From Thomas Parker
Charles Town Berkley 9th of October 1799
I had the honor to Receive your letter of the 28th Ultimo on Saturday last accompanied by one from Genl Hamilton.1
I fortunately met with Colo. Lear at this place yesterday morning & with him Carefully examined the different Situations in the Vicinity of the arsenal at Harper’s ferry. After the most mature deliberations I have with the intire Concurrence of Colo. Lear Given a Dicided preference to the Banks of the Shanandoah, Just Above Its Confluence with the potowmack for Two of the Regiments; and about a mile above & Immediately on a Canal which Supplies a Saw Mill for the other.
Those Situations are in my Opinion Rather too Confined But there is no other in the neighbourhood so Convenient for water & for wood—The Situations are Dry & I am Informed perfectly Healthy they are Both on Ground Belonging to the publick.
we Shall be obliged to have Recource to Ground on the Top of the Hill About Half a mile Distant from our Camp for our field parade.
As Timber for the purpose of making Slabs is verry Scarce in the neighbourhood I have Requested Mr [John] Mackie Superintendant of the public works to procure from The neighbouring saw mills as many Slabs as he Can for the purpose of Covering our Huts.
It woud be pleasing to me to Receive orders to move to my winter Quarters as early as possable.2
Colo. Lear who will deliver you this Letter & who has been extreamly attentive & serviceable to me in this Business will be able to Give you any further Information that you may Require.3 with the Highest Esteem & Respect I have the honor to be Sir your Obdt Servt
If you shoud be pleased to Give me any further orders I will thank you to direct to me at Winchester.
2. On 6 Oct. Parker wrote Hamilton: “I shall avail myself of the Aid of Colo. [Tobias] Lear who I understand is in The neighbourhood at Harpers Ferry & is perfectly acquainted with the Ground” (DLC: Hamilton Papers). After their visit to Harpers Ferry, Lear wrote to Parker from Charles Town on 10 Oct.: “The continued rain which has fallen this day has prevented my setting out for Mount Vernon as I intended. And as the Post leaves Alexandria for Winchester, on Sunday Morning, General Washington will hardly have time, after receiving yr letter to communicate his final orders to you, respecting the movement of your regiment, by the next mail. And, in that case, there will be a delay of one week, which, at this advanced season of the year, is too important to be lost. I have therefore thought it adviseable to send this letter to you by a special Messenger, and to say, that, in my opinion (founded upon the urgency experessd in the General’s letter to you for providing winter quarters without delay) it would be expedient to march your Regiment to Harper’s ferry as soon as you can after tuesday next, (which I presume is as early as it could be done) and, that no injury may arise from your taking this step, without final orders from the Commander in Chief, I promise you, in case he should have any reasons for delaying the movement, or making any alterations in the Arrangements for Cantoning the Troops, I will dispatch an express to you, with his orders, to meet you in Winchester on Tuesday Evening. Should you not receive any orders to the contrary at that time, you may conclude that the general arrangements made by you for providing winter quarters at Harper’s Ferry meets the approbation of the Commander in chief, and his further orders (if any) will be communicated to you in the course of the Post” (DLC:GW).
3. On 18 Oct. Lear wrote Parker from Mount Vernon: “On my arrival at this place on Sunday last, I delivered your letter to the Commander in Chief, and explained to him the Arrangements which you had made for hutting the Troops on the public Ground at Harper’s Ferry; and communicated to him also a Copy of the letter which I wrote to you from Charlestown on the 10th inst.—He approves these measures, and hopes by this time that your Regiment is on the ground, and doubts not but you will make every exertion in your power to have Winter Quarters provided before the weather becomes severe. . . . I delivered to General Washington the Simlin [Cymling; i.e., summer squash] seed which you was so good as to commit to my care for him, and mentioned the extraordinary produce which you had had from this Vegitable. The General returns his best thanks for these seed, and as he is desireous of going very largely into the cultivation of every vegitable and other production, that is likely to afford good food for Stock, he will be much obliged to you for as much of this Simlin seed as you can conveniently spare. And I will thank you for an account of the quantity produced by you this season, and the dimensions of the ground upon which they grew, and the distance at which the seed were planted from each other. If you can spare the General any more seed he will thank you to have it made up in a package and put into the Post Office, by which means he will get it more readily than if it should be committed to the charge of any private hand. I shall direct this letter to Winchester, at present; but I will thank you to let me know at what place to direct in future that letters by the mail may get early to your hands” (DLC:GW).