George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from James McHenry, 30 October 1798

From James McHenry

War Department 30 Octbr 1798

Dear Sir

I had the honour to receive your letter of the 23d Instant.

I received a letter this morning from the President, by which I find, that Mrs Adams’ health is so low, and her life so precarious, that it will be impossible for him to leave her till it becomes absolutely necessary for him to meet Congress. I regret extremely this circumstance, as well on account of the cause, as being deprived of his opinions. But that no delay may thence arise to the service, he authorises me, in case the generals and I should judge it necessary, that the officers of battalions should be appointed, before the meeting of Congress, to fill up their commissions out of the blanks I have in my possession.1

General Pinckney who is here, for a few days, I expect will give his attendance on the 10th of next month, at which time I also expect General Hamilton.

Inclosed is a copy of a letter from General Knox, declining the appointment of third Major General, so that we cannot count upon his aid or assistance.2

Having disclosed to you the object of this conference in my letter dated the 16 inst. I flatter myself it will be in your power to give your attendance on or about the 10th of November next at this City or Philadelphia, as the case may be; and that you will bring with you the letters and recommendations respecting candidates from the Southern district, and all such papers as may be useful, as well as the inclosed list of officers who continued in service to the end of our revolutionary war.3 With sincere respect & esteem I have the honour to be Dr Sir Your most ob. & hble servt

James McHenry

P.S. 8 o’clock P.M. I have this moment received your letter of the 26 inst. and a little satirical note from Miss Custis, which I must correct her some day or other for having written.4

ALS, DLC:GW; ALS, MHi: Adams Papers.

1Adams’s letter, dated 22 Oct., is in DLC: McHenry Papers.

2The enclosed letter to McHenry from Henry Knox, dated 23 Oct., reads in part: “I have received your letter, enclosing a commission, and giving me to understand, that A. Hamilton is ranked as the first, C.C. Pinckney the second, and myself as the third Major General, and this arrangement is considered as definitive. In so plain a case, it is unnecessary to multiply words. The impossibility of my serving under Officers so much my juniors, must have been known, to those who made the arrangement. The principle that no Officer can consent, to his own degradation, by serving in an inferior station, is well known, and established among military men. The duty which I owe to myself, precludes my placing myself, in such a situation. I therefore definitively decline the appointment of third Major General” (DLC:GW).

4Letter not found.

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