Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR. [PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.] - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799)
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TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR. [PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.] - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIV (1798-1799).
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TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Mount Vernon, 10 August, 1798.
My dear Sir,
You will consider this letter as private and confidential, dictated by friendship, and flowing from the best intentions. If then anything should be found therein, which may have too much the appearance of plain dealing, look to the motives and manner of the communication, and my apology will be sought for in your candor.
From the moment I accepted my appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the United States, I considered myself as nearly allied to the Secretary of War, and entitled to particular attentions from him, notwithstanding I drew no pay, nor was acting in the field. It could not have been supposed had it not otherwise been expressed, that I would be called to the army in the moment of danger as ignorant of its formation, its munitions, and every thing relating thereto, as if I had just dropped from the clouds.
My solicitude often and strongly expressed, relatively to the formation of the Army, could not but have impressed you with my ideas of its importance; but, if stronger evidence was necessary, the offer I made to go at this hot season, and in other respects inconvenient, to Philadelphia, would be conclusive. But what fruit has it produced? To this moment I am ignorant of every step, that has been taken in the appointment of the Battalion Officers, for recruiting the men, fixing the places of Rendezvous, &c.
With respect to the Quarter Master-General, finding no mention made of one in the list of appointments, nor any thing said of him in your letter of the 18th of July announcing them, I waited some time to see if any explanation of this matter would be given; but, finding none, I wrote to you on the 22d of that month to be informed of the cause, and not until the first of this was I answered. And, with respect to the Adjutant-General, I am to this moment unadvised of the result of Colo. Smith’s nomination. I have heard, indeed, that Colo. North was appointed, and that it had been announced in the Newspapers; but this I have not seen, altho’ I have examined them with an eye to it, as accurately as my hurried situation would allow.
Having staked my life, my reputation, my fortune, my ease, tranquillity, and happiness, in support of the Government and Independence of our Country, it is not a little interesting and important for me to be advised of the measures, which you are pursuing to organize and provide for the augmented force. For as that act is absolute, no delay can be admitted; and it is much to be desired, that it may take the field with éclat, which will not be effected without great exertion. And, as it will not be supposed that the President, well-disposed, sensible, and zealous as he is, can have many relative ideas in arrangements of this sort, more responsibility will attach to you; and, as the multiplicity of matters and burthens will be great, let me entreat you to call on the Inspector, (allowing him full pay and emoluments,) for assistance. The business of recruiting, in the result, belongs to his Department. Then why not let it commence and be prosecuted, agreeably to your general instructions to him, under his auspices?
It is much easier at all times to prevent an evil than to rectify mistakes; it is infinitely better to have a few good men than many indifferent ones. Officers, whose Recruiting emoluments depend upon numbers, will not be very scrupulous in their choice, without the fullest conviction that the Inspection of the men will be as rigid as the Instructions that are given. You would, besides, find him in your hurried situation extremely useful in a variety of occurrences, which cannot always be foreseen or provided against. I would have suggested a similar measure, with respect to General Knox, as it related more particularly to Arms and the Ordnance Department, but (under the rose for the present) he seems to be so much dissatisfied with the arrangement of the relative rank of the General Officers, that I have no expectation of his serving.
Let me conclude by requesting to be informed, in what state the formation of the augmented corps is; whether the applications for Commissions are numerous and the characters good; what arrangements are made for recruiting; where the general rendezvous are to be; who are appointed to superintend them; what is the present state of your Military supplies; what the means and what the measures for augmenting them. With much truth and sincerity, I remain your affectionate.1
[1 ]More delay and embarrassment than usual occurred at this time, in transmitting letters between General Washington and the members of the cabinet, on account of the removal of the public offices to Trenton, caused by the breaking out of the yellow fever in Philadelphia. The President was likewise on a visit to his seat in Massachusetts, and was detained there in consequence of sickness in his family. Congress had adjourned on the 16th of July. The Senate sat three days longer to consider nominations and complete the appointments.