George Washington Papers
Documents filtered by: Author="Washington, George" AND Recipient="Stirling, Lord (né William Alexander)" AND Period="Revolutionary War"
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From George Washington to Major General Stirling, 22 March 1780

To Major General Stirling

Head Quarters Morris Town 22d March 1780.

My Lord

Inclosed you will find an extract of a letter which I received yesterday from Governor Livingston, with twelve Copies of the Act for recruiting the number of Men therein mentioned.1 You will be pleased, in consequence of the Governor’s request, immediately to order as many Officers, as can possibly be spared from the Jersey line, to go upon the recruiting service, selecting such as are best acquainted with that duty, and who are supposed to have influence in the respective Counties—The Words of the Act are confined to “able bodied and effective Men” but I wish your Lordship to draw a set of additional instructions for the recruiting Officers, directing them not to inlist, under the above description, any Deserters from the Enemy; and letting them know, in very explicit terms, that the Recruits will, upon their arrival at Camp, be inspected by the Inspector General or one of the sub Inspectors, and, if they shall be found ruptured, or any ways unsound—too old or too young for the service, or in any manner unqualified for soldiers, that they shall be accountable, notwithstanding they may have been passed by the County Muster Masters appointed by the Act. I think this caution necessary, because it would not be a difficult matter to impose an improper Man upon a Gentleman in the Country, not well acquainted with or not very attentive to military matters.

You will be pleased further to direct the Officers to send forward their Recruits to Camp in squads of five or six, as they obtain them. For which purpose, each Officer should take with him a non Commd Officer and one or two trusty Men to perform that duty—well dressed and well looking Men should be selected.

Your Lordship will observe, by the Act, that a Bounty of one thousand dollars is to be paid to each Recruit inlisting for the War exclusive of the Continental Bounty and Emoluments, but that there may be no misconception or deception by the Officers or on the part of the Men, you are clearly to express, in the additional recruiting instructions, that the Continental Bounty and Emoluments only extend to Cloathing—Land—and such other benefits as may be hereafter allowed to soldiers serving during the War—In short—that one thousand Dollars is the whole Bounty in money which they are to expect. And the Officer is to be informed that the two hundred dollars Bounty allowed to him for each Recruit is to include, and to be considered by him as a compensation for his trouble and expence.

Officers of Militia are, under the Act, allowed to recruit Men, and it is therefore necessary that they should be apprized of the Bounty in Money. The best way, in my opinion, for communicating this, is, for the Continental Officers, upon their arrival in the several Counties, to shew their instructions to the County Muster Masters, and County pay Masters, and request them to communicate the substance of them to the Officers of the Militia.

I shall be obliged by your Lordship’s favoring me with a Copy of the instructions which you deliver to the Officers, that I may file them with my papers.2 I am with great Regard Yr Lordships most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NHi: Stirling Papers; DF, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Stirling replied to GW from Basking Ridge, N.J., on 24 March: “I duly received your Excellency’s letter of the 22d accompanied by a[n] Extract of a letter from Govr Livingston with twelve Copies of the Act for recruiting the Number of Men therein Mentioned within this State. I immediately requested all the feild Officers in Camp belonging to the three Jersey Regiments to meet General Maxwell at his Qrs in order to fix upon twelve of the most proper Officers to Carry the Law into Execution in the different Counties of this State: which they were to finish Yesterday Evening. In the Mean time I drew up the enclosed Instructions, twelve Copies of which were finished and sent with the Laws to Colonel Barber who has promised me to fill up the Blanks and to see the recruiting parties sent of[f] in the best Manner and as soon as possible. I expect they will all be off tomorrow if the weather permits. I hope your Excellency will find the Instructions as explicit as you intended. As soon as I get from Colonel Barber the Return of the Officers Names & Ranks, and the different Counties they are sent to, I will forward it to your Excellency” (ALS, DLC:GW; DfS, NHi: Stirling Papers). For the enclosure, see n.2 below. GW reported the weather at Morristown on 25 March in his diary entry for that date: “Morning fine, being clear, warm, pleasant . … About the hour of nine the wind came fresh from the West & shifting to the No. West blew very hard & became very cold towards Evening” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:349).

