Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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project of capturing the American chief
and his suite on that day.

Before noon, the whole business was
arranged between the conspirators. The
time was now appointed for the
delivery of the fortress ; and as
Sir Henry Clinton had his troops already
embarked, under the feint of despatching
them to the Chesapeake, he only awaited
the return of Andre, to sail up the Hud
son, and by the easy capture of West Point
to consummate the deed which had been
planned by the artful Arnold.

The great point now was, for Andre to
return to New York. He insisted that
he should be put on board the Vulture,
to which Arnold agreed ; but the latter
evidently entertained some doubt of its
feasibility, for, on quitting Smith s house
(about ten o clock in the morning), he
wrote three passports, two of which were
intended for a land-route. The passports
were given to Smith, drawn as follows :

1. "Joshua Smith has permission to
pass with a boat and three hands, and a
flag, to Dobbs s ferry, on public business,
and to return immediately."

2. "Joshua Smith has permission to



[PART n.

pass the guards to the White Plains and
to return, he being on public business by
my direction."

3. " Permit Mr. John Anderson to pass
the guards to the White Plains, or below
if he chooses ; he being on public business
by my direction."

Before taking leave of his confederate,
Arnold strove to persuade Smith to put
Andre on board the Vulture. His efforts
were, however, in vain ; and, although he
suggested a land-route as the most safe
and convenient, he left Andre with the
impression that he was to be placed on
board the sloop. " Arnold quitted me,"
said the major, " having himself made me
put the papers I bore between my stock
ings and feet. Whilst he did it, he ex
pressed a wish, in case of any accident be
falling me, that they should be destroyed ;
which I said would of course be the case,
as when I went into the boat I should
have them tied about with a string and
a stone. Before we parted, some mention
had been made of my crossing the river
and going another route ; but I objected
much against it, and thought it was set
tled that in the way I came I was to re

Audit?, however, could not persuade
Smith to take him to the ship, the latter
subsequently alleging, as his reason for
the refusal, that he had a fit of the ague,
and his health would not allow of his ex
posure in a boat. But it was, no doubt,
his fear of the danger to his life, in case
the Vulture (which had resumed her for
mer berth in the river) should be fired
upon from Teller s Point, that deterred
him from making the attempt to board

her. Andre had now no alternative but
to proceed by land. Smith promised to
accompany him until they should get be
yond the American posts.

At a little before sunset the two set
out, attended by a negro-servant. Andre
had taken off his military coat, and put
on a citizen s, one belonging to Smith,
over which, as before, he wore his dark-
blue overcoat, with a wide cape, buttoned
close to the neck. The young British
emissary was in no cheerful mood, as the
fact of his being in disguise within the
enemy s lines gave rise to reflections that
were by no means consolatory to the feel
ings of a brave and frank soldier. While
his companion stopped to pass a word of
greeting with a neighbor on the road, or
to join some acquaintances at the tavern
over a bowl of punch, Andre would walk
his horse ahead, and, when overtaken by
Smith, would barely open his lips to talk.

On crossing King s ferry, and passing
at dusk through the works at Verplanck s
Point, Smith called at Colonel Livings
ton s tent, and was invited to supper, but
Andre and the servant rode on. Smith,
however, declined the invitation which
he received, and soon overtook his com

They proceeded on their route with
out interruption, until they were chal
lenged, between eight and nine o clock,
by the sentinel of a patrol-guard, near
Crowpond, about eight miles from Ver
planck s Point. They were ordered to
stop, when Smith dismounted, and, giv
ing the bridle of his horse to his negro-
servant, walked forward and asked who
commanded the patrol. At this moment



Captain Boyd presented himself, declar
ing that he was the commander.

The captain was particularly inquisi
tive, but Smith answered all his questions
readily, and, saying that he had a pass
from General Arnold requested permis
sion to proceed at once. Boyd, however,
was not satisfied until he had conducted
the travellers to a house near by, where
(as it was dark) he could procure a light
to examine them and their passport more
minutely. Arnold s sign-manual satisfied
the captain that all was right, but he still
seemed very curious to know something
about the mysterious business they were
upon. Smith, in behalf of himself and
his fellow-traveller, Mr. Anderson, respond
ed to the questions as best he could, and
told his inquisitor generally that their ob
ject was to obtain intelligence, and that
the general had sent them to White Plains
to meet a person for that purpose.

