George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 28 January 1781

From Major Benjamin Tallmadge

Wethersfield [Conn.] Jany 28th 1781

Dr Genel

Enclosed Your Excellency will receive a Copy of a Letter from B. Arnold, which has this day come to hand.1 I am equally a Stranger to the Channel thro’ which it was conveyed, the Reasons why it was so long on its way, or the motives which indu[c]ed the Traitor to address himself thus particularly to me. I have determined to treat the Author with the Contempt his Conduct merits, by not answering his Letter, unless Your Excellency should advise a different Measure. I have the Honor to be, With great Regard & Esteem, Sir, Your Excellency’s most Obedt Servt

Benja. Tallmadge

ALS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MH: Dearborn Collection.

1The enclosed letter from British brigadier general Benedict Arnold to Tallmadge, dated 25 Oct. 1780 at New York City, reads: “As I know You to be a Man of sense, I am convinced You are by this time fully of opinion that the real Interest & Happiness of America consists in a reunion with Great Britain. To effect which happy purpose I have taken a Commission in the British Army, & invite You to join me with as many Men as You can bring over with You—If You think proper to embrace my Offer, You shall have the same Rank you now hold, in the Cavalry I am about to raise. I shall make use of no arguments to convince You, or to induce You to take a Step which I think right—Your own good sense will suggest every thing I can say on the subject. I will only add that the English Fleet has just arrived with a very large Reinforcement of Troops” (DLC:GW). For Tallmadge’s recollection of how he took this letter to GW, “who consoled” him, see Document II, source note, in Major John André’s Capture and Execution, 23 Sept.–7 Oct., editorial note.

For Arnold’s broad appeal to join his new corps, see Lafayette to GW, 28 Oct., n.3; see also Brumwell, Turncoat description begins Stephen Brumwell. Turncoat: Benedict Arnold and the Crisis of American Liberty. New Haven, Conn., 2018. description ends , 305–6. A British supply fleet had arrived in New York with troops reported as 2,600 and 3,000 (see John Hendricks to GW, 17 Oct., n.2, and John Jameson to GW, 23 Oct.).

For Arnold’s defection to the British army, see The Discovery of Major General Benedict Arnold’s Treachery, 25 Sept.–24 Nov., editorial note.

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