1See William Livingston to GW, 15 March, and the source note and n.1 to that document.

2Stirling prepared a document titled “Recruiting Instructions” while “in Camp near Morris Town” (Jockey Hollow) on 23 March. It reads: “For [ ] of the [ ] Regiment of New Jersey in the Service of the United States.

“By a Law of the State of New Jersey passed at Trentown the eleventh Day of this Instant March Four Hundred able bodied and effective Voluntiers are to be inlisted into the three Regiments of this State in the Service of the United States, to continue in the said Service during the present War with Great-Brittain. And for the better carrying the said Law into Execution; as soon as possible officers are to be appointed and sent into the different Counties of this State for the Purpose of inlisting and forwarding such recruits as may engage in the Service.

“You are therefore by Order from the Commander in Chief appointed to proceed forthwith into the County of [ ] in this State, and there use your best Endeavours to inlist as many able Bodied Voluntiers as you can on the Terms and Conditions of the said Law, a Copy of which you have herewith for the Government of your Conduct in carrying the same into Execution.

“You are further to observe that the Men you inlist, be not only able bodied and effective, but streight and well limbed, of proper Heigth, and Shape for a Soldier, not upwards of forty Years of Age, nor under eighteen (unless the recruit should be of remarkable Strenght and growth) clear of Rupture, Unsoundness or any other Defect, fixt or habitual Desease that may render him unfit for an active Soldier. And you are by no Means to enlist any Deserter from the brittish Army. The Men on their Arrival in Camp will be critically examined by the Inspector General or one of the Sub. Inspectors, and if any one be found defective in any one of these Points, they will be rejected notwithstanding they may have been passed by the County Muster Master appointed by the Act.

“You will be furnished with an active Non commissioned Officer two Privates and one Drum from the Regiment you belong to, in order to assist in this Business, and in bringing the recruits to the Regiment whom you are from time to time to send to it as soon as you can make up a Squad of five or six of them with a Return of them to the commanding Officer of the regiment—You will take particular Care that your Party be kept in good Order, and of decent friendly Beheaviour to the People of the Country, and clean and well dressed as their Circumstances will admit of.

“You will observe in the Law before mentioned that each recruit is to receive a Bounty of One thousand Dollars, exclusive of the continental Bounty and Emoluments—by these last Words are to be understood the Cloathing, Land and such other Benefits, as may be heriafter allowed by Congress to Soldiers serving during the War, you will therefore be carefull to explain it to the Men you inlist that the One thousand Dollars is the whole Bounty in Money they are to expect, and you are to consider the two Hundred Dollars Bounty allowed by the Law to the recruiting Officer for each Voluntier he shall enlist agreeable to the Act as the full intended Compensation for your Trouble & Expense in this Service, however, you and your Party may draw your Rations of Provision from the County Commissary on your Certifycate of their Numbers.

“On your Arrival in the County of [ ] you are to shew these Instructions to the County muster Master, and the County Pay Master, and request them to communicate the Substance of them, to the Officers of Militia, that such of them as may incline to enlist Men by Virtue of the Act may be informed of the requisites necessary to quallify a recruit to be received in the Regiments and that they may act uniformly with you in carrying the Law into Execution.

“You are Weekly to inform me, and Genl Maxwell of your Success in this Service, with a Return of the Number you had enlisted by the last Return, the Number since and the Number sent to Camp.

“You are to use your utmost Vigilence in forwarding this Service, as the Law giving this Bounty will expire on the 20th of May next, after which Day, you are with your Party and recruits immeadiately to join your Regt.

“You are while on this Service to use your utmost Endeavours to detect all Deserters from the continental Army and send them to Camp or to their respective Regiments, for which you will be allowed one hundred Dollars each, payable by the Pay Master of the Regiment he belongs to, and all Men on furlough who have over staid their time, and sick absent who have recovered are to be sent into Camp as soon as possable” (DLC:GW).

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