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Sympathy for the Traitor
Born Wild! Friend or Foe? How To Get Rich Humbug! I See You! If some of the redoubts were weak, broken, or unfinished, if work seemed to be progressing slowly, he could hardly have been surprised. Perfection rarely hovered over the Continental Army. He strode anxiously up the steep bluff from the riverbank, but again the opening door revealed neither Arnold nor Peggy. It was Alexander Hamilton who greeted him.
No, Hamilton had heard nothing of Arnold. No, Peggy had not emerged from her bedroom; she had sent down word that she was indisposed.
‘Traitor’ brick is hurled through window of family’s home showing anti-Brexit posters
Washington walked along a hallway to the chamber that had been assigned to him and began to freshen up for the meal. There was a knock on the door. Hamilton came in carrying a handful of papers. Washington reached out for the packet and began to read.
From hero to traitor: Benedict Arnold’s day of infamy - National Constitution Center
In another room on the same floor Lafayette was washing up when Hamilton suddenly burst open the door. He begged the Marquis to attend instantly on his Excellency. Lafayette sprinted down the hall to find Washington trembling with emotion.
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The first task, as soon as the men had regained enough control to think rationally, was to determine by a careful examination of the many papers exactly what the situation was. There must have been although it is now lost a covering letter from the outpost commander, Lieutenant Colonel John Jameson, stating that three irregulars had been prowling in the British-dominated territory beyond the Croton River on Saturday, September 23, when they stopped a lone rider in civilian clothes.
The rider, who stated that his name was John Anderson, behaved so strangely that they stripped him. They found documents in his shoes. Jameson was holding the man and was herewith forwarding the documents. A later addition to the packet was a letter, meticulously executed in an elegant script. Being there I was told that the approach of day would prevent my return, and that I must be concealed until the next night.
I was in my regimentals and had fairly risked my person. He had thus been forced by circumstances beyond his control to remove his uniform and put on a civilian disguise. He had become, in effect, a prisoner of war. After Washington had read all the documents, the question was what to do.
A glance out the window would have shown that the wind, blowing upriver, was ideal for carrying British ships from their anchorages in New York Harbor to the West Point Arnold clearly intended to betray. However, overriding emotions kept Washington from deciding that his first duty was to take every step to protect the endangered fortress. The most important consideration, so it seemed to Washington, was to capture and hang the traitor.
Perhaps he was lurking somewhere within the lines, still ignorant of his danger. Under these circumstances, Washington thought, no move should be made that would indicate to anyone who might alert Arnold that the treason had been discovered. He was flushed, a little unsteady, and clearly in the grip of strong emotion. He said that Mrs. Arnold seemed to have gone mad. Sometimes she pressed her infant to her bosom. As Washington leaned over her, his features working with pity, she stared him hard in the face.
As the lovely lady raved and gestured, her clothes sometimes parted to reveal charms that should have been hidden. Then she would push her baby aside and turn downward on the bed to cling to the mattress in a transport of tears. At last, finding that he could not make her respond to his reassurances, Washington sadly went away, probably hating Arnold all the more for having caused such anguish to a beauty he never doubted was innocent. That Peggy had been in the plot from the start, and may even have instigated it, was, indeed, to remain a secret until the relevant British headquarters papers were made public in the s.
In any case, Washington always shied away from connecting the fair sex with the dark emotions of war. Peggy—who had been warned by Arnold before he fled that the treason had been discovered—need not have used such heavy emotional artillery to convince the courtly commander that she was a greatly wronged angel. He went down the stairs and joined an uneasy group of officers in the living room. We must therefore take our dinner without them.
Unwilling to accuse their superior without real evidence, and realizing that if treason had taken place they would be under suspicion, they watched Washington covertly for indications of what he knew and how he felt toward them. Washington and his staff were at the same time surreptitiously watching them for signs of guilt.
The General was silent and reserved, and none of us spoke of what we were thinking about. The parties separated. After a while, Washington asked Varick to put on his hat.