George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James McHenry, 11 May 1799

From James McHenry

War Department [Philadelphia] 11th May 1799


I enclose you three letters, one from Mr Posey recommending Mr Thomas Hord to a Majority in the provisional army; another from James Machir Esqr. recommending Mr William Bullett for the same grade; and one from Alexander Spotswood offering his services.1 You will please to return these letters with the list you have been requested to furnish, when it shall be completed.2 I have the honor to be, with the greatest respe[c]t, Sir, your most Obt Hle St

James McHenry


1For the role GW played in the compilation of a list of Virginians who might serve as officers if the Provisional Army authorized by Congress on 2 Mar. 1799 were called into being, see McHenry to GW, 2 May, n.1. The letter of 2 May to McHenry from Gen. Thomas Posey (1750–1818), who lived in Kentucky but wrote from Fredericksburg, Va., reads: “I take the liberty of recommending Majr Thomas Hord of Caroline county to your notice in the appointments to be made for officering the provisional Army. I observe by the papers that the President has thought it necessary to organize the provisional Regiments—Should this be the case you may rely in full confidance with respect to the virtue patriotism and abillities of Majr Thomas Hord. He was a valuable Officer in our late revolution—was very much wounded and cut to pieces in Bufords defeat—is a warm friend to our Genl Government—is a steady Opposer of John Taylor to whome he is a neighbour—and is independant in his circumstances. Majr Hord did not solicit me to write to you for an appointment, but from my knowledge of the man I think he will be a great acquisition to the Army agreeable to the rank he may hold. I asked him if he would accept of a commission in the provisional army, he said if his country needed his services—that is if his country was in danger of an insurection or invasion he was ready and willing to serve in the rank of a field officer should the President think proper to confer such an appointment upon. I think his rank at the end of the war was a captain” (DLC:GW).

Thomas Hord served as an officer in the Virginia forces during the Revolution and had risen to the rank of captain lieutenant in the 6th Virginia Regiment when in May 1780 he was wounded and taken prisoner in Charleston, South Carolina.

Former congressman James Machir wrote to McHenry from Moorefield in Hardy County on 28 April: “Seing a paragraph in a news paper which mentions the presidents determination to rease the provisional army. I am requested to name for an appointment Major William Bullitt of Hardy county whose character & conduct Justifies the recommendation—Major Bullitt commanded a Batalion against the Insurgents in 1793 and was much respected as a good Officer—he is respected in his Neighbourhood as a good member of Society and well qualified should the president think proper to confer a majority on him I have [n]o doubt of Major Bullitts doing honor to the rank in which he may be placed. on my return Home from congress and from a view of our district I was induced to decline taking a poll again—there being a Federal candidate who could not be prevailed upon to give way, and a division of that Interest would have given a greater certainty of success to the democratic candidate—the 24th was the important day in virginia and I am fearful our district has not effected our wish on the occasion⟨.⟩ my friends were displeased at my declining and were sanguine as to my chance of being elected against both Candidates. however I was affraid to risk the matter at this important moment and should the mock republican gain the victory it is more to be imputed to Federal imprudence than Jacobinic influence, altho. the exertions of the Latter have been very great th[r]ough the State—and every electioneering trick that could be invented was excercised by them. . . . P.S. our District is extensive and the exact state of the poll unknown” (DLC:GW). John Haymond, who replaced Machir as the Federalist candidate from Virginia’s third district, lost to George Jackson in the election held on 24 April (see John Marshall to GW, 1 May, n.2).

GW’s friend Alexander Spotswood wrote McHenry from his house New Post on 3 May: “Through you, I beg leave to Tender my Services, to his Excellency the president of the United States, as an officer in the provisional Army. I shall only observe, That I am well acquainted with the wants and detail of an Army; and for my General Tactical Knowledge, and other Requisites Necessary for a man to possess to entitle him to a Command in the American Army; I beg leave to refer to Lieutenant General Washington” (DLC:GW).

2On 19 July McHenry sent GW: “recommendations of Jesse Bennet, Allyn Pryor, John Allen, Andrew Donnelly, Henry Skyles & Arthur Owens. These recommendations, you will please to return, when a list of the applicants for the State of Virginia is complete” (DLC:GW). And on 7 Aug. McHenry sent GW “Recommendations in favour of Mr James Glenn for a Captaincy in the Provisional Army” (DLC:GW). See also GW to McHenry, 12 Aug., n.1.

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