OSWEGO, NY – The Fort Ontario History and Archaeology Conference will be held at the Great Lakes Event and Conference Center at the Best Western Hotel in Oswego, April 21 through 23.
Renown historians including several SUNY professors will speak at the annual conference, which explores the history and archaeology of warfare and human conflict in the United States and Canada from its earliest evidence around 5,000 BC to the 21st century War on Terrorism.
The conference begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening, April 21 with pre-registration and historical presentations by SUNY Oswego students based on their latest research projects.
No registration is required for Friday evening and light refreshments will be served.
On Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., historians and archaeologists will deliver presentations describing their most recent publications, projects, and archaeological field work.
A bus trip to sites of French and Indian War military activity in the region will leave the conference center on Sunday, April 23, around 8:45 a.m.
Pre-registration and advanced payment is required for Saturday and Sunday programming.
“Due to its position on the only waterborne route from New York City to the Great Lakes under British control, Oswego became a vital staging area for invasions of New France during the French and Indian War (1754 – 1763),” said Paul Lear, Historic Site Manager of Fort Ontario State Historic Site. “Fort Ontario played a key role in three of the five British campaigns leading to the end of French occupation of New France in 1760.”
On Saturday at 9 a.m., historian George Bray will open the conference with a presentation on the first of those campaigns, Lt. Colonel John Bradstreet’s raid on Fort Frontenac (Kingston, Ont.) on Aug. 26 to 28, 1758.
The loss of Fort Frontenac resulted in the capture or destruction of vast amounts of trade goods, supplies, ammunition, and shipping vital in maintaining French influence among the Great Lakes Indian Nations.
Bradstreet’s victory and the fall of Louisburg to Major-General Jeffrey Amherst a month earlier marked a turning point of the war in favor of the British after four years of disastrous failures.
Dr. Joseph Diamond, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at SUNY New Paltz, will speak at 10 a.m about archaeological excavations of two 17th century stockaded fortifications in the Hudson Valley. He will discuss Dr. Bert Salwen’s 1970-71 excavations of Peter Stuyvesant’s 1658 timber stockade wall, which was built to protect a nucleated Dutch community from Indian attacks at Wildwyck (Kingston, NY), Diamond’s own 2001 excavations of a 1661 addition to the stockade, and a burn layer from the June 7, 1663 burning of Wildwyck by the Esopus Indians.
Diamond will also describe the remains of a stockaded redoubt with bastions, internal buildings, and three exterior structures built around 1680 that he recently excavated on Huguenot Street in New Paltz, NY.
Governor Edmond Andros of New York gave permission for the Huguenot settlement in 1677, “Provided they build a Redoubt there first for a place of Retreate& Safeguard upon Occasion.”
Following a break, internationally-acclaimed historian Rene Chartrand will deliver the keynote address of the conference on French Major-General Louis Joseph de Montcalm, Marquis de St. Veran’s five-month tightening grip and final five-day siege and capture of Oswego during the French and Indian War.
Chartrand is the author or co-author of more than 60 books and many more articles on military history. He wrote the first professionally-published book (2014) on the 1756 Battle of Oswego, which will be available for sale and signing.
After lunch at 1:10 p.m., Dr. Douglas Pippin, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at SUNY Oswego, will examine the relationships between the three main British posts on Lake Ontario: Fort Haldimand, Fort Niagara, and Fort Ontario during the late 18th century using historical and archaeological information.
Pippin is an archaeologist who has conducted excavations at Fort Haldimand on Carleton Island, NY.
Historian and author Anthony Gero of Auburn, NY, will speak at 2 p.m. on the subject of his latest book, “Black Soldiers of New York State, 1750 – 1950.”
Gero will include images of and references to African-American troops at Fort Ontario during his presentation.
Dr. Richard Weyhing, Assistant Professor of History at SUNY Oswego, will follow at 3:10 p.m. with a program based on ethnohistorical, or Indian-centered, views of Menominee warriors who traveled from Green Bay to serve with Montcalm at Oswego in 1756 during the French and Indian War.
Canadian historian and author Donald E. Graves will wrap up Saturday’s presentations at 4 p.m. with an invigorating talk entitled “Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll & Sex: The Seamy Side of the War of 1812.”
On Saturday the Fort Ontario conference will also feature exhibits of World War I weapons, uniforms, accoutrements, and medical equipment by the Continental Army Collectors Association.
Larry Ruth, author, expert, and collector will display part of his collection of .30-caliber M-1 carbines.
Ted Schofield and Bill Bamaan of the Sackets Harbor Battlefield Association will exhibit reproduction uniforms, weapons, and equipment of the War for Independence.
The opening reception and student presentations will be free and open to the public. Pre-registration and payment is required for the Saturday lectures and Sunday bus trip.
Saturday only registration is $30 for adults and $15 for students.
One-day Sunday bus trip registration is $25 for all.
General admission registration (includes lunches) for both Saturday and Sunday is $50 and $40 for students.
Registration forms can be found and payment can be made online through the Friends of Fort Ontario website [www.fortontario.com], by phone at (315) 343-4711, or check made payable to “Friends of Fort Ontario” and mailed to Fort Ontario State Historic Site, 1 E. Fourth St., Oswego, NY 13126.
For a complete conference schedule or more information visit the Friends of Fort Ontario website, Fort Ontario History and Archaeology Conference Facebook page, or contact Lear at (315) 343-4711 or e-mail [email protected]
Special room rates are available for conference attendees at the Best Western – Captain’s Quarters Hotel, 26 E. First St., Oswego, NY.
When making a reservation, please call the hotel at (315) 343-4040 and mention the conference.