Major General in the Continental Army during the American Revolution who distinguished himself at Saratoga (1741–1801). One of Washington's most skilled and able generals, he turned traitor in an infamous plot to turn over the fortress at West Point to the British. Revolutionary War-dated ALS signed “B. Arnold,” one page both sides, 7.25 x 9, Montreal, May 6, 1776. Letter to Major General John Thomas. In full: “I have the pleasure of your’s p. Post, but without Date, am very glad to hear of your safe arrival in camp. I have laid your letter before the Commissioners & transmitted a coppy [sic] to Genl Schuyler, before this I make no doubt you have ben [sic] joined by upwards of one thousand men who have passed Chamble[y], yesterday morning, two companies of matroosses, with two Thirteen inch Mortars, Shells &c. compleat arrived from Cambridge & Set of[f] for your army, a large Gundalo mounting three Twenty four pounders will be Complemented & Set from Chamble on Wednesday morning next, with two Battoes, one Small gun in each One Hundred & fifty bbl Pork & two hundred & twenty of Flour have gone from Chamble within a few days. Colo Pettigrew writes me he can Supply Shots and Shells &c., the Heavy Cannon goes down in the gundalo, I hope your Platforms will be ready at Duhambo to mount them as soon as they arrive.—The importance of the port you cannot be unacquainted with, not one farthing of cash is arrived but hourly expected. Provisions I make no doubt will be over the Lakes in a few days as well as the five Battallions. Flour will be sent from this place. I intend setting of[f] on Thursday morning to join you & I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you before the week is out.—I have wrote to Colonel Delapuin, to go down to Duhambo, as I think his advice & assistance may be of great service.” In fine condition, with intersecting folds and a light brush to last name of signature.
On orders from President Washington, General John Thomas joined the army besieging Quebec on May 1, 1776 to help shore up defense, only to find the severely diminished troops outnumbered and suffering from a major epidemic of smallpox. In anticipation of joining him there, Benedict Arnold, who had been rebuilding his army with new French Canadian recruits in Montreal, wrote Thomas to inform him of the soldiers and supplies en route. Unbeknownst to Arnold, however, three British ships sailed into Quebec Harbor on the very day this letter was penned, marching on the American camp and forcing Thomas into a hasty and disorganized retreat, so hectic that Arnold would not even learn of it until it was four days underway. Despite warnings from Washington about sending un-inoculated troops into Canada, the Puritanical Thomas refused the vaccines on religious grounds; along with hundreds of his troops, he died from smallpox just three weeks later during their retreat up the Richelieu River near Chambly. Learning of Thomas's disastrous retreat and the worsening state of the Continental Army in Canada, Arnold began his own troops' march to safety, successfully rejoining Washington south of the border only to betray him three years later. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.
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