Peggy Shippen Arnold: "How Your Tryal Goes"

A Revolutionary War Experience Primary Source
This is a drawing of a blank, open journal and a quill.

Peggy Shippen Arnold married General Benedict Arnold on April 8, 1779. The American general had been recognized for his heroics at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, but also faced a court martial on charges of profiteering. Arnold's trial started in December 1779; by January 26, 1780, he had been cleared of most of the charges. This letter, although unsigned, is most likely written by Peggy Shippen Arnold, providing encouragement and information on January 4, in the midst of the trial. It is not clear what paper she refers to at the end of the letter or the contents of her longer letter. Later in 1780, the Arnolds went to West Point, New York, where—after several years of dissatisfaction with the American cause—General Arnold prepared to turn traitor and surrender West Point to the British. 


To Major General Arnold, Headquarters, Morristown

Philadelphia Jany 4, 1780

Yours of the 30th was last night delivered me. I am happy to find that you are well. I cannot but wish you had been more particular in letting me know how your tryal goes, you say so little about it that I am apprehensive things do not go as well as you expected, and you are afraid of alarming me by letting me know it[.] I am extremely sorry to find that Col Mitchel evidence is essential. I do not believe he will go to Camp if he can possibly avoid it. You say you expect him this day. I have just sent to know when he goes, he sent me word that he did not know when he should go. I believe you may wait a considerable time before you see him; indeed it is my opinion he will not go at all. I inclose a monstrous long letter I wrote before the receipt of your last. I told you that Mr. Holter [?] had sent to let you know he should want this house. He has for the present got a house of Dr Shippens in Market Street. I have hear nothing from him since yesterday morning. I believe I shall go to day to the Collage to spend a day or two, but it shall not deprive me of the pleasure of writing to you. I never wanted to see you half so much. You mention Sunday for your return[.] I will not flatter myself I shall see you [two words], if you wait for Col. Mitchel. The family beg to be affectionately remembered to you. In compassion to you I will conclude presently, for I think by the time you have finished this, and my other long letter you will be sufficiently tired. I sent back the paper to you, properly sealed the day I received it. I hope you have got it long before this—Farewel—I must not say how affectionately I am yours.



"Letter from [Peggy Shippen Arnold?] to Benedict Arnold, January 4, 1780" from the Joseph Reed Papers (1757-1874), Digital Collections from the New York Historical Society Museum & Library.