Education

Estimate of Forces at West Point, 1780.


Historical Context
Benedict Arnold was a man who had a great future ahead of him. He was brave and daring. At the age of fifteen, he ran away from home and enlisted in the Connecticut Army to help defeat the French during the French and Indian War.



After that war, Arnold remained in the Army and quickly rose through the ranks. He was very active in the northern battles of the American Revolution, such as Ticonderoga, Saratoga, and Lake Champlain. Unfortunately, he became very bitter. He was accused of stealing civilian goods. These charges were brought to court martial, but he was acquitted. Arnold continued to grow more and more discontented. He believed he was regularly overlooked for promotions and higher positions.



It was during this time that Arnold married an American Loyalist he met while in Philadelphia. He also began meeting with an American Loyalist named John André. André and Arnold decided to turn West Point over to the British. This would give the British control over the Hudson River. In July of 1780, Arnold sought and received the command at West Point.



Luckily for the Americans, the plot was uncovered with the capture of André. Arnold fled to the British lines in New York, where he was commissioned as an officer. Arnold and his wife left for London in 1781, where they lived the rest of their days, although Arnold was never fully accepted into British society.



 
Essential Question
Why do individuals turn against their country?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this document and explain the significance of this document in the life of Benedict Arnold and American history.
[click to enlarge]
Estimation of Forces at West Point, 1780, New York State Archives, NYSA_A4681-99_Forces
Document Description
Estimate of the forces at West Point and its dependencies, September 13, 1780. This document was found tucked in the boot of British Major John André at the time of his capture by the Americans, during the American Revolution.
Questions
  1. Why would the British want to know an estimate of forces at West Point?
  2. What advantages would the British have if they controlled West Point?
  3. Would that have changed the Revolution's outcome?
Historical Challenge
Where did Major André hide this document? How was it discovered?
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Pretend it is after the American Revolution. Write a letter to General Washington convincing him that Benedict Arnold should be commemorated as either a traitor or a hero.
Resources


  1. Fritz, Jean. Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold. New York: Putnam, 1981. ISBN: 0399208348.


  2. Gaines, Ann. Benedict Arnold: Patriot or Traitor? Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow, 2001. ISBN: 0766013936.
  3. http://www.benedictarnold.org/
  4. http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/fall97/arnold.html
  5. http://www.si.umich.edu/spies/stories-arnold-4.html
  6. http://iarchives.nysed.gov/Gallery/gallery.jsp?id=45
Transcription
Estimate of the Forces at W[est] Point and its dependences

Sep. 13th 1780

A Brigade of Masachusets Militia & two Regiments of Rank & file

New Hampshire Inclusion of 166 Batteaux Men at Verplanks & Stoney Points                                                                     992

On Command & Extra Services at Fish Kills New

Windsor etc. who may be called in [illegible]                                                                                                       852

3 Regiments of Connecticut Militia under the Comm[and]

of Colonel Wells on the lines near No[rth] Castle                                                                                                               458

a Detachment of New York Levies on the lines                                                                                                   115                                                                                                                                                                                         _____________

                                                                                                                                                                Militia                    2447

Colonel Lambs Regiment                                                                                                                                              167

Colonel Livingston at Verplank  & Stony Pt.                                                          80           & Continental    247

Colonel Sheldons Dragoons on the

lines, about one half Mounted                                                                                                                                  142

Batteaux Men and Artificers                                                                                                                                       250

                                                                                                                                                                                _____________

                                                                                                                                                                                Total      3,086