Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. I., Chapter XXX.







West Point and its Associations. – Mrs. Faugeres. – Sufferings of Mrs. Bleecker. – Scenery around West Point. – The Military Establishment. – Wood’s Monument. – Interesting Relics. – Size of the Mortars and Chain. – Position of the Chain in the River. – Other Relics. – Kosciuszko’s Monument. – Kosciuszko’s Garden. – Other Localities. – Fort Arnold. – Fort Putnam. – View from the Ruins of Fort Putnam. – Names of the Highland Peaks. – Drake’s "Culprit Fay." – Fortifications in the Highlands ordered. – Action of the New York assembly. – Fort Constitution. – New Forts in the Highlands proposed. – West Point selected. – Radière and other Engineers from France. – West Point in 1780. – Construction of the great Chain. – History of the Work. – Map of West Point. – The Chain weakened by Arnold. – Importance of West Point. – Establishment of the Military Academy there. – Forts Webb, Wyllys, and Putnam. – Visit to Constitution Island. – Remains of Fort Constitution. – Buttermilk Falls. – A venerable Boatman. – Beverly Dock and Robinson House. – Arnold’s Willow. – Arnold in Philadelphia. – His Extravagance. – Marriage with Miss Shippen. – Memoir of Beverly Robinson. – Arnold’s Residence and Style of Living. – His fraudulent Dealings. – Charge of Malfeasance preferred against him. – Arnold ordered to be tried by a Court Martial. – His Trial, Verdict, and Punishment. – Its Effects. – Arnold’s Interview with Luzerne. – His Wife and Major Andrè. – Sympathy of Schuyler and Livingston. – Arnold’s Visit to the American Camp. – Washington Deceived by him. – Obtains the Command at West Point. – Correspondence of Arnold and Andrè. – Proposed Plan of the British to gain Possession of West Point. – Andrè appointed to confer with Arnold. – An Interview proposed by the Traitor. – Letter to Colonel Sheldon. – Effect of Andrè’s Letter to Sheldon. – Arnold’s attempted Interview with Andrè. – His Letter to Washington. – Joshua H. Smith. – Further arrangements for an Interview. – Arnold’s Correspondence with Beverly Robinson. – Washington on his Journey. – Washington again deceived by Arnold’s Duplicity. – Smith employed to bring Andrè from the Vulture. – His Difficulties. – Refusal of the Colquhons to accompany Smith. – Final Compliance. – Landing of Andrè and his first Interview with Arnold. – Arrival of the Conspirators at Smith’s House. – The Vulture fired upon. – Plan of Operations arranged. – Colonel Livingston. – The Papers taken from Andrè’s Boot. – "Artillery Orders." – Forces at West Point. – Villefranche’s Estimate. – Return of the Ordnance in the different Forts at West Point. – Arnold’s Description of the Works. – Arnold’s Pass. – Smith’s Refusal to take Andrè back to the Vulture. – His insufficient Excuse. – Andrè’s Exchange of Coats. – He and Smith cross the Hudson. – Smith’s Letter to his Brother. – Ambiguous Memorandum.


"What though no cloister gray nor ivyed column

Along these cliffs their somber ruins rear;
What though no frowning tower nor temple solemn
Of despots tell, and superstition here;
What though that moldering fort’s fast-crumbling walls
Did ne’er inclose a baron’s bannered halls,

"Its sinking arches once gave back as proud
An echo to the war-blown clarion’s peal –
As gallant hearts its battlements did crowd
As ever beat beneath a breast of steel,
When herald’s trump on knighthood’s haughtiest day
Called forth chivalric hosts to battle-fray."

"Low sunk between the Alleghanian hills

For many a league the sullen waters glide,
And the deep murmur of the crowded tide
With pleasing awe the wondering voyager fills.
On the green summit of you lofty clift
A peaceful runnel gurgles clear and slow,
Then down the craggy steep-side dashing swift,
Tumultuous falls in the white surge below."


In the midst of wild mountain scenery, picturesque but not magnificent when compared with the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Adirondack and Catskill range in New York, or the Alleghanies in Western Pennsylvania and Virginia, is a bold promontory called West Point, rising more than one hundred and fifty feet above the waters of the Hudson, its top a perfectly level and fertile plateau, and every rood hallowed by associations of the deepest interest. West Point! What a world of thrilling reminiscences has the utterance of that name brought to ten thousand memories in times past, now, alas! nearly all slumbering in the dreamless sleep of the dead! How does it awaken the generous emotions of patriotic reverence for the men, and things, and times of the Revolution, in the bosoms of the present generation! Nor is it by the associations alone that the traveler is moved with strong emotions when approaching West Point; the stranger, indifferent to our history and of all but the present, feels a glow of admiration as he courses along the sinuous channel of the river or climbs the rough hills that embosom it. The inspiration of nature then takes possession of his heart and mind, and

"When he treads

The rock-encumbered crest, and feels the strange
And wild tumultuous throbbings of his heart,
Its every chord vibrating with the touch
Of the high power that reigns supreme o’er all,
He well may deem that lips of angel-forms
Have breathed to him the holy melody
That fills his o’erfraught heart."

The high plain is reached by a carriage-way that winds up the bank from the landing; the visitor overlooking, in the passage, on the right, the little village of Camptown, which comprises the barracks of United States soldiers and a few dwellings of persons not immediately connected with the military works. On the left, near the summit, is "the Artillery Laboratory," and near by, upon a little hillock, is an obelisk erected to the memory of Lieutenant-colonel Wood. 2 On the edge of the cliff, overlooking the steam boat landing, is a spacious hotel, where I booked myself as a boarder for a day or two. A more delightful spot, particularly in summer, for a weary traveler or a professed lounger, can not easily be found, than the broad piazza of that public dwelling presents. Breezy in the hottest weather, and always enlivened by pleasant company, the sojourner need not step from beneath its shadow to view a most wonderful variety of pleasing objects in nature and art. Upon the grassy plain before him are buildings of the military establishment – the Academic Halls, the Philosophical and Library buildings, the Observatory, the Chapel, the Hospital, the Barracks and Mess Hall of the cadets, and the beautifully shaded dwellings of the officers and professors that skirt the western side of the plateau at the base of the hills. On the parade, the cadets, in neat uniform, exhibit their various exercises, and an excellent band of music delights the ear. Lifting the eyes to the westward, the lofty summit of Mount Independence, crested by the gray ruins of Fort Putnam, and beyond it the loftier apex of Redoubt Hill, are seen. Turning a little northward, Old Cro’ Nest and Butter Hill break the horizon nearly half way to the zenith; and directly north, over Martelaer’s Rock or Constitution Island, through the magnificent cleft in the chain of hills through which the Hudson flows, is seen the bright waters of Newburgh Bay, the village glittering in the sunbeams, and the beautiful, cultivated slopes of Dutchess and Orange. The scenery at the eastward is better comprehended and more extensive as seen from Fort Putnam, whither we shall presently climb.


I passed the remainder of the afternoon [October 26, 1848.] among the celebrities clustered around the plain. I first visited the Artillery Laboratory, where are deposited several interesting trophies and relics of the Revolution. In the center of the court is a group of great interest, consisting of a large brass mortar, mounted, which was taken from the English when Wayne captured Stony Point; two small brass mortars, taken from Burgoyne at Saratoga, and a portion of the famous chain which the Americans stretched across the river at West Point to obstruct the passage of the vessels of the enemy. The large mortar has a caliber of ten and a half inches; the smaller ones, of four inches and three quarters. The former is emblazoned with the English coat of arms, beneath which is engraved "Aschaleh, fecit, 1741." There are twelve links, two devises, and a portion of a link of the great chain remaining. The links are made of iron bars, two and a half inches square, average in length a little over two feet, and weigh about one hundred and forty pounds each. The chain was stretched across the river at the narrowest point between the rocks just below the steam-boat landing, and Constitution Island opposite. It was fixed to huge blocks on each shore, and under the cover of batteries on both sides of the river. The remains of these are still visible. "It is buoyed up," says Doctor Thacher, writing in 1780, "by very large logs of about sixteen feet long, pointed at the ends, to lessen their opposition to the force of the current at flood and ebb tide. The logs are placed at short distances from each other, the chain carried over them, and made fast to each by staples. There are also a number of anchors dropped at proper distances, with cables made fast to the chain, to give it greater stability." 3 The history of this chain will be noted presently.

Near this group is a cannon, by the premature discharge of which, in 1817, a cadet named Lowe was killed. There is a beautiful monument erected to his memory in the cemetery of the institution. I observed several long French cannons, inscribed with various dates; and among others, two brass field-pieces, of British manufacture, bearing the monogram of the king, "G. R.," and the inscription "W. Bowen, fecit, 1755." These were presented to General Greene by order of Congress, as an inscription among the military emblems avers. 4


At the northeast corner of the plain, a little eastward of the hotel, are mounds denoting the ramparts of old Fort Clinton. Among these mounds stands the monument erected to the memory of KOSCIUSZKO. It is made of white marble, and is a conspicuous object to travelers upon the river. On one side of the pedestal, in large letters, is the name KOSCIUSZKO; and on the other is the brief inscription, "Erected by the Corps of Cadets, 1828." The monument was completed in 1829, at a cost of five thousand dollars. A drawing of it forms a portion of the vignette of the map printed on page 705 {original text has "137".}. From this monument the view of the river and adjacent scenery, especially at the northward, is very fine, and should never be unobserved by the visitor.


Emerging from the remains of Fort Clinton, the path, traversing the margin of the cliff, passes the ruins of a battery, and descends, at a narrow gorge between huge rocks, to a flight of wooden steps. These terminate at the bottom upon a grassy terrace a few feet wide, over which hangs a shelving cliff covered with shrubbery. This is called Kosciuszko’s Garden, from the circumstance of its having been a favorite resort of that officer while stationed there as engineer for a time during the Revolution. In the center of the terrace is a marble basin, from the bottom of which bubbles up a tiny fountain of pure water. It is said that the remains of a fountain constructed by Kosciuszko was discovered in 1802, when it was removed, and the marble bowl which now receives the jet was placed there. It is a beautiful and romantic spot, shaded by a weeping willow and other trees, and having seats provided for those who wish to linger. Upon a smooth spot, high upon the rocks and half overgrown with moss, are slight indications of written characters. Tradition says it is the remains of the name of Kosciuszko, inscribed by his own hand; but I doubt the report, for he possessed too much common sense to be guilty of such folly as the mutilated benches around the fountain exhibit; his name was already upon the tablet of Polish history, and his then present deeds were marking it deep upon that of our war for independence. The sun had gone down behind the hills when I ascended from the garden to the plain.


