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Benedict Arnold's Betrayal

Benedict Arnold has been threatened by hoodlums, but Congress has denied him a military guard force. His wife, Peggy, is frightened so she contacts the one guy who kept her safe when the British occupied Philadelphia: Major John Andre, the head of British Intelligence. Major Andre can also do her husband some good so Benedict Arnold is now selling military information to the British. When Arnold is given the command of West Point, he decides to hand over the fort to the British along with General George Washington and Colonel Alexander Hamilton for the sum of 20,000 pounds or about $3.5 million in modern dollars. Arnold meets John Andre to finalize the plans, but then he can't get back to his ship. Arnold gives him maps of West Point and arranges for him to get back to the British side by land. All seems well, but as Washington and Hamilton ride up, a message arrives for Arnold. Major Andre was caught by a random patrol. They found the maps of West Point in his boot and he seems to have misplaced his uniform. That makes him a spy caught on the battlefield! Benedict Arnold pauses to speak to Peggy. He then excuses himself. Peggy is panicking. Benedict is running. Peggy starts screaming about how Washington has come to murder her child. It is not clear if she is just buying time for her husband to escape. If she is faking, she has big brass... uh... she stalls and Benedict Arnold gets away. She convinces them that she knew nothing about the conspiracy so she avoids the hangman's noose. But she knew plenty. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I'm not sure what to say (in polite company). Benedict Arnold had promised Major Andre an official pass and a flag of truce, but I don't think that is legal. There is no truce when the purpose of a meeting is to conspire to commit treason. General Washington was justified (even under the modern Geneva Convention) to hang Major Andre immediately as a spy. Once Benedict Arnold made his escape, he sent a message back to Washington asking him to take care of his wife and to return her to him if at all possible. WHAT A JERK! Arnold lived to the age of 60 and dropped dead from the gout. Major Andre's last words before he hanged were, "I pray you to bear me witness that I meet my fate like a brave man." By all accounts, he did. Peggy met up with her husband in New York the next year and they traveled to London together.

The War Goes South

A strange darkness has fallen over New England. Could it be Judgement Day? The British forces decide to pack it in, get back on their ships and sail away... to Charleston, South Carolina. General Sir Henry Clinton has moved 14,000 troops and General Washington must decide what to do about it. Luckily, French support ships arrive at Rhode Island. Washington is listening carefully to his French advisors, but he doesn't like what he is hearing. The war is going to have to move south. Why is this such a tough decision? Well... according to historian Joseph Ellis, as the British troops are loading up to sail to South Carolina, 60 Massachusetts Militiamen have not been paid and many haven't eaten in 4 days. Their shoes are falling apart... at least the half that still have shoes. General Washington has ordered the confiscation of grain and cattle. He says it is either plunder or starve. He is writing to Congress in very plain language (for him). He tells them that he can't run a war with 13 separate war policies. Congress must find a way to impose a single policy and then fund it. He is making the case for a strong central government, but that won't come until much later. Soon Washington will lean on General Greene to head south and see what he can do. This Revolution is looking like a forlorn hope at this point. [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
There actually was a day of unusual darkness that spread across New England. And yes. Many people thought that Judgement Day was at hand, but scientists look back to those days and there is evidence of an unusually large forest fire in Ontario, Canada at that time, more or less. Along with a natural cloud cover, that could explain it. [4]

Items of Interest

  • The first circular saw is invented. It is used as a rip-saw for cutting lumber. Before this time, lumber was cut using a saw pit like a reciprocating saw with one man in the pit and the other on top. [2] [5]
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences is founded in Massachusetts. The first members are Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. [6] [2]
  • In a Word: Derby: Horse racing at Epson Downs is established by the 12th Earl of Derby. The race becomes known as a "derby". The English pronounce it "DAR-bee". [7]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1780, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Stuart, Nancy Rubin. Defiant Brides: The Untold Story of Two Revolutionary-Era Women and the Radical Men They Married. Beacon Press. “After lunch, Arnold, Franks, and Lamb barged south to meet Washington at Smith's house near Haverstraw and accompany him to Peekskill. During their trip across the river, the commander-in-chief mentioned that he planned to come back up the Hudson on Saturday, September 23, to tour West Point and spend the night at the Robinson's with Arnold and Peggy. Privately, Arnold welcomed that information, key news to forward to the British to obtain his reward of £20,000.” 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 362-363. 
  3. Ellis, Joseph J.. His Excellency: George Washington. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 1400040310. “In January, for example, as two fully equipped British regiments prepared to embark from New York for South Carolina, sixty troops in the Massachusetts line had not been paid for a year and had not eaten in four days. Half the men had no shoes, but were intending to walk home because they had long since eaten their horses. Down in New Jersey, where the countryside had been picked clean after four years of foraging, Washington was forced to order a general confiscation of cattle and grain from the local farmers, noting that the choice was between stealing or starving: "We must assume the odious character of plunderers instead of the protectors of the people."” 
  4. New England's Dark Day - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 5 May 2016. “New England's Dark Day refers to an event that occurred on May 19, 1780, when an unusual darkening of the day sky was observed over the New England states and parts of Canada.[1] The primary cause of the event is believed to have been a combination of smoke from forest fires,[2] a thick fog, and cloud cover. The darkness was so complete that candles were required from noon on. It did not disperse until the middle of the next night.”
  5. Circular saw - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 5 May 2016. “The circular saw was invented around the end of the 18th century as a rip-saw to convert logs into lumber (timber) in sawmills and various claims have been made as to who invented the circular saw. Before the design was invented logs were sawn by hand using a pit saw or using powered saws in a sawmill using an up-and-down saw with a reciprocating motion.”
  6. American Academy of Arts and Sciences - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 5 May 2016. “The Academy was established by Massachusetts legislature on 4 May 1780. Its purpose, as described in its Charter of Incorporation, is 'to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.'[3] The sixty-two incorporating fellows represented varying interests and high standing in the political, professional, and commercial sectors of the state. The first class of new members, chosen by the Academy in 1781, included Benjamin Franklin and George Washington as well as several foreign honorary members.”
  7. (1968) "Derby", Words from History (PDF), Books on Words, Boston: Houghton Mifflin. “"It was the twelfth Earl, however, who added the name to the language. In 1780, he set up stakes for an annual horse race at Epsom Downs near London."” 

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