Benjamin Franklin Papers

The Organization of John Van Etten’s Company, 12 January 1756

The Organization of John Van Etten’s Company7

I. DS: New York Public Library. II. MS, and III. DS: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission8

The three documents printed together here illustrate how a company of provincial troops was organized in 1756 and, in general, what was expected of its members. All three are in the hand of William Franklin, who accompanied and assisted his father throughout the period of service on the frontier. The first manuscript has some corrections and additions in Benjamin Franklin’s hand and is signed by him.


At Bethlehem, in the County of Northampton
January 12, 1756.

To Capt. Vanetta, of the Township
 of Upper Smithfield9


1. You are to proceed immediately to raise a Company of Foot, consisting of 30 able Men, including two Serjeants, with which you are to protect the Inhabitants of Upper Smithfield assisting them while they thresh out and secure their Corn, and scouting from time to time as you judge necessary on the Outside of the Settlements, with such of the Inhabitants as may join you, to discover the Enemy’s Approaches and repel their Attacks.

2. For the better Security of the Inhabitants of that District, you are to post your Men as follows, Eight at your own House, Eight at Lieutenant Henshaw’s, Six with a Serjeant at Tishhoch, and Six with another Serjeant at or near Henry Cortracht’s,1 and you are to settle Signals or Means of suddenly alarming the Inhabitants and convening your whole Strength, with the Militia of the District, on any necessary Occasion.

3. Every Man is to be engag’d for one Month, and as the Province cannot at present furnish Arms or Blankets to your Company, you are to allow every Man enlisting, and bringing his own Arms and Blanket, a Dollar for the Use thereof over and above his Pay.

4. You are to furnish your Men with Provisions, not exceeding the Allowance mentioned in the Paper herewith given you,2 and your reasonable Accounts for the same shall be allowed and paid.3

5. You are to keep a Diary or Journal of every Day’s Transactions, and an exact Account of the Time when each Man enters himself with you, and if any Man desert or die, you are to note the Time in your Journal, and the Time of engaging a new Man in his Place, and submit your Journal to the Inspection of the Governor when required.4

6. You are to acquaint the Men, that if in their Ranging they meet with, or are at any Time attack’d by the Enemy, and kill any of them, Forty Dollars will be allow’d and paid by the Government for each Scalp of an Indian Enemy so killed, the same being produced with proper Attestations.5

7. You are to take Care that your Stores and Provisions be not wasted.

8. If by any Means you gain Intelligence of the Designs of the Enemy, or the March of any of their Parties towards any Part of the Frontier, you are to send Advice thereof to the Governor and to the other Companies in the Neighbourhood, as the Occasion may require.

9. You are to keep good Order among your Men, and prevent Drunkenness and other Immoralities, as much as may be, and not suffer them to do any Injury to the Inhabitants whom they come to protect.

10. You are to take Care that the Men keep their Arms clean and in good Order, and that their Powder be always kept dry and fit for Use.

11. You are to make up your Muster-Rolls at the Month’s End, in order to receive the Pay of your Company, and to make Oath to the Truth thereof before a Justice of the Peace, and then transmit the same to the Governor.

B Franklin


Establishment of the Pennsylvania Forces.
For Capt. Vanetta’s Company
 of Upper Smithfield
 Northampton County

Captain 7s. 6d. per Day

Lieutenant 5s. 6d. per Day

Serjeants 2s. per Day

Private Men at the Rate of Six Dollars per Month.6

The Company to consist of a Captain, Lieutenant, 2 Serjeants, and 28 private Men.7

The Province furnishes a Gun, Ammunition, and a Blanket for each Man, to be return’d when the Service is over. But as the Commissioners cannot at present procure Arms or Blankets, they agree to allow 7s. 6d. for the Use of a Gun and a Blanket to each Man for the Time they are engag’d in the Service, or Half that Sum for either of them.

Provisions allowed to the Forces, vizt:

10 lb. and ½ of Bread or Meal } per Week
3 lb. of Pork
3 lb. of Beef, and
1 lb. of Fish, (mackrel)

1 Gill of Rum per Day for each Man; half to be given in the Morning, and half in the Evening.

Note, That when Fish is wanting a Pound of Beef shall be allow’d instead thereof: and if Pork be wanting 4 lb. of Beef shall be allowed instead of the 3 lb. of Pork.

