George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Continental Congress Marine Committee, 6 October 1779

To the Continental Congress Marine Committee

West point Octobr 6th 1779


I had the honor yesterday to receive your favor of the 28th of September—accompanied by a Copy of your Letter of the same date to the Commissioners of the Navy Board at Boston; and am happy in the correspondence of your ideas, with mine upon the subject of it. I wrote Congress on the 4th Instant, and suggested to them the eligibility of the plan which you had already adopted.1

I take the liberty to transmit the inclosed Letter for his Excellency Count D’Estaing to your care—and request that it may meet him on his earliest arrival off the Capes of Delaware.2 The contents of it are very important and interesting; which considerations will induce the Honourable Committee not to confide it to the care of any person, who is not a trusty and good friend. It cannot reach His Excellency the Count too expeditiously.3

Two pilots—Capn Dobbs & a Mr Redfield4 set out a few hours ago for Philadelphia—and I should hope from the measures I have taken—that there will be Others immediately with you—or on the Coast of Monmouth, ready to embark on board the Count’s Squadron.5 I have the honor to be with great respect Gentn Yr Most Obedt servant

Go: Washington

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

3The committee apparently entrusted the letter to a “Mr. Snyder.” On 23 Oct., Deputy Q.M. Gen. John Mitchell, at Philadelphia, wrote to GW’s aide Alexander Hamilton, then at Great Egg Harbor, N.J., to meet Vice Admiral d’Estaing. The letter reads in part: “If you meet with Mr. Snyder who had the charge of His Excellencys first dispatches for the Count D’Estang, and think it proper to take them from him, it will save a considerable expence” (Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 2:210).

4In 1781, GW identified William Redfield, of Middletown, Conn., as a Hudson River pilot “who was at the sinking of the Frize’s at Fort Washington” (“Questions proposed to Mr Hunt—with his Answers,” June 1781 [misdated in DLC:GW as July 1780]).

5See Circular to Pilots and GW to Thomas Hunt, both 5 Oct., and GW to William Livingston, 4 and 5 October. Hamilton wrote to the Marine Committee from headquarters on this date: “Mr Dobbs and Mr Redfield are engaged to go on Board the French fleet as pilots—The former is well acquainted with the passage of the Hook and the latter with the navigation of the North River. The General having received information, that the fleet is to call in at the Delaware, has referred them to the Marine Committee, whom he requests to give them the necessary directions for going on board in the most expeditious manner—He was just setting out with Mr Gerard on a visit to the works when these persons arrived at Head Quarters; and to avoid detaining them, left orders with me to despatch them with a letter to you. He has also sent into the Jerseys to engage other pilots who reside there and has ⟨dir⟩ected them to be hastened on to the Committee” (DLC:GW).

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