Southeast, Putnam County,
15 October 1832
In the latter part of the month of August in the year 1776,
he enlisted into the regiment commanded by Col. Swortwaut14
in Fredericksburgh now Carmel in the County of Putnam and started to join
in the army at KingsBridge. The company had left Fredericksburgh before
the declarent started, and he started along after his said enlistment
and on his way at a place in Westchester County about two miles from Pines
bridge he fell in company with a stranger, who accosted the deponent and
asked him if he was going down.
The stranger then asked if declarent was not afraid to venture
alone, and said there were many rebels below and he would meet with difficulty
in getting down.
The declarent perceived from the observations of the stranger
that he supposed the declarent intended to go to the British, and, willing
to encourage that misapprehension and turn it to the best advantage, he
asked if there was any mode which he the stranger could point out by which
the declarent could get through safely. The stranger after being satisfied
that declarent was wishing to join the British army, told him that there
was a company raising in that vicinity to join the British army, and that
it was nearly complete and in a few days would be ready to go down and
that declarent had better join that company and go down with them.
The stranger finally gave to the declarent his name, it was Bunker, and told the declarent where and showed the house in which he lived and told him that Fowler15 was to be the captain of the company then raising and Kipp16 Lieutenant. After having learned this much from Bunker, the declarent told him that he was unwilling to wait until the company could be ready to march and would try to get through alone and parted from him on his way down and continued until night when he stopped at the house of a man who was called Esquire Young, and put up there for the night.
In the course of conversation with Esquire Young in the
evening, the declarent learned that he was a member of the committee for
safety for the county of Westchester and then communicated to him the
information he had obtained from Mr. Bunker, Esqr. Young requested the
declarent to accompany him the next morning to the White plains in Westchester
County as the committee of safety for the County were on that day to meet
at the Court house in that place.
The next morning the declarent in company with Esqr. Young
went to the White plains and found the Committee there sitting. After
Esqr. Young had an interview with the committee, the declarent was sent
for, and went before the committee, then sitting in the Court room, and
there communicated the information he had obtained from Bunker.
The Committee after learning the situation of declarent,
that he was a soldier enlisted in Col. Swrotwaut's regiment and on his
way to join it if he would consent to aid in the apprehension of the company
then raising. It was by all thought best, that he should not join the
regiment, but should act in a different character as he could thus be
more useful to his country.
He was accordingly announced to Capt. Townsend who then
was at the White plains commanding a company of rangers as a prisoner,
and the Captain was directed to keep him until further orders. In the
evening after was placed as a prisoner under Capt. Townsend, he made an
excuse to go out and was accompanied by a soldier. His excuse led him
over a fence into a field of corn then nearly or quite full grown. As
soon as he was out of sight of the soldier he made the best of his way
from the soldier and when the soldier hailed him to return he was almost
beyond hearing. An alarm gun was fired but declarent was far from danger.
In the course of the night the declarent reached the house
of said Bunker, who got up and let him in. The declarent then related
to Bunker the circumstances of his having been taken prisoner, and his
going before the Committee at the Court house, of being put under the
charge of Capt. Townsend and of his escape, that he had concluded to avail
himself of the protection of the company raising in his neighborhood to
get down. The next morning Bunker went with declarent and introduced him
as a good loyalist to several of the company. The declarent remained some
days with different individuals of the company and until it was about
to do down, when declarent went one night to the house of Esqr. Young
to give information of the state and progress of the company. The distance
was four or five miles from Bunkers.
At the house of Esqr. Young, the declarent found Capt. Townsend
with a great part of his company and after giving the information he returned
to the neighborhood of the Bunkers. That night the declarent and a great
part of the company which was preparing to go down were made prisoners.
The next day all of them, about 30, were marched to the White plains,
and remained there several days, a part of the time locked up in jail
with other prisoners, the residue of the time he was with the Committee.
The prisoners were finally ordered to Fishkill in the County of Dutchess
where the State Convention was then sitting. The declarent went as a prisoner
to Fishkill. Capt. Townsend with his company of rangers took charge of
At Fishkill a Committee for Detecting Conspiracies was sitting
composed of John Jay, afterwards Governor of N York, Zerpeniah Platt afterwards
first judge of Dutchess County, Colonel Duer of the County of Albany,
& a Mr. Sackett. The declarent was called before that committee, who
understood the character of declarent and the nature of his services,
this the committee must have learned either from Capt. Townsend or from
the Committee at White plains. The declarent was examined under oath and
his examination reduced to writing. The prisoners with the declarent were
kept whilst declarent remained at Fishkill in a building which had been
occupied as a Hatters shop and they were guarded by a company of rangers
commanded by Capt. Clark. The declarent remained about a week at Fishkill
when he was bailed out by Jonathan Hopkins. This was done to cover the
character in which declarent acted.
