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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Oswego in Oswego County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Oswego West Side Forts

An Early French Target

 

—French and Indian War —

 
Oswego West Side Forts Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 10, 2014
1. Oswego West Side Forts Marker
Inscription. British Toehold on Lake Ontario

During the French and Indian War, the Oswego River was the only British controlled waterway into the Great Lakes. French commander-in-chief, the Marquis de Montcalm, recognizing its strategic importance, wrote that Oswego was: "... the key of the Upper Country by its communication with the Five Nations (the Iroquois Confederacy), Albany and the River Hudson; defended by three forts - Fort Ontario on the right bank of the river, Forts George and Chouaguen (Oswego) on the left bank as well as a species of an earthen crown-work, serving as an entrenchment camp, having also a good port and a well sheltered roadstead."

Fort George
Called Fort Beef or Fort Rascal, the unfinished Fort George, built of logs and earth, was little better than a cattle pen and was garrisoned by a provincial force known as "the Jersey Blues." It was built to protect Fort Oswego.

Fort Oswego
Fort Oswego was a castle-like stone fort, but its strong appearance masked its weaknesses: built on low ground, the masonry mortared with mud, the structure was vulnerable to artillery. It was garrisoned by the 50th and 51st Regiments of Foot.

West Bank Fortifications

1727
A stone blockhouse called
Oswego West Side Forts Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 10, 2014
2. Oswego West Side Forts Marker
View of historical marker in foreground and Oswego harbor in the background.
Fort Oswego is built to guard a growing trader's settlement and establishes England's first presence on the Great Lakes.
1740s
Seasonal trader's village thrives as up to 300 Dutch and English fur traders, in over 70 log huts, obtain furs from American Indians.
1741-1743
Fort Oswego is strengthened with an outer, U-shaped stone wall.
1752
Fort Oswego's garrison of 8 men mutiny and place their lone officer in irons.
1755
Fort Oswego is strengthened and Forts George and Ontario are built by Major General William Shirley. The Royal Navy's first Great Lakes squadron is built in the harbor.
Winter 1755-1756
The 700 troops left behind at the forts of Oswego are decimated by disease and starvation. Over half perish by spring.
Spring 1756
Troops are harassed by American Indian and Canadian raiders.
August 1756
Montcalm destroys all three forts, the trader's village, captures the British fleet and takes 1,700 prisoners

1
With more than 3,000 French, Indians, and Canadians, Montcalm's forces and artillery drove the British out of Fort Ontario. The British retreated across the river to the shelter at Fort Oswego.
2
1,500 Indians and Canadians waded across the river to surround the forts on the west side, while Montcalm's
Oswego West Side Forts Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 10, 2014
3. Oswego West Side Forts Marker
View that is displayed on the historical marker of Oswego Harbor as it appeared in the summer of 1756.
artillery was moved up to the high ground on the east side of the harbor to bombard Fort Oswego.
3
As British commander Colonel James Mercer prepared a break out attempt with 500 men, he was killed by a cannonball. Second-in-command, Lieutenant Colonel John Littlehales quickly sought a parley with the French and lost no time surrendering.
4
The British loss was catastrophic; three forts, 1,100 soldiers and sailors, 600 civilians including skilled craftsmen, the trader's village, the new fleet of seven ships, and over 100 pieces of ordnance.
5
Oswego was wiped from the map and Lake Ontario became French again. But, because of Montcalm's failure to hold onto this ground, the British would return and reoccupy Oswego in 1759.
 
Erected by Great Lakes Seaway Trail.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway marker series.
 
Location. 43° 27.735′ N, 76° 31.2′ W. Marker is in Oswego, New York, in Oswego County. Marker is at the intersection of Lake Street and Montcalm Street, on the left when traveling east on Lake Street. Click for map. This historical marker is one of three panels of information prepared
Oswego West Side Forts Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 10, 2014
4. Oswego West Side Forts Marker
View of the Oswego Timeline that is displayed on the historical marker.
by the Great Lakes Seaway Trails, and located on the high ground, in a small roadside park, overlooking Lake Ontario, along the north side of Lake Street. Marker is in this post office area: Oswego NY 13126, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wreck of the David W. Mills (here, next to this marker); Open Water = Winter Birds (a few steps from this marker); Oswego Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fort George (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fort Oswego (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Oswego (approx. 0.3 miles away); Fort Ontario (approx. 0.6 miles away); Prideaux's Campaign (approx. 0.7 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Oswego.
 
Categories. Forts, CastlesNative AmericansWar, French and Indian
 
Oswego West Side Forts Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 10, 2014
5. Oswego West Side Forts Marker
View of the historical marker's location, seen at the far left of these three Seaway Trail panels.
Oswego West Side Forts Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 10, 2014
6. Oswego West Side Forts Marker
View looking east, from the site of the historical marker, down into the Oswego River Valley, towards where Fort Oswego was located (click on picture for better view of the lowlands).
Oswego West Side Forts Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 10, 2014
7. Oswego West Side Forts Marker
View of Fort Oswego as displayed on the historical marker.
Oswego West Side Forts image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 10, 2014
8. Oswego West Side Forts
View from the about where Fort Oswego was located, down in the floodplain of the Oswego River, looking up on the ridge to both the site of the historical marker, and near the site of Fort George.
Oswego West Side Forts Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 10, 2014
9. Oswego West Side Forts Marker
View of Fort George as displayed on the historical marker.
Oswego West Side Forts Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 10, 2014
10. Oswego West Side Forts Marker
(click onto picture for an enlargement of this view)
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio. This page has been viewed 392 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on , by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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