In 1778 destructive raids by American Loyalists and Iroquois Indians created such fear along the Pennsylvania and New York frontiers that the settlers began retreating to safer areas further east. Among the most infamous raids was the one on nearby Cherry Valley in November where many women and children were massacred, the town burned and 80 captives taken to Canada. The raid effectively ended all settlement in the area. General George Washington determined to break the Iroquois Confederacy, which he considered the source of the raids, and committed 4,000 troops from the Continental Army to eliminate the Indian settlements and force them to surrender or drive them further west.
Washington appointed General John Sullivan to lead the expedition with Brigadier General James Clinton second in command. In 1779 Sullivan moved up the Susquehanna River from central Pennsylvania, while Clinton gathered 1,500 men on the Mohawk River in New York. Setting out from Canajoharie, Clinton moved south to Otsego Lake, the headwaters of the Susquehanna, to follow the river and link up with Sullivan near the New York-Pennsylvania border. It took Clinton’s men two weeks to cut a primitive road through the forests from the Mohawk Valley to a location on the Otsego Lake just below the current site of Hyde Hall. The approximate route of Clinton’s road is now known as the Continental Road, named after the Continental Army.
It was a challenging feat to portage 250 bateaux and supplies through the wilderness to the lake. The troops then floated south to where the village of Cooperstown now stands and built a dam across the head of the Susquehanna River. Waiting over a month, Clinton broke the dam in early August, clearing away most of the debris on the river and his troops traveled 160 miles down the river to meet with Sullivan. The combined forces moved westward into the heart of Iroquois country. The campaign fought a series of skirmishes, but burned all the towns and crops in their path. With neither food nor shelter, the Indians fled to Niagara and Canada and Sullivan successfully carried out Washington’s goal.
The Sullivan Clinton Campaign was the major effort of the Continental Army in 1779 and the only major action in the Revolutionary War in the area of Springfield. Mary Gale Carter Clarke and her mother-in-law, Anna Maria Gregory Clarke, were charter members of the General James Clinton Chapter of the DAR and Mary Gale was the first regent. With evidence of an important historical campaign literally at their feet at Hyde Hall, they were leaders in having the event commemorated. The monument erected to the memory of James Clinton was dedicated on June 30, 1906. It stands at the intersection of Continental Road and Rt. 20 set behind a handsome cast-iron fence.