George Washington Papers

General Orders, 5 February 1781

General Orders

[New Windsor] Monday February 5th 1781

Parole Countersigns [  ]

The commanding officers of corps will furnish the recruiting officers of their respective regiments now out, or who may be sent out, with the following instructions signed by themselves.


You are to repair as soon as possible to the State of —— for the purpose of inlisting and forwarding recruits, as mention’d in the resolution of Congress of the 3d of October last.1

You will on your arrival apply to the executive authority of the state for directions relative to the mode of Subsisting yourself and your parties, the conditions of inlistments and the rendezvous of the recruits.

You are to inlist none but such persons as the Law permits Subjects or inhabitants of the State of [  ] not under the age of sixteen nor above that of fifty of sufficient stature and ability of body to discharge all the duties of a private soldier, free from lameness, or other infirmity which may render him incapable thereof.

You are not to inlist any deserters from the Enemy nor any person disaffected or suspicious character with respect to the government of these States. All the charge and expence of a recruit who does not pass muster for either of these defects or disqualifications shall be defrayed by the officer who engaged him.

You will have every recruit attested before a peace officer General Officer Judge Advocate or one of his deputies agreeable to the third Section of the Articles of War;2 and you will require him to sign a paper which shall express the term and conditions of Service for which he is engaged and the bounty he has receiv’d fairly written at length without Erasure or Interlineation so as to prevent all ambiguity, doubts or dispute, and after the Recruit is so attested and engaged you are on no account to exchange or discharge him.

You will carefully enter your Recruits on a size roll specifying in seperate columns the Name, Age, size, trade or profession, place of nativity, place of residence, time of inlistment, draft, term of Service, bounty in money clothing &ca.

And you will report Monthly to the commanding officer of your regiment the number of men you have receiv’d or enlisted and transmit size rolls of the draughts or recruits whom you shall from time to time send on to the regiment. To. [  ] Given at this [  ] day of [  ] 178.

The Cloathiers of the New Hampshire Rhode Island Massachusetts Connecticut and Jersey Lines, the Artillery and Hazen’s Regiment will call upon the Cloathier General for their respective proportions of Blankets.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1In its resolution of 3 Oct. 1780 reorganizing the Continental army, Congress directed, as part of the effort to supply recruits to fill the Continental army’s units to full strength, “that a recruiting officer from each corps be kept in the state to which the regiments respectively belong, to inlist recruits for the war, as well to relieve those who are engaged for a shorter or limited term” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 18:895; see also Samuel Huntington to GW, 26 Oct., n.1).

2Section 3, article 1, of the articles of war reads: “Every non-commissioned officer and soldier, who shall inlist himself in the service of the United States, shall at the time of his so inlisting, or within six days afterwards, have the articles for the government of the forces of the United States read to him, and shall, by the officer who inlisted him, or by the commanding officer of the troop or company into which he was inlisted, be taken before the next justice of the peace, or chief magistrate of any city or town-corporate, not being an officer of the army, or, where recourse cannot be had to the civil magistrate, before the judge-advocate, and, in his presence, shall take the following oath, or affirmation, if conscientiously scrupulous about taking an oath:

“I swear, or affirm, (as the case may be,) to be true to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever; and to observe and obey the orders of the Continental Congress, and the orders of the generals and officers set over me by them,” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:790).

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