Museum History Lecture: Steve Wapen, “Battle Island, July 3, 1756: Ambush on the Oswego River”

The H. Lee White Maritime Museum is pleased to host the second history lecture of the 2014 Series on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 1:30 pm.  The topic will be “Battle Island, July 3, 1756: Ambush on the Oswego River,” presented by historian Steve Wapen. The program will be held at the Museum and is open to the public.

On July 3, 1756 a British convoy of 350 bateaux, led by Captain John Bradstreet, was heading south on the Oswego River when it was ambushed eight miles south of Oswego by French and Indian raiders. Captain Bradstreet and his bateaux men beat off repeated attacks, turning the tide and forcing a French withdrawal from the battle scene.  Six weeks later, Battle Island represented a rare military success for the British as Oswego fell to the French.

Bateaux were flat-bottomed, double–ended boats that were used extensively in the upstate New York region to navigate our waterways. They could also be strung together to form bateau bridges. Bateaux were capable of carrying heavy cargo and in addition could be mounted with small cannons or swivel guns for battle.

Wapen’s lecture will explore and answer questions raised by the Battle Island battle. Why did the French attack Captain Bradstreet’s empty bateaux convoy on its return trip from Schenectady, New York rather than when the convoy was full heading toward Oswego, a few days earlier? Was Captain Bradstreet and his men awarded by the British for their accomplishments during the battle on Oswego River? What became of the French Commander, Captain Louis Coulon Villiers after the battle, which lasted only three hours? Finally was Battle Island a clear victory for the British?

Steve Wapen is a native Oswegonian, as well as a graduate of SUNY Oswego. Mr. Wapen holds masters degrees from Cornell University and the University of Albany. This is the sixth year Wapen has presented at the Museum’s Lecture Series. His passion for Oswego history drives him to share his research and knowledge with the community he grew up in. Mr. Wapen currently resides with his wife Sharon LaMay, also an Oswegonian, in Chaplin, Connecticut.

H. Lee White Museum is located at the end of West First Street Pier, in Oswego’s “Historic Maritime District”. For more information about the History Lecture Series and other events, contact the museum at (315) 342-0480 or visit www.hleewhitemarinemuseum.com or www.facebook.com/hlwmm or www.facebook.com/oswegolh.