Before the declarent was bailed, the Fishkill Committee
had requested him to continue in this service, and on declarent mentioning
the fact of his having enlisted in Col. Swortwaut's company and the necessity
there was of his joining it, he was informed that he should be indemnified
from that enlistment, that they would write to the Colonel and inform
him that declarent was in their service. The Committee then wished declarent
to undertake a secret service over the river. He was furnished with a
secret pass, which was a writing signed by the Committee which is now
lost and directed to go to the house of Nicholas Brawer near the mouth
of the Wappingers creek who would take him across the river, and then
to proceed to the house of John Russell about 10 miles from the river,
and make such inquiries & discoveries as he could.
He proceeded according to the directions to said Brawers,
and then to John Russells, and there hired himself to said Russell to
work for him but for no definite time. There was a neighborhood of Loyalists
and it was expected that a company was there raising for the British army.
The declarent remained about 10 days in Russells employment and during
that time ascertained that a company was then raising but was not completed.
Before the declarent left Fishkill on this service, a time was fixed for
him to recross the river and given information to some one of the committee
who was to meet him.
This time having arrived and the company not being completed,
the declarent recrossed the river and met Zepeniah Platt, one of the Committee,
and gave him all the information he had then obtained. The declarent was
directed to recross the river to the neighborhood of Russells and on a
time then fixed, again to meet the Committee on the east side of the river.
The declarent returned to Russells neighborhood, soon became intimate with the Loyalists, and was introduced to Capt. Robinson, said to be an English officer and who was to command the company then raising. Capt. Robinson occupied a cave in the mountains, and deponentshaving agreed to go with the companywere invited and accepted of the invitation to lodge with Robinson in the cave. They slept together nearly a week in the cave and the time for the company to start having been fixed and the rout designated to pass Severns, to Bush Carricks where they were to stop the first night.
The time for starting having arrived before the appointed
time to meet the Committee on the east side of the river, the declarentin
order to get an opportunity to convey information to Fishkillrecommended
that each man should the night before they started sleep where he chose
and that each should be by himself for if they should be discovered that
night together all would be taken which would avoided if they were separated.
This proposition was acceded to, and when they separated
declarent not having time to go to Fishkill, and as the only and as it
appeared to him the best means of giving the information, as to go to
a Mr. Purdy who was a stranger to declarent and all he knew of him was
that the Tories called him a wicked rebel and said that he ought to die,
declarent went and found Purdy, informed him of the situation of affairs,
of the time the company was to start and the place at which they were
to stop the first night, and requested him to go to Fishkill and give
the information to the Committee. Purdy assured the declarent that the
information should be given. Declarent returned to Russells and lodged
in his house.
The following evening the company assembled consisting of
about thirty men and started from Russell's house which was in the Town
of Marlborough and County of Ulster for New York and in the course of
the night arrived at Bush Carricks and went into the barn to lodge after
Before morning the barn was surrounded by American troops
and the whole company including Capt. Robinson were made prisoners. The
troops who took the company prisoners were commanded by Capt. Melancton
Smith, who commanded a company of rangers at Fishkill. His
company crossed the river to perform this service.
Col. Duer was with Capt. Smith's Company on this expedition.
The prisoners including the declarent were marched to Fishkill and confined
in the stone church in which there was near two hundred prisoners, after
remaining one night in the church the Committee sent for declarent and
told him that it was unsafe for him to remain with the prisoners, as the
least suspicion of the course he had pursued would prove fatal to him,
and advised him to leave the village of Fishkill but to remain where they
could call upon him if his services should be wanted.
Declarent went to the house of a Dutchman a farmer whose
name is forgotten about five miles from the Village of Fishkill and there
went to work at making shoes. After declarent had made arrangements for
working at shoes he informed Mr. Sacket one of the Committee where he
could be found if he should be wanted.
In about a week declarent received a letter form the Committee
requesting him to meet some one of the Committee at the house of Doct.
Osborn about one mile from Fishkill. Declarent according to the request
went to the house of Doct. Osborn and soon after John Jay came there,
inquired for the Doctorwho was absent, inquired for medicine but
found none that he wanted, he came out of the house and went to his horse
near which declarent stood and as he passed he said in a low voice it
won't do, there are too many around, return to your work. Declarent went
back and went to work at shoes but within a day or two was again notified
and a horse sent to him, requiring him to go to Bennington in Vermont
and from thence westerly to a place called Maloonscack, and there call
on one Hazard Wilcox, a Tory of much notoriety and ascertain if anything
was going on there injurious to the American cause.
