Orange County Historical Society

Corridor Through the Mountains

Smith's Clove: Wartime Line of Communication and Passageway for the Continental Army, 1776-1783

Richard J. Koke

[Editor's Note: Richard J. Koke authored a series of five articles that appeared in Volumes 19 -23 of the OCHS Journal between 1990 and 1994. These articles will be presented in multiple sections over the next few years.]

Part III:
A Time for Thieves and Villains
Chapter 2:
Summer, 1778

In the summer of 1778, the Pennsylvania campaign at an end, the main armies were returning to the Hudson: the British by water from Sandy Hook into the New York defenses and Washington and the Grand Army by land through northern New Jersey on its way to King's Ferry for a crossing into Westchester. For a while, Smith's Clove was considered as an alternate route to the river, if need be, as was obvious when the commander-in-chief wrote from New Brunswick on July 3 of his intent to cross at the ferry, but if there was danger that the passage might be threatened by enemy naval craft he would change course “and march thro’ the Clove” to New Windsor as he had the year before. The lower ferry, however, remained clear and after five festive days at Paramus and four at Haverstraw he crossed with the last division of July 19.

Though the Grand Army moved by way of Kakiat, one unit, at least, was assigned the Clove in the passage through Orange: a special force of 240 seasoned frontier fighters consisting of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel William Butler and a company of Morgan's Virginia riflemen under Captain Thomas Posey, which assembled at the Clove and marched through the corridor to New Windsor on its way to Albany and into the threatened Mohawk territory. At the same time the 1st New York Regiment under Colonel Goose Van Schaick was ordered across Country from the Clove to Tappan (Orangetown) for purposes of security.

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