George Washington Papers

General Orders, 26 September 1780

General Orders

Head Quarters Orangetown Tuesday September 26. 1780

Parole Smallwood Countersigns Gist, Marion.
Watchword Intrepid

[Officers] For the day Tomorrow[:] Brigadier General Glover[,] Colonel Bradley[,] Lieutenant Colonel Olney[,] Major Waite[,]1 Brigade Major smith

The truly martial appearance made by the troops yesterday the order and regularity with which they made the different marches and the ease and facility they performed the several manreuvres does them the greatest Credit and affords the most flattering prospect of substantial service reputation and military glory.

Nothing can be more pleasing to the officers who feel for the honor of the Army and the Independence of America than to see the rapid progress made by the Troops in military discipline.

The good conduct of all the officers yesterday gave the general the highest satisfaction and the particular services of the Inspector General and those serving in that line deserve his particular thanks.2

Treason of the blackest dye was yesterday discovered! General Arnold who commanded at Westpoint, lost to every sentiment of honor—of public and private obligation—was about to deliver up that important Post into the hands of the enemy. Such an event must have given the American cause a deadly wound if not a fatal stab. Happily the treason has been timely discovered to prevent the fatal misfortune. The providential train of circumstances which led to it affords the most convincing proof that the Liberties of America are the object of divine Protection.

At the same time that the Treason is to be regretted the General cannot help congratulating the Army on the happy discovery. Our Enemies despairing of carrying their point by force are practising every base art to effect by bribery and Corruption what they cannot accomplish in a manly way.

Great honor is due to the American Army that this is the first instance of Treason of the kind where many were to be expected from the nature of the dispute—and nothing is so bright an ornament in the Character of the American soldiers as their having been proof against all the arts and seduction of an insidious enemy.

Arnold has made his escape to the Enemy but Mr André the Adjutant General to the British Army who came out as a spy to negotiate the Business is our Prisoner.

His Excellency the commander in Chief has arrived at Westpoint from Harford and is no doubt taking the proper measures to unravel fully, so hellish a plot.3

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Pvt. Elijah Fisher’s journal entry for 25 Sept. apparently also summarized subsequent news: “The whole army was praded and formed the line of battle the two Brigade of Infintry. In the frunt the Pencelvania, Jarsey and York Brigades and Connecticut and Rhode Island and New Hampshire Brigades formed the main body and the Massachusetts troops in the rear. The twenty-third Day the trechery Plan of Gen. Arnel was Descovered. Maj. Andre, Adjt. Gen. of the British was taken up a maken his askape by three of the military they lying in ambush wating for some of the Refugees that had taken some of the Cattle from them … he told them that if they would let him go he would give them his horse, saddle and bridle and a present of fifty guineas Each. … They Did not want any of his Rewards that when they had brought him to Gen. Washington he would reward them but as him they Did not now what he would do when he got within their Lines. … When Gen. Arnel heard that Maj. Andre was taken and his Plans was like to be found out which some tory brought to him the nuse, he Calls for his barge and gos Down the River under a Pretence of taking a Recess and so makes his askape” (Fisher’s Journal description begins Wm. B. Lapham, ed. Elijah Fisher’s Journal while in the War for Independence, and Continued Two Years After He Came to Maine. 1775–1784. Augusta, Maine, 1880. description ends , 16; see also n.1 below and Major John André’s Capture and Execution, 23 Sept.–7 Oct., editorial note).

1Jason Wait (c.1742–1806) served as a New Hampshire militia captain in 1776 and joined the 1st New Hampshire Regiment that November at the same rank. He became a major in the 3d New Hampshire Regiment in July 1780, joined the 2d New Hampshire Regiment in January 1781, and left the army in December 1782.

2A Continental soldier had written in his diary for 25 Sept.: “Pleasant weather. The left wing of the Army were reviewed by Gen’l. Greene and a number of other principal officers” (Nichols, “Doughboy of 1780,” description begins James R. Nichols, ed. “The Doughboy of 1780: Pages from a Revolutionary Diary.” The Atlantic Monthly: A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics 134 (July–December 1924): 459–63. description ends 459–60). Lt. William S. Pennington of the 2d Continental Artillery Regiment, then near Tappan, wrote in his diary entry for the same date: “This day the Army, excepting the Light Infantry, made a grand manœuvre in the vicinity of the camp, and was reviewed by the Hon. Major-General Greene, and received his thanks for their good behavior this day” (Pennington, “Diary,” description begins A. C. M. Pennington, contributor. “Diary of William S. Pennington, of New Jersey, 1780–1781.” Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States 4 (1883): 314–29. description ends 322).

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