Declarent followed this instructions, found Wilcox but could
not learn that any secret measure was then projected against the interest
of the county at the place, but learned from Wilcox a list of persons
friendly to the British cause who could be safely trusted, from that place
quite down to the south part of Dutchess County, declarent followed the
directions of said Wilcox and called on the different individuals by him
mentioned but could discover nothing of importance until he reached the
town of Pawling in Duchess County where he called upon a Doctor, whose
name he thinks was Prosser, and informed him that he wished to go below,
but was fearful of some trouble.
The Doctor informed him that there was a company raising
in that vicinity to go to New York to join the British Army, that the
Captains name was Shelden that he had been down and got a commission,
that the Prosser was doctoring the Lieutenant, whose name was Chase, that
if declarent would wait a few days he could safely go down with that company,
that he could stay about the neighborhood, and should be informed when
the company was ready. That declarent remained in that vicinity, became
acquainted with several of the persons who were going with that company,
was acquainted with the Lieutenant Chase, but never saw the Captain to
form any acquaintance with him.
The season had got so far advanced that the company were
about to start to join the enemy to be ready for an early commencement
of the campaign in 1777. It was about the last of February of that year,
when a place was fixed and also a time for meeting. It was at a house
situated half a mile from the road and about three miles from a house
then occupied by Col. Morehause a militia Colonel. After the
time was fixed for the marching of Capt. Sheldens company the deponent
went in the night to Col. Morehause and informed him of the situation
of the company of the time appointed for meeting of the place and Morehause
informed declarent that they should be attended to.
The declarent remained about one month in the neighborhood,
and once in the time met Mr. Sackett one of the Committee at Col. Ludingtons,
and apprised him of what was then going on, and was to have given the
Committee intelligence when the company was to march but the shortness
of the time between the final arrangement and the time of starting was
that declarent was obliged to give the information to Col. Morehause.
The company consisting of about thirty met at the time and
place appointed and after they had been there an hour or two; two young
men of the company came in and said there was a gathering under arms at
old Morehauses, the inquiry became general, what could it mean, was there
any traitors in the company. The captain soon called one or two of the
company out the door for the purpose of private conversation about the
situation, and very soon declarent heard the cry of stand, stand.
Those out the door ran but were soon met by a company coming
from a different direction, they were taken in the house surrounded and
the company all made prisoners. The Col. then ordered them to be tied
together, two and two, they came to declarent and he begged to be excused
from going as he was lame and could not travel, the Col. replied, you
shall go dead or alive and if in no other way you shall be carried on
the horse with me, the rest were marched off and declarent put onto the
horse with Col. Morehause, all went to the house of Col. Morehause and
when the prisoners were marched into the house declarent with the permission
of Morehause left them and made the best of his way to Col. Ludingtons
and there informed him of the operations of the night, he reached Col.
Ludingtons about day light in the morning, from thence he went to Fishkill
to the house of Doct. Van Wyck where John Jay boarded and there informed
him of all the occurrences on that northern expedition.
Said Jay requested the declarent to come before the Committee
the next night when they would be ready to receive him he accordingly
went before the Committee where he declared under his oath all that had
occurred since he had seen them. The Committee then directed him to go
to the house of Col. Van Ness in Albany County and there take directions
from him. He went to Van Ness house and was directed by him to go to the
north but declarent cannot tell the place the duty was performed, but
nothing material discovered, further that the confiscation of the personal
property of the Tories and leasing of their lands had a great tendency
to discourage them from joining the British Army, declarent then returned
to Pokeepsie, where Egbert Benson and Melancton Smith acted in the room
of the Fishkill Committee.
There was no more business at that time in which they wished
to employ declarent, and he being somewhat apprehensive that a longer
continuance in that employment would be dangerous, and the time for which
he enlisted in Col. Swortwauts regiment having expired he came home with
the approbation of the Committee. This was about the last of May 1777,
and in the course of the fall after, the declarent saw Col. Swortwaut
at his house in Fishkill and there talked over the subject of the employment
of the declarent by the Committee and the Col. told declarent that he
had drawn his pay the same as if he had been with the regiment, that the
Paymaster of the Regiment lived in the town of Hurley in Ulster County.
Declarent went to the paymaster and received his pay for nine months service
or for the term for which the regiment was raised. The declarent was employed
in the secret service for a period of full nine months.
