George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James McHenry, 1 November 1798

From James McHenry

Trenton [N.J.] 1 Novr 1798

Dr Sir

I reced yesterday a letter from Major General Pinckney a copy of which as I knew it would give you pleasure is inclosed.1 Yours ever & affty

James McHenry


1Charles Cotesworth Pinckney’s letter to McHenry of 31 Oct. from Trenton reads: “Agreably to your desire expressed in your favor of yesterday, I shall endeavor to be with you either at this place, or Philadelphia, by the tenth of the next month. I am sorry that Genl Knox has declined his appointment. A few hours after the vessel in which I came, had cast anchor in the North River, it was intimated to me, that it had been doubted whether I would accept my appointment, as Genl Hamilton who was of inferior rank to me in the last war, was ranked before me in the new arrangement. I declared then, & I still declare, that it was with the greatest pleasure, I saw his name at the head of the list of the Major Generals, & applauded the discernment which had placed him there. I knew that his talents in war were great, that he had a genius capable of forming an extensive military plan, & a spirit courageous & enterprizing, equal to the execution of it. I therefore without any hesitation immediately sent him word by Major Rutiedge, that I rejoiced at his appointment & would with pleasure serve under him. It was not untill about ten days ago, that I was informed by my friend Major Haskell, that Genl Knox was dissatisfied that Genl Hamilton & myself, were placed before him. As I consider’d Genl Knox to be a very valuable Officer, tho’ I do not estimate his talents in a degree equal to those of Genl Hamilton, I told the Major that rather than the feelings of Genl Knox should be hurt, at my being ranked before him, he might take my place in the arrangement, & I desired him when he wrote to the General, to intimate this to him. Genl Knox’s absolute refusal to serve because, I am placed before him, would render the same offer from me, now, improper. I do not therefore renew it. But if the authority which appointed me to the rank of Second Major General in the Army, will review the arrangement, & place Genl Knox before me, I will neither quit the service, nor be dissatisfied” (DLC:GW).

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