Kingston Historical Society
P.O. Box 54
Kingston, Ontario
K7L 4V6, CANADA

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Kingston Historical Society
2011
Kingston Historical Society, est. 1893

Articles

Kingston History and Images

Col. John Bradstreet at Fort Frontenac

Bradstreet was born Jean-Baptiste Bradstreet in Nova Scotia in 1714. He distinguished himself at Louisburg in 1745, and by 1757 had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. By this time, he had fixed his attention on Fort Frontenac, a French garrison and an important link in the western fur trade.

With a force of 3100 men on August 25, 1758, he approached “the promontory where the Cataraqui River enters the Lake, and the lake in turn empties into the St. Lawrence” (site of present-day Kingston). The 3100 men were in bateaux, which held 10-15 men each, meaning that there would be 200-300 small watercraft landing in an area between the present-day Murney Tower and Water Filtration Plant. Once landed, they set up defenses and camped for the night.

The next morning they approached the fort, less than a mile from their encampment, and encountered little resistance. After a brief artillery bombardment, the French commander, Major Pierre-Jacques Payen de Noyan surrendered by 8:00 AM.

The terms were that the members of the garrison could keep their clothes and money and would be sent as prisoners of war to Albany to be exchanged at a later date for British POWs. This arrangement was later altered, allowing the French to make their way back to Montreal. This also of course meant that POWs would not slow Bradstreet down on his retreat.

The reason for the quick and casualty-free capture of the fort was that only 110 French soldiers defended it. Also in the fort were a large number of women and children. Less than12 of the approximately 60 artillery pieces were used due to the small force within the walls of the fort.

The conquering British/American force found the fort, along with the 9 captured French sloops anchored off the fort, in the Cataraqui River, to be richly stocked with weapons, cloth and provisions.

Discovering that the fort was being readied for the arrival of some 4000 French troops from Montreal, Bradstreet set about destroying as much of it as possible after securing the best of the booty on two of the captured ships, and destroying the rest.

By August 28, the fort and 7 ships had been completely demolished, and Bradstreet and his troops were back in Oswego by the 31st.

Source: Fred Anderson, Crucible of War (New York, 2000)