Rockland in the Revolutionary War: Significant Events In Rockland

2024 Rev War Collage
July 4, 1774
The Orangetown Resolutions, part of a widespread movement of local protests against the British Parliament’s passage of the Intolerable Acts, are signed at Yost Mabie’s house in Tappan (most likely located around the corner from the current ’76 House, which at that time was owned by Yost’s brother Casparus).

Fall 1775
Mary (Mollie) Sneden ferries Martha Washington across the Hudson on her journey to meet her husband in Massachusetts. Also, construction begins of Fort Clinton, the first fortification on the present soil of Rockland County, near the site of the present-day Bear Mountain Bridge.

July-October 1776
On July 12, the British warships HMS Phoenix and HMS Rose anchor in the Tappan Zee near Nyack to intercept American communications. They attempt to land troops but are prevented from doing so by the Second Regiment of the Orange County Militia, under the command of Colonel Ann Hawkes Hay of Haverstraw. On August 3, the American galleys Whiting, Lady Washington, Crown, and Spitfire engage the British ships Phoenix, Roebuck, and Tartar in the Tappan Zee in an early naval skirmish of the Revolution. The Patriots keep the British from sailing farther up the Hudson River. Later that month, on August 16, Americans commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Benjamin Tupper send fire rafts against the British ships south of Rockland County. The action does not succeed, but it alarms the commander of the Phoenix enough to order the ships to rejoin the British fleet off Manhattan.

November 1776

General Washington crosses the Hudson to Haverstraw after the Westchester campaign. It is his first visit to Rockland.

July 1777
General Washington stays at Suffern’s Tavern for five days
, where Major-General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, is quartered. The tavern also becomes the headquarters of Lieutenant-Colonel Aaron Burr, whom Washington has appointed to the regiment guarding the Ramapo Pass. Washington writes to General Israel Putnam, “I have just arrived with the Army at this place where I shall remain till I see what turn Genl Howe takes.”

October 1777
BRITISH CAPTURE OF FORT CLINTON The British Army under General Sir Henry Clinton attacks the American fortifications forty miles north of New York City on October 6, capturing Forts Clinton and Montgomery and dismantling the first Hudson River chain.

July 1778
Washington stays for three days (July 15-18) at the West Haverstraw home of Colonel Hay while the Continental Army crosses the river at Stony Point. Six months later, on his return from Dutchess County
, crossing to King’s Ferry on December 1 and spending a night at Colonel Hay’s house before pushing south into New Jersey.

May-June 1779
British General Sir Henry Clinton attempts a second invasion of the Hudson Valley, seizing Stony Point.

July 1779
BATTLE OF STONY POINT On the night of July 15-16, American troops under General Anthony Wayne capture the enemy post at Stony Point. Washington travels down the river from West Point to examine the defenses and commend the victors
and stays at Stony Point from July 17 to the early morning of July 19.

August 1780

Moving north with the army, Washington rides through the county by way of Kakiat and West Haverstraw and cross the river at King’s Ferry
either late on July 30 or early on August 1. He arrives in Peekskill on August 1 and embarks for the Hudson Highlands. Washington returns to Rockland, where his army camps overnight (August 6-7) at Clarkstown (West Nyack) and then at Orangetown (Tappan) while he establishes headquarters at the DeWint House (August 8-24).

September-October 1780
As British General Henry Clinton’s adjutant-general, Major John André corresponded with disenchanted American General Benedict Arnold, commander of West Point, to negotiate for West Point’s surrender. To ensure Arnold’s cooperation, André met with him on September 20 at a location on the Hudson shore known as Red Stone Beach, later adjourning to a house occupied by the Loyalist Joshua Hett Smith. Arnold gave André a map of West Point and Washington’s war council minutes, along with a travel pass. On September 23, as he was returning to British lines, André was arrested in Tarrytown for espionage. Five days later, upon discovering Arnold’s treason, Washington returned to Tappan and again stayed at the DeWint House as André was tried and, ultimately, hanged on October 2.

August 1781

After landing in Newport, Rhode Island, 5,000 soldiers of the French Expeditionary Force, led by General Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau, and the Continental Army cross the Hudson from Verplanck to Stony Point. From August 23 to 25 they travel through Haverstraw and Kakiat and encamp in Suffern on the way to Yorktown, Virginia. Rochambeau makes his headquarters at Suffern’s Tavern. In October, the French and American troops force the surrender of besieged British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, leading to the end of the war.

March-April 1782

George and Martha Washington stop at “Mr. Lot’s House” (Sloat House) in Sloatsburg on March 30 or 31 on the way from Pompton, New Jersey, to Newburgh. Meanwhile, as news of the British surrender at Yorktown the previous fall reaches Rockland, the evacuation of Tories and confiscation of their property that began in 1777 intensifies. This splits families and communities, as many people who remained loyal to the British Crown leave the region to start new lives in England, Canada, and the British West Indian colonies.

September 1782

General Rochambeau and his army return to New York, staying overnight in Suffern on September 15 and Haverstraw on September 16 before crossing the Hudson at King’s Ferry to Verplanck on September 17.

May 1783
Washington leaves Peekskill by barge with Governor George Clinton and other New York officials and is taken downriver through Haverstraw Bay and the Tappan Zee to Piermont to confer with the British Commander-in-Chief, Sir Guy Carleton. On May 5-6, Washington met Carleton’s ship, the HMS Perseverance. The two travel by carriage to the DeWint House and negotiate the terms for the British evacuation from New York City; the return of British prisoners; and the disposition of American property, including enslaved people, in advance of the signing of the Treaty of Paris in September 1783, which formally recognizes the sovereignty of the United States. The next day, Carleton entertains the Americans aboard the Perseverance, with the British honoring Washington on his arrival and departure with a seventeen-gun naval salute to recognize the new nation.

November 1783
On November 12, 1783—seven years to the day since his first visit—General Washington, with eight or ten of his officers, stops at the DeWint House for the last time. They are traveling north to West Point. A bad snowstorm forces them to remain in Tappan longer than expected, and they do not arrive at West Point until November 14.

Compiled by Susan Deeks, Executive Director, Historical Society of Rockland County; Marianne Leese, Senior Historian, Historical Society of Rockland County; Craig Long, Rockland County Historian; and Michael J. Sheehan, Historical Interpreter, Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site.

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