Autograph Letter, signed (“B Arnold”), to the Adjutant Quartermaster General, requesting fresh horses. Benedict Arnold.

Requesting Horses For Courier Duty, Possibly to the English

Autograph Letter, signed (“B Arnold”), to the Adjutant Quartermaster General, requesting fresh horses.

Headquarters, Robinson House [Garrison, N.Y.]: Sept. 1, 1780.

[1] p. pen and ink on paper. Folio. Requesting Horses For Courier Duty, Possibly to the English. Old fold lines. Minor wear and soiiling, some separation starting at folds. About very good. Item #100630

A letter written by General Benedict Arnold the day after receiving word that British General Henry Clinton had agreed to his price for turning his coat.  In his letter, Arnold requests fresh horses to run express courier routes - some of which surely carried treasonous information to the British.  He writes:
 
"Sir,  I have sent the brave Sergeant Pike for six or eight of the best horses you have in pasture for the purpose of relieving the light horse employed here to go express.  With hard service and want of forage they are worn down & unfit for use.  You will please to deliver him eight of the best horses you have if we can find so many that will answer.  Also, a pair of the best waggon horses you have in lieu of two which were sent to me by Col. Hay who will not draw."  The letter was clearly drawn up in some haste, as there are several words stricken through where Arnold has changed his mind about phrasing or information.
 
In June 1778, Washington placed Arnold in command of Philadelphia, where he lived and entertained extravagantly, and his private business dealings, haughty and dismissive behavior, and close association with the Shippens and other quasi-Loyalists excited the enmity and wrath of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania.  On Feb. 3, 1779, a courier served him with a copy of eight formal charges filed against him by the Pennsylvania Council.  Outraged, Arnold demanded a court martial to clear the allegations against him.  "From this period began the plot that would end, eighteen months later, with Arnold's defection to the British side. ... He used those channels to inform General Henry Clinton, commanding the British army, that he was ready to serve the Crown.  He explained to Clinton that he had lost faith in the revolutionary cause when the United States allied itself with France.  No evidence before May 1779 supports this claim.  Clinton was cautious but interested in the chance that Arnold might betray a key point in American defenses.  He left the matter in the hands of young staff officer, John André." - ANB. By July Arnold had named his minimum price - £10,000 - and on August 1 became commander of the critical American fortress at West Point. By the time this letter was written, important information was passing from Arnold to Clinton, and the plot to betray West Point was well advanced.
 
A wonderful letter, hastily written and clearly showing Arnold's agitation as he slid deeper into infamy.

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