This declarent further says that in the year 1779 in the
month of May he enlisted into a company commanded by Capt. Johah Hallett
for six months declarent enlisted as a sergint in said Hallets company.
The term of enlistment was performed on the lines in the County of Westchester,
moving from place to place to guard the country and detect Tories, that
the company continued in this service until after Stony Point was taken
by Gen. Wayne and abandoned and also reoccupied and abandoned by the English
When this company was ordered over the river and joined
the regiment at Stony Point and continued there in making preparations
for building a block house until the time of the expiration of the service
when the company was ordered to march to Pokeepsie to be discharged by
the Governor. When they arrived, the Governor was absent the company was
billetted out and the declarent was billetted upon the family of Doct.
After remaining a day or two and the Governor not arriving,
they were discharged. During this service in Westchester County the following
occurrence took place a British vessel of war lay at anchor near Tellers
Point and a party of sailors or marines cam eon shore and wandered a short
distance from the water when a party of our men got between them and the
river and made them prisoners. They were marched to the place when the
company then lay, a little east of Tellers point, the number of prisoners
declarent thinks was twelve and the captors six. The prisoners were afterwards
sent to Pokeepsie.
This declarent further says that in the month of May in
the year 1780 he again enlisted for six months in a company commanded
by Capt. Livingston in Col. Benschautens Regiment. He enlisted as a sergent
in the Town of Fredericksburgh now the town of Kent in Putnam County.
The Regiment assembled at Fishkill and marched to Westpoint and remained
there a few days some ten or fifteen, a call was made for troops to fill
up the Brigade or Brigades under the command of Gen. De La Fayettes, and
they were to be raised by drafts or volunteers, a call first was made
for volunteers and the declarent with others volunteered and made a company
which was put under the care and charge of Capt. Daniel Delavan.
The declarent continued to be a sergent in Delavans company.
Col. Phillip Van Cortland commanded the regiment to which Captain Delavans
company was attached, soon after the company was formed they crossed the
river from West Point and marched to Peekskill where they remained one
night. The next day marched to Verplanks point and crossed over to Stony
Point and from thence made the best of their way to New Jersey where they
remained until late in the fall when the time of enlistment having expired
they were discharged, after having fully and faithfully performed the
service of six months for which he enlisted.
During this campaign in New Jersey. Major Andre was arrested,
condemned and executed several of the soldiers of Capt. Delavan's company
went to see him executed. This declarent was sergent of the guard that
day and could not go to see the execution.
The declarent further says that he has no documentary evidence of his service, and that he knows of no person who can testify to his services other than those whose depositions are hereto annexed.
The declarent hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll agency of any state.
The declarent has a record of his age.
The declarent was living in the town of Danbury in the state
of Connecticut when he enlisted into the service, that since the revolutionary
war the declarent has resided in the State of New York, in what is now
the County of Putnam formerly the County of Duchess, and now lives in
the same county and on the same farm where he has lived for the last fifty
years. The declarent always volunteered in every enlistment and to perform
all the services which he performed as detailed in this declaration.
That the declarent was acquainted with the following officers
who were with the troops where he served. General Schuyler, Gen. Montgomery,
General Wooster, Col. Waterbury, Col. Holmes, Gen. DeLa Fayette, Gen.
Poor, Col Van Coretlandt, Col. Benschauten, Col. Ludington.
The declarent never received any written discharge, and
if he ever received a sergents warrant it is through time and accident
lost or destroyed.
This declarent is known to Samuel Washburn a Judge of the
Court of Common Pleas of the County of Putman, Benaiah Y. Morse a clergyman
in his neighborhood and who he believes can testify to his character for
veracity and good behaviour and thus belief of his services as a soldier
of the revolution.
/S/ Enoch Crosby
"bold, crafty, unscrupulous, unrepentant: the Iago
The US public prefers to dismiss Benedict Arnold as simply
"a despicable traitor." To today's US counterintelligence (CI)
specialists, however, he offers a valuable case studythe classic
example of a "high performer" and "trusted insider"
who (for complex and unpredictable reasons) decided to become an espionage
"volunteer." What were Arnold's motivations, and what were the
enabling and precipitating causes of his decision to go over to the enemy?
More importantly, what changes in Arnold's behavior and activities should
have raised "CI flags" in the minds of his friends and fellow
The "Enabling" Causes:
Arnold tells Andre to hide West
Point plans in his boots.
