The Severe Winter of 1779/80 Presentation.
A chilly November evening was the perfect backdrop for a presentation about the severe winter of 1779/80. Harmony Hall Curator, Geoff Welch focused on not only the strategic importance of the Ramapo Pass but on the harsh conditions which General Washington’s young and very poorly-clothed American army faced. The winter of 1779 was described as the worst winter that a nation had recalled
at a nascent stage of organization as it faced the well organized and equipped British army.
The importance of the Ramapo Pass could not then or now be underestimated by those making history in the 18th century nor to those of us who are well advised to honor the sacrifice of these brave citizens. The American militia faced starvation for much of the winter at their encampment at Morristown, New Jersey. Rivers froze so gristmills could not produce flour for bread. In the Ramapo Pass, poor souls
marched with no shoes, proper clothes or encampments which protected them from the elements. Many died that winter. It is likely some are buried at the veteran and family cemetery at Sidman’s.
In the midst of these severe conditions, soldiers were called to construct small log cabin structures to house them and their comrades in arms in Morristown. Officers fortunate enough to quarter in the pass that winter, enjoyed virtually luxury accommodations at such places as Sidman’s in the Clove and Sloat Tavern.
As The Friends of Harmony Hall-Jacob Sloat House end another productive year of programs and successful events including the 2019 BlueGrass Festival which realized over 700 attendees, we thank Geoff Welch for his always entertaining and jovial commentary regarding history, environment, music and our important role in American history as we fast approach the 250th anniversary of the Revolution.
Thanks also to those who attended this event including Friends of Sterling Forest President Doc Bayne, his wife Pat, and several of their hard-working board, Sloatsburg Historical Society President, Monica Murray, local environmental activist and Tuxedo Historical Society member, Sue Scher, and Darrell Frasier,
a founding member of Sloatsburg revitalization advocacy.