[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.]
1779: A Crucial Year
Chapter 12: The Indian Fighters Appear
At the end of 1779, Smith's Clove again, briefly, was a pathway for an army. Twelve days after the British evacuated Stony Point, Major-General Sullivan and the Western Army entered the corridor on its return from the punitive expedition against the Six Nations. Coming up from the Delaware through Sussex under orders to proceed to Suffern’s ‘at the entrance of the Clove,” he and his four Continental brigades arrived at Warwick on October 31, and on the following day marched through Bellvale to the Sterling Iron Works, camped for the night and on November 2 came into Eagle Valley, where the New Jersey brigade was detached and sent home through Ringwood while Sullivan and the brigades under Hand, Clinton and Poor continued into the Clove and down to Suffern's where they pitched camp along the Ramapo road.
A four-day layover allowed them somewhat of a respite from the arduous march. Sullivan stopped at the tavern, other officers stayed at Sidman's; soldiers were put through drill exercises, a court-martial was held and, with time available, several officers rode fourteen miles into the corridor on “a party of pleasure” to Smith's tavern where they spent the night and returned the next day. For Sullivan, the short stay also marked an end to his military career when he wrote to Washington from Suffern's and announced his intent to retire from the army because of ill health (he was surprised when Congress accepted his resignation, expecting a leave of absence, but Congress thought him difficult).
On November 6 he left for Pompton with one of his brigades and the artillery and during the next two days Clinton and Poor followed. Washington and his suite, coming from West Point by way of King's Ferry and lower Orange, passed Suffern's on his way to Pompton for a one-day visit to welcome Sullivan and assess the situation; passing north ward again a few days later on his return to the Highlands.