To James McHenry
Mount Vernon 1st Augt 1798
The letters herewith, from Colonels Fitzgerald & Simms, conveys all the information I am enabled to give you relatively to the characters of Captn Piercy (who is a good looking man—apparently turned of Forty) and Mr Bent.1
Where applications are made to me by persons whom I know, or from the Report of those in whom I can confide, believe are deserving, I shall pass them on to your Office; with special notice when the case requires it.
Whether the suggestion contained in Mr James Shephards letter (also under cover with this) is worthy of Investigation by the Secretary of the Navy, you & he will be able to decide, when you read it. I have, in answer, pointed out that mode as best for him to pursue.2 I am Dr Sir Yrs &ca
ALS (photocopy), NjP: Armstrong Photostats; ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.
1. The letters to GW from “Colonels [John] Fitzgerald & [Charles] Simms,” both of Alexandria, have not been found. Capt. Henry Piercy of Alexandria, who during the Revolution served in Pennsylvania regiments, had been living in Virginia for six years, and in January 1799 he was commissioned a captain in the U.S. infantry. Lemuel Bent, a native of Massachusetts, had lived in Virginia since 1791 and was a captain in the Fairfax County militia. He was made a lieutenant in January 1799 in the 8th Regiment of the U.S. infantry. See Candidates for Army Appointments in Virginia, November 1798 (DLC:GW).
2. GW replied on 30 July to James Shephard’s missing letter of 30 June: “Sir, Your letter of the 30th of last month would have received an earlier acknowledgment, had I not—for some time past—been occupied in matters that called for more immediate attention.
“As my taking the Field depends upon contingencies, and may, or may not, according to circumstances, happen. Nay, if it should happen, your application even in that case ought, in the first instance, to go to the Secretary of the Navy; I do advise (if you have entire confidence in your plan) that you submit the project to Benjn Stoddart Esqr. the Secretary of that Department, in Philadelphia to whom Naval matters, and every thing thereunto belonging, is entrusted by the Government; and who will, I am persuaded, give it all the attention its merits may deserve. I am Sir—Yr Very Hble Servt Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, DLC:GW).