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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BRADSTREET''S DISASTER

BRADSTREET''S DISASTER

BRADSTREET'S DISASTER, which occurred 1.7 miles west of Rocky River on October 18 and 19, 1764, is one of the most notable events in the presettlement history of Cleveland. In late summer 1764, British Colonel John Bradstreet, renowned as the hero of Fort Frontenac, proceeded from Fort Niagara to Fort Detroit with 2,300 British regulars, American provincials, and Indians. Stopovers on this westward trek included the Cuyahoga and Rocky rivers on August 18 and 19. Initially part of a three-pronged assault to put down Pontiac's Rebellion, after Indian quiescence the mission became one of reinforcement, exploration, retrieval of captives, challenge of hostile groups, and peacemaking. On the return to Ft. Niagara from an extended encampment at Sandusky, Bradstreet's party found the otherwise safe shelter of Rocky River too treacherous for their 46-foot long bateaux to navigate because of darkness. Instead, on October 18 under a moonless sky, they rowed their 60 boats and 9 canoes, laden with 1,500 troops, to a swale near ROCKY RIVER (now the park, Bradstreet's Landing). When an unexpected surge wave suddenly struck, the small-ship fleet was inundated by high water. These waves effectively incapacitated 25 boats and severely damaged many others. Three days were required for repair before further travel could be undertaken, and the shortage of boats necessitated that a portion of the party proceed over land. Bad weather severely hampered the progress of the boats, while shortages of food and supplies caused much hardship for the overland party. Although rumors of marchers' perishing exist, only a single fatality was confirmed in the struggle to return to Ft. Niagara.