By Order of the Commissioners

Endorsed: For Capt. Vanette


Jan. 12th. 1756

We the Subscribers do hereby engage ourselves to serve as Soldiers in his Majesty’s Service under the Command of Captain John Vanetta, for the Space of one Month;8 and whoever of us shall get drunk, desert, or prove cowardly in Time of Action, or disobedient to our Officers, shall forfeit his Pay. This Agreement we make in Consideration of being allow’d at the Rate of Six Dollars per Month Wages, One Dollar for the Use of a Gun and Blanket to each Man who shall furnish himself with them, and the Provision and Rum mentioned in a Paper hereunto annex’d.

William X Mirrell
Patrick Nixon9
[Charles Mclear]1
  a Run away Servant
John Kinnan
Neil X Maginly
John Stull Sergeant
William W Kelly
Benony Heath
Wilem Danse Richad Pigot
John Cornelus Michael Fetter
Peter Lennerd his
Hugh H Clark
Cornelius Jewell William Battey [?]
James Mcconel Thor Broudge
Jacob Rupart [?] Francis Wright
Colmen Combs William Wright
John Hide Thomas Little
Samuel Giveins2
James Gray
Connerine  his marke
Paul Rich
Henry Cole
x signed by nearly 50 soldiers Jaeme F molen his marck3
Steward MACKEE
Gert Van Bunsschaten Steward Kee Sar[geant?]
John Davens
Jaems Van Bunsschaten
Elias Decker
John Cortright
Benjamen Cortright
Samuel GRAY
FRANCES M Gee [M’Gee?]
James Everinghaim
Jeremiah Kittle
PITER + RosenCrans
[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7On Capt. John Van Etten see above, p. 346.

8The first manuscript has a note in the upper left-hand corner of the first page, in what is almost certainly a later hand: “Instructions to Cap. Vanetta 1756 No. 1000” and, still later: “Ben. Franklin.” The third item is similarly noted: “Obligation of Soldiers 1756 No. 1001.” Although these documents are now in different repositories, the notations indicate that at some time in the past they were filed together. The second and third items have not been separated.

9The most remote of the settlements in northeastern Pennsylvania, about thirty miles above the water gap of the Delaware River, including the site of the present Milford.

1Henshaw’s (Hyndshaw’s Mill), near the site of the present Bushkill, Monroe Co., was about ten miles above the Delaware Water Gap. It was stockaded and continued to serve as a garrison post for at least a year and a half. Hunter, Forts, pp. 266–70. Henry Cortacht’s house (“above Dupuy’s,” which was near the water gap) was reported as burned in BF’s (?) letter of Dec. 25, 1756. Tishhoch has not been identified. The intention, apparently, was to post troops all along the 30-mile stretch of the Delaware between the water gap and Upper Smithfield.

2See the second document in this series.

3Van Etten’s company received £127 12s. on March 3 and £124 0s. 6d. on April 16, 1756. Votes, 1755–56, pp. 167–8.

4A portion of Van Etten’s journal, Dec. 1, 1756–July 21, 1757, while he was stationed at Forts Hyndshaw and Hamilton, is in I Pa. Arch., III, 222–35.

5The same offer was made to the men in Isaac Wayne’s company; see above, p. 349 n.

6The equivalent of 1s. 6d. per day in Pennsylvania currency.

7Van Etten’s lieutenant, James Hyndshaw, continued in the provincial service through the war, rising to the rank of captain by May 17, 1759, 2 Pa. Arch., II, 499, 520–1. The sergeants, John Kinnan (?) and John Stull (?) were among the forty-six subscribers to the “Obligation” printed as the third document in this series. There were thirty men in Van Etten’s company in January and February 1756. See below, pp. 371, 408.

8The company continued in service for at least a year and a half, although some changes in personnel doubtless occurred after the first enlistment period expired.

9Several of the signatures are too badly written to permit their transcription with full confidence of accuracy. Below this signature the word “Sergeant” was first written and then crossed out.

1This name struck through and the notation added.

2The marks used for signatures by Giveins, Rich (below), and “Connerine” [Corm rine?] (opposite column) cannot be reproduced in type.

3This mark is approximately in the form of an F.

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