The cadets were performing their evening parade, and, as the last rays left Bear Hill and the Sugar Loaf, the evening gun and the tattoo summoned them to quarters. During the twilight hour, I strolled down the road along the river bank, half a mile beyond the barracks, to Mr. Kingsley’s Classical School, situated upon a commanding eminence above the road leading to Buttermilk Falls. Near his residence was a strong redoubt, called Fort Arnold, one of the outposts of West Point in the Revolution. I was informed that the remains are well preserved; but it was too dark to distinguish an artificial mound from a natural hillock, and I hastened back to my lodgings.


Unwilling to wait until the late hour of eight for breakfast the next morning, I arose at dawn, and before sunrise I stood among the ruins of Fort Putnam, on the pinnacle of Mount Independence, nearly five hundred feet above the river.

I had waked
From a long sleep of many changing dreams,
And now in the fresh forest air I stood
Nerved to another day of wandering.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The sky bent round
The awful domes of a most mighty temple,
Built by Omnipotent hands for nothing less
Than infinite worship. Here I stood in silence;
I had no words to tell the mingled thoughts
Of wonder and of joy that then came o’er me
Even with a whirlwind’s rush."

Around me were strewn mementoes of the Revolution. My feet pressed the russet turf upon the ramparts of a ruined fort. Eastward, behind which were glowing the splendors of approaching day, stretched a range of broken hills, on whose every pinnacle the vigilant patriots planted batteries and built watch-fires. At their feet, upon a fertile terrace almost a mile in breadth, was the "Beverly House," from which Arnold escaped to the Vulture; old Phillipstown, around which a portion of the Revolutionary army was cantoned in 1781, 6 and intermediate localities, all rich with local traditions and historic associations. On the left, over Constitution Island, arose the smoke of the furnaces and forges at Cold Spring, a thriving village at the river terminus of a mountain furrow that slopes down from the eastern hills. A little beyond, and beneath the frowning crags of Mount Taurus, 7 appeared "Under Cliff," the country seat of George P. Morris, Esq., lying like a pearl by the side of a sleeping giant, and just visible in the fading shadows of the mountains. Nowhere in our broad land is there a more romantic nook, or more appropriate spot for the residence of an American song-writer than this,

"Where Hudson’s waves o’er silvery sands

Winds through the hills afar,
And Cro’ Nest like a monarch stands
Crown’d with a single star."

Hark! the sunrise gun on the plain below hath spoken! How eagerly its loud voice is caught up by echo and carried from hill to hill! The Sugar Loaf answers to Redoubt Mountain, and Anthony’s Nose to Bear Mountain and the Dunderberg, and then there is only a soft whisper floating away over the waters of the Haverstraw. The reveille is beating; the shrill notes of the fife, and the stirring music of the cornet-players, come up and fill the soul with a martial spirit consonant with the place and its memories. Here, then, let us sit down upon the lip of this rock-fountain, within the ruins of the fort, and commune a while with the old chronicler.

The importance of fortifying the Hudson River at its narrow passes among the Highlands was suggested to the Continental Congress by the Provincial Assembly of New York at an early period of the war. On the 6th of October, 1775, the former directed the latter to proceed to make such fortifications as they should deem best. 8 On the 18th of November [1775.], Congress resolved to appoint a commander for the fortress, with the rank of colonel, and recommended the New York Assembly, or Convention, to empower him to raise a body of two hundred militia from the counties of Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster, and a company of artillery from New York city, to garrison them. The Convention was also recommended to forward from Kingsbridge such ordnance as they should think proper. 9 That body had already taken action. On the 18th of August, a committee was appointed to superintend the erection of forts and batteries in the vicinity of West Point. 10

They employed Bernard Romans, an English engineer (who, at that time, held the same office in the British army), to construct the works; and Martelaer’s Rock (now Constitution Island), opposite West Point, was the chosen spot for the principal fortification. Romans commenced operations on the 29th of August, and on the 12th of October he applied to Congress for a commission, with the rank and pay of colonel. It was this application which caused the action of Congress on the 18th of November. In the mean while, Romans and his employers quarreled, and the commission was never granted; the work was soon afterward completed by others.


This plan of Fort Constitution is from Romans’s report to the Committee of Safety of New York, on the 14th of September, 1775, and published in the American Archives, iii., 735.

EXPLANATION. – a, guard-room and store-house; b, barracks; c, block-house and main guard; d, magazine; e, the gateway; 1, a battery of four four-pounders; 2, three twelve-pounders; 3, three twelve-pounders and one nine-pounder; 4, five eighteen-pounders; 5, four twelve-pounders; 6, three eighteen-pounders; 7 and 8, one each, nine and twelve-pounder; 9, one four-pounder.

The fort was named Constitution, and the island has since borne that title. 11 The fort and its outworks were quite extensive, though the main fortress was built chiefly of perishable materials, on account of the apparent necessity for its speedy erection. The whole cost was about twenty-five thousand dollars. The remains of the fort and surrounding batteries are scattered over the island. Near the highest point on the western end are the well-preserved remains of the magazine, the form of which is given in the annexed diagram. It is upon a high rock, accessible only on one side. The whole wall is quite perfect, except at the doorway, D, where a considerable portion has fallen down and blocked up the entrance.


After the capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery, near the lower entrance to the Highlands, in 1777, and the abandonment of Fort Constitution by the Americans a few days afterward, public attention was directed to the importance of other and stronger fortifications in that vicinity. On the 5th of November, Congress appointed General Gates to command in the Highlands, or rather that post was connected with the Northern department. Gates was made president of the Board of War about that time, and never entered upon the prescribed duties in the Highlands. Anxious to have those passes strongly guarded, Washington requested General Putnam to bestow his most serious attention upon that important subject. He also wrote to Governor Clinton [December 2, 1777.], at the same time, desiring him to take the immediate supervision of the work; but his legislative duties, then many and pressing, made it difficult for him to comply. Clinton expressed his willingness to devote as much time as possible to the matter, and also made many valuable suggestions respecting the proposed fortifications. He mentioned West Point as the most eligible site for a strong fort.

Duty calling General Putnam to Connecticut, and General Parsons not feeling himself authorized to progress with the works, but little was done until the arrival of General M‘Dougal, who took command on the 20th of March [1778.] following. In the mean while, several officers examined various localities in the neighborhood [January.], and all were in favor of erecting a strong fort on West Point, except La Radière, a French engineer. 12 A committee of the New York Legislature, after surveying several sites, unanimously recommended West Point as the most eligible. Works were accordingly commenced there, under the direction of Kosciuszko, who had been appointed to succeed Radière in the Highlands, his skill being quite equal, and his manners more acceptable to the people. Kosciuszko arrived on the 20th of March [1778.], and the works were pushed toward completion with much spirit.

WEST POINT IN 1780. 13

The principal redoubt, constructed chiefly of logs and earth, was completed before May, and named Fort Clinton. It was six hundred yards around within the walls. The embankments were twenty-one feet at base, and fourteen feet high. There were barracks and huts for about six hundred men. 14 The cliff on which Fort Clinton was erected rises one and eighty-eight feet above the river, and is more elevated than the plain in the rear. The only accessible point from the river was at the house and dock, on the water’s edge, seen in the engraving. That point is now a little above the steam-boat landing. This weak point was well defended by palisades.

NOTE. – This map exhibits all of the most important localities at West Point during the Revolution and at the present time. It will be seen that the Hudson River rail-road crosses the cove and Constitution Island a little eastward of the ruins of the main fortress, on that side of the river. The island is owned by Henry W. Warner, Esq., and upon the eminence where the ravelins of the fort were spread is his beautiful country seat, called "Wood Crag." The kitchen part of his mansion is a portion of the barracks erected there in the autumn of 1775.

To defend Fort Clinton, and more thoroughly to secure the river against the passage of an enemy’s fleet, it was thought advisable to fortify the heights in the neighborhood. The foundation of a strong fort was accordingly laid on Mount Independence, and, when completed, it was named Putnam, in honor of the commander of the post. On eminences south of it, Forts Webb, Wyllys, and other redoubts were constructed; and at the close of 1779, West Point was the strongest military post in America. In addition to the batteries that stood menacingly upon the hill tops, the river was obstructed by an enormous iron chain, the form and size of which is noted on page 700 {original text has "132".}. The iron of which this chain was constructed was wrought from ore of equal parts, from the Stirling and Long Mines, in Orange county. The chain was manufactured by Peter Townshend, of Chester, at the Stirling Iron Works, in the same county, which were situated about twenty-five miles back of West Point. 15 The general superintendent of the work, as engineer, was Captain Thomas Machin, who afterward assisted in the engineering operations at Yorktown, when Cornwallis was captured. The chain was completed about the middle of April, 1778, and on the 1st of May it was stretched across the river and secured. 16

When Benedict Arnold was arranging his plans to deliver West Point and its dependencies into the hands of the enemy, this chain became a special object of his attention; and it is related that, a few days before the discovery of his treason, he wrote a letter to André, in a disguised hand and manner, informing him that he had weakened the obstructions in the river by ordering a link of the chain to be taken out and carried to the smith, under a pretense that it needed repairs. He assured his employer that the link would not be returned to its place before the forts should be in possession of the enemy. Of the treason of Arnold I shall write presently.

West Point was considered the keystone of the country during the Revolution, and there a large quantity of powder, and other munitions of war and military stores, were collected. These considerations combined, made its possession a matter of great importance to the enemy, and hence it was selected by Arnold as the prize which his treason would give as a bribe. When peace returned, it was regarded as one of the most important military posts in the country, and the plateau upon the point was purchased by the United States government. Repairs were commenced on Fort Putnam in 1794, but little was done. Not being included in the government purchase, the owner of the land on which the fort stood felt at liberty to appropriate its material to his private use, and for years the work of demolition was carried on with a Vandal spirit exercised only by the ignorant or avaricious. It was not arrested until Congress purchased the Gridly Farm (see the map), on which the fort stood, in 1824, when the work had become almost a total ruin.

The Military Academy at West Point was established by an act of Congress, which became a law on the 16th of March, 1802. Such an institution, at that place, was proposed by Washington to Congress in 1793; and earlier than this, even before the war of the Revolution had closed, he suggested the establishment of a military school there. 17 But little progress was made in the matter until 1812, when, by an act of Congress, a corps of engineers and of professors were organized, and the school was endowed with the most attractive features of a literary institution, mingled with that of the military character. From that period until the present, the academy has been increasing in importance, in a military point of view. Over three thousand young men have been educated there, and, under the superintendence of Major Delafield, who was appointed commandant in 1838, it continues to flourish. The value of the instruction received there was made very manifest during the late war with Mexico; a large portion of the most skillful officers of our army, in that conflict, being graduates of this academy.

The bell is ringing for breakfast; let us close the record and descend to the plain.


