THE active military career of Benjamin Franklin endured for six weeks, a curious and little-known episode in a life replete with vicissitude. On December 19, 1755, after Braddock's disastrous defeat had imperiled the very existence of Pennsylvania as an English colony, the Sage departed upon his expedition to the frontier. He organized the Moravian settlements, built Fort Allen with its flanking fortresses, and returned to Philadelphia when the Assembly reconvened on February 5, 1756. It was the only time that he was under arms except for some chilly nights spent in sentry duty on the bastion by the Delaware when a Spanish privateer alarmed the city in 1744.
This march, ignored or very casually recounted by Franklin's many biographers, is more fully discussed in the Autobiography. It however was written many years after the Pennsylvania campaign, and stirring events had intervened to cloud the memory of the scribe, who is not always trustworthy as to dates and circumstance, when these are critically examined in the light of contemporary evidence.