Boyd now seemed only anxious for
their safety, and earnestly warned them
against the danger of travelling any far
ther that night, as the Cow-~boys were out,
and had advanced far up the country .*
Smith s courage was not proof against the
chance of a collision with these merciless
marauders, and he at once fell in with
Boyd s proposition to postpone the con
tinuance of their journey until the next
morning. Andre, however, was not so ea
sily persuaded, and would have gone on
at all events had he not found it irnpos-

* The Cow-hoys were desperate freebooters who infested
the " Neutral Ground" of Westdiester county, and were en-
frayed in plundering cattle, which they drove into New York.
The Cow-boys were lories ; while the Skinners, whose occu
pation was the same, and their character no better, generally
lived within the American lines, and professed themselves
friendly to the patriot cause.


sible to move his companion, who was un
alterably fixed in his resolve not to run
the risk of a night s rencontre with the
Coiv-boys. The travellers accordingly, at
the recommendation of Captain Boyd, re
traced their route a short distance, until
they reached the cottage of one Andreas
Miller, where they were hospitably re
ceived, but so humbly entertained, that
Andre and Smith were obliged to content
themselves with the same bed.

After passing a wakeful night within
the very embraces of his enemy, the Brit
ish major was up betimes in the morning,
in great eagerness to start. At the first
dawn of light, he roused the negro, and
ordered the horses to be got ready. After
thanking their host, who refused all com
pensation, they were soon in their sad
dles, and riding at good speed along the
road to Pine s bridge.

When Andre had got fairly beyond the
beat of the patrol, he for the first time
on the journey showed his natural cheer
fulness, and began to chat in the liveliest
manner, much to the surprise of Smith, to
whom he had hitherto appeared a remark
ably gloomy and taciturn companion.

Having arrived within two and a half
miles of Pine s bridge, on the Croton river,
they stopped to breakfast at a Dutch farm
house by the roadside. The good house
wife had lately suffered from an inroad
of the Cow-boys, who had plundered her
larder and depopulated her pastures, but
was able to serve her guests with some
hasty-pudding and milk. After refresh
ing themselves, Smith divided with Andre
the small sum of money he had in conti
nental bills, and took leave. The former


[PART n.

rode rapidly back on his way to Fishkill,
where his family had been removed, and
stopped to dine as he passed with General
Arnold, at the Robinson house, to whom
he reported the results of his journey.

Having crossed Pine s bridge, Andre
called to mind a remark of Captain Boyd,
who, in order to put the travellers on their
guard against danger, had said that the
Cow-loys (in the interest of "the lower"
party, or British) had been far up on the
Tarrytown road. He therefore resolved
to take this instead of the White-Plains
route, believing that, if more dangerous
to an American, it would probably prove
safer to an Englishman. Accordingly, ta
king the Tarrytown road, Andre pursued
it without interruption until he reached
a part where it crosses a brook
within half a mile of the village,
and about a dozen miles north of Kings-

Here the young officer was riding along
in a cheerful mood, and indulging the
most pleasant anticipations of complete
success in his scheme, when three armed
men suddenly sprang out of the bushes
by the roadside ; and the foremost man,
putting his firelock to the breast of An
dre, and ordering him to stand, asked
which way he was going. " Gentlemen,"
said Andre, " I hope you belong to our
party."" What party ?" asked the man.
" The lower party" was the immediate an
swer ; for Andre, observing that his inter
rogator had on a British refugee uniform,
believed that he was among his friends.
The men then declared that they also be
longed to the lower party ; when Andre
said, " I am a British officer, out of the

county on particular business, and I hope
you will not detain me a moment ;" and,
to show that he was of the importance
which he professed to be, he took out his
watch, which, being gold, was in those
days considered an evidence of superior

Andre was now ordered to dismount,
when he discovered that he had fallen,
not among friends, as he had supposed,
but among his enemies. "My God, I must
do anything to get along !" exclaimed the
captive, with a forced laugh, as he sought
to explain away what he had previously
said, and thereupon pulled out General
Arnold s pass : " Permit Mr. John Ander
son to pass the guards to the-White Plains,
or below, if he chooses ; he being on pub
lic business by my direction."

