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September 24, 2015

24 Sep 1780: Benedict Arnold flees

On this day in 1780, American traitor Benedict Arnold fled after his plot to deliver West Point to the British was exposed.

Arnold was a respected major general in the Continental Army; among his successes was the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775. But a few perceived snubs from Congress years later swung him to support the Tories. After receiving command at West Point, a strategic fortress on the Hudson that would become home to the U.S. Military Academy in 1802, he decided to sell it to the British for what today is more than $1 million.

He entrusted plans of the fort’s layout to British Major John André, who was captured on September 23 in Tarrytown, New York, en route to delivering those plans to British brass. André would be executed on October 2; Arnold barely managed to escape, reaching the British ship Vulture just before George Washington’s troops could catch him.

Arnold was commissioned as a brigadier general in the British army, and lived out most of his days in London after the war.

Image: “The Capture of André”: Currier & Ives lithograph, 1816. New England Historical Society

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