Benjamin Franklin Papers

Provincial Commissioners: Instructions to William Parsons, 29 December 1755

Provincial Commissioners: Instructions to William Parsons

Draft:4 New York Public Library

[December 29, 1755]5

Instructions to Major Parsons

You are immediately to raise and take into Pay for one Month a Company of Foot consisting of 24 Men,6 to be employ’d as a Garrison, Guard and Watch for the Town of Easton, who shall be allow’d at the Rate of 6 Dollars per Month, with Arms and Ammunition, and 15 lb. of Bread and Meat per Week and a Gill of Rum per Day for each Man.

You are to keep a constant regular Watch with your Company every Night, 4 Sentinels being plac’d at the outer Ends of the four principal Streets, and one near the Guard Room, to be relieved every Hour, and during the Day one Sentinel at least on the Hill, to be relieved every 2 Hours, or oftener if you shall judge expedient.

You are likewise once at least in every Day, to send out a Scout to range some Miles round the Town, to examine all Thickets and Places capable of concealing Parties of the Enemy, and take Notice if any Tracks appear, or Marks of their Approach that the Inhabitants may be timely alarmed.

You are at leisure Hours to cause your Men to clear the Bushes away that are within and round the Town to the Distance of Musket Shot at least from the Town, that the Enemy may not use them as a Cover to conceal their Approaches.

You are to see that the two Companies of Capts. Martin and Craig, perform the Duty required of them by their Instructions, a Copy whereof is herewith delivered to you.7 To this End you are at proper Times to visit the Settlements enquire into the Conduct of those Companies, give Directions to rectify what is amiss, and send an Account of your Proceedings and the Reasons thereof to the Governor.

(here add No. pt. of 10. 11. 12) of Wayne’s Instructions.8

Endorsed: Rough Draft of Instructions to Major Parsons. Decr. 29, 1755 No. 41.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4In BF’s hand; the fair copy delivered to Parsons, perhaps in William Franklin’s hand and probably signed by James Hamilton, has not been found.

5On or before this date Hamilton had commissioned Parsons major of the troops raised in Northampton Co. I Pa. Arch., II, 541.

6See below, pp. 345, 409.

7James Martin and William Craig (see below, pp. 344–5) were informed that “for the Good of the Service in general” it was necessary for them to “be under the Care and Superintendence of a Field Officer” whose “orders & Directions” they were to obey. Orders signed by James Hamilton, Dec. 29, 1755. I Pa. Arch., II, 541. Placing the newly raised companies under the supervision of Parsons, a trusted supporter of the proprietary faction, reflected the suspicion directed against many of the frontier officers. Richard Peters wrote Thomas Penn, Feb. 17, 1756, that the frontiersmen commissioned by Hamilton were “generally men of no character, and elected on their own Sollicitation by some of the meanest of their Neighbours, and this done too in hopes of their being taken into pay.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

8The instructions to Capt. Isaac Wayne (see below, p. 347) have not been found. For a numbered set of general instructions, probably very similar to those given to Wayne, see below, p. 352.

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