George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Dobbs, 16 July 1778

From William Dobbs

Fish Kill [N.Y.] July 16th 1778


I had the Honour of receiving your Excellency’s Letter of the 15th Inst. by Express—Should have immediately complied with the Request contained therein—but that it met me on my Sick Bed, in which Situation I have lain very ill with a severe Fit of the Fever and Ague for four Days past—I have therefore recommended two Persons, every Way adapted to the Purpose of Serving their Country in so material a Point, and have sent Expresses for them to Stamford and Sawpitt, at which places they reside, with orders not to delay a Moment in repairing to Your Excellency—their names are Martin Johnson and James Howlet, Men whom your Excellency may repose a Confidence in1—They are well acquainted with the Coast of America, and more especially so with the Coast and Harbour of N. York—they have followed piloting for some Years and were regular Branch pilots at that place—they will present your Excellency the Letters I sent them as vouchers for their Characters.2 I am Your Excellency’s most Obedient and very Humble Servant

Willm Dobbs


1James Howlett wrote GW on 4 Aug. 1781 from the provost at New York, asserting that he had been imprisoned for two years in consequence of his work as a pilot for d’Estaing. He was probably the “James Hallet” of Stamford, Conn., to whom GW wrote, along with Martin Johnson of Stamford and Dobbs, on 5 Oct. 1779, evidently about serving as pilots for the French fleet.

2These letters have not been identified.

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