The Jonathan French journal (31 pages) consists of entries from April 14 to October 20, 1757, kept by Jonathan French, a private in the Massachusetts militia under Major General Daniel Webb, during the French and Indian War. French recorded his experiences during his corps' expedition from Boston to Fort Edward, New York, and his duties while stationed there. During his assignment, the French army, under General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, attacked and overtook Fort William Henry, forcing the British troops to retreat to Fort Edward.
On the march to New York, French recorded how far his regiment traveled each day, the names of the towns where they stopped, meals eaten, the weather, and regimental exercises. On August 9, 1757, French noted that 100 men were sent to defend Fort William Henry, but, in general, seemed unaware of the siege. French documented the times when scouts were sent out from the fort, and mentioned the activities and orders of Major General Daniel Webb (pages 15-16, 20), Captain Putnam (pages 7, 8, 9, and 11), Captain West (page 9), and Major Robert Rogers (page 17-18). He reported a bloody skirmish between the British and the Indians on July 23, 1757, which resulted in the scalping of 7 soldiers and 10 deaths on the British side (page 11). He made notes of soldiers escaping from Fort William Henry to Fort Edward on September 6 (page 15), September 17 (page 16), and September 28 (pages 17-18).
French first mentioned smallpox on July 20, 1857 (page 10) and contracted it on July 27, 1757 (page 13). He was hospitalized sometime before August 30th. Throughout the journal, French commented on religion, preaching, and sermons.
- Mentions of the Mohawk Indians (pages 7, 8, and 9)
- Descriptions of two British scouts taking each other as enemies and shooting at one another: one was killed, August 2, 1757 (Page 8)
- Remarks about a British soldier who was executed for intending to desert to the French army (page 10) and two more who were executed for trying to desert to Fort Ticonderoga, September 5, 1757 (page 15)
- News of a skirmish between Indians and a group of scouts (page 10)
- Description of a "sad accident," which occurred on July 26, 1757, when a man was cleaning his gun and fired the gun through three tents, killing a man (page 12)
- Notes regarding Major Rogers' arrival from Albany with 400 rangers who had been in Halifax with the Earl of Loudoun, September 31, 1757 (page 17)
On page 30, French created brief "Reports of the Guard," while stationed at Castle William (now called Fort Independence, in Massachusetts), noting the parole and the commander and corps stopping at the fort (August 6-14, 1760). Page 31 contains a postscript, dated May 23, 1868, written by Ebenezer Sperry Stearns, grandson of Jonathan French, which identifies the Reverend Jonathan French as the journal's author.
At the back of the book is a loose fragment of a table of 20 men under Captain Francis Brown (undated).