George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 11 October 1780

From Major Benjamin Tallmadge

Bedford New Purchase [N.Y.]—Octo. 11th 78 [1780]


I have the honor to enclose a Letter from C——Senior, which as it contains nothing very material, have not sent forward by Express.1

The Conduct of Arnold, since his arrival at N.Y. has been such, that although he knows not a single Link in the Chain of my Correspondence, still those who have assisted us in that way, are at present too apprehensive of Danger, to give their immediate usual intelligence—I hope as the Tumult subsides, matters will go on in their old Channel.2

C——Junr has requested an interview with me on Long Island on the 13th inst., but in the present situation of Affairs I believe it would be rather imprudent—What makes it peculiarly so at this time is the swarm of Refugee Boats which cruize along the Shore of L. Island—I have wrote C——Junr assuring him that his name or Character are not even known by any Officer but myself in the Army, tho’ should your Excellency wish to have me meet C——Junr I will appoint an interview at any time3—I have the Honor to be, with great Regard, Sir, Your Excellency’s mo[s]t Obedt Servt

Benja. Tallmadge

ALS, DLC:GW. Tallmadge wrote “Private” and “To the Care of Genl Green” on the cover.

1Tallmadge presumably enclosed a letter from Samuel Culper (Abraham Woodhull’s alias) to John Bolton (Tallmadge’s alias) written at Setauket, N.Y., on 3 Oct.: “Your letter of the 24th of Augt came to hand togather with the inclosed blank the lines of which were easily discoverd and some Sentences could read. The paper being so bad I Judge is the reason. To prevent the like for the future have forward you Some good paper which Please make use of for that purpose alone.

“The Express returnd last night from New York—but without a blank from C Jur. The present commotion that hath risen on Account of that infamious Arnold togather with little or no intelligence at this time was the reason that he did not write. That have only to Say the Enemies embarcation goes on but Slow they dont Seame to act with Spirit about it Culper Jur is to be with me the 13 Instant if no unforseen accident doth prevent—if possible, and think propper, come and See him. it may be of mutual advantage—there appeares nothing in the way but the dangers of the Seas, And hope this invitation will come to hand timely for the purpose, Have Just heard that Capt. Cornelius Concklin with a boats Crew hath fell into the hands of the refugees near Treadells Banks with the Loss of Lieut ketcham killd dead their misfortune is owing to Abijah Tooker of Seatauket have nothing further to ad” (DLC:GW; underlines signify decoded text). For the code, see Tallmadge to GW, 25 July 1779.

2Tallmadge wrote Maj. Gen. William Heath from Pine’s Bridge, N.Y., on 10–11 Oct. 1780: “Before this reaches you, the information of Major Andre’s Execution must undoubtedly have been recd. …

“Since Arnold has been at N.Y. he has flung into the Provost, many of our friends whom he will have punished if possible. I fear it will injure the Chains of our intelligence, at least for a little time, ’till the present tumult is over. I am happy that he does not know even a single link in my Chain. His Excellency Genl Washington has undoubtedly given you the particulars of the whole hellish plot, which was laid to have nearly overthrown the liberties of this Country. So Providential, I had almost said miraculous a Detection of such deep laid Villany can hardly be found in the History of any People.

“Joshua Smith, an Accomplice with Arnold, was under Tryal when I left Hd Qrs a few days since, and will doubtless be punished Capitally.” Tallmadge resumed his letter on 11 Oct.: “I have this moment recd information from my Agents at N.Y. but no letters. The Conduct of that infamous Arnold has been such since his arrival at N.Y. that our friends who were not even suspected, are too much agitated at the present juncture to favor us with intelligence as usual—I hope in a little time the Storm will blow over.

“I have two Accts from N.Y. but neither thro’ my old Channel, one of which is that the Enemy have embarked a considerable body of Troops & even put to sea—Another that their embarkation goes on very slowly” (MHi: Heath Papers; see also “Heath Papers,” description begins “The Heath Papers.” Parts 1–3. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., 4:1–285; 7th ser., vols. 4–5. Boston, 1878–1905. description ends 5:111–13; The Discovery of Major General Benedict Arnold’s Treachery, 25 Sept–24 Nov., editorial note, n.10; Document XIII with Major John André’s Capture and Execution, 23 Sept.–7 Oct., editorial note; and The Smith Family and Major General Benedict Arnold’s Treachery, 26 Sept.–30 Oct., editorial note).

Hessian lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft had written in his journal entry for 28 Sept.: “To-day some distinguished inhabitants of New York were arrested for having been in correspondence with the Rebels. They were all betrayed, in a list of names, to General Klinton by a deserting Rebel General who had arrived here, named Arnold, a German; for the same reason more inhabitant were daily taken to the prison.” Krafft added that Maj. John André’s hanging “caused much excitement among the English” (Krafft, Journal description begins Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft. 1882. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 120). Ensign Jeremiah Greenman wrote in his diary entry for 30 Sept.: “this morn after being releived came to Camp where am informed that the Enemy had confined a Number of Inhabitance on Long-Island & had executed one or two more that had been friend to us informing us of the Movements of the Enemy all ocasioned by the Infermation of Gen. Arnold after he went to them” (Greenman, Diary description begins Robert C. Bray and Paul E. Bushnell, eds. Diary of a Common Soldier in the American Revolution, 1775-1783: An Annotated Edition of the Military Journal of Jeremiah Greenman. DeKalb, Ill., 1978. description ends , 182–83). British captain John Peebles wrote in his diary entry for 7 Oct.: “Several people are taken up at N:York by the Prevost on suspicion of holding communication & giving intelligence to the Rebels” (Gruber, Peebles’ American War description begins Ira D. Gruber, ed. John Peebles’ American War: The Diary of a Scottish Grenadier, 1776–1782. Mechanicsburg, Pa., 1998. description ends , 411). Lt. William S. Pennington of the 2d Continental Artillery Regiment, then near Totowa, wrote in his diary entry for 17 Oct.: “It is said that that traitor, the late General Arnold, did, as soon as he arrived in New York, give information of those persons within the enemy’s lines whom he had employed to give him intelligence, and by that means threw the unfortunate wretches into disagreeable circumstances. This exertion of villainy exceeds all of his former actions” (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 323).

3GW replied to Tallmadge from headquarters near Passaic Falls on 17 Oct.: “I recd your favr of the 11th with C——seniors inclosed. I think you were right in declining an interview at this time, as the enemy would act with more than common rigor just now, should an Officer be taken under circumstances the least suspicious—I should be exceedingly glad to hear from C——junior, because all my accounts from other quarters are very defective as to the number of troops to be embarked, or, indeed, whether an embarkation is seriously in contemplation. The last acct was of the 13th and it was then said the expedition was delayed for some purpose or other” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton wrote and then struck out a presumably unrelated note addressed to “Dr General” on the verso of the draft: “I beg you to forward the inclosed carefully by the first oppurtunity”). Tallmadge acknowledged this letter when he wrote GW on 23 October.

Index Entries