Campaign Against Quebec

Campaign Against Quebec

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Excerpt from Campaign Against Quebec: Being an Accurate and Interesting Account of the Hardships and Sufferings of That Band of Heroes Who Traversed the Wilderness by the Route of the Kennebec and Chaudiere River to Quebec, in the Year 1775

William Henry, the eldest of the sons, then in his fifteenth year, was sent to Lancaster to learn the trade of gunsmith with Matthew Roeser.

Lancaster county had been set off from the vast county of Chester in 1729 and itself included "all and singular the lands within the province of Pennsylvania lying to the northward of Octorara creek and to the westward of a line of marked trees running from the north branch of Octorara creek northeasterly to the river Schuylkill." Lancaster, the county seat, was laid out by James Hamilton, afterwards governor of Pennsylvania, in 1728, and was in 1745 an active and prosperous town with about two thousand inhabitants.

Emigrants in large numbers and in some cases in organized bodies, from Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany and Switzerland, had poured into the fertile wilderness of southern Pennsylvania. Flying for the most part from oppressive land laws or from religious persecution they brought with them their clergy, their school masters and their books and that intensity of faith and purpose which had sent them forth to found new homes across the sea. Lancaster, situated in the midst of a great valley of unsurpassed fertility soon became not only the seat of an active commerce and manufacture connected with the Indian trade but the home of many men well cultivated in the learning of the day, especially in its theological departments.

William Henry possessed in full measure the perservid imagination of his race, and at early age turned his thoughts upon those great religious questions which are so seldom solved by ratiocination. He tells the story of his spiritual experiences at length in his memoir, but it is enough to say that he did not find the peace he sought, till middle life, when in 1763 he and his wife joined themselves to the Moravians, then known only as the Church of the United Brethren.

His work in worldly matters prospered, however, for like many of his race he was prudent in action, though speculative in thought. He became early the head of a large establishment for the manufacture of arms and equipments for the Indian trade. In 1754 he was appointed armorer for the troops collecting in Virginia for Braddock's expedition, and in 1757 he was, with apparent reluctance, called again to go to Virginia as "gun contractor for the whole army."

From this time forward he was much engaged in public affairs, especially in those which related to the Indian tribes.

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