Arnold’s offer to the British was to sell the plans of West Point, thus effecting its surrender– in exchange for 20,000 pounds. General Benedict Arnold’s decision in May of 1779 to offer his services to the British stands out as one of the more dramatic events of the Revolutionary War.
In a clandestine meeting with Major John Andre, in charge of intelligence for the British, Arnold handed over detailed plans of the number of troops and the location of fortifications surrounding the Hudson River garrison.
While traveling behind American lines, Andre was apprehended with the secret documents, tried by a military court and hanged as a spy. The documents in turn directly implicated Arnold as a traitor to the American cause.
When he learned of Andre’s capture, Arnold fled on his official barge to the British man-of-war Vulture anchored in the Hudson. After a series of less-than-successful military exploits as a British Brigadier-General and a number of failed commercial ventures, Arnold sailed to London where he died in 1801. His legacy: Generations of his countrymen ever-after would regard the name of Benedict Arnold as synonymous with treason.
- A Rare Portrait of The Meeting of Benedict Arnold and John Andre