Page:A French Volunteer of the War of Independence.djvu/104

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the Loire. We should have needed a hundred thousand men if we had wanted to attack the place, and we had but fifteen thousand. The American army remained therefore "in observation," and contented itself with preventing the enemy from foraging in the country round about.

Whilst we were mutually engaged in watching each other, a plot was brewing which, if it had succeeded,—and it was within a hair's breadth of doing so,—would have been disastrous for our army, and perhaps even affected the fate of the newly-born Republic. I allude to General Arnold's conspiracy to betray the Fort of West Point into the hands of the English.

West Point, some twenty leagues from New York on the right bank of North River, was the chief arsenal of the American government. All the heavy artillery was kept there, and also that captured at the surrender of Saratoga. Congress had taken the precaution to make every approach to the place bristle with fortifications. The heights were surmounted by formidable