George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Marshall, Edward Carrington, and William Heth, 12 May 1799

To John Marshall, Edward Carrington, and William Heth

Mount Vernon May 12th 1799


Although the letter, of which the enclosed is a copy, is of old date, it has but just been received from the Secretary of War.1

Without aid, it will be impossible for me to carry his views into effect; which, & the confidence I place in you, is the best apology I can make for asking you to assist me, in the business required.

I have, with the exception of short intervals, been so many years absent from this State; & so little from my own home while in it, that, I am as little acquainted with present characters—a few excepted—as almost any man in it; and, alone, as incompetent to a judicious selection of Officers to the force contemplated.

The object, and principles, being sufficiently developed in the letter. Indeed being all the information I have on the subject, renders it unnecessary for me to add any sentiment of my own thereto—further than that your aid in making the selection, would be beneficial in a public view, and obliging me as an individual.

No reason, that I can perceive, is opposed to the measure’s being known, as a cautionary preparative for an exigency, which, eventually, may happen; and would, should it happen, save much time in the Organization, when very little could be afforded under the pressure of the occasion.

That you may want no light I can afford, I enclose also, the Inspector General’s division, & Subdivision of the State into Recruiting, & Rendezvousing districts; in order that, the Secretary’s idea respecting the distribution (as near as may be) of Officers to the population thereof, may have its due consideration.2 I forward likewise, a list of the Virginia quota of Officers for the 12 Regiments, as arranged at Philadelphia in November last; but it is not in my power to discriminate between those who have, & those who have not accepted their Appointments.3 With great & sincere esteem & regd—I am always—Your Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; copy, on deposit at ViU.

1For the text of James McHenry’s letter of 10 April, see McHenry to GW, 2 May, n.1. See also GW to Daniel Morgan, 10 May. An asterisk indicates that at the end of this paragraph should be added: “a reason has been assigned for it.”

2For the plan drawn up by Alexander Hamilton for recruiting soldiers in Virginia, see Hamilton to GW, 27 Mar., n.2. For the identifying of men who might serve as officers in the proposed Provisional Army, see McHenry to GW, 2 May, n.1.

3For the list of Virginia officers recommended to James McHenry for appointment in the New Army, see List of Officers for Virginia Regiments in the New Army, c.21 May 1799.

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