Carl Van Doren has described Arnold's "military persona" as follows:
Politically, things did not look much better. The British
Government was still hanging tough on suppression of the colonial "rebellion,"
and hundreds of thousands of pro-British "Tories" or "loyalists"
remained active in North America. Less than a third of the population
of the thirteen colonies had actively supported the American revolutionary
cause in the first place, and this base of support had eroded as the war
progressed. By 1779, quite a few "Patriots of 1776" had begun
to consider changing sides. Arnold was not alone in his growing cynicism
The "Precipitating" Causes
Implications for US Counterintelligence
Arnold's defection came as a complete surprise, both to
his subordinates and George Washington's intelligence staff. This is remarkable,
considering that Arnold remained "an agent in place" for sixteen
months (from May, 1779 to September, 1780) after offering his services
to the British. Under such circumstances, effective CI awareness and countermeasures
should have detected Arnold's protracted negotiations and data sharing
with the British Commander-in-Chief, General Henry Clinton. These exchanges
made use of both verbal and written messages (some of which were in code).
The communications were transmitted via loyalist intermediaries, Peggy
Arnold, and Major John Andre, Clinton's aide-de-camp and intelligence
coordinator. Much of this correspondence involved protracted bargaining
over the terms of his "espionage contract"a process which
revealed Arnold's haggling skills and exaggerated self-esteem.
Arnold also was a valuable "reporting asset" during
this period, warning Clinton of the impending arrival of French troops
under Rochambeau and passing vital update information about the defenses
of West Point and other Colonial strong points along the Hudson River.
In addition, Arnold transmitted "bits and pieces of information"
(via letters to Peggy Arnold which she passed to Andre) concerning the
planning of what was to become the May-October, 1781 Yorktown campaign.
Arnold had been asked to command part of the allied forces being prepared
for that operation, and he remained "in the loop" until September,
1780just eight months before US and French forces moved on Yorktown.
Most of the personal characteristics which made Arnold a
dangerous spy also made him an effective military leader and a credible
"Patriot." Arnold was certainly not the only arrogant and cantankerous
field commander in the Continental Army, and probably no one but his new
wife knew exactly what was going on in his mind when he decided to turn
his coat. However, the fact that he had been embroiled in such a long
series of courts-martial and Congressional investigations, should have
raised some official eyebrows when Arnold began to lobby aggressively
for command of the strategic Colonial garrison at West Point in May, 1780.
Another "ignored" CI indicator was the fact that he also refused
the offer of an attractive field command (the ring wing of Washington's
army), claiming that he was disabled.
Arnold was an extremely resourceful and clever spy. After taking command of West Point, he used "profiteering" as a cover for his expanding contacts with local Tories whose homes provided opportunities for meetings with Major Andre. Even Arnold's closest aidesprobably influenced by the General's past reputation as a smuggler were taken in by this ploy. Arnold and the British used classic espionage tradecraft to cloak their conspiracy. These measures included the use of coded communications, clandestine signals, passwords, pseudonyms, safehouses, clandestine meetings, intermediaries, andin an effort to distract Arnold's pursuers immediately following his defectiona diversion (a feigned "nervous breakdown") staged by his wife.
Arnold's activities apparently produced no "CI anomalies" that suggested the existence of a spy in the highest ranks of the Continental Army. This fact may be partly explained by the slow pace of communications in the late 1700's , as well as Clinton's understandable reluctance to jeopardize the security of his best-placed agent by acting precipitously on information that could only have been provided by someone at Arnold's level. In addition, the British military intelligence apparatus in North America was aggressive and resourceful, and was known to have intercepted and copied sensitive Continental Army documents in the past. For this reason, the British probably felt they did not have to mount a CI deception operation to "screen" Arnold's activities.
Epilogue for a Spy
Despised and ultimately rejected by the British, in the long run Arnold paid a heavy price for his ill-gotten "fortune." Ever optimistic and entrepreneurial, for a decade (1782 to 1792) he moved his second family back and forth between Canada and England, seeking social acceptance and commercial opportunities. Arnold's many post-war business ventures achieved limited success, however, and when he died in 1801 he was deeply in debt. Both Arnold and his wife were permanently estranged from their relatives in the newly-independent United States. The three sons from Arnold's first marriage remained in America. Four of his sons by Peggy Shippen (she died in 1804) served in the British Army, one of them becoming a Lieutenant General.
14. Col. Jacobus Swartwout (d. 1826), commander of the 2d Dutchess County Regiment of Minute Men.
15. Johnathan Fowler.
16. James Kip.
17. This article was written by Dan Lovelace, National Counterintelligence Center.
18. Carl Van Doren's description of Benedict Arnold in his Secret History of the American Revolution.