Andre was, however, compelled to dis
mount ; and, as he found that his captors
were disposed to cling to him, he said :
" Gentlemen, you had best let me go, or
you will bring yourselves into trouble ;
for your stopping me will detain the gen
eral s business" and explained that he
was going to Dobbs s ferry, to meet a per
son there, and get intelligence for General
Arnold. He was told that he must not
be offended, as nothing would be taken
from him ; and that, as many bad people
were going along the road, it was neces
sary to examine him.

They then took him into the bushes,
and ordered him to pull off his clothes,
which he did without hesitation, but no
papers were found. "His boots must come
off too /" said one ; but Andre, changing

*/ f O O

color, objected, saying that they came ofl

* Irving.



Sept, 23,

with difficulty, and begged that he might
be spared the trouble and delay. They,
however, persisted. One boot was pulled
off, and nothing found then the other;
when, some papers being felt in the bot
tom of his stocking, he was ordered to
pull off that, and three papers were found
in it. " My God, he is a spy !" was the
exclamation of one of the party, as he
cast his eyes hurriedly over the papers.

This one was JOHN PAULDING, and his
companions were DAVID WILLIAMS and
ISAAC VAN WART, three countrymen of
Westchester county. They belonged to
a party of seven persons, who had agreed
to set out on that morning, in
order to intercept any suspicious
travellers, or droves of cattle, with the
view of benefitting by a law of the state
of New York, and of a military custom,
which entitled American captors to the
possession of all property seized in that
way. Four of the seven had stationed
themselves on a hill, which commanded
a long view of the road ; while the other
three had taken their position under the
shelter of some bushes by the roadside,
where two were playing a game of cards,
and the third was standing guard, on the
lookout for travellers, when the British
emissary passed by.

When he found, by the exclamation of
Paulding, that his true character was dis
covered, Andre was ready to purchase his
escape at any price. Williams asked him
what he would give to be let go. " Any
sum of money," was his answer. Would
he give his horse, saddle, bridle, watch,
and one hundred guineas ? " Yes, all !"
Would he give more ? " Yes, any quan

tity of dry-goods, or any sum of money,
and bring it or send it to any spot which
you may select." "No! if you ivoidd give
us ten thousand guineas, you should not stir one
step r resolutely interposed Paulding.

Andre now gave up all hope, and, beg
ging that he might be asked no more
questions, mounted his horse, and allowed
himself to be led away a prisoner by his
captors, one of whom walked in front,
with his hand occasionally on the bridle,
and the others on either side. About noon
they stopped at a farmhouse, where the
family were at dinner. The good house
wife, struck with the sorrowful air of the
" poor gentleman," pressed him kindly to
take something to eat. As he refused, say
ing that he had no appetite, she, " glan
cing at his gold-laced crimson coat," apol
ogized for her humble fare. " Oh, mad
am," said Andre, in reply, with a shake
of the head, " it is all very good ; but, in
deed, I can not eat."*

The nearest military post belonging to
the Americans being at North Castle, the
prisoner was taken there, and, together
with the papers found upon his person,
delivered into the hands of the command
ant, Colonel Jameson. The documents,
which were in the handwriting of General
Arnold, without any attempt at disguise,
Jameson despatched to Washington ; but
Andre he sent under a guard, commanded
by Lieutenant Allen, to Arnold himself,
together with a letter, in which he stated
that the prisoner was a certain John An
derson, who had been captured on his way
to New York. " He had a passport," add
ed Jameson, " signed in your name ; and

* Irving.



[PART n.

a parcel of papers taken from under his
stockings, which I think of a very dan
gerous tendency," and which the writer
took care to inform Arnold had been de
spatched to Washington. The conduct

of Jameson was most absurdly irrational,
granting, as every one does, that he was
innocent of having designedly put Arnold
upon his guard against the effects of his
treason, and thus enabled him to escape.


