Benjamin Franklin Papers

[Benjamin Franklin?] to ——, 6 January 1756

[Benjamin Franklin?] to ———9

Extract printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette, January 8, 1756.1

[Reading, January 6, 1756]

Jacob Levan,2 Esq; was sent by us to hear the Particulars of the Affair at Gnadenhutten, and fearing to go alone, sent Fifty-six Men over the Mountains on Saturday Evening,3 and on Sunday followed them with seventeen more. As soon as they got to the Top of the Hill,4 they saw all the white People running up, and the Indians running on one Side of them, firing and killing them fast; upon which Levan did all he could to persuade our People to return with his seventeen fresh Men; but they were so terrified, tho’ not more than fifteen or twenty Indians, that no Arguments were sufficient to prevail till they got all together to a House, which the Enemy beset, and a hot Firing ensued on both Sides, in which he saw seven Indians killed, and one much wounded. Upon this the Enemy fled off a little, and two young Fellows stepped out and scalped two of them, but were again attacked, and had not Time to scalp the others; and not knowing the Number of the Enemy, they all rushed out together, and came off, some to this Place, and have brought us the two Scalps, and one Indian Gun, with a Tower Lock on it.5 They say the People are so elated with this Success, that 150 Men, under G. Custard,6 are gone over the Mountain to attack the Indians, and to scalp the others if not removed, tho’ they are undoubtedly dead. We had eleven white People killed, and nine dangerously wounded, one of whom behaved extraordinary well. The Commissioners intend to give these Persons a considerable Present for their Encouragement, and I believe it will have a very good Effect.7

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9See above, p. 311 n.

1Also printed, with variations, in Pa. Jour., Jan. 8, 1756.

2A French Huguenot born in Holland, justice of Maxatawny Township, Berks Co., and provisioner for Fort Allen and other frontier posts, whose family kept an inn about ten miles west of Allentown on the road to Reading, near Kurtztown. “A Summer Jaunt in 1773,” PMHB, X (1886), 209–10; Morton L. Montgomery, Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County, Pa. (Chicago, 1909), I, 17, 91; II, 1066; Votes, 1755–56, pp. 169–71.

3January 3.

4I.e., the crest of the Blue Mountains.

5For another account of the encounter described here, generally referred to as the “action at Allemängel” (German: “lack-all,” an allusion to the barrenness of the area), see the following document.

6Not identified, but the Pa. Jour. version gives his first name as George.

7The precise nature of the “encouragement” intended by the commissioners is not known. On January 3 Governor Morris had ordered Capt. Isaac Wayne “to Inform the men of your company and such of the other companys as you shall Joyn or have occasion to send to, that They shall receive a reward from the Government of forty Pieces of Eight for every Indian they shall kill and scalp in any action they may have with them, which I hereby promise to pay upon producing the scalps.” I Pa. Arch., II, 543. If this bounty was available only to soldiers, the “encouragement” here mentioned probably was that for (civilian?) “Volunteer Scalping Parties” about which BF inquired on January 141. See below, p. 360.

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