The winding road from Fort Putnam to the plain is well wrought along the mountain side, but quite steep in many places. A little south of it, and near the upper road leading to the stone quarries and Mr. Kingsley’s, are the ruins of Fort Webb, a strong redoubt, built upon a rocky eminence, and designed as an advanced defense of Fort Putnam. A short distance below this, on another eminence, are the remains of Fort Wyllys, a still stronger fortification. I visited these before returning to the hotel, and from the broken ramparts of Fort Webb sketched this distant view of Fort Putnam.

After a late breakfast, I procured the service of a waterman to convey me in his skiff to Constitution Island. and from thence down to Buttermilk Falls, 18 two miles below West Point. I directed him to come for me at the island within an hour and a half, but either forgetting his engagement or serving another customer, it was almost noon before I saw him, when my patience as well as curiosity was quite exhausted. I had rambled over the island, making such sketches as I desired, and for nearly an hour I sat upon a smooth bowlder by the margin of the river, near the remains of the redoubt made to cover and defend the great chain at the island end. On the southeast side of a small marshy cove, clasping a rough rock, a good portion of the heavy walls of Fort Constitution remain. The outworks are traceable several rods back into the stinted forest. The sketch on the next page is from the upper edge of the cove, and includes, on the left, a view of the remains of the redoubt across the river, the site of Fort Clinton, the chain, and Kosciuszko’s monument, and, in the distance, Fort Hill, in the neighborhood of Ardenia and the Robinson House.


From Constitution Island we proceeded {original text has "proceeeded".} along under the high cliffs of West Point to Buttermilk Falls. There was a strong breeze from the south that tossed our little craft about like an egg-shell, and my cloak was well moistened with the spray before reaching the landing. There, in a little cottage, overhung by a huge cliff that seemed ready to tumble down, lived a boatman, named Havens, seventy-nine years old. For more than fifty years himself and wife have lived there under the rocks and within the chorus of the cascades. He was too young to remember the stirring scenes of the Revolution, but immediate subsequent events were fresh in his recollection. He was engaged in removing powder from Fort Clinton, at West Point, when the Clermont, Fulton’s experiment boat [1807.], with its bare paddles, went up the river, exciting the greatest wonder in its course.


After I had passed a half hour pleasantly with this good old couple, the veteran prepared his little boat and rowed me across to "Beverly Dock" (the place from whence Arnold escaped in his barge to the Vulture), where he agreed to await my return from a visit to the Robinson House, three quarters of a mile distant. The path lay along the border of a marsh and up a steep hill, the route which tradition avers Arnold took in his flight. Two of the old willow trees, called "Arnold’s willows," were yet standing on the edge of the morass, riven and half decayed.


The Robinson House, formerly owned by Colonel Beverly Robinson, is situated upon a fertile plateau at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain, one of the eastern ranges of the Highlands, which rises in conical form to an elevation of eight hundred feet above the plain. This mansion, spacious for the times, is at present occupied by Lieutenant Thomas Arden, a graduate of West Point, who, with commendable taste, preserves every part of it in its original character. The lowest building, on the left, was the farm-house, attached to the other two which formed the family mansion. Here Colonel Robinson lived in quiet but not in retirement, for his house had too wide a reputation for hospitality to be often without a guest beneath its roof. There Generals Putnam and Parsons made their head-quarters in 1778-9. Dr. Dwight, then a chaplain in the army, and residing there, speaks of it as a most delightful spot, "surrounded by valuable gardens, fields, and orchards, yielding every thing which will grow in this climate." But the event which gives the most historic importance to this place was the treason of Arnold, which we will here consider.

When the British evacuated Philadelphia in the spring of 1778, Arnold (whose leg, wounded at the battle of Stillwater the previous autumn, was not yet healed) was appointed by Washington military governor of the city, having in command a small detachment of troops. After remaining a month in Philadelphia, Arnold conceived the project of quitting the army and engaging in the naval service. He applied to Washington for advice in the matter, expressing his desire to be appointed to a command in the navy, and alleging the state of his wounds as a reason for desiring less active service than the army, yet a service more fitted to his genius than the inactive one he was then engaged in. Washington answered him with caution, and declined offering an opinion. As no further movement was made in the matter, it is probable that the idea originated with Arnold alone; and, as he could not engage the countenance of Washington, he abandoned it.

Fond of show, and feeling the importance of his station, Arnold now began to live in a style of splendor and extravagance which his income would not allow, and his pecuniary embarrassments, already becoming troublesome to him, were soon fearfully augmented. The future was all dark, for he saw no honorable means for delivering himself from the dilemma. No doubt, dreams of rich prizes filled his mind while contemplating a command in the navy, but these being dissipated, he saw the web of difficulty gathering more closely and firmly around him. He had recently married Miss Margaret Shippen, daughter of Edward Shippen, one of the disaffected or Tory residents of Philadelphia. She was much younger than he, and he loved her with passionate fondness – a love deserved by her virtues and solidity of understanding. In addition to these advantages, she was beautiful in person and engaging in her manners. When the British troops entered Philadelphia, a few months previously, her friends had given them a cordial welcome; therefore the marriage of Arnold with a member of such a family excited great surprise, and some uneasiness on the part of the patriots. "But he was pledged to the republic by so many services rendered and benefits received, that, on reflection, the alliance gave umbrage to no one." 20


Arnold resided in the spacious mansion that once belonged to William Penn, 22 and there he lived in a style of luxury rivaled by no resident in Philadelphia. He kept a coach-and-four, servants in livery, and gave splendid banquets. Rather than retrench his expenses and live within his means, he chose to procure money by a system of fraud, and prostitution of his official power, 23 which brought him into collision with the people, and with the president and Council of Pennsylvania. The latter preferred a series of charges against him, all implying a willful abuse of power and criminal acts. These were laid before Congress. A committee, to whom all such charges were referred, acquitted him of criminal designs. The whole subject was referred anew to a joint committee of Congress, and the Assembly and Council of Pennsylvania. After proceeding in their duties for a while, it was thought expedient to hand the whole matter over to Washington, to be submitted to a military tribunal. Four of the charges only were deemed cognizable by a court martial, and these were transmitted to Washington. Arnold had previously presented to Congress large claims against the government, on account of money which he alleged he had expended for the public service in Canada. A part of his claim was disallowed; and it was generally believed that he attempted to cheat the government by false financial statements.

Arnold was greatly irritated by the course pursued by Congress and the Pennsylvania Assembly, and complained, probably not without cause (for party spirit was never more rife in the national Legislature than at that time), of injustice and partiality on the part of the former, in throwing aside the report of their own committee, by which he had been acquitted, and listening to the proposals of men who, he said, were moved by personal enmity, and had practiced unworthy artifices to cause delay. After the lapse of three months, the Council of Pennsylvania were not ready for the trial, and requested it to be put off, with the plea that they had not collected all their evidence. Arnold considered this a subterfuge, and plainly told all parties so. He was anxious to have the matter settled, for he was unemployed; for on the 18th of March, 1779, after the committee of Congress had reported on the charges preferred by the Council of Pennsylvania, he had resigned his commission. He was vexed that Congress, instead of calling up and sanctioning the first report, should yield to the solicitations of his enemies for a military trial. 24

The day fixed for the trial was the 1st of June; the place, Washington’s head-quarters at Middlebrook. The movements of the British prevented the trial being held, and it was deferred until the 20th of December [1779.], when the court assembled for the purpose, at Morristown. 25 The trial commenced, and continued, with slight interruptions, until the 26th of January [1780.], when the verdict was rendered. Arnold made an elaborate defense, in the course of which he magnified his services, asserted his entire innocence of the criminal charges made against him, cast reproach, by imputation, upon some of the purest men in the army, and solemnly proclaimed his patriotic attachment to his country. "The boastfulness and malignity of these declarations," says Sparks, "are obvious enough; but their consummate hypocrisy can be understood only by knowing the fact that, at the moment they were uttered, he had been eight months in secret correspondence with the enemy, and was prepared, if not resolved, when the first opportunity should offer, to desert and destroy his country."

Arnold was acquitted of two of the four charges; the other two were sustained in part. The court sentenced him to the mildest form of punishment, a simple reprimand by the commander-in-chief. 26 Washington carried the sentence into execution with all possible delicacy; 27 but Arnold’s pride was too deeply wounded, or, it may be, his treasonable schemes were too far ripened, to allow him to take advantage of the favorable moment to regain the confidence of his countrymen and vindicate his character. He had expected from the court a triumphant vindication of his honor; he was prepared, in the event of an unfavorable verdict, to seek revenge at any hazard.

In manifest treason there was great danger, and, before proceeding to any overt acts of that nature, Arnold tried other schemes to accomplish his desire of obtaining money to meet the claims of his creditors and the daily demands of his extravagant style of living. He apparently acquiesced in the sentence of the court martial, and tried to get Congress to adjust his accounts by allowing his extravagant claims. This he could not accomplish, and he applied to M. de Luzerne, the French minister, who succeeded Gerard, for a loan, promising a faithful adherence to the king and country of the embassador. Luzerne admired the military talents of Arnold, and treated him with great respect; but he refused the loan, and administered a kind though keen rebuke to the applicant for thus covertly seeking a bribe. 28 He talked kindly to Arnold, reasoned soundly, and counseled him wisely. But words had no weight without the added specific gravity of gold, and he left the French minister with mingled indignation, mortification, and shame. From that hour he doubtless resolved to sell the liberties of his country for a price.

Hitherto the intimacy and correspondence of Arnold with officers of the British army had been without definite aim, and apparently incidental. His marriage with the daughter of Mr. Shippen (who was afterward chief justice of Pennsylvania) was no doubt a link of the greatest importance in the chain of his treasonable operations. That family was disaffected to the American cause. Shippen’s youngest daughter, then eighteen years of age, remarkable, as we have observed, for her beauty, gayety, and general attractions, had been admired and flattered by the British officers, and was a leading personage in the splendid fête called the Mischianza, which was given in honor of Sir William Howe when he was about leaving the army for Europe. She was intimate with Major Andrè, and corresponded with him after the British army had retired to New York. This was the girl who, attracted by the station, equipage, and brilliant display of Arnold, gave him her hand; this was the girl he loved so passionately. From that moment he was peculiarly exposed to the influence of the enemies of his country, and they, no doubt, kept alive the feelings of discontent which disturbed him after his first rupture with the authorities of Pennsylvania. His wife may not have been his confidant; but through her intimacy with Major Andrè his correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton was effected. Whether she was cognizant of the contents of the letters of her husband is not known; probably she was not.

