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Interpreting the Evidence

Estimate of Forces at West Point, 1780.

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Revolution and New Nation (1754 - 1820s)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    American Revolution

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Estimate of Forces at West Point, 1780. in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Estimate of the forces at West Point and its dependencies, September 13, 1780. This document was found tucked in the boot of British Major John André at the time of his capture by the Americans, during the American Revolution.
Estimate of the Forces at W[est] Point and its dependences
Sep. 13th 1780
A Brigade of Masachusets Militia & two Regiments of Rank & file
New Hampshire Inclusion of 166 Batteaux Men at Verplanks & Stoney Points                                                                     992
On Command & Extra Services at Fish Kills New
Windsor etc. who may be called in [illegible]                                                                                                       852
3 Regiments of Connecticut Militia under the Comm[and]
of Colonel Wells on the lines near No[rth] Castle                                                                                                               458
a Detachment of New York Levies on the lines                                                                                                   115                                                                                                                                                                                         _____________
                                                                                                                                                                Militia                    2447
Colonel Lambs Regiment                                                                                                                                              167
Colonel Livingston at Verplank  & Stony Pt.                                                          80           & Continental    247
Colonel Sheldons Dragoons on the
lines, about one half Mounted                                                                                                                                  142
Batteaux Men and Artificers                                                                                                                                       250
                                                                                                                                                                                Total      3,086
Historical Context
Benedict Arnold was a man who had a great future ahead of him. He was brave and daring. At the age of fifteen, he ran away from home and enlisted in the Connecticut Army to help defeat the French during the French and Indian War.

After that war, Arnold remained in the Army and quickly rose through the ranks. He was very active in the northern battles of the American Revolution, such as Ticonderoga, Saratoga, and Lake Champlain. Unfortunately, he became very bitter. He was accused of stealing civilian goods. These charges were brought to court martial, but he was acquitted. Arnold continued to grow more and more discontented. He believed he was regularly overlooked for promotions and higher positions.

It was during this time that Arnold married an American Loyalist he met while in Philadelphia. He also began meeting with an American Loyalist named John André. André and Arnold decided to turn West Point over to the British. This would give the British control over the Hudson River. In July of 1780, Arnold sought and received the command at West Point.

Luckily for the Americans, the plot was uncovered with the capture of André. Arnold fled to the British lines in New York, where he was commissioned as an officer. Arnold and his wife left for London in 1781, where they lived the rest of their days, although Arnold was never fully accepted into British society.

Essential Question
Why do individuals turn against their country?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this document and explain the significance of this document in the life of Benedict Arnold and American history.
Historical Challenges
Where did Major André hide this document? How was it discovered?
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Pretend it is after the American Revolution. Write a letter to General Washington convincing him that Benedict Arnold should be commemorated as either a traitor or a hero.