George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Heath, 26 September 1780

Robinson’s House 26 Sept 1780

Dr Sir

In the present situation of things I think it necessary that You should join the army and request that You will do it. You will come to Head Qrs youself. The rout thro Litchfield will be the most eligible for You, on account of security, and You may direct your baggage to halt at Fish Kill for your further orders. I write to the Count de Rochambeau by this conveyance, & I trust that your coming away now, will not be attended with any material inconvenience to him.

I cannot conclude without informing You of an event which has happened here, which will strike You with astonishment and indignation. Major General Arnold has gone to the Enemy. He had had an interview with Major André Adjutant General of the British Army and had put into his possession a state of the army—of the Garrison at this post—of the number of men considered as necessary for the defence of it—a Return of the ordnance—and the disposition of the Artillery Corps in case of an alarm. By a most providential interposition Major André was taken in returning to New York with all these papers in General Arnold’s hand writing, who hearing of the matter kept it to himself—left his Quarters immediately under protest of going over to West point on Monday forenoon about an hour before my arrival—then pushed down the river in the barge, which was not discovered till I had returned from West point in the afternoon and when I received the first information of Mr André’s capture. Measures were instantly taken to apprehend him, but before the Officers sent for the purpose could reach Verplank’s point, he had passed with a flag, & got on board the Vulture Ship of War which lay a few miles below. He knew of my approach and that I was visiting with the Marquiss the North & Middle Redoubts—and from this circumstance was so straitned in point of time that I believe he carried with him but very few, if any material papers—tho he has a very precise knowledge of the affairs of the post. The Gentlemen of General Arnold’s family I have the greatest reason to believe were not privy in the least degree to the measures he was carrying on or to his escape. I am Dr Sir With very great esteem & regard Yr Most Obed [Servt]

Go: Washington

MHi: Heath Papers.

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