To Benjamin Ogle
Mount Vernon, Octr 28th 1799.
It having been determined to station three Regiments of the United States Troops at Harper’s Ferry, orders were given to provide huts there for their winter Quarters; but, from the Report of Colo. Parker, the Officer to whom this business was committed, it appears impracticable to provide the materials, in due season, to build the huts at that place. It therefore becomes necessary to procure other quarters without delay: And as the Barracks near Frederick town, belonging, as I am informed, to the State of Maryland, would probably, on many accounts, be the most eligable, I have to request the favor of Your Excellency to let me know if they could be had this winter, for the use of the United States, in case they should be wanting, and should be found, on inspection, to answer the purpose without incurring an unreasonable expence to the United States.1
Your Excellency’s answer to this, as soon as is convenient, will much oblige me. And, if there be no objection to the Barracks being occupied by the United States Troops, if wanting, it would save much time to have some person, in or near Frederick Town, empowered to communicate on the subject with Colo. Thomas Parker, of the eighth United States Regiment, to whose charge this business is committed, and who will be either at Frederick town, or with his Regiment at Harper’s Ferry.
Altho’ it was my determination, when I accepted the Command of the Army, not to take charge of any military operations, unless the Troops should be called into the Field; yet, on the present occasion, I am urged to give some instructions for providing Winter Quarters for three Regiments which are to be stationed at or near Harper’s Ferry, as much delay, and consequently injury to the service at this advanced season, would arise from waiting for communications from Genl Hamilton, at the distance he is from that part of the Country. It is therefore owing to this cause that I address your Excellency on this subject.2 With great Respect, I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s most obedt Servt
LS, MdAA; Df, DLC:GW. Both are in the hand of Tobias Lear.
2. Benjamin Ogle, governor of Maryland since 1798, wrote to GW from “In Council Annapolis” on 2 Nov.: “Sir, We have had the honour to receive your Letter of the twenty eighth ultimo, requesting the use of the Barracks at Frederick Town for the Troops of the United States. and have concluded that they may be used for that purpose. Agreeably to your desire we have appointed George Murdock, Philip Thomas and Valentine Brother Esquires who are the Agents for the State for other purposes respecting these Barracks to communicate our determination on this subject to Colonel Parker” (MdAA: Council Letter Book, 1796–1818).
On 4 Nov. Tobias Lear wrote GW that he and Col. Thomas Parker had gone into Frederick from Harpers Ferry “to examine the state of the Barracks there.” Finding them “in the most ruinous condition,” they had decided “that nothing could be done to render them habitable for Troops this winter.” After receiving this report, GW wrote Ogle on 11 Nov.: “Sir, On my return home yesterday, after an absence of a few days, I had the honor to receive Your Excellency’s letter of the 2d Instant, and am much obliged by your polite attention to my request respecting the Barracks at Frederick Town. But as they were found, upon Colo. Parker’s inspecting them, to be so much out of repair as not to admit of their being put in order for the reception of Troops in due season, measures have been taken to provide other quarters. With great Respect, I have the honor to be, Your Excellency’s most Obedt Servt Go: Washington” (LS, MdAA; Df DLC:GW).