Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Parker, 21 October 1799

To Thomas Parker

New York October 21. 1799


Your letter of the 10 instant, by reason of my absence at Trenton,1 was not received till the 19th.

Its contents are somewhat embarrassing. A leading feature of the plan for Winter Quarters which in conformity with arrangements with the Department of War was indicated by my instructions to you is that Timber for hutting and wood for fuel should be found on the premisses.2 The additional instruction to you from the Commander in Chief3 appears to me to contemplate the same thing; and yet your letter informs me that the spot fixed upon does not offer this advantage and that with the advice of Mr. Lear you had employed Mr. Mackie to procure the necessary articles for building.4

It would seem from this as if in your arrangement the idea of butts had been exchanged for that of barracks. This under all the circumstances of the case would be too extensive—and being contrary to my authority from the Secretary of War cannot be ratified.

Perhaps nothing more is intended than to procure rough Timber fit for hutts from some spot not distant which would not materially enhance the expence. If so—the business may proceed.

Otherwise a different course must be taken, in respect to which I have asked the favour of the Commander in Chief to give directions.5

You have been already informed that the Agent of the War Department, who I understand to be Mr. Mackie, the Gentleman you mention, has been authorised to procure boards for roofs &c. The Assistant Quarter Master General has been requested to furnish him with five thousand Dollars.6

You will of course enter into a particular explanation in your next letter.

With great consi

Col Parker

ADf, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1H had been in Trenton from October 8 to October 17, 1799, for a conference concerning the Western Army with James McHenry, James Wilkinson, and William North. See McHenry to H, August 29, 1799, note 1; H to McHenry, October 6, 1799; H to James Miller, October 7, 1799; H to Elizabeth Hamilton, October 17, 1799; H to George Washington, first letter of October 21, 1799.

3Washington to Parker, September 28, 1799 (ALS, letterpress copy, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress). See also Washington to H, September 29, 1799.

4See Parker to H, October 10, 16, 1799.

5The letter printed above was enclosed in H to Washington, second letter of October 21, 1799. Washington then sent it to Parker as an enclosure on October 26, 1799 (Df, in Tobias Lear’s handwriting, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress; copy, in Tobias Lear’s handwriting, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

6H to Miller, October 21, 1799 (listed in the appendix to this volume).

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