Page:A French Volunteer of the War of Independence.djvu/106

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The possession of the fort of West Point would allow the enemy to cut off all our communications with the Northern States, from whence we derived all our provisions, particularly cattle. The loss of this place would have been the heaviest possible misfortune for us, and the consequences would have been incalculable. General Arnold commanded the fort.

Major André, a young officer of French extraction, and an adjutant in the British army, often had occasion to visit the American camp to make arrangements concerning the exchange of prisoners. By chance or design, he had made the acquaintance of Arnold. This general, a man of rare courage, had often rendered us signal services, but he had not been rewarded as well as he wished. Major Andre guessed that he was discontented, and could be easily bought over, and a compact was made between them. Arnold was promised a large sum of money, and a position of equal rank in the British army with full pay. On his side he undertook to surrender the fort. The enemy was to