The Astonished Tallmadge. A Diabolical Treason. The Prisoner brought back. The "Innocent" Arnold. Letter of
Major Andre to Washington. A Free Confession. An Agreeable Prisoner. The Return of Washington. Waiting
Breakfast. Young Men in Love. Coolness of Arnold. An Abrupt Departure. Mrs. Arnold senseless. Escape of
the Traitor. An Act of Meanness. Washington crosses the Hudson. No Salute ! Meeting with Colonel Hamilton.
An Important Packet. Astounding Developments. Prompt Action. Composure of Washington. A Letter from
Arnold. Sympathy for Mrs. Arnold. Her Tears and Ravings. Her Sincerity doubted. Mrs. Arnold at Philadel
phia. She joins her Husband.


Sept, 23,

WHEN Major Tallmadge,who was
Colonel Jameson s second in com
mand, returned in the evening to the post
at North Castle, whence he had been ab
sent during the day on duty, and
heard of the capture of "John An
derson" and of the disposition which had
been made of him,he was greatly astound
ed at the conduct of his superior. Tall-
rnadge had very little doubt, as soon as he
heard the story, that a diabolical treason
had been detected, and that General Ar
nold was the chief traitor. He frankly
expressed his opinion to that effect to
Jameson, and, urging him to take ener
getic measures accordingly, declared that
he was ready to assume the responsibil
ity of such action.

Jameson at first seemed to waver, but
finally, refusing to entertain^ any suspi
cion of the guilt of his commanding gen
eral, would do nothing which might indi
cate it. He nevertheless reluctantly con

sented to send for the prisoner ; not, how
ever, to keep him out of the hands of
Arnold, but to prevent his being retaken
by the enemy, of which there was some
danger, as a party of them were known
to be in the country " above." Jameson
accordingly despatched a messenger to
overtake Allen in all haste, with a note,
in which that officer was requested to
bring back his prisoner, with the guard.
and send on a courier with the letter to Arnold s

As soon as Major Andre was brought
back, Tallmadge was persuaded that he
was an officer, from the manner in which,
in striding back and forth in the room,
he turned upon his heel, ana from his
general military bearing. Jameson, too,
soon became of this opinion, but he still
obstinately persisted in believing Arnold
innocent. As North (or Lower) Salem,
about nine miles above North Castle, was
farther within the American lines, it was




determined, for security s sake, to send
the prisoner to that place.

Major Tallmadge commanded the es
cort, and conveyed Andre to North Sa
lem, where, soon after his arrival, finding
that there was no prospect of his being
sent to Arnold, and conscious that the
papers found upon his person had been
transmitted to Washington, by which all
would soon be revealed, the captive wrote
this letter :

"SALEM, 24 September, 1780.

"Sin: What I have as yet said con
cerning myself was in the justifiable at
tempt to be extricated ; I am too little
accustomed to duplicity to have succeed

"I beg your excellency will be per
suaded that no alteration in the temper
of my mind, or apprehension for my safe
ty, induces me to take the step of addres
sing you ; but that it is to rescue myself
from an imputation of having assumed a
mean character for treacherous purposes
or self-interest 5 a conduct incompatible
with the principles that actuate me as
w r ell as with my condition in life.

" It is to vindicate my fame that I speak,
and not to solicit security.

" The person in your possession is Ma
jor JOHN ANDRE, adjutant-general to the
British army.

"The influence of one commander in
the army of his adversary is an advantage
taken in war. A correspondence for this
purpose I held ; as confidential (in the
present instance) with his excellency Sir
Henry Clinton.

"To favor it, I agreed to meet, upon
ground not within the posts of either ar

my, a person, who was to give me intel
ligence ; I came up in the Vulture man-
of-war for this effect, and was fetched by
a boat from the ship to the beach. Being
there. I was told that the approach of day
would prevent my return, and that I must
be concealed until the next night. I was
in my regimentals, and had fairly risked
my person.

" Against my stipulation, my intention,
and without my knowledge beforehand,
I w r as conducted within one of your posts.
Your excellency may conceive my sensa
tion on this occasion, and will imagine
how much more must I have been affect
ed by a refusal to reconduct me back the
next night as I had been brought. Thus
become a prisoner, I had to concert my
escape. I quitted my uniform, and was
passed another way in the night, without
the American posts, to neutral ground,
and informed I was beyond all armed par
ties, and left to press for New York. T
was taken at Tarrytown by some volun

" Thus, as I have had the honor to re
late, was I betrayed (being adjutant-gen
eral of the British army) into the vile con
dition of an enemy in disguise within your

" Having avowed myself a British offi
cer, I have nothing to reveal but what
relates to myself, which is true, on the
honor of an officer and a gentleman.

