George Washington Papers

Circular Enlistment Instructions to Brigadier Generals and Brigade Commandants, 16 September–21 October 1778

Circular Enlistment Instructions to Brigadier Generals and Brigade Commandants

[16 Sept.–21 Oct. 1778]
Head Qrs1 Septr 21st 1778


With the money you have drawn2 from the pay master General, you will use your best endeavours to inlist the Drafts from Virginia & such of her Old Troops, whose present inlistments will expire before the last of May next,3 to serve for three years or during the War, in the Army of these United States.

To facilitate the Inlistments, you will put the money into the hands of such Officers as you may judge proper for the occasion.

Each Draft & Soldier inlisting, either for three years or during the War,4 is to be paid a bounty of Twenty Dollars. Besides this, he will receive the usual allowance of Cloathing and of Land.

Where the Inlistment is for three years, it is to commence5 from the expiration of the time of service for which the party inlisting stands now engaged.

You or the Officers appointed by you, are not to inlist the Drafts or Soldiers belonging to any but your own State.

The names of the Men who inlist, the time when—and the Terms for which they engage, whether for three years or during the War, are all to be particularly noted and set down, that there may not be any disputes or mistakes respecting the same. I am sir Your Most Obedt servt

Go: Washington

LS, addressed to Col. James Wood, 21 Sept., in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, CSmH; LS, addressed to Brig. Gen. James Clinton, 18 Oct., in Tench Tilghman’s writing, PPRF; LS [mutilated], addressed to Brig. Gen. William Smallwood, 21 Oct., in James McHenry’s writing, IaDaM; Df, addressed to Col. James Hogun, 16 Sept., in Harrison’s writing and signed by Harrison by GW’s command, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 14496; DfS, addressed to Brig. Gen. William Woodford, 21 Sept., in Harrison’s writing, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 31532; copy, addressed to Smallwood, 21 Oct., IaDaM. Harrison’s notation of Brig. Gen. Peter Muhlenberg’s name along with that of Woodford in the upper-left corner of the draft to Hogun suggests that these instructions were sent to him. Brig. Gen. John Nixon and Col. John Bailey also apparently received them (see Fitzpatrick, Writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799. 39 vols. Washington, D.C., 1931–44. description ends , 12:474, n.2). For the officers who received money during this time period for enlisting drafts and veteran troops, see note 2.

The LS and copy to Smallwood include a postscript that reads: “P.S. you will make a weekly report of the numbers inlisted.” For other significant variations in the text, see notes 1, 2, and 3.

1The LS to Clinton of 18 Oct. includes “Fredericksburg” at this place in the dateline.

2The draft to Hogun of 16 Sept. reads: “you drew yesterday.” GW’s warrant book shows that on 14 Sept., Col. James Hogun received a warrant for $2,000 “on accot for the purpose of reinlisting.” Warrants of varying amounts for the same purpose were subsequently issued to a number of other officers: 19 Sept., $4,000 to Brig. Gen. William Woodford, $3,000 to Brig. Gen. Peter Muhlenberg, and $2,000 to Col. James Wood; 20 Sept., $4,000 to Col. Josias Carvil Hall, $2,500 to Col. Thomas Clark, $3,500 to Col. John Bailey for Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Learned’s former brigade, $4,500 to Brig. Gen. John Nixon, $5,000 to Brig. Gen. John Paterson, and $2,500 to Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons; 23 Sept., $4,000 to Lt. Col. Francis Barber for Brig. Gen. William Maxwell’s brigade; and 2 Oct., $4,000 to Brig. Gen. William Smallwood (Revolutionary War Warrant Book 3, DLC:GW).

3The LS to Clinton reads: “from the State of New York”; the LS to Smallwood reads: “from Maryland”; and the draft to Hogun reads: “from North Carolina under your command.” The wording of text at this place in the draft to Woodford is the same as the text printed here.

4The draft to Hogun reads: “in either case.”

5At this place in the text, the draft to Hogun of 16 Sept. includes the words: “and to be accounted.” Harrison also wrote these words on the draft to Woodford of 21 Sept., but he subsequently struck them out.

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