|Commands held||3rd New Hampshire Regiment|
|Battles/wars||French and Indian War|
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Reed was born in Lunenburg or Woburn, Massachusetts. In 1742, when he was about 22,[further explanation needed] James married Abigail Hinds, whose father was Hopestill Hinds. Abigail was born 4 March 1723 in Brookfield, Massachusetts, but is said to have been living in New Salem, Massachusetts.
He was the original proprietor of Monadnock township no. 4, now Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire.
With news of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, James Reed gathered the local militia and marched to Boston. James Reed was appointed Colonel of the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment and fought together with John Stark's 1st New Hampshire Regiment at the Battle of Bunker Hill. On April 26, 1776, the three New Hampshire regiments of the Continental Army were sent under General John Sullivan to help in the Invasion of Quebec. James Reed only made it as far as Fort Saint-Jean in Quebec, where he contracted smallpox. Apparently having recovered, he fell ill again during the retreat from Canada, shortly after arriving at Crown Point on Lake Champlain, with a malignant fever, which caused him to lose his vision forcing him to retire from military service at the end of 1776. James Reed was promoted to brigadier general in the Continental Army, but never served at that rank because of his failing health.
Reed lived to the age of 83 and died in 1807 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, where he was buried. He is featured on a New Hampshire historical marker (number 99) along New Hampshire Route 119 at the town square of Fitzwilliam.