Benedict Arnold's Treason Discovered

Benedict Arnold and John André finally met on September 21 at Joshua Hett Smith's house.

On the morning of September 22, James Livingston, the colonel in charge of the defense outpost at Verplanck's Point, fired on HMS Vulture, the ship that was intended to carry André back to New York. This action did sufficient damage that she was forced to retreat downriver, removing André's planned escape route. Arnold wrote out passes for André so that he would be able to pass through the lines, and also gave him plans for West Point. André was captured near Tarrytown on September 23; he was later hanged as a spy.

Arnold learned of André's capture when Colonel John Jameson notified him that André was in his custody. He fled to the Vulture with the help of John Borns. Arnold wrote a letter to Washington, requesting that Peggy be given safe passage to her family in Philadelphia, a request Washington granted.

The British made him a brigadier general with an annual income of several hundred pounds, but only paid him £6,315 plus an annual pension of £360 because his plot failed.

When presented with evidence of Arnold's betrayal, it is reported that Washington was calm.

The bounty Arnold offered the British was West Point. He began correspondence with Major John Andre by a circuitous route. Andre had been friends with Peggy Shippen Arnold during the Philadelphia occupation. Andre was an adjutant general and intelligence chief of Sir Henry Clinton. Washington offered Arnold the position of left wing of the army, in the meantime, which earlier in Arnold's career would have been a coup. He used his crippled leg as an excuse and was given West Point instead.

Andre was the courier between Arnold and Clinton regarding the closing of the deal. With his ship forced back by American troops, Andre was sent on foot back to British lines with a pass from Arnold as well as documents for Clinton in his sock. He was captured and placed into American custody when the documents were found. Arnold heard of his capture and was able to make his the same ship, the Vulture, which Andre had arrived on. Andre was put on trial, and met his death as a spy. Arnold defected to the British and received substantial remuneration for his defection. These included pay, land in Canada, pensions for himself, his wife and his children (five surviving from Peggy and three from his first marriage to Margaret) and a military commission as a British Provincial brigadier general.

The British provided handsomely for Arnold, but never completely trusted him. He was never given an important military command. They moved to London where he found no job, some admiration and even some contempt. He moved his family to Canada where he reentered the shipping business. The Tories there disliked him and had no use for him, and eventually he returned his family to London. When the fighting began between France and England, he tried again for military service, but to no avail. His shipping ventures eventually failed and he died in 1801, virtually unknown, his wife joining him in death three years later.