Prelude to Tragedy, Then Defeat and Disaster, 1754-1755
DAVID ZEISBERGER greeted the new year of 1754 optimistically. His long- cherished dream of beginning a mission among the Iroquois was about to become reality. Within four months he would celebrate his thirty-third birthday. Church officials at Herrnhut, including Zinzendorf and Spangenberg, agreed with his plan to begin the mission this year. David planned to leave Bethlehem for Onondaga near the first of June, when the moderate weather and spring runoff permitted rapid travel. Karl Friedrich, a new Moravian missionary to the colonies, would accompany him.1 But there were menacing clouds on the horizon. Neither he nor any other colonial resident could ignore the growing tension between England and France for possession of the North American continent.
Critical events were taking place in Bethlehem, too. It had been a year since the Nanticoke, Delaware, and Mahican Indian delegation from the Wyoming Valley had appeared at the village demanding that their brothers at Gnadenhutten leave the mission and rejoin the tribes in the Wyoming Valley. At the heart of the Gnadenhutten converts' removal was the diplomatic maneuvering by the Six Nations council and, unfortunately, a previous action of the Mission Board at Bethlehem. In 1745, when Spangenberg, Weiser, Zeisberger, and others appeared before the Six