West Point was an object of covetous desire to Sir Henry Clinton. Arnold knew that almost any amount of money and honors would be given to the man who should be instrumental in placing that post in the hands of the enemy. He resolved, therefore, to make this the subject of barter for British gold. Hitherto he had pleaded the bad state of his wounds in justification of comparative inaction; now they healed rapidly. Though he could not endure the fatigues of active service on horseback, he thought he might fulfill the duties of commander at West Point. Hitherto he was sullen and indifferent; now his patriotism was aroused afresh, and he was eager to rejoin his old companions in arms. He was ready to make the sacrifice of domestic ease for an opportunity to again serve his bleeding country. With language of such import he addressed his friends in Congress, particularly General Schuyler, and others who he knew had influence with Washington. He intimated to Schuyler his partiality for the post at West Point. He also prevailed upon Robert R. Livingston, then a member of Congress from New York, to write to Washington and suggest the expediency of giving Arnold the command of that station. Livingston cheerfully complied, but his letter had no appearance of being suggested by Arnold himself. Scarcely had Livingston’s letter reached the camp, before Arnold appeared there in person. Under pretense of having private business in Connecticut, he passed through the camp, to pay his respects to the commander-in-chief. He made no allusion to his desire for an appointment to the command of West Point, and pursued his journey. On his return, he again called upon Washington at his quarters, and then suggested that, on joining the army, the command of that post would be best suited to his feelings and the state of his health. Washington was a little surprised that the impetuous Arnold should be willing to take command where there was no prospect of active operations. His surprise, however, had no mixture of suspicion. Arnold visited and inspected all the fortifications, in company with General Robert Howe and then returned to Philadelphia.

Having resolved to join the army, Arnold applied to Congress for arrearages of pay, to enable him to furnish himself with a horse and equipage. Whether his application was successful no record explains. He reached the camp on the last day of July [1780.], while the army was crossing the Hudson from the west side, at King’s Ferry (Verplanck’s Point). On the arrival of the French at Newport, Sir Henry Clinton made an effort to attack them before they could land and fortify themselves. The result we have already considered. This movement caused Washington, who was encamped between Haverstraw and Tappan, to cross the river, with the intention of attacking New York in the absence of Clinton. Arnold met Washington on horseback, just as the last division was crossing over, and asked if any place had been assigned to him. The commander-in-chief replied that he was to take command of the left wing, the post of honor. Arnold was disappointed, and perceiving it, Washington promised to meet him at his quarters, and have further conversation on the subject. He found Arnold’s heart set upon the command of West Point. He was unable to account for this strange inconsistency with his previous ambition to serve in the most conspicuous place. Still he had no suspicion of wrong, and he complied with Arnold’s request. The instructions which gave him command of "that post and its dependencies, in which all are included from Fishkill to King’s Ferry," 29 were dated at Peekskill on the 3d of August, 1780. Arnold repaired immediately to the Highlands, and established his quarters at Colonel Robinson’s house. Sir Henry Clinton having abandoned his expedition against the French at Newport, the American army retraced its steps, and, crossing the Hudson, marched down to Tappan and encamped, where it remained for several weeks. General Greene commanded the right wing, and Lord Stirling the left; six battalions of light infantry, stationed in advance, were commanded by La Fayette.

Thus far Arnold’s plans had worked admirably. He had now been in correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton for eighteen months, 30 both parties always writing over fictitious names, and, for a great portion of the time, without a knowledge, on the part of the British commander, of the name and character of the person with whom he was in communication. Arnold corresponded with Clinton through the hands of Major Andrè. Writing in a disguised hand, he clothed his meaning in the ambiguous style of a commercial correspondence, and affixed to his letters the signature of GUSTAVUS. Andre signed his JOHN ANDERSON. He was an aid-de-camp of the commander-in-chief of the British forces, and was afterward the adjutant general of the British army. He enjoyed the unbounded confidence of Sir Henry Clinton, and to him, when the name and station of Arnold became known, was intrusted the delicate task of consummating the bargain with the traitor. Even while the name of Arnold was yet concealed, Clinton was confident that his secret correspondent was an officer of high rank in the American army; and before Arnold was tried by a court martial, the British general was convinced that he was the man. That trial lessened his value in the estimation of Clinton; but when Arnold obtained the command of West Point, the affair assumed greater magnitude and importance.




The general plan of operations agreed upon for placing West Point in possession of the enemy was, for Sir Henry Clinton to send a strong force up the Hudson at the moment when the combined French and American armies should make an expected movement against New York. This movement was really a part of Washington’s plan for the autumn campaign, and Sir Henry Clinton was informed of it by Arnold. It was concluded that West Point and its dependencies would be the depositories of a great portion of the stores and ammunition of the allied armies. It was rumored that the French were to land on Long Island, and approach New York in that direction, while Washington was to march with the main army of the Americans to invade York Island at Kingsbridge. At this juncture, a flotilla under Rodney, bearing a strong land force, was to proceed up the Hudson to the Highlands, when Arnold, under pretense of a weak garrison, should surrender the post and its dependencies into the hands of the enemy. In this event, Washington must have retreated from Kingsbridge, and the French on Long Island would probably have fallen into the hands of the British. With a view to these operations, the British troops were so posted that they could be put in motion at the shortest notice; while vessels, properly manned, were kept in readiness on the Hudson River.

It was now necessary that Clinton should be certified of the identity of General Arnold and his hidden correspondent, in order that he might make himself secure against a counterplot. A personal conference was proposed, and Arnold insisted that the officer sent to confer with him should be Adjutant-general Major Andrè. 32 Clinton, on his part, had already fixed upon Andrè as the proper person to hold the conference. It must be borne in mind that Andrè did not seek the service, though, when engaged in it, he used his best endeavors, as in duty bound, to carry out its objects.

As money was the grand lure that made Arnold a traitor, he felt it necessary to have an understanding respecting the reward which he was to obtain. Under date of August 30th [1780.], he wrote to Andrè in the feigned hand and style alluded to, and said, referring to himself in the third person, "He is still of opinion that his first proposal is by no means unreasonable, and makes no doubt, when he has a conference with you, that you will close with it. He expects, when you meet, that you will be fully authorized from your house; that the risks and profits of the copartnership may be fully understood. A speculation of this kind might be easily made with ready money." Clinton understood this hint, and Andrè was authorized to negotiate on that point.

Arnold’s first plan was to have the interview at his own quarters in the Highlands, Andrè to be represented as a person devoted to the American interest, and possessing ample means for procuring intelligence from the enemy. This was a safe ground for Arnold to proceed upon, for the employment of secret agents to procure intelligence was well known. 33 He dispatched a letter to Andrè informing him of this arrangement, and assuring him that if he could make his way safely to the American outposts above White Plains, he would find no obstructions thereafter.

Colonel Sheldon was then in command of a detachment of cavalry stationed on the east side of the Hudson. His head-quarters, with a part of the detachment, was at Salem, and those of his lieutenant (Colonel Jameson) and of Major Tallmadge, with the remainder of the corps, were at North Castle. Arnold gave Sheldon notice that he expected a person from New York, with whom he would have an interview at the colonel’s quarters, to make important arrangements for receiving early intelligence from the enemy. He requested Sheldon, in the event of the stranger’s arrival, to send information of the fact to his quarters at the Robinson House. Arnold’s plan was not entirely agreeable to Andrè, for he was not disposed to go within the American lines and assume the odious character of a spy. He accordingly wrote the following letter to Colonel Sheldon, signed JOHN ANDERSON, which, he knew, would be placed in Arnold’s hands. It proposed a meeting at Dobbs’s Ferry, upon the Neutral Ground. "I am told that my name is made known to you, and that I may hope your indulgence in permitting me to meet a friend near your outposts. I will endeavor to obtain permission to go out with a flag, which will be sent to Dobbs’s Ferry on Monday next, the 11th instant [September, 1780.], at twelve o’clock, when I shall be happy to meet Mr. G------. Should I not be allowed to go, the officer who is to command the escort – between whom and myself no distinction need be made – can speak in the affair. Let me entreat you, sir, to favor a matter so interesting to the parties concerned, and which is of so private a nature that the public on neither side can be injured by it." This letter puzzled Colonel Sheldon, for he had never heard the name of JOHN ANDERSON, nor had Arnold intimated any thing concerning an escort. He supposed, however, that it was from the person expected by Arnold. He therefore inclosed it to the general, telling him that he (Sheldon) was too unwell to go to Dobbs’s Ferry, and expressing a hope that Arnold would meet Anderson there himself. Andrè’s letter puzzled Arnold too, for he found it difficult to explain its meaning very plausibly to Colonel Sheldon. But the traitor contrived, with consummate skill, to prevent the mystery having any importance in the mind of that officer.


Arnold left his quarters on the 10th, went down the river in his barge to King’s Ferry, and passed the night at the house of Joshua Hett Smith, near Haverstraw, 35 who afterward acted a conspicuous part in the work of treason, he being, as is supposed, the dupe of Arnold. Early in the morning the traitor proceeded toward Dobbs’s Ferry, where Andrè and Colonel Beverly Robinson had arrived. As Arnold approached that point, not having a flag, he was fired upon by the British gun-boats stationed near, and closely pursued. He escaped to the opposite side of the river, and the conference was necessarily postponed. Having gone down the river openly in his barge, Arnold deemed it necessary to make some explanation to General Washington, and accordingly he wrote a letter to him, in which, after mentioning several important matters connected with the command at West Point, he incidentally stated that he had come down the river to establish signals as near the enemy’s lines as possible, by which he might receive information of any movements of a fleet or troops up the Hudson. This letter was dated at "Dobbs’s Ferry, September 11th," and on that night he returned to his quarters at the Robinson House.

It was now necessary to make arrangements for another interview. No time was to be lost; no precautionary measure was to be neglected. Arnold knew that Washington was preparing to go to Hartford, to hold a conference with the newly-arrived French officers, and that the proper time to consummate his plans would be during the absence of the commander-in-chief. As Washington would cross the Hudson at King’s Ferry, it was very necessary, too, that no movement should be made until his departure that might excite his suspicions.

Two days after Arnold returned to his quarters [September 13, 1780.], he found means to send a communication to Andrè, which, as usual, was couched in commercial language. He cautioned Andrè not to reveal any thing to Colonel Sheldon. "I have no confidant," he said; "I have made one too many already, who has prevented some profitable speculation." He informed Andrè that a person would meet him on the west side of Dobbs’s Ferry, on Wednesday, the 20th instant, and that he would conduct him to a place of safety, where the writer would meet him. "It will be necessary," he said, "for you to be in disguise. I can not be more explicit at present. Meet me, if possible. You may rest assured that, if there is no danger in passing your lines, you will be perfectly safe where I propose a meeting." Arnold also wrote to Major Tallmadge, at North Castle, instructing him, if a person by the name of John Anderson should arrive at his station, to send him without delay to head-quarters, escorted by two dragoons.

