Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, [25 September 1780]

To George Washington1

[Verplancks Point, New York, September 25, 1780]

Dr. Sir

You will see by the inclosed2 we are too late. Arnold went by water to the Vulture. I shall write to General Greene3 advising him without making a bustle to be in readiness to march and even to detach a Brigade this way, for though I do not believe the project will go on, it is possible Arnold has made such dispositions with the Garrison as may tempt the enemy in its present weakness to make the stroke this night and it seems prudent to be providing against it. I shall endeavour to find Meigs4 and request him to march to the Garrison, and shall make some arrangements here. I hope Your Excellency will approve these steps as there may be no time to be lost.

I am Yr. most Obed   & humb

A Hamilton

The Vulture is gone down to NY.

ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1Following his conference with Comte de Rochambeau, the Chevalier de Ternay, and other French officers, Washington on September 23, 1780, left Hartford with his entourage which included Brigadier General Henry Knox, the Marquis de Lafayette, and H. The party spent the night of September 24 in Fishkill, New York, and set out the next morning for West Point, the defences of which Washington wished to inspect. At 10:30 A.M., the party reached Major General Benedict Arnold’s headquarters at Beverly Robinson’s house, about two miles southeast of West Point. After breakfast Washington and other officers (H remained at Robinson’s house) were rowed across the Hudson to West Point, where Washington made his inspection. Washington returned to Robinson’s house shortly after 4 o’clock and retired to the room set aside for him. In a few minutes H appeared and gave Washington a packet of papers that had been on Major John André when he was captured and which made clear Arnold’s treasonable activities. Washington then sent H on horseback in an effort to intercept Arnold before he could escape to the British man-of-war Vulture which was anchored in the Hudson River. The failure of H’s mission is described in the letter printed above.

2See enclosure.

4Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs, Sixth Connecticut Regiment, was on the east side of the Hudson in the vicinity opposite West Point when Arnold’s treason was discovered.

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