From George Washington
Mount Vernon, Octr. 27th: 1799.
Since writing the enclosed letter to you yesterday, I have received a letter from Colo. Parker,1 and one from Mr. Mackey,2 Agent for the War Department at Harper’s Ferry; stating the impracticability of procuring plank &c. sufficient for covering the huts intended to have been built for three Regiments at Harper’s Ferry.
In consequence of this information I have again written to Colo. Parker, under this date, by Express, conforming my instructions, respecting Winter Quarters for the Troops, to the present state of things. I enclose a copy of my letter to him of this date,3 as well as that of yesterday,4 which will exhibit a full view of the business, and enable you to give any additional instructions you may think proper, directly to Colonel Parker.
Altho’ I had determined to take no charge of any military operations, unless the Troops should be called into the field; yet, under the present circumstances,5 and considering that the advanced season of the year will admit of no delay in providing Winter Quarters for the Troops, I have willingly given my aid in this business, and shall never decline any assistance in my power, when necessary, to promote the good of the Service.
On the first view, I supposed that the Regiment in this State, commanded by Colo. Bentley,6 was included in the three to be stationed at Harper’s Ferry. I find, however, that it is not. What provision is made for the Winter Quarters of that Regiment?
I have not said anything to Colo. Parker respecting compensation, or reimbursement of Expences he may incur by attending to Quartering the other Regiments, if they are seperated from his. On this subject you will be pleased to write him, if necessary.
With very great esteem & regard I am Sir, Your most obedt. Servt
Major Genl. Hamilton.
LS, in the handwriting of Tobias Lear, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; Df, in the handwriting of Tobias Lear, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Thomas Parker to Washington, October 24, 1799 (ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress). In this letter Parker suggested that the Ninth and Tenth Regiments be sent to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where there were sufficient barracks.
2. John Mackey to Washington, October 24, 1799 (ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress). In this letter Mackey reported that the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Regiments could not be hutted at Harpers Ferry because planks and slabs needed to cover the huts were not available.
3. Washington to Parker, October 27, 1799 (Df, in the handwriting of Tobias Lear, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; copy, in the handwriting of Tobias Lear, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). Washington stated that the primary purpose of quartering the three regiments at Harpers Ferry was the advantage to be had “in training and disciplining the Soldiers.” He suggested that the huts be constructed by the soldiers using logs instead of planks, which was the practice during the American Revolution. If this were not possible, one or more regiments were to be quartered at Frederick Town, Maryland.
4. Washington to Parker, October 26, 1799 (Df, in the handwriting of Tobias Lear, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; copy, in the handwriting of Tobias Lear, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). Washington wrote that he had asked H to order the remaining two regiments to Harpers Ferry in order to begin building huts.
5. On November 5, 1799, Washington wrote to James McHenry: “… I have departed from the resolution which I had formed, not to take charge of any military operations, unless the Army should be called into the Field, so far as to order the best arrangements to be made that circumstances would permit, at this advanced season of the year, for quartering these Regiments. Knowing that no time could be lost—and that the distance of Genl. Hamilton from this part of the Country would occasion considerable delay in the necessary communications, and that the situation of Genl. Pinckney’s family must prevent his personal attention to the business” (Df, in the handwriting of Tobias Lear, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).
6. William C. Bentley commanded the Seventh Regiment of Infantry, which was stationed in Richmond, Virginia. In H to Bentley, September 28, 1799 (listed in the appendix to this volume), H stated: “Some place in the vicinity of Augusta but above the falls of the Savannah is contemplated for the winter quarters of the fifth, sixth and seventh regiments.” See also H to McHenry, October 23, 1799; H to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, October 23, 1799.