The tactic of kidnapping enemy leaders, used in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, dates to the American Revolution. George Washington called such efforts “honorable” and supported attempts to kidnap the British commander-in-chief (twice), Benedict Arnold (after he turned traitor) and a future king of Great Britain. Washington in turn was targeted at his Morristown winter headquarters by British dragoons who crossed the frozen Hudson River. New Jersey Governor William Livingston went to considerable lengths to avoid being abducted by the Loyalist raider James Moody.
Sometimes these operations succeeded, as with the spectacular captures of Major General Charles Lee, Major General Richard Prescott and North Carolina Governor Thomas Burke. The abducted, such as Declaration of Independence signatory Richard Stockton and Delaware’s Governor John McKinly, faced risks to their reputations. The kidnapper risked all—if caught, he could be hanged. This book covers attempted and successful abductions of military and civilian leaders from 1775 to 1783.