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An American Gentleman on Arnold’s Treason

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II.  Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

A gentleman at the American camp, in a letter dated Robinson’s House, gives the following account of the discovery of Arnold’s plot:—”I make use of the present express to acquaint you with a scene of villany which happened in this quarter. A very singular combination of circumstances has preserved to us West Point and its dependencies. General Arnold, who was the commanding officer, has been bought over to the interest of the enemy, and the place in a few days must have become theirs. They had a part of their army in readiness to act on this occasion, and could not have failed, of success from the concert of Arnold within the fort.

“Such was the situation of this important post, when a providential event discovered the traitor. Major Andre, the British Adjutant-General, a person of great talents, appears to have been the principal actor with Arnold. In his return to New York, after an interview with Arnold, he was stopped near Tarrytown by a few militia, (notwithstanding a pass written and signed by General Arnold, by which Andre was permitted to proceed as a John Anderson,) and detained as a spy. As they were conducting him to a party of continental troops, he offered them a large sum of money for his release, which they rejected with as much virtue as Arnold received his with baseness.

“The state of the garrison, arrangements for its defence in case of attack, a council of war, &c., were found on Andre, in Arnold’s own handwriting.

“Colonel Jameson, of the light dragoons, to whom he was conveyed in the first instance, and before a detection of these papers, despatched an account to Arnold that he had a spy in his care, and described him in such a manner, that Arnold knew it to be Andre. His Excellency General Washington, the Marquis de la Fayette, General Knox, and their aids, were within a few miles of his quarters at this juncture. I had preceded them with a Major Shaw, to give notice of their coming. Arnold, I think, must have received the advice while we were present, as I observed an embarrassment, which I could not at that time account for. The approach of his Excellency left him but an instant to take measures for his own safety, or it is likely he would have attempted that of Andre’s, and the matter might have remained in obscurity. He ordered his barge, and passing lung’s Ferry as a flag boat, fell down to the Vulture sloop of war, which lay below at a short distance. In the mean time, an officer arrived with the papers which were discovered, and a letter from Andre to his Excellency, in which he endeavors to show that he did not come under the character of a spy. Upon this Colonel Hamilton and myself rode to King’s Ferry, but he had before this gained the enemy’s vessel.

“We expect Andre here every minute. I lament Arnold’s escape, that we might have punished such a high piece of perfidiousness, and prevented the enemy from profiting by his information. Andre has ventured daringly for the accomplishment of a great end; fortunate for us his abilities failed him, as it was on the point of being finished, and he must in all human probability submit to the fate of a common spy.”1


1 Pennsylvania Packet, October 3.