Sir Henry Clinton, who was as anxious as Arnold to press the matter forward, had sent Colonel Robinson up the river on board the Vulture, with orders to proceed as high as Teller’s Point. Robinson and Arnold seem to have had some general correspondence previous to this time, and it is believed (as I have mentioned on a preceding page) that the former was made acquainted with the treasonable designs of the latter some time before the subject was brought explicitly before Sir Henry Clinton. As Arnold was occupying Colonel Robinson’s confiscated mansion, a good opportunity was afforded him to write to the general without exciting suspicion, making the burden of his letters the subject of a restoration of his property. This medium of communication was now adopted to inform General Arnold that Robinson was on board the Vulture. Robinson wrote to General Putnam, pretending a belief that he was in the Highlands, and requesting an interview with him on the subject of his property. This letter was covered by one addressed to Arnold, requesting him to hand the inclosed to General Putnam, or, if that officer had gone away, to return it by the bearer. "In case General Putnam shall be absent," he said, "I am persuaded, from the humane and generous character you bear, that you will grant me the favor asked." These letters were sent, by a flag, to Verplanck’s Point, the Vulture then lying about six miles below. On the very day [September 18.] that Washington commenced his journey to Hartford, Arnold had come down to the Point, a few hours before the arrival of the chief at the ferry on the opposite shore, and received and read Colonel Robinson’s letter. He mentioned the contents to Colonel Lamb and others, with all the frankness of conscious integrity. The commander-in-chief and his suite crossed the river in Arnold’s barge 36 soon afterward, and the latter accompanied them to Peekskill. Arnold frankly laid the letter before Washington, and asked his advice. His reply was, that the civil authority alone could act in the matter, and he did not approve of a personal interview with Robinson. This frankness on the part of Arnold effectually prevented all suspicion, and Washington proceeded to Hartford, confident in the integrity of the commandant of West Point.

Arnold dared not, after receiving this opinion from Washington, so far disregard it as to meet Robinson, but it gave him an opportunity to use the name of the commander-in-chief in his reply, which he openly dispatched by an officer in a flag-boat to the Vulture. He informed Colonel Robinson that on the night of the 20th [September, 1780.] he should send a person on board of the Vulture, who would be furnished with a boat and a flag of truce; and in a postscript he added, "I expect General Washington to lodge here on Saturday next, and I will lay before him any matter you may wish to communicate." This was an ingenuous and safe way of informing the enemy at what time the commander-in-chief would return from Hartford.

Arnold’s communication was sent to Sir Henry Clinton, and the next morning Andrè proceeded to Dobbs’s Ferry, positively instructed by his general not to change his dress, go within the American lines, receive papers, or in any other way act in the character of a spy. It was supposed that Arnold himself would visit the Vulture; but he had arranged a plan for effecting a meeting involving less personal hazard. Joshua Hett Smith, just mentioned, who lived about two miles below Stony Point, had been employed by General Robert Howe, when in command of West Point, to procure intelligence from New York. Smith occupied a very respectable station in society, and could command more valuable aid, in the business in question, than any other person. To him Arnold went with a proposition to assist him in his undertaking, without, as Smith alleged, revealing to him his real intentions. He flattered him with expressions of the highest confidence and regard, and informed him that he was expecting a person of consequence from New York with valuable intelligence from the enemy, and he wanted Smith’s service in bringing him within the American lines. While at Smith’s on this business, Arnold was joined by his wife with her infant child, who had come on from Philadelphia. There she remained all night, and the next morning her husband went with her, in his barge, to head-quarters.

Arnold made his arrangements with Smith to have his meeting with Andrè (whom he had resolved should be brought on shore from the Vulture) take place at his house, in the event of the conference being protracted. Smith, accordingly, took his family to Fishkill to visit some friends, and returning, halted at the Robinson House, and arranged with Arnold a plan of operations. The general gave him the customary pass for a flag of truce, sent an order to Major Kierse, at Stony Point, to supply Smith with a boat whenever he should want one, and directed Smith to proceed to the Vulture the following night and bring on shore the person who was expected to be there. Smith failed in his endeavors to make the arrangements, and did not visit the Vulture at the time he was directed to. Samuel Colquhon, one of his tenants, to whom he applied for assistance as boatman, refused to go. Smith sent Colquhon to Arnold with a letter, informing him of his failure. The messenger, by riding all night, reached the Robinson House at dawn [September 21.]. Early in the forenoon, Arnold himself went down the river to Verplanck s Point, and thence to Smith’s house. At Verplanck’s, Colonel Livingston handed him a letter which he had just received for him from Captain Sutherland of the Vulture. It was a remonstrance against an alleged violation of the rules of war by a party on Teller’s Point. 37 The letter was in the handwriting of Andrè, though signed by Sutherland. Arnold at once perceived the main object of this secretaryship to be, to inform him that Andrè was on board the Vulture.

Arnold now hastened to make arrangements to bring Andrè ashore. He ordered a skiff to be sent to a certain place in Haverstraw Creek, and then proceeded to Smith’s house. Every thing was made ready, except procuring two boatmen, and this was found a difficult matter. The voyage promised many perils, for American guard-boats were stationed at various places on the river. These, however, had been ordered not to interfere with Smith and his party. Samuel Colquhon and his brother Joseph were again solicited to accompany Smith, but both positively refused at first to go; they yielded only when Arnold himself threatened them with punishment. At near midnight the three men pushed off from shore with muffled oars. It was a serene, starry night; not a ripple was upon the Hudson, not a leaf was stirred by the breeze. Silently the little boat approached the Vulture, and when near, the sentinel on deck hailed them. After making some explanations and receiving some rough words, Smith was allowed to go on board. In the cabin he found Beverly Robinson and Captain Sutherland. These officers and Major Andrè were the only persons in the ship who were privy to the transactions in progress. Smith bore a sealed letter from Arnold to Beverly Robinson, in which the traitor said, "This will be delivered to you by Mr. Smith, who will conduct you to a place of safety. Neither Mr. Smith nor any other person shall be made acquainted with your proposals. If they (which I doubt not) are of such a nature that I can officially take notice of them, I shall do it with pleasure. I take it for granted that Colonel Robinson will not propose any thing that is not for the interest of the United States as well as himself." This language was a guard against evil consequences in the event of the letter falling into other hands. Smith had also two passes, signed by Arnold, which Robinson well understood to be intended to communicate the idea that the writer expected Andrè to come on shore, and to secure the boat from detention by the water-guard. 38

Major Andrè was introduced to Smith, and both descended into the boat. They landed at the foot of a great hill, called Long Clove Mountain, on the western shore of the Hudson, about two miles below Haverstraw. This place had been designated by Arnold for the meeting, and thither he had repaired from Smith’s house. Arnold was concealed in the thick bushes, and to the same place Smith conducted Andrè. They were left alone, and for the first time the conspirators heard each other’s voice; for the first time Arnold’s lips uttered audibly the words of treason. There, in the gloom of night, concealed from all human cognizance, they discussed their dark plans, and plotted the utter ruin of the patriot cause. When, at the twilight of an autumn day, I stood upon that spot, in the shadow of the high hills, and the night gathering its veil over the waters and the fields, a superstitious dread crept over me lest the sentence of anathema, maranatha, should make the spot as unstable as the earth whereon rested the tents of the rebellious Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.


The hour of dawn approached, and the conference was yet in progress. Smith came, and warned them of the necessity for haste. There was much yet to do, and Andrè reluctantly consented to mount the horse rode by Arnold’s servant, and accompany the general to Smith’s house, nearly four miles distant. 40 It was yet dark, and the voice of a sentinel, near the village of Haverstraw, gave Andrè the first intimation that he was within the American lines. He felt his danger, but it was too late to recede. His uniform was effectually concealed by a long blue surtout, yet the real danger that environed him, he being within the enemy’s lines without a flag or pass, made him exceedingly uneasy. They arrived at Smith’s house at dawn, and at that moment they heard a cannonade in the direction of the Vulture. Colonel Livingston had been informed that the vessel lay so near the shore as to be within cannon shot. Accordingly, during the night, he sent a party with cannon from Verplanck’s Point, and at dawn, from Teller’s Point, they opened a fire upon the Vulture, of such severity that the vessel hoisted her anchors and dropped farther down the river. 41 This movement Andrè beheld with anxiety; but, when the firing ceased, his spirits revived. During that morning the whole plot was arranged, and the day for its consummation fixed. Andrè was to return to New York, and the British troops, already embarked under the pretext of an expedition to the Chesapeake, were to be ready to ascend the river at a moment’s warning. Arnold was to weaken the various posts at West Point by dispersing the garrison. When the British should appear, he was to send out detachments among the mountain gorges, under pretense of meeting the enemy, as they approached, at a distance from the works. As we have noticed, a link from the great chain at Constitution Island was to be removed. The river would be left free for the passage of vessels, and the garrison, so scattered, could not act in force; thus the enemy could take possession with very little resistance. All the plans being arranged, Arnold supplied Andrè with papers explanatory of the military condition of West Point and its dependencies. 42 These he requested him to place between his stockings and feet, and in the event of accident, to destroy them. He then gave him a pass, a fac simile of which is printed on the next page, and bidding Andrè adieu, Arnold went up the river, in his own barge, to head-quarters, fully believing that no obstacle now interposed to frustrate his wicked scheme. Andrè passed the remainder of the day alone, and as soon as evening came, he applied to Smith to take him back to the Vulture. Smith positively refused to go, and pleaded illness from ague as an excuse. If he quaked, it was probably not from ague, but from fear, wrought by the firing upon the Vulture; for he offered to ride half the night with Andrè, on horseback, if he would take a land route. Having no other means of reaching the vessel, Andrè was obliged to yield to the force of circumstances. He consented to cross King’s Ferry to Verplanck’s Point, and make his way back to New York by land. He had been prevailed upon by Arnold, in the event of his taking a land route (which had been talked of), to exchange his military coat for a citizen’s dress. This act, and the receiving of papers from Arnold, were contrary to the express orders of Sir Henry Clinton. but Andrè was obliged to be governed by the unforeseen circumstances in which he was placed. Smith agreed to attend him on the way as far as the lower outposts of the American lines. A little before sunset, on the evening of the 22d [September, 1780.], accompanied by a negro servant, they crossed King’s Ferry. At dusk, they passed through the works at Verplanck’s Point, and turned their faces toward White Plains. While they are pursuing their route toward the Neutral Ground, let us consider events at the Robinson House, and then resume our own journey. We shall overtake the travelers presently, when the concluding portion of the narrative of Arnold’s treason will be given.



