Officers’ Duel Kicks Off Maritime Museum’s History Lecture Series

OSWEGO, NY – The H. Lee White Maritime Museum at Oswego is proud to present its first installment of the 2015 History Lecture Series featuring Steve Wapen who will present “Officers’ Duel! Camp Oswego, October 3, 1755,” on April 11 at 1:30 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

Steve Wapen
Steve Wapen

In September 1755 during a British Council of War held at Camp Oswego, General William Shirley decided to postpone his amphibious attack on the French at Fort Niagara due to inclement weather, widespread sickness, and allied Indian advice against an attack so late in the season.

Understandably, the combined British and colonial forces at Oswego were greatly disappointed – and all was not tranquil in camp – even amongst the officer corps.

Recently discovered archival records from the Public Records Office in London reveal a fascinating and untold story of military camp life.

On Friday October 3, 1755, Lt. Joel Whittimore of the 51st Regiment of Foot was maliciously assaulted by Lt. William Middlemore, also of the 51st.

At approximately 1 a.m., Lt. Middlemore attacked Lt. Whittimore with his hanger (sword) inflicting wounds so serious that Lt. Whittimore asked Dr. Kirkland, the Camp Oswego surgeon, if he was going to live or die.

Lt. Middlemore was subsequently court-martialed for his actions.

Why did Lt. Middlemore attack a fellow officer in the same regiment as part of a purported challenge and duel?

How did senior officers respond to this unfortunate incident?

What was the outcome of Lt. Middlemore’s court-martial?

Finally, what become of the victim – Lt. Whittimore?

Mr. Wapen, a native Oswegonian and a graduate of SUNY Oswego, holds masters degrees from Cornell University and the University at Albany.

He has worked in human resources and labor relations for more than 35 years in the Southwest, Midwest and Northeast.

Wapen currently resides in Chaplin, Connecticut, with his wife, Sharon (LaMay), also from Oswego.

Also opening on April 11:

On April 15, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in the iconic Ford’s Theater by actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth.

On April 21 of that same year, Lincoln’s body was placed on a train bound for Springfield, Illinois, where he would be buried, but stopped in more than 180 cities in seven states – including New York.

In memoriam of this event, the H. Lee White Maritime Museum will feature a temporary exhibit between the dates of April 11 – 30, 2015, encompassing the items owned by New Yorkers that were used and worn during the funerals.

This exhibit is made possible through the generous support of George DeMass, who will also be conducting an ecumenical service in memoriam of President Lincoln on April 12 at 3:30 p.m.

For more information, contact the museum at 315-342-0480 or [email protected]

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