George Reid of Londonderry was one of the few New Hampshire officers who served for virtually the entire Revolutionary War.
Reid was under the command of John Stark at the Battle of Bunker Hill and was the commanding officer of the First New Hampshire Regiment more than eight years later when that unit was dissolved on January 1, 1784, at the close of the war.
A native of Londonderry, Reid was born in 1733. He grew up as a farmer, although his father was a university graduate, and it is evident from George's letters in later years that he received more education than many other people of that day. He was married in 1765 to Mary Washburn, a woman whose skills and talents must have matched her reported beauty, for she expertly managed the Reid household and farm during her husband's long years of military service.
Reid was a captain in a company of Londonderry men who marched to Boston in time to participate in the Battle of Bunker Hill. His brave actions in that conflict resulted in his appointment on January 1, 1776 as a captain in the Fifth Regiment of the Continental Army. His rise in rank was rapid from that time, as he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in 1777 and a colonel the following year.
Reid participated in many of the important battles of the war including Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, Saratoga and Stillwater. Although several officers returned home during the winter of 1777, he remained with the troops at Valley Forge and was a member of Sullivan's expedition against the Indians of the Six Nations.
He was the commander of the First New Hampshire Regiment from April, 1783, until the unit was dissolved at the end of the year. In 1785, he was promoted to brigadier general in charge of the New Hampshire troops.
Reid was 52 years old when he left for the war, and it was eight years before he returned home to stay. Nevertheless, he continued his service to the state. In 1786, he commanded a small number of soldiers who put down a minor rebellion in Exeter. The rebels were part of a public clamor for the issuance of paper for the payment of taxes and debts. Though the voters of his own Londonderry had supported paper money, Reid carried out the orders of President John Sullivan and put down the rebellion. Later an angry crowd surrounded his house and threatened his life, but the old general faced them alone and dispersed the mob with out further incident. He was appointed Rockingham County sheriff in 1791.
The Reids eventually moved from their farm to a public house in the center of Londonderry. He died there in 1815 at the age of 83.
By Peter E. Randall
Originally published in "NH: Years of Revolution," Profiles Publications and the NH Bicentennial Commision, 1976. Reprinted by permission of the author.
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