1 Mrs. Faugeres was the grand-daughter of Brandt Schuyler, and daughter of Mrs. Anne Eliza Bleecker, one of the notable sufferers from the invasion of Burgoyne in 1777. Mrs. Bleecker was then living, with her husband, about eighteen miles from Albany. Mr. Bleecker went to that city to make arrangements for moving his family thither. While absent, Mrs. Bleecker heard of the approach of Burgoyne and his horde of savages, and, leading her eldest child by the hand, and bearing her youngest in her arms, she started on foot for Albany. After a wearisome journey of a day, and a night passed in a wretched garret, she started forward with her precious charge, and soon met her husband, with whom she returned to the city. Her babe died a few days afterward, and within a month her mother expired in her arms, at Red Hook, in Dutchess county. Her husband was afterward captured by a party of Tories. This event, and his sudden restoration when she thought him dead, so overpowered her, that her constitution sunk beneath the shocks, and she died in the autumn of 1783. Margaretta (afterward Mrs. Faugeres) was the "sweet sister" alluded to in the following lines, extracted from a poem written by Mrs. Bleecker on the death of her child:

"Rich in my children, on my arms I bore
My living treasures from the scalper’s power.
When I sat down to rest beneath some shade,
On the soft grass how innocent she play’d,
While her sweet sister from the fragrant wild
Collects the flowers to please my precious child."

2 The following is the inscription on this monument:

"To the memory of Lieutenant-colonel E. D. WOOD, of the corps of engineers, who fell while leading a charge at the sortie of Fort Erie, Upper Canada, 17th of September, 1814, in the 31st year of his age. He was exemplary as a Christian, and distinguished as a soldier. A pupil of this institution, * he died an honor to his country. This memorial was erected by his friend and commander, Major-general JACOB BROWN."

* Military Academy at West Point.

3 Military Journal, page 211.

4 The inscription is as follows:

"Taken from the British army, and presented, by order of the United States in Congress assembled, to Major-general Greene, as a monument * of their high sense of the wisdom, fortitude, and military talents which distinguished his command in the Southern department, and of the eminent services which, amid complicated dangers and difficulties, he performed for his country. October ye 18th, 1783."

* To the dishonor of our country, It must be said that those two brazen cannons form the only "monument" ever made to the memory of that great commander. Savannah, in Georgia, has a ward and a square bearing his name, and in the center of the latter is the foundation-stone of an intended monument to his memory. This and the corner-stone of a monument to Pulaski were laid by La Fayette in 1825. For a further notice of this matter, See page 514, vol. ii.

5 This little sketch is a view of the remains of the casemates, or vaults, of Fort Putnam. There were nine originally, but only six remain in a state of fair preservation. They were built of brick and covered with stone; were twelve feet wide and eighteen feet deep, with an arched roof twelve feet high. Each one had a fire-place, and they seem to have been used for the purposes of barracks, batteries, and magazines. In the center of the fort is a spring, that bubbles up in a rocky basin. The whole interior is very rough, it being the pinnacle of a bald, rocky elevation.

6 It was here that the general inoculation of the soldiers of the Continental army was performed by Doctors Cochrane, Thacher, Munson, and others, as mentioned on page 307, vol. i.

7 This, in plain English and common parlance, is Bull Hill. I feel very much disposed to quarrel with my countrymen for their want of taste in giving names to localities. They have discarded the beautiful "heathenish" names of the Indian verbal geographies, and often substituted the most commonplace and inappropriate title that human ingenuity, directed earthward, could invent – Bull Hill! Crow’s Nest! Butter Hill!! Ever blessed be the name and memory of JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE, whose genius has clothed these Highland cones, despite their vulgar names, with a degree of classic interest, by thus summoning there, with the herald voice of imagination,

"Ouphe and goblin! imp and sprite!

Elf of eve and starry fay!
Ye that love the moon’s soft light.
Hither, hither wend your way.
Twine ye in a jocund ring;
Sing and trip it merrily;
Hand to hand and wing to wing,
Round the wild witch-hazel tree!"

* This beautiful poem was written con amoré, during a brief ramble of the author among the Hudson Highlands.

8 Journals of Congress, i., 199.

9 Journals of Congress, i., 223.

10 The committee consisted of Isaac Sears, John Berrien, Colonel Edward Fleming, Anthony Rutger, and Christopher Miller. Fleming and Rutger declined the appointment, and Captain Samuel Bayard and Captain William Bedlow were appointed in their places.

11 This island belonged to the widow of Captain Ogilvie, of the British army, and her children, during the Revolution, as appears by a correspondence between the New York Committee of Safety and Colonel Beverly Robinson. The committee supposed that the island belonged to Robinson, and applied to him for its purchase. In his reply, he mentioned the fact of its belonging to Mrs. Ogilvie, and added, "Was it mine, the public should be extremely welcome to it. The building of the fort there can be no disadvantage to the small quantity of arable land on the island." Robinson afterward chose the royal side of the political question, and held the commission of a colonel in the British army.

12 The American commissioners in France were instructed by Congress to procure some good engineers for the Continental army. Franklin and Deane contracted with four officers of this description, who had served in such capacity, under commissions, in the French army, namely, Duportail, Laumoy, Radière, and Gouvion. These officers came to the United States with the knowledge and approbation of the French government, and were the only ones engaged by the express authority of Congress. The Chevalier Duportail was appointed colonel of engineers, Laumoy and Radière lieutenant colonels, and Gouvion major. Duportail was afterward promoted to a brigadier, Laumoy and Radière to colonels, and Gouvion to a lieutenant colonel. Radière died in the service at the beginning of 1780. See Journals of Congress, iii., 224, 322, 403.

13 This view is from a print published in the New York Magazine for 1790. It was taken from Constitution Island. On the left is seen a portion of old Fort Constitution. The great chain, four hundred and fifty yards in length, and covered by a strong battery, is seen stretched across the river, immediately below Fort Clinton, the structure on the high point. In the distance, on the left, two mountain summits are seen, crowned with fortifications. These were the North and Middle Redoubts. Upon the range of the Sugar Loaf Mountain, higher than these, and hidden, in the view, by Fort Clinton, was another redoubt, called the South Battery. The view on page 708 I sketched from the same spot whence this was taken.

14 Letter of General Putnam to the commander-in-chief, January, 1778. In this letter, Putnam gives, in a few words, a picture of the terrible privations which the soldiers in the Highlands were enduring, while those at Valley Forge were also suffering intensely. "Dubois’s regiment," he says, "is unfit to be ordered on duty, there being not one blanket in the regiment. Very few have either a shoe or a shirt, and most of them have neither stockings, breeches, or overalls. Several companies of enlisted artificers are in the same situation, and unable to work in the field.

15 The Stirling Works are still in operation. They are situated on the outlet of Stirling Pond, about five miles southwest of the Sloatsburg station, on the Erie rail-way. They are owned by descendants of Peter Townshend, and have now been in operation about one hundred years, having been established in 1751, by Lord Stirling (the Revolutionary general) and others.

16 Gordon and other early writers have promulgated the erroneous opinion that this chain was constructed in 1777, and was destroyed by the British fleet that passed up the Hudson and burned Kingston in October of that year. Misled by these authorities, I have published the same error in my Seventeen Hundred and Seventy-six. Documentary evidence, which is far more reliable than the best tradition, shows that the chain was constructed in the spring of 1778. Colonel Timothy Pickering, accompanied by Captain Machin, arrived at the house of Mr. Townshend late on a Saturday night in March of that year, to engage him to make the chain. Townshend readily agreed to construct it; and in a violent snow-storm, amid the darkness of the night, the parties set out for the Stirling Iron Works. At daylight on Sunday morning the forges were in operation. New England teamsters carried the links, as fast as they were finished, to West Point, and in the space of six weeks the whole chain was completed. It weighed one hundred and eighty tons.

17 In the spring of 1783, Washington communicated a request to all his principal officers, then in camp at Newburgh, and also to Governor Clinton, to give him their views in reference to a peace establishment, which must soon be organized. They complied, and, from their several letters, Washington compiled a communication to Congress, extending to twenty-five folio pages. In that communication, the commander-in-chief opposed the proposition of several officers to establish military academies at the different arsenals in the United States, and recommended the founding of one at West Point. For his proposed plan in outline, see Washington’s Life and Writings, viii., p. 417, 418.

18 These falls derive their name from the milky appearance of the water as it rushes in a white foam over the rocks in a series of cascades.

19 This house, the property of Richard D. Arden, Esq. (father of the proprietor), is now called Beverly, the Christian name of Colonel Robinson. The dock built by Colonel R., and yet partially in existence, is Beverly Dock. The fine estate of Mr. Arden he has named Ardenia.

This view is from the lawn on the south side of the house. The highest part, on the right, was the portion occupied by Arnold. On the extreme right is an ancient cherry-tree, which doubtless bore fruit during the Revolution. This mansion was the country residence of Colonel Beverly Robinson, who married a daughter of Frederic Phillipse, the owner of an immense landed estate on the Hudson. Colonel Robinson was a son of John Robinson, who was president of the Council of Virginia on the retirement of Governor Gooch in 1734. He was a major in the British army under Wolfe at the storming of Quebec in 1759. He emigrated to New York, and became very wealthy by his marriage. The mansion here delineated was his residence when the war of the Revolution broke out, and, loving quiet, he refrained from engaging in the exciting events of the day. He was opposed to the course of the ministry during the few years preceding the war, joined heartily in carrying out the spirit of the non-importation agreements, but, opposed to any separation of the colonies from the parent country, he took sides with the Loyalists when the Declaration of Independence was promulgated. He removed to New York, and there raised a military corps called the Loyal American Regiment, of which he was commissioned the colonel. His son, Beverly, was commissioned its lieutenant colonel. It is supposed that he was Arnold’s correspondent and confidant in his preliminary acts of treason, and that the intentions of the traitor were known to him before any intimation of them was made to Sir Henry Clinton. Robinson figures publicly in that affair, and his country mansion was the head-quarters of the recusant general while arranging the crowning acts of his treachery.

At the conclusion of the war, Colonel Robinson and a portion of his family went to England, where he remained until his death, which occurred at Thornbury in 1792, at the age of 69 years. His wife died in 1822, at the age of 94. Colonel Robinson and Washington were personal friends before the war, and it is asserted that, at the house of the former, the Virginian colonel, while on his way to Boston in 1756, to consult General Shirley on military affairs, saw and "fell in love" with Miss Mary Phillipse, a sister of Mrs. Robinson. It is also said that Washington made a proposition of marriage to her, but she refused him, telling him frankly that she loved another. The favored suitor was Roger Morris, one of Washington’s companions in arms in the battle of the Great Meadows, where Braddock was killed. Morris was that general’s aid-de-camp. A portrait of this lady may be found on page 626, vol. ii.

The miniature from which this likeness of Colonel Robinson was copied is in the possession of his grandson, Beverly Robinson, Esq., of New York. It was painted by Mr. Plott in 1785, when Colonel Robinson was sixty-two years old. The letter from which I copied his signature was written in 1786. The last surviving son of Colonel Robinson (Sir Frederick Philipse Robinson), died at his residence, at Brighton, England, on the 1st of January, 1852, at the age of 87 years.

