Major General John Bradstreet, born Jean-Baptiste Bradstreet (1714 – 1774), was a British Army officer during King George’s War, the French and Indian War, and Pontiac’s War.
In 1756 he led a column to supply the greatly weakened Fort Oswego and issued ignored warnings to his superiors before Oswego was captured and burned later that year. In the spring of 1757 he helped assemble supplies and transports at Boston for the abortive attack on Louisbourg.
That December he was appointed Lt. Colonel and in 1758 he participated in the attack on Fort Carillon (now Fort Ticonderoga), where he led the advance guard following the death of General George Howe. When the Battle ended in disaster, Bradstreet attempted to organize a retreat.
After Ticonderoga, Bradstreet immediately proposed to attack Fort Frontenac, the key French supply base on Lake Ontario. Bradstreet’s proposal met with approval from British planners and he was given a force of approximately 3,000 men to carry out the successful operation. The fort surrendered on the August 27, 1758 and was looted and burned, temporarily cutting the French supply line in the Great Lakes.
Afterward, Bradstreet served as deputy quartermaster general in Albany in Jeffery Amherst, a lucrative position he held until the end of the war.
The new book John Bradstreet’s Raid, 1758: A Riverine Operation of the French and Indian War (University of Oklahoma Press, 2022) by Ian Macpherson McCulloch looks back to a year after John Bradstreet’s 1758 raid on Fort Frontenac — the first and largest British-American riverine raid mounted during the Seven Years’ War (known in North America as the French and Indian War).
Benjamin Franklin hailed it as one of the great “American” victories of the war. Bradstreet heartily agreed, and soon enough, his own official account was adopted by Francis Parkman and other early historians.
In this first comprehensive analysis of Bradstreet’s raid, Ian Macpherson McCulloch uses never-before-seen materials and a new interpretive approach to dispel many of the myths that have grown up around the operation. The result is a closely observed, deeply researched revisionist microhistory.
Examined within the context of campaign planning and the friction among commanders in the war’s first three years, the raid looks markedly different than Bradstreet’s heroic portrayal. The operation was carried out principally by American colonial soldiers, and McCulloch lets many of the provincial participants give voice to their own experiences.
He consults little-known French documents that give Bradstreet’s opponents’ side of the story, as well as supporting material such as orders of battle, meteorological data, and overviews of captured ships. McCulloch also examines the riverine operational capability that Bradstreet put in place, a new water-borne style of combat that the British-American army would soon successfully deploy in the campaigns of Niagara (1759) and Montreal (1760).
McCulloch’s history is the most detailed, thoroughgoing view of Bradstreet’s raid ever produced.
Ian Macpherson McCulloch is a Lieutenant-Colonel (retired) in the Canadian Army and the author or editor of four books, including Highlander in the French & Indian War, 1756–63.
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Bruce Venter says
Bradstreet was a close personal friend of Albany’s Philip Schuyler. Schuyler helped to settle his estate.