George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Joseph Reed, 24 June 1781

Head Quarters New Windsor 24th June 1781.

Dear Sir

In the course of our expected operations we shall stand in need of a species of troops, which are not at present to be procured either in this Army or in any of the States to the Northward of Pennsylvania—They are expert Rifle Men. The use of these Men will be to fire into the embrasures and to drive the enemy from their parapets when our approaches are carried very near to their Works. Without this can be done, our loss will be immense when we shall come within Musquet Shot—General Lincoln informs me that the enemy made use of this mode at the Seige of Charlestown, and that his Batteries were in a manner silenced, untill he opposed the same kind of troops and made it as dangerous for the enemy to shew their Men as it had been before for him to expose his—The number which we shall want will be about three hundred, and I shall be exceedingly obliged to your Excellency if you will endeavour to procure so many from the Frontier of Pennsylvania. Had the Quota of Militia from your State have come to this Army, I should have endeavoured to have selected the required number from among them—But that not being the case—I think it but reasonable that the expence of raising the Rifle Men should be Continental. I have written to this effect to Congress and have requested the president to signify their approbation to your Excellency if they think proper to acceede to it—I would wish the Corps to be formed into six Companies of 50 each under the command of a Captain and two subs—the whole to be commanded by a Major—The term of service to the 1st day of January next—The choice of the officers I shall leave to Your Excellency. If Major Parr formerly of the 7th Penna Regt would engage in such a service a better Officer could not be found for the purpose. The Bounty cannot now be determined, and therefore it will be with you to procure them on as low terms as possible—But that the business may not be retarded for want of proper encouragement, I would wish you to make yourself acquainted with the Sum which will most probably engage them and offer that, whatever it may be—One of the terms should be that they are to find their own Rifles as we have none in Store—I shall be glad to hear as soon as possible what probability there will be of succeeding in this undertaking—The greater part of the Men, must be with the Army by the 1st of Augt or their services will be useless afterwards. I have the Honor to be with great Esteem Yr Excellency’s Most obt Servt.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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