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 II:
War in the Clove
Chapter 7:
The Post at Ramapo

Brigadier-General George Clinton of New Windsor was tough, stubborn and opinionated, intolerant, irascible and petulant, but decisive and dependable, quick to sense danger, quick to react; a man who could be as obstinate as the obstinate militiamen whom he continually had to goad into action to fight for the cause. Thirty-seven, Ulster-born, he knew the Highland country very well, if for no other reason than that he was a son of the surveyor of the Cheesecock Patent.

Just before he withdrew from Paramus, he put it cogently: "Being sensible of the Importance of the Passes of the Highlands, the security of them shall always be my first object, from which I will not suffer myself for any other Consideration however specious to be diverted."

Clinton's Clove command encompassed a much broader area extending across all of southern Orange than merely the corridor where Huntington and Tyler had been stationed. More than half of his force was at Tappan and Closter, fifteen miles to the east. During his twenty-three days in command, Clinton's letters, like Huntington's before him, carried the general heading of "Ramepough", a name generously applied to the lower Clove and the adjoining locale of northern Jersey. Other letters of early January indicate his presence at Galloway's tavern in the Clove at Southfields and at Suffern's, where courts-martial were also held; while another of January 9, sent from Wallkill, was addressed to him "at Mr. Sidman's", where his father had lodged thirty-eight years before during the Cheesecock survey, which could suggest its use - at least, for a while - as Clinton's Ramapo headquarters.

The lack of barracks in which to shelter the troops and the weather too cold to permit the use of tents, compelled him to quarter the men in buildings scattered across a six-mile area.

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