Benedict Arnold and John Andre
Updated: Jan 31
One of the pivotal moments of the revolutionary war occurred on the Hudson River, which we pass by on most our charters. This was the infamous act of Benedict Arnold, when he met with British Major John Andre, to strategize how to hand over West Point, and in addition George Washington, to the British.
It is striking how hard it is to figure out the location of this critical meeting, on September 22, 1780 in the wee hours of the night. I've read several books and they don't give a clear location, often incorrectly stating it was at King's Ferry at Stony Point or between there and Haverstraw. But there is a plaque on the waterfront trail between Haverstraw and Upper Nyack, commemorating this historical event. It is a long trail, and so most people who even go to the state park will never see it.
This location makes sense, because it is directly across from Croton Point (state park), and it is from there that, then called Teller's Point, where Andre's ship, the SMS Vulture anchored at night. Andre and Arnold met after midnight, and when they were done at 4am, the two men who rowed Andre from the Vulture to shore refused to return him.
Daylight came and the Vulture was visible, and the American's fired on the ship from their battery on the point, forcing the Vulture had to retreat down river, probably stationed itself in the middle of the river near Nyack, where the river was wide enough to provide protection from any cannons from land.
Andre had to find a way back to New York City by land, so he went north to Stony Point and crossed the river at King's Ferry, where it narrows, to the other side at Verplank.
Andre then disguised himself as an American named John Anderson, and went by horse to get to White Plains, behind British lines. He almost made it through the no-man's land where traveler's were commonly attacked for money. Andre was stopped by three militiamen in Tarrytown (on Route 9, just south of the Sleepy Hollow border), where they stripped him and found Arnold's documents in his boot.
The location in Tarrytown where John Andre was captured was the same spot where Ichabod Crane in Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" encountered the headless horseman.
To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It was at this identical spot that the unfortunate André was captured, and under the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeomen concealed who surprised him. This has ever since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolboy who has to pass it alone after dark.
Benedict Arnold returned to West Point, which he was quietly making more vulnerable for attack. When he heard about Andre’s capture, he found his way to the SMS Vulture to go to New York City, passing by Nyack on the way.