Delaware & gone on to the Hook—I have to request that this Gentlemen may join the Count on the first appearance of the fleet, as his services will probably be very essential at the commencement of operations” (Df, in Richard Kidder Meade’s and Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC: GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). GW was expecting the arrival of Vice Admiral d’Estaing with a French fleet (see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 Oct.).

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