The Strange Case Of ‘The Oswego Four’ Mutiny And Desertion In 1752

OSWEGO, NY – The first lecture of the 2011 H. Lee White Marine Museum history series will be presented April 9 at 1:30 p.m.

“The museum has been offering these informative programs free to the public since 2002,” noted executive director Mercedes Niess. “Our featured speaker, Steve Wapen, will present the topic ‘The Strange Case Of The Oswego Four: Mutiny and Desertion In 1752.’”

Prior to the capture and destruction of Oswego by French forces in 1756, Oswego was a small fur trading outpost on the Great Lakes frontier protected by a modest British garrison of about 20 soldiers.

On the night of Jan. 11, 1752, garrison commander Captain John Mills was the victim of mutiny when he was placed in irons by several of his own men!

Of the 10 mutineers that deserted Oswego in their attempt to reach Cataraqui (Kingston, Ontario) just a few (“Oswego Four”) made it back alive – but only after resorting to murder and cannibalism.

Word of the mutiny and desertion reached the highest levels of British government, including Henry Fox, Secretary of War and even King George II himself.

Were the “Oswego Four” justified in committing mutiny and desertion?

Did Oswego’s fur trading community play a role in these events?

How were “the Oswego Four” eventually brought to justice?

These and other questions will be answered in the presentation.

Wapen has researched recently discovered documents and will present this remarkable and untold story of frontier intrigue, betrayal, survival and resolution.

Wapen’s findings represent a rare and unsettling look into Oswego’s colonial past in the years immediately before Oswego’s fall to the French.

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

He has worked in human resources and labor relations for more than 30 years in the public and private sectors throughout the country.  Wapen currently resides in Chaplin, Conn., with his wife, Sharon (LaMay), also from Oswego.

The H. Lee White Marine Museum is located at the end of the West First Street Pier, in Oswego’s historic maritime district.

For more information about this program or other museum activities, contact the museum at 342-0480 or [email protected]

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