Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery (2010)
Major John Andre, who was the head of General Henry Clinton's spy network. Arnold told Andre that he wanted to be paid no-matter-what for his efforts (what would be $1.5 million today); Clinton demanded something big for that price tag. To do so, Arnold needed to be back in an important military command, but his court-martial kept getting delayed.
On 23 December 1779, Arnold's court-martial finally resumed at a tavern in Morristown, New Jersey. Arnold stated to the judges that for all he'd done for his nation, he deserved better treatment; he needed an acquittal in order to be put in command in the field again.
Arnold refuted each of the charges one-by-one, and in great detail. Although Arnold was planning on betraying his nation, and had been up-to-his-neck in unethical behavior as the Military Governor of Philadelphia, he didn't FEEL GUILTY . . . Arnold was always able to convince himself that he was doing right.
Sometime during May 1780, Arnold started to think about West Point on the Hudson River. The fort sat on a peninsula that jutted into the Hudson River 50 miles north of New York City.
Washington called West Point the "Key to America"; as long as West Point was held, the British fleet could be bottled up in New York City. Arnold told Andre of his plan (wanting more money, of course), and Clinton was finally seriously intrigued, and agreed to Arnold's price. Andre told Arnold that he wasn't getting paid for effort alone, and Arnold agreed that he had to deliver with his plan.
Arnold remained at HQ as ordered, and was limping more noticeably in order to be seen doing so. Arnold was also telling as many as possible at HQ that West Point was the only post in which he was physically capable of being in command. On 1 August 1780, Washington issued new orders that placed Arnold in command of the Left Wing. When news of this order reached Arnold's wife, Peggy, she had hysteric fits, since she was in on the plot with her husband (and most likely assisted with many details). Peggy kept telling people that it must have been a mistake; many were surprised that she appeared to value West Point over the Left Wing. Arnold visited Washington again, restating that he physically couldn't handle command of the Left Wing. Washington relented, and on 3 August 1780, he reluctantly rescinded his order, and placed Arnold in command at West Point.
By now, Americans were getting very sick of the Revolutionary War, since it had become a "Never-Ending Story". In the army, dissatisfaction, mutinies, and desertions were all at the highest levels of the entire war. The Continental Army blamed Congress, while Congress resented the non-stop demands of the Army. Then, Major General Horatio Gates led his army to an inglorious defeat at Camden, South Carolina . . . the American Revolution was on the verge of collapse when Arnold took command of West Point.
On 16 September 1780, Arnold received news that Washington and his staff were coming to West Point, and that they would be there for several days. This was too good to be true for Arnold, in that not only would he deliver West Point to the British, but also Washington . . . Arnold passed the news on to Andre. Clinton knew that Andre was relatively inexperienced with the ways of a spy in the field, and he gave Andre advice. First, he told Andre, do not go behind American lines. Second, refuse to carry incriminating papers, and third, no matter what, do not take off your British uniform. Clinton told Andre that if anything went wrong, those three rules would provide protection against spying, and an almost certain execution. Andre agreed, and sailed north on the Hudson aboard the HMS Vulture.
Smith and the two rowers reached the HMS Vulture, and Smith was forced to go on board to meet Andre. After Smith delivered Andre to Arnold, he was told to leave so their conversation would be private. Smith felt that he had earned the right to be part of the conversation, but he sat by the river while Andre and Arnold talked until 4 am. Smith told the tenant farmers that he was ready to take Andre back to the HMS Vulture, but the rowers refused. It had become a moot point anyway, since it was already dawn, and Andre needed to be concealed until the next evening. Arnold and Andre got on horseback, and moved away from the shore, and came across pickets that saluted Arnold.
An American officer, James Livingston, took it upon himself to fire two cannon on the HMS Vulture; he had become annoyed that a British ship was so close to West Point. Firing on the HMS Vulture with a four-pounder (the smallest of the large cannon) was largely useless (and loud), but for two hours, those cannon fired. Six shots actually hit the HMS Vulture's hull, while other shells struck the sails and rigging. The captain was slightly injured by a splinter in the nose . . . that splinter changed the course of American History. The captain of the HMS Vulture ordered the ship to drop back out of range, and Andre was on his own, behind enemy lines, in the company and protection of Benedict Arnold.