Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 86

Lot 274

Arnold, Benedict (1741-1801) American Revolutionary War General and hero of the battle of Saratoga. In July 1780, after he was given command of West Point by General Washington, Arnold made plans to surrender West Point to the British for the price of 20,000 pounds. The plot was exposed when Arnold's liaison with the British, Major John André, was captured with a pass from Arnold and the plans in his boot. Arnold narrowly escaped and Major André was hanged. Arnold was commissioned a brigadier general in the British army and led raids in Virginia and Connecticut. After Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown, Arnold received permission from Sir Henry Clinton to go to England, and Arnold and his family left on December 8, 1781.

Revolutionary War-date autograph letter signed ("B Arnold"), 1½ pages, 9 x 7¼ in., Penzance, January 16, 1782. To an unknown correspondent [possibly Lord Germain] regarding the delivery of dispatches from Sir Henry Clinton. Integral leaf with docket is separated from the letter, which is boldly penned and signed.

Arnold writes: "On the 15th Ulto. a Fleet of one hundred & twenty odd Merchantmen, under Convoy of the Robust & James sailed from New York for Portsmouth, a few days after the Fleet sailed most of the convoy parted in a gale of wind, on the 25th the Robust sprung a Leake & bore away for the West Indies, on the 27th. Lord Cornwallis…& a number of Officers who came Passengers in the Robust left her, when Capt. Corby requested me to take charge of Sir Henry Clintons Dispatches for your Lordship, which Capt. Ramsey will have the honor to deliver, to whom I beg leave to refer Your Lordship for particulars." Clinton, with whom Arnold had plotted treason, had resigned as commander of the British forces in North America in May 1781.

Arnold concludes: "Mrs. Arnold being with me & both her & myself much fatigued prevents my doing myself the honor of Delivering these Dispatches for myself." Although Arnold argued for the continuance of the war, the party of North and Germain lost power, and those who followed wanted to end the long and costly war. Arnold lived in England for the rest of his life except for the years 1787-1791, when he lived in St. John, New Brunswick. He died persona non grata by both the Americans and the British.
Estimated Value $6,000 - 8,000.
Sotheby's New York, Nov. 1, 1993, lot 14.

Realized $6,900

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