George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, 3 November 1799

To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Mount Vernon Novr 3d 1799

Dear Sir,

Your favour of the ⟨illegible⟩d inst. from New Port, came duly to hand, and gave Mrs Washington (who continues to be much indisposed but ⟨hopes soon to be⟩ well again) and myself much pleasure to hear of Mrs Pinckney⟨’s⟩ encreasing health. A little time ⟨illegible the⟩ fine settled weather we enjoy at present, will, we hope, restore it entirely.1

The Rout from Trenton, or Philadelphia to Harpers Ferry, is, as you have marked—Lancaster, York, Hanover (or better known by McAllisters Town) Frederick Town.2 The Road upon the whole good.

But another and better reason will induce you to take it. By ⟨a letter⟩ lately received from Colo. Parker, who had been instructed to make arrangements for Quartering (in Huts) the ⟨illegible⟩ Regiments on ground belonging to the U. S. (where the Arsenal is established in the vicinity of Harpers Ferry ⟨illegible⟩ and does not furnish sufficient ⟨illegible⟩ for building them, and that the Water, in both the Potomac and Shenandoah, are now so low, ⟨owing to⟩ the great drought of the Summer ⟨illegible⟩ no transportation in ⟨illegible available⟩ for the purpose of supplying those ⟨illegible⟩; and as the Season was so far advanced, that part of these Regiments had better go to Frederick Town in Maryld, than winter in Pennsylvania.3

Seperation of the Troops, was so contrary to my expectation and wishes, that I wrote two or three letters to Colo. Parker ⟨illegible to keep⟩ them. I resolved to send Colo. Lear to Harpers Ferry, and on the spot to determine whether such a seperation was indispensable; and in that case to proceed to Frederick Town to see what condition, and under what circumstances the Barracks at that place were; and whether attainable or not; as I believe they belong to the State. I have written a hypothetical letter on the Subject ⟨to⟩ the Governor thereof, to avoid delay, if such neccessity is manifest. Frederick Town is not more than twenty miles from Harpers Ferry, but the distance from the latter to Carlisle is considerably ⟨illegible⟩tion of the Troops ought ⟨illegible⟩, notwithstanding ⟨illegible⟩ Barracks at the latter, belonging ⟨illegible⟩ The condition the ⟨illegible⟩ certain it is that ⟨illegible⟩ cost more than the whole ⟨illegible⟩ at Harpers Ferry, ⟨illegible⟩ Cantoned at that place.4

The peculiar ⟨illegible which⟩ you were thrown by the ill health of Mrs Pinckney, and Genl Hamilton ⟨illegible asking that⟩ I would Instruct Colo. Parker ⟨illegible⟩ than he could in this business ⟨illegible⟩ inducements to ⟨illegible⟩ therein; for to go partially into military operations, is not only ⟨illegible⟩ upon, but adverse to my principles.

The situation of European Affairs is interesting and ⟨illegible⟩ much watchfulness ⟨illegible⟩ information respecting the Suspension ⟨illegible⟩ing of our Envoys has been ⟨illegible⟩ is my opinion from the ⟨Envoys illegible⟩ may be false. I thank you for the extract of Mr Mountflorence’s letter.

Mrs Washington and Mr and Mrs Lewis and Mr Custis, unite there best wishes with mine for the perfect restoration of Mrs Pinckneys health. With Compliments to yourself and the young Ladies At all times I am most sincerely dear Sir Your Most Obedt and affecte Hble Servant

Go: Washington

P.S. ⟨illegible⟩ I have in my last by Genl Hamilton asked what was to be the destination of the 7th Regiment for none has been mentioned in his Communication to me.

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW. GW docketed this letter: “1st Novr 1799.”

1In September Pinckney took his ill wife to Newport, R.I., seeking a cure. For Pinckney’s subsequent movements, see Presly Thornton to GW, 16 Sept., and note 1 of that document. For references to Martha Washington’s illness, see GW to Thomas Peter, 7 Sept., n.2. Pinckney’s letter to GW has not been found, but Pinckney wrote Alexander Hamilton on 12 Oct.: “Mrs: Pinckney’s health has so much mended lately, that I am in hopes I shall be able in about ten days to set out with her for Elizabeth Town [N.J.]; soon after which I shall have the pleasure of waiting on you, and also on the Secretary of War; and then proceed by easy Journeys to the vicinity of Harper’s Ferry” (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 23:525–26). Hamilton wrote Pinckney from New York on 23 Oct.: “Your letter of the 12th inst. found me at Trenton, from which place I have recently arrived” (ibid., 553–54). Pinckney was with Hamilton in New York on 28 Oct., before going on to Philadelphia. He left Philadelphia for Virginia probably on 15 Nov. (Hamilton to Thomas Parker, 28 Oct., DLC: Hamilton Papers; Zahniser, Pinckney, description begins Marvin R. Zahniser. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney: Founding Father. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1967. description ends 212).

2Hanover is in York County, Pa., on route 194 between York, Pa., and Frederick, Maryland.

3Thomas Parker’s letter to GW is dated 24 October. See also GW to Parker, 27 October.

4Much of this is illegible, but GW probably only more or less repeats here what he wrote to Hamilton and Parker on 27 Oct. about the disadvantages of quartering the 9th and 10th regiments in the old barracks in Frederick, Md., and Carlisle, Pa., instead of at Harpers Ferry as originally intended.

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