George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Hunt, 5 October 1779

To Thomas Hunt

Head Quarters [West Point] October 5th 1779


There is a probability that some pilots well acquainted with the entrance into New York Harbour and the two Rivers North and East will be wanted for a service of the most important nature.1 I am persuaded you will be glad to have an opportunity of serving your Country upon this occasion; and I shall be obliged to you to engage any others in whose skill and fidelity you can rely. There is not a moments time to be lost for which reason I hope to see you at Head Quarters tomorrow together with those you may be able to engage.2 Their expences will be paid and a handsome compensation made for their services. I am Sir Yr Most Obedt huml. servant.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Thomas Hunt, of Quaker Hill in Dutchess County, N.Y., was a harbor and river pilot regarded for his knowledge of the East River. GW called on Hunt again in 1780 (see GW to Alexander McDougall, 2 July 1780, CSmH). When he was preparing for operations against New York in 1781, GW called Hunt to headquarters to provide information regarding navigation of western Long Island Sound and the East River (see GW to Hunt, 17 June 1781 [DLC:GW] and the associated but undated document “Questions proposed to Mr Hunt—with his Answers” [mis-dated in DLC:GW as July 1780]).

1See GW’s Circular to Pilots, this date. For GW’s plans for joint military operations with the French fleet that necessitated this call for pilots, see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 October.

2Hunt apparently reported, and GW sent him to Philadelphia. On 7 Oct., GW wrote to the Continental Congress Marine Committee from headquarters at West Point: “Mr Hunt the Gentleman who will have the honor of delivering you this, waits on you for your instructions—He is intimately acquainted with the passage of Hell Gate, and I flatter myself may be of essential service, to the Count” (Df, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

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