20 American Register, 1817, ii., 31.

21 Benedict Arnold was born in Norwich, Connecticut, on the 3d of January, 1740. He was a descendant of Benedict Arnold, one of the early governors of Rhode Island. He was bred an apothecary, under the brothers Lathrop of Norwich, who were so much pleased with him as a young man of genius and enterprise, that they gave him two thousand dollars to commence business with. From 1763 to 1767, he combined the business of druggist and bookseller in New Haven. Being in command of a volunteer company there when the war broke out, he marched to Cambridge, and thenceforth his career is identified with some of the bravest exploits of the Revolution, until his defection in 1780. In preceding chapters his course and character have been incidentally noticed, and it is unnecessary to repeat them here. On going over to the enemy, he received the commission of brigadier general in the British army, together with the price of his treason. After the war he went to England, where he chiefly resided until his death. He was engaged in trade in St. John’s, New Brunswick, from 1786 till 1793. He was fraudulent in his dealings, and became so unpopular, that, in 1792 he was hung in effigy by a mob. He left St. John’s for the West Indies in 1794, but, finding a French fleet there, and fearing a detention by them, the allies of America, he sailed for England. He died in Gloucester Place, London, June 14th, 1801, at the age of sixty-one. His wife died at the same place, on the 14th of June, 1804, aged forty-three. Arnold had three children by his first wife, and four by his second, all boys.

22 A view of this mansion, which is still standing, may be found on page 95, vol. ii.

23 Under pretense of supplying the wants of the army, Arnold forbade the shop-keepers to sell or buy; he then put goods at the disposal of his agents, and caused them to be sold at enormous profits, the greater proportion of which he put into his own purse. "At one moment he prostituted his authority to enrich his accomplices; at the next, squabbled with them about the division of the prey." His transactions in this way involved the enormous amount of one hundred and forty thousand dollars.

24 Sparks’s Life and Treason of Arnold, 131, 133.

25 Arnold continued to reside in Philadelphia after resigning his command. No longer afraid of his power, the people testified their detestation of his character by various indignities. One day he was assaulted in the streets by the populace. He complained to Congress, and asked a guard of twenty men to be placed around his residence. Congress declined to interfere, and this added another to the list of his alleged grievances. In the mean while, Arnold devised several schemes by which to relieve himself of his pecuniary embarrassments. He proposed to form a settlement in Western New York for the officers and soldiers who had served under him. He also conceived the idea of joining some of the Indian tribes, and, uniting many of them in one, become a great and powerful chief among them.

26 Colonel Philip Van Cortlandt, of West Chester county, recorded the following in his diary: "General Arnold being under arrest for improper conduct in Philadelphia while he commanded there, I was chosen one of the court martial, Major-general Howe, president. There were also in that court four officers who had been at Ticonderoga when Colonel Hazen was called on for trial, &c. We were for cashiering Arnold, but the majority overruled, and he was finally sentenced to be reprimanded by the commander-in-chief. Had all the court known Arnold’s former conduct as well as myself, he would have been dismissed the service."

27 "When Arnold was brought before him," says M. de Marbois, "he kindly addressed him, saying, ‘Our profession is the chastest of all. Even the shadow of a fault tarnishes the luster of our finest achievements. The least inadvertence may rob us of the public favor, so hard to be acquired. I reprimand you for having forgotten that, in proportion as you had rendered yourself formidable to our enemies, you should have been guarded and temperate in your deportment toward your fellow-citizens. Exhibit anew those noble qualities which have placed you on the list of our most valued commanders. I will myself furnish you, as far as it may be in my power, with opportunities of regaining the esteem of your country.’ "

28 M. de Marbois, who was the secretary of the French legation, has preserved a vivid picture of this interview in his account of the treason of Arnold, an excellent translation of which may be found in the American Register, 1817. He says Luzerne listened to Arnold’s discourse with pain, but he answered with frankness. "You desire of me a service," he said, "which it would be easy for me to render, but which would degrade us both. When the envoy of a foreign power gives, or, if you will, lends money, it is ordinarily to corrupt those who receive it, and to make them the creatures of the sovereign whom he serves or, rather, he corrupts without persuading; he buys and does not secure. But the firm league entered into between the king and the United States is the work of justice and the wisest policy. It has for its basis a reciprocal interest and good will. In the mission with which I am charged, my true glory consists in fulfilling it without intrigue or cabal, without resorting to any secret practices, and by the force alone of the condition of the alliance."

29 Sparks’s Life and Writings of Washington, viii., 139.

30 It is not positively known how early Arnold’s correspondence with officers of the British army commenced, or at what precise period he first conceived the idea of betraying his country. The translator of the Marquis de Chastellux’s Travels in North America, an English gentleman of distinction, and a resident here during our Revolution, says (i., page 97), "There is every reason to believe that Arnold’s treachery took its date from his connection with Lieutenant Hele, killed afterward on board the Formidable, in the West Indies, and who was undoubtedly a very active and industrious spy at Philadelphia in the winter of 1778, whither he was sent for that purpose in a pretended flag of truce, which being wrecked in the Delaware, he was made prisoner by Congress, a subject of much discussion between them and the commander at New York. That the intended plot was known in England, and great hopes built upon it long before it was to take place, is certain. General Mathews and other officers, who returned in the autumn of 1780, being often heard to declare ‘that it was all over with the rebels; that they were about to receive an irreparable blow, the news of which would soon arrive, &c., &c.’ Their silence, from the moment in which they received an account of the failure of the plot and the discovery of the traitor, evidently pointed out the object of their allusions."

31 This is a portion of a concluding sentence of a letter from Andrè to Colonel Sheldon, which will be mentioned presently.

32 Sir Henry Clinton’s letter to Lord George Germain.

33 In this connection it may be mentioned, that when Arnold was about to proceed to the Highlands, he went to La Fayette, and requested him to give him the names of spies which the marquis had in his employ in New York, suggesting that intelligence from them might often reach him more expeditiously by the way of West Point. La Fayette objected, saying that he was in honor bound not to reveal the names of spies to any person. The object which Arnold had in view became subsequently obvious.

34 This map includes the Hudson River and its shores from Dobbs’s Ferry to West Point, and exhibits a chart of the whole scene of Arnold’s treason, and of the route, capture, and execution of the unfortunate Andrè. The thin lines upon the map indicate the public roads. By a reference to it, in perusing the narrative, the reader will have a clear understanding of the matter.

35 This house is yet standing. A drawing of it is presented on page 720 {original text has "152".}. It is about two miles and a half below Stony Point, on the right side of the road leading to Haverstraw.

There has ever been a difference of opinion concerning the true character of Smith; some supposing him to have been a Tory, and acting with a full knowledge of Arnold’s instructions; others believing him to have been the traitor’s dupe. Leake, in his Life of John Lamb (p. 256), says that Arnold often visited Smith to while away tedious hours; and that Colonel Lamb, while in command at West Point, was frequently invited to visit him, but invariably declined, notwithstanding Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Lamb were nearly related. Colonel Lamb said he knew Smith to be a Tory, and he would not visit his own father in a similar category. There is evidence that he was a Whig. See William Smith’s letter on page 724.

36 Sparks (American Biography, vol. iii., from which a large portion of these details are drawn) says that two incidents occurred during this passage across the river, which, though almost unnoticed at the time, afterward, when the treachery was known, assumed some importance. The Vulture was in full view, and while Washington was looking at it through a glass, and speaking in a low tone to one of his officers, Arnold was observed to appear uneasy. Another incident was remembered. There was a daily expectation of the arrival of a French squadron on the coast, under Count de Guichen. La Fayette, alluding to the frequent communications by water between New York and the posts on the Hudson, said to Arnold, "General, since you have a correspondence with the enemy, you must ascertain, as soon as possible, what has become of Guichen." Arnold was disconcerted, and demanded what he meant; but immediately controlling himself, and the boat just then reaching the shore, nothing more was said. No doubt, for a moment, Arnold thought his plot was discovered. – Page 186.

37 A flag of truce was exhibited at Teller’s Point, inviting, as was supposed, a pacific intercourse with the ship. A boat, with another flag, was sent off, but as soon as it approached the shore it was fired upon by several armed men who were concealed in the bushes. On account of this outrage, Captain Sutherland sent a letter of remonstrance to Colonel Livingston, "the commandant at Verplanck’s Point." The letter was dated "morning of the 21st of September."

38 These passes, which are still in existence, are as follows:


"Head-quarters, Robinson House, September 20, 1780.

"Permission is given to Joshua Smith, Esquire, a gentleman, Mr. John Anderson, who is with him, and his two servants, to pass and repass the guards near King’s Ferry at all times.

"B. ARNOLD, M. Gen’l."


"Head-quarters, Robinson House, September 21, 1780.

Permission is granted to Joshua Smith, Esq., to go to Dobbs’s Ferry with three Men and a Boy with a Flag to carry some Letters of a private Nature for Gentlemen in New York, and to Return immediately.

"B. ARNOLD, M. Gen’l.

"N.B. – He has permission to go at such hours and times as the tide and his business suits.

"B. A."


39 This view is from the slope in front of the house. The main building is of stone; the wings are wood. The piazza in front of the main building, and the balustrades upon the top, are the only modern additions; otherwise the house appears the same as when Arnold and Andrè were there. It stands upon a slope of Treason Hill, a few rods west of the road leading from Stony Point to Haverstraw, and about half way between the two places. It was in a room in the second story that the conspirators remained during the day of their arrival. The present owner of the house and grounds is Mr. William C. Houseman.

40 The fact that Arnold had provided a spare horse (for there was no necessity for a servant to accompany him to the place of meeting), is evidence that he expected a longer conference than the remainder of the night would afford. Furthermore, convicted as Arnold is of innate wickedness, it may not be unjust to suppose that he was prepared, after getting Andrè within the American lines, to perform any act of dishonor to extort a high price for his treason, or to shield himself from harm if circumstances should demand it.

41 Colonel Livingston, on perceiving the position of the Vulture, conceived a plan for destroying her. He asked Arnold for two pieces of heavy cannon for the purpose, but the general eluded the proposal on frivolous pretenses, so that Livingston’s detachment could bring only one four-pounder to bear upon her. He had obtained some ammunition from Colonel Lamb, from West Point, who sent it rather grudgingly, and with an expressed wish that there might not be a wanton waste of it. "Firing at a ship with a four-pounder," he said, "is, in my opinion, a waste of powder." Little did he think what an important bearing that cannonade was to have upon the destinies of America. It was that which drove the Vulture from her moorings, and was one of the causes of the fatal detention of Andrè at Smith’s house. The Vulture was so much injured that, had she not got off with the flood, she must have struck. Colonel Livingston saw Arnold pass Verplanck’s in his barge when he escaped to the Vulture; and he afterward declared that he had such suspicion of him that, had his guard-boats been near, he would have gone after him instantly, and demanded his destination and errand.

