Benjamin Franklin Papers

[Benjamin Franklin?] to ——, 20 January 1756

[Benjamin Franklin?] to———3

Extract printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette, January 29, 1756.

[Gnadenhütten, Jan. 20, 1756]

We have been here since Sunday Afternoon:4 That Day we had only Time to get up some Shelter from the Weather and the Enemy. Yesterday all Day it rained, with so thick a Fog, that we could not see round us, so as either to chuse a Place for a Fort, or find Materials to build it. In the Night it cleared up, and this Morning we determined, marked out the Ground, and at Ten o’Clock set the Men to work, and they have worked with such Spirit, that now, at Half past Three in the Afternoon, all the Logs for the Stockade are cut, to the Number of 450, being most of them more than a Foot in Diameter, and 15 Feet long.5 The Trench to set them in, being three Feet deep, and two wide, is dug; 14 Pair of Wheels are drawing them together; some are erected, and we hope to have the whole up, and to be quite inclosed To-morrow. The Fort will be about 125 Feet long, and 50 broad.6 The Reverend Mr. Beatty is with us, and we have regular Prayers Morning and Evening. We went to Prayer before we began to work, all the Men being drawn up to receive Orders and Tools.7

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3See above, p. 311 n.

4See below, pp. 380–2, for BF’s march from Bethlehem to Gnadenhütten.

5BF mentions in his autobiography his curiosity as to the time required to fell trees for this project. He found that two men could cut down a 14-inch pine in six minutes. Par. Text edit., p. 366.

6See below, pp. 366–7, for the building of the fort.

7BF commented further on the regularity of attendance at prayers in his autobiography: “We had for our Chaplain a zealous Presbyterian Minister, Mr. Beatty, who complain’d to me that the Men did not generally attend his Prayers and Exhortations. When they enlisted, they were promis’d, besides Pay and Provisions, a Gill of Rum a Day, which was pu[n]ctually serv’d out to them half in the Morning and the other half in the Evening, and I observ’d they were as punctual in attending to receive it. Upon which I said to Mr. Beatty, ‘It is perhaps below the Dignity of your Profession to act as Steward of the Rum. But if you were to deal it out, and only just after Prayers, you would have them all about you.’ He lik’d the Thought, undertook the Office, and with the help of a few hands to measure out the Liquor executed it to Satisfaction; and never were Prayers more generally and more punctually attended. So that I thought this Method preferable to the Punishments inflicted by some military Laws for Non-Attendance on Divine Service.” Par. Text edit., p. 370.

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