The news given to the Pennsylvania governor and his council of advisers was grim. Chaos and bloodshed reigned in the Lehigh Valley and across the colony.

''During all this Month the Indians have been burning and destroying all before them in the County of Northampton, and have already burnt fifty houses here, murdered above one hundred Persons, and are still continuing their Ravages, Murders, and Devastations, and have actually overrun and laid waste a great part of that County, even as far as within twenty miles of Easton, its chief Town.''

The council secretary read the report, recorded in the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, at a meeting in Philadelphia on Dec. 29, 1755. It was part of a colony-wide summary of the ''Incursions and Ravages made by the French and Indians to this day.''

As Gov. Robert Hunter Morris and four advisers heard the litany of horrors, Benjamin Franklin huddled in remote Easton with former Gov. James Hamilton and another government representative, Joseph Fox.

They had ridden to the little trading town to determine what had been happening on the northern frontier, along the Blue Mountains, since hostile French and Indians defeated British and colonial troops in western Pennsylvania that summer.

Until November 1755, the French and Indian War hadn't bloodied Northampton County, which included today's Northampton, Lehigh, Carbon and Monroe counties, part of Schuylkill County and a vast area farther north.

First there was the October massacre at Penns Creek to the west. Two weeks later, Delawares and Shawnees nearly wiped out the Scotch-Irish settlements in today's Fulton and Franklin counties, on the Maryland border. After that, Delawares killed or captured settlers along the Swatara Creek in what is now Lebanon County and the Tulpehocken Creek in Berks County.

The threat reached the 300 Moravians of Nazareth on Nov. 21.

''Late in the night came an express messenger from Bethlehem with the order, that in all places good guards should be put out, because the rumour of Indian uprising has come to us worse than before,'' an unidentified Moravian, perhaps a minister, wrote in German in what is called the Nazareth Diary.

The Nov. 24 entry reads, ''To-day marched constantly men with guns on the street and passed here on the road to Bethlehem.''

And that evening, a breeze from the northwest carried the odor of smoke.

''Several brethren and sisters from here and from the other places,'' the entry continues, ''had a foreboding in the night of the hard circumstances, which had come over our brethren and sisters on the Mahony, and one did smell even the burning here because the wind was coming from that direction.''

Two dozen miles away, across the Blue Mountains and along the Mahoning Creek, Moravians ran a farming settlement for Christian Indians — Gnadenhuetten, the ''huts of grace.''

The smoke that wafted over the mountains that night came from the burning mill, barn, stable, commissary, chapel and mission house of Gnadenhuetten, now Lehighton.

A dozen Indian warriors in black war paint and carrying muskets, tomahawks and scalping knives had attacked the settlement and killed or captured 11 Moravians. Some burned to death when the raiders torched their house. One man trying to escape was shot, hacked and scalped. A woman taken prisoner was later killed.

''By a special message from Bethlehem,'' the Nazareth diarist wrote on the 25th, ''we were informed of the tragedy and all the places were notified about thisÂ…and many tears were shed on account of this terrible event.''

The Gnadenhuetten raiders were led by Captain Jachebus, a chief of the Munsees, the ''mountain people'' of the upper Delaware Valley. In killing pious Moravians devoted to helping the Indians, or ''brown hearts,'' they had sent this chilling message:

No whites will be safe.

Building a militia