HENRY LIVINGSTON, who commanded at Stony Point at the time of Arnold’s treason, was born at the Livingston Manor, in Columbia county, New York, January 19th, 1752. He married in Canada at an early age, and while residing there became familiar with the French language. He was among the first who took up arms against Great Britain. He accompanied Montgomery to St. John’s, Montreal, and Quebec. He assisted in the capture of the fort at Chambly, and otherwise distinguished himself in that campaign. He was a lieutenant colonel in the army at Stillwater, and was present at the capture of Burgoyne. At the close of the war he was made a brigadier general, and throughout a long life maintained the highest confidence and respect of his countrymen. The Marquis de Chastellux, who breakfasted with him at Verplanck’s Point on one occasion, says of him, in his Journal (i., 94), "This is a very amiable and well-informed young man." He died at his residence, Columbia county, May 26th, 1823, at the age of seventy-one years.

42 These documents, with five of the passes given by Arnold on this occasion, are now preserved in the Library of the State of New York, at Albany, having been purchased from the family of a lineal descendant of Governor George Clinton. They were in my custody a few weeks, when I had the opportunity of comparing the following copies, previously made, with the originals, and found them correct. These manuscripts, though somewhat worn, are quite perfect. Those written upon one side of the paper only have been pasted upon thicker paper for preservation. The others yet exhibit the wrinkles made by Andrè’s foot in his boot The following are true copies of the several papers:


"West Point, September 5th, 1780.

"Artillery Orders. – The following disposition of the corps is to take place in Case of an alarm:

"Capt. Dannills with his Comp’y at Fort Putnam, and to detach an Officer with 12 men to Wyllys’s Redoubt, a Non Commissioned Officer with 3 men to Webb’s Redoubt, and the like number to Redoubt No. 4.

"Capt. Thomas and Company to repair to Fort Arnold.

"Captain Simmons and Company to remain at the North and South Redoubts, at the East side of the River, until further Orders.

"Lieutenant Barber, with 20 men of Capt. Jackson’s Company, will repair to Constitution Island; the remainder of the Company, with Lieut. Mason’s, will repair to Arnold.

"Capt. Lieut. George and Lieut. Blake, with 20 men of Captain Treadwell’s Company, will Repair to Redoubt No. 1 and 2; the remainder of the Company will be sent to Fort Arnold.

"Late Jones’s Company, with Lieut. Fisk, to repair to the South Battery.

"The Chain Battery, Sherburn’s Redoubt, and the Brass Field pieces, will be manned from Fort Arnold as Occation may require.

"The Commissary and Conductor of Military stores will in turn wait upon the Commanding Officer of Artillery for Orders.

"The artificers in the garrison (agreeable to former Orders) will repair to Fort Arnold, and there receive further Orders from the Command’g Officer of Artillery.

"S. BAUMAN, Major Comm’t Artillery."


This document gave the British full information of what would be the disposition of the Americans on the occasion; and as Sir Henry Clinton and many of his officers were acquainted with the ground, they would know at what particular points to make their attacks. This and the following document are in Arnold’s handwriting:


"Estimate of Forces at W’st Point and its Dependencies, September 13, 1780.

"A brigade of Massachusetts Militia, and two regiments of Rank and File New Hampshire, Inclusive of 166 Batteaux Men at Verplanck’s and Stony Points


"On command and Extra Service at Fishkills, New Windsor, &c., &c., who may be called in occationally


"3 regiments of Connecticut Militia, under the com’d of Colonel Wells, on the lines near N. Castle


"A detachment of New York levies on the lines




"Colonel Lamb’s Regiment


"Colonel Livingston’s, at Verplank and Stoney Pts.




"Colonel Sheldon’s Dragoons, on the lines, about one half mounted


‘Batteaux Men and Artificers





The following document is in the handwriting of Villefranche, a French engineer:


"Estimate of the Number of Men necessary to Man the Works at West Point and in the Vicinity.

"Fort Arnold


Redoubt No. 2


Redoubt No. 7


---- Putnam


ditto 3


North Redoubt


---- Wyllys


ditto 4


South Redoubt


---- Webb


ditto 5




Redoubt No. 1


ditto 6



N.B. – The Artillery Men are not Included in the above Estimate.


The following table is in the handwriting of Bauman, Major Commandant of Artillery:




The following description of the works at West Point and its dependencies is in the handwriting of Arnold, endorsed "Remarks on Works at West Point, a copy to be transmitted to his Excellency General Washington. Sep’r. 1780."

"Fort Arnold is built of Dry Fascines and Wood, is in a ruinous condition, incompleat, and subject to take Fire from Shells or Carcasses.

"Fort Putnam, Stone, Wanting great repairs, the wall on the East side broke down, and rebuilding From the Foundation; at the West and South side have been a Chevaux-de-Frise, on the West side broke in many Places. The East side open; two Bomb Proofs and Provision Magazine in the Fort, and Slight Wooden Barrack. – A commanding piece of ground 500 yards West, between the Fort and No. 4 – or Rocky Hill.

"Fort Webb, built of Fascines and Wood, a slight Work, very dry, and liable to be set on fire, as the approaches are very easy, without defenses, save a slight Abattis.

"Fort Wyllys, built of stone 5 feet high, the Work above plank filled with Earth, the stone work 15 feet, the Earth 9 feet thick. – No Bomb Proofs, the Batteries without the Fort.

"Redoubt No. 1. On the South side wood 9 feet thick, the Wt. North and East sides 4 feet thick, no cannon in the works, a slight and single Abattis, no ditch or Pickett. Cannon on two Batteries. No Bomb Proofs.

"Redoubt No. 2. The same as No. 1. No Bomb Proofs.

"Redoubt No. 3, a slight Wood Work 3 Feet thick, very Dry, no Bomb Proofs, a single Abattis, the work easily set on fire – no cannon.

"Redoubt No. 4, a Wooden work about 10 feet high and fore or five feet thick, the West side faced with a stone wall 8 feet high and four thick. No Bomb Proof, two six pounders, a slight Abattis, a commanding piece of ground 500 yards Wt.

"The North Redoubt, on the East side, built of stone 4 feet high; above the Stone, wood filled in with Earth, Very Dry, no Ditch, a Bomb Proof, three Batteries without the Fort, a poor Abattis, a Rising piece of ground 500 yards So., the approaches Under Cover to within 20 yards. – The Work easily fired with Faggots diptd in Pitch, &c.

"South Redoubt, much the same as the North, a Commanding piece of ground 500 yards due East – 3 Batteries without the Fort."


The "Artillery Orders" of September 5, 1780; the estimate of forces at West Point; estimate of men to man the works, by Villefranche; the "Return" of Bauman; the description of the works at West Point and vicinity, and a copy of a council of war held at Washington’s quarters, September 6, 1780, are the papers which were taken from Andrè’s stocking. The latter document, which set forth the weakness, wants, and gloomy prospects of the American army, was a statement made by Washington to the council. It is too long for insertion here. Preserved among these papers are five passes, signed by Arnold, a memorandum, which, from its ambiguity, is unintelligible, * and the following letter from Joshua Smith to his brother Thomas, after his arrest on suspicion of being an accomplice with Arnold:


"Robinson House, Sept. 25th, 1780.

"DEAR BROTHER, – I am here a prisoner, and am therefore unable to attend in person. I would be obliged to you if you would deliver to Captain Cairns, of Lee’s Dragoons, a British uniform Coat, which you will find in one of the drawers in the room above stairs. I would be happy to see you. Remember me to your family.

"I am affectionately yours

I have before me three interesting MS. letters, written by Smith and his two brothers, at about this time. The first is from the Tory Chief Justice Smith, of New York, to his brother Thomas; the second is from Thomas to Governor Clinton, covering the one from Judge Smith; and the third is from Joshua H. Smith, written in the jail at Goshen. See Note * on page 752.


"New York, 12th October, 1780.

"DEAR SIR, – You will naturally suppose us in great anxiety for our brother Joshua, though General Arnold assured us that he knew nothing of his designs, and that he has written to General Washington more than once asserting his, and the innocence of several others still more likely to be suspected, from their connections with him, while in his confidence. Joshua meets with a faithful reward from his old friends. God Almighty protect him. I hope his relations, at least, have not deserted him in his afflictions. Our last accounts were, that he was still in the hands of the army, which appears strange to all here that have just views of civil liberty, or know any thing of Thomas Smith, Esq., that that model for a Constitution poor Joshua helped to frame at Kingston, as an improvement upon that under which we were all born.

"Your friends here would be all well, if they thought you were so. Our sister, Livingston, has spent several weeks with us, and will return sooner than we wish.

"Your son’s health seems at length to be established, and he seems inclined to winter in South Carolina. I have suspended my assent to the voyage till I know your opinion; which ought to come soon, to avoid the danger of a winter voyage.

"Commend me to all friends. I add no more, from an attention to your condition in an angry and suspicious hour. God preserve you and yours through the storm, which I hope is nearly over.

"Ever most affectionately yours,



"16th October, 1780.

"DEAR SIR, – The inclosed was this moment delivered me by Mrs. Hoffman, who came out in a Flag via Elizabeth Town, as I wish to receive no letters from my brother but such as are subject to public inspection. I have taken the liberty to inclose it for your perusal. The situation in which the unhappy affair of my brother Joshua has placed me and all the family, calls for the greatest care to avoid suspicion.

I am yours, with esteem and affection,


"His Excellency Governor CLINTON.

"P. S. I should be glad, if your house at Windsor is not engaged, to hire it, as I am determined to quit this place."


"Goshen, Orange County, 18th Nov., 1780.

"SIR, – In pursuance of a warrant of the Commissioners of Conspiracy, I was on the 12th day of this instant committed to the close custody of the sheriff of this County. My long and severe confinement before and during my trial by the court-martial has greatly impaired my health, and I find my constitution much shattered. I have been subject to repeated attacks of a bilious colic and an intermittent fever and am advised that a close confinement will soon terminate my existence, unless I can be permitted to use some exercise. I have, therefore, to request some indulgence on this head, in compassion to my distressed situation.

"As I have never been officially acquainted with the sentence of the court-martial, I have also to request your Excellency to favor me with a copy of it by Major Hatfield, and thereby much oblige,

"Your Excellency’s most obedient and distressed humble servant,

His Excellency GEORGE CLINTON, Esq., &c., &c.



* Copy of the memorandum


Elijah Hunter

Mr. I. Johnson, B. R---r

Mr. J. Stewart, to the care of Joshua Smith, Esq., to be left at Head Q’rs.

Isaac Adams, 5, , 5, , 5."

This was Major Andrè’s coat, which that officer exchanged with Smith for a citizen’s dress-coat, as mentioned in the text.

See page 387 of this volume.



Transcription and html prepared by Bill Carr, last updated 06/07/2001.

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