" The request I have to make to your
excellency, and I am conscious I addres?
myself well, is, that in any policy rigor
may dictate, a decency of conduct toward
me may mark, that, though unfortunate,
I am branded with nothing dishonorable,



[PART n.

as no motive could be mine but the ser
vice of my king, and as I was involunta
rily an impostor.

" Another request is, that I may be per
mitted to write an open letter to Sir Henry
Clinton, and another to a friend for clothes
and linen.

" I take the liberty to mention the con
dition of some gentlemen at Charleston,
who, being either on parole or under pro
tection, were engaged in a conspiracy
against us. Though their situation is not
similar, they are objects who may be set
in exchange for me, or are persons whom
the treatment I receive might affect.

" It is no less, sir, in a confidence of the
generosity of your mind, than on account
of your superior station, that I have cho
sen to importune you with this letter.

" I have the honor to be, with great re
spect, sir, your excellency s most obedient
and most humble servant,

"JoiiN ANDRE, Adjutant-General

" His Excellency General WASHINGTON."

Andre immediately gave this letter to
Major Tallmadge to read, and, having as
sumed his real character, he regained his
usual cheerfulness of demeanor. Those
about him found him not only social and
communicative, but even exuberant of
gayety. Having refreshed himself by a
change of linen from the proffered toilet
of one of the American officers, the cap
tive felt and appeared like himself, and,
with his usual fertility of resource, con
tributed by his conversational talents and
other accomplishments to the enjoyment
of those who surrounded him. Taking
his pen, he began to exercise his skill at
sketching, and drew a humorous picture

of himself and his guard under march.
To Mr. Benson, a subaltern officer, whose
apartment he shared, he presented the
drawing, saying, " This will give you an
idea of the style in which I have had
the honor to be conducted to my present

Washington and his suite, it will be re
membered, had gone to Hartford, to con
fer with Count de Rochambeau and the
French admiral, and was accordingly ab
sent during the time when the occurren
ces which we have narrated took place.
Having been unable to effect anything of
importance by his conference, the com-
mander-in-chief had hastened back two
days sooner than he was expected by Ar
nold, and, having changed his route on
his return, reached Fishkill, only eighteen
miles from Arnold s headquarters, on the
very day when Sir Henry Clin
ton was to have sailed up the
Hudson to take possession of West Point.
Washington intended to have arrived at
Arnold s quarters (at the Robinson house)
the same night, and had actually set out ;
but, on riding two or three miles along
the road, he was met by the French min
ister, M. de la Luzerne, who was on his
way to visit Count de Rochambeau ; and,
as he expressed a great desire to converse
with the American chief on matters of
importance, he prevailed upon him to re
turn to Fishkill, wherG he spent the night.

Early on the following morn
ing, having sent forward the bag
gage, with a message to General Arnold
that they might be expected at breakfast,
Washington and his suite followed imme
diately on horseback. On arriving at a

Sept, 24,

Sept. 25,



place opposite to West Point, and in the
immediate neighborhood of the Robinson
house, Washington turned his horse down
a road which led to the river. " General,"
called out Lafayette, "you are going in
a wrong direction ; you know Mrs. Arnold
is waiting breakfast for us, and that road
will take us out of our way." "Ah !" re
plied Washington, laughingly,"! know
you young men are all in love with Mrs.
Arnold, and wish to get where she is as
soon as possible. You may go and take
your breakfast with her, and tell her not
to wait for me. I must ride down and
examine the redoubts on this side of the
river, and will be there in a short time."
The officers, however, remained with
Washington, with the exception of two
aids-de-camp, who were directed to go on
in advance, and explain the delay. On
the arrival of the aids at the Robinson
house, they found breakfast ready, and
General Arnold with his family waiting.
As Washington was not coming immedi
ately, they all sat down to the table ; but,
before they had finished, a messenger was
announced. He bore a letter for Arnold,
which he instantly opened and read while
at breakfast. The letter was from Colo
nel Jameson, at North Castle, written two

days before, and contained the

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 100 of 126)