Robert Tomes.

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

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Sept, 23, ./

intelligence 01 the capture or

"John Anderson" This was startling news
to Arnold. He suddenly turned pale, but
with wonderful self-control so stifled his
emotion as to excite no notice. Rising
from the table, the traitor coolly apolo
gized for his abrupt departure, by say
ing that he was suddenly sent for across
the river, and begged that the aids-de-


camp would mention the circumstance to
Washington on his arrival.

As Arnold went out, he beckoned to
his wife to follow him. He had no time
to spare : so he abruptly told her, when
they reached her apartment, that he must
leave her, and perhaps for ever, as his life
depended upon his escape at that mo
ment. Mrs. Arnold no sooner heard her
husband s words, than she fell senseless
Hastily kissing her and their infant child,
Arnold hurried down the stairs, and sent
to her assistance the messenger who had
brought Jameson s letter, probably in or
der to keep her away from the presence
of the other officers.*

The traitor, finding the horse of one of
Washington s aids-de-camp ready at the
door, sprang into the saddle, and rode
with all speed down a steep by-way, since
called "Arnold s Path," to the landing-place
of the river, where his barge was moored.
He jumped in, and ordered his six oars
men to pull with all their might into the
middle of the stream, telling them that
he was going to the British sloop-of-war
Vulture with a flag, and was in a hurry
to be back in time to meet General Wash
ington on his arrival. In order to keep
them well to their work, Arnold encour
aged them with a promise of two gallons
of rum. The men rowed with energy,
and Arnold, holding up a white handker
chief for a flag of truce, was soon placed
alongside of the Vulture, which lay off
Teller s Point, a little below her anchor
age where Andre left her. The traitor
had no sooner presented himself to the
captain, than he called in the coxswain

* Irving.



of his barge, and told him that he and
the rest of the men were prisoners. The
latter, however, declared that he and his
companions were not prisoners, as they
had come out under the protection of a
flag. The captain, who did not seem to
approve of Arnold s act, although he did
not interfere with his orders, told the cox
swain that he might go ashore on his pa
role, to obtain some clothing for himself
and the others. They were all finally re
leased on the arrival of the Vulture at
New York, by Sir Henry Clinton, who held
" in just contempt such a wanton act of
meanness" on the part of Arnold.*

The traitor had but just gone when
Washington rode up with his suite, and,
learning the supposed cause of his ab
sence, hurried through his breakfast, and
determined to cross over at once to West
Point. Here he expected to meet Arnold,
as the latter had left word with the aids-
de-camp that he had been suddenly sum
moned there. All Washington s officers
accompanied him, with the exception of
Colonel Hamilton, who remained behind
at the Robinson house, where all were
expected to return to dinner.

While crossing the river, Washington
remarked, as he looked upon the impres
sive scenery of the Hudson, " Well, gen
tlemen, I am glad, on the whole, that Gen
eral Arnold has gone before us, for we
shall now have a salute, and the roaring

* O

of the cannon will have a fine effect amon^


these mountains." As they approached
the fort, however, not a gun was heard !
"What!" exclaimed the commander-in-
chief, " do they not intend to salute us ?"

* Sparks.

Soon an officer was seen coming down
the bank to the shore. It was Colonel
Lamb, who, when he recognised the gen
eral, was greatly surprised, and apolo
gized for the apparent neglect of the
usual ceremonies, saying that the visit
was entirely unexpected.

"How is this, sir! is not General Ar
nold here?" abruptly exclaimed Washing
ton. " No, sir," answered the colonel ; " he
has not been here these two days, and I
have not heard from him during that
time." "This is extraordinary," rejoined
Washington, with an expression of sur
prise ; " we were told that he had crossed
the river, and that we should find him
here. However, we must not lose our
visit. Since we have come, we will look
around, and see how things are with you."

The commander-in-chief and his offi
cers having spent some time in inspecting
the fortress and garrison, crossed the riv
er again and returned to the landing-
place about four o clock in the
afternoon, after an absence of
several hours. As they went up the river-
bank toward the Robinson house, Colonel
Hamilton was seen to be coining down
hurriedly to meet them.

He at once singled out Washington,
and, taking him aside, spoke to him in a
low voice, but with an evident expression
of earnestness. They now hastened to
gether to the house, where the papers
which Colonel Jameson had scut, and also
Major Andrd s letter, had arrived, the im
portant revelations of which Hamilton
had just communicated to the generai-in-
chief. The messenger whom Jameson
had despatched with the papers found

Sept, 25,




upon the person of Andre* had taken the
"lower road" to Hartford, and had thus
missed Washington, who, as may be rec
ollected, returned by the upper one. The
messenger, discovering the fact in the
course of his journey, hastened by the
shortest route to West Point, which led
by Colonel Sheldon s post at North Sa
lem, where he arrived just in time to be
the bearer of Andre s letter, and delivered
it together with the papers of General
Arnold. When the messenger arrived at
the Robinson house, and spoke of his
packet being of the greatest importance,
Hamilton broke the seal, and read the
contents ; and now, on the return of the
commander-in-chief, he immediately sub
mitted them to him.

Washington acted promptly. He sent
off Hamilton, with directions to gallop in
{ill haste to Verplanck s Point, and order
the commander of that post to intercept
Arnold, if possible, as there could be no
doubt that he was going or had gone over
to the enemy. In the meantime, Wash
ington so completely retained his natural
composure of manner, that he bore no ap
pearance of agitation. The treason which
he had discovered he kept as a secret from
most of his officers, and only disclosed it
at the moment to General Knox and La
fayette. " Whom can we trust now ?" he
mournfully exclaimed to the young mar
quis. This was the only indication that
the patriot chief gave of the feeling with
which he contemplated the crime of Ar
nold. The same calmness marked his de
meanor throughout. On the announce
ment of dinner, he said, " Come, gentle
men, since Mrs. Arnold is unwell, and the

general is absent, let us sit down without
ceremony ;" and during the whole time
he was at table there was no observable
change in his usual habits.

Colonel Hamilton s ride to Verplanck s
Point was, of course, of no avail. Arnold,
having left at ten o clock, some six hours
before Washington was cognizant of the
cause of his absence, was safely on board
the Vulture. In fact, while Hamilton was
at the Point, a flag of truce arrived from
the sloop, with a letter from Arnold to
Washington, which was immediately sent
forward to the chief. The object of this
letter was, to entreat a kind consideration
for his wife, who, Arnold wrote, was " as
good and as innocent as an angel, and in
capable of doing wrong." He exonerated
Smith and his aids-de-camp from all com
plicity in his act, which, with a " heart
conscious of its own rectitude," he would
not condescend to palliate, nor ask any
favor for himself, for he had too often ex
perienced the ingratitude of his country
to attempt it. The Vulture im
mediately sailed down the river
to New York, where on the same night
the traitor held an interview with his new
commander-in-chief, Sir Henry Clinton,
and received the reward of his treachery ;
but the design against West Point, now
that the Americans were on the watch,
under the vigilant eye of their chief, was

Washington needed no letter from her
husband to engage his sympathies in be
half of Mrs. Arnold. Her position wrought
upon every manly heart. But one year
a mother, and not two a bride, the poor
young creature had received a blow of

Sept, 25,




the most appalling nature.* " She for a
considerable time," wrote Hamilton, " en
tirely lost herself. The general went up
to see her, and she upbraided him with
being in a plot to murder her child ! One
moment she raved, another she melted
into tears. Sometimes she pressed her
infant to her bosom, and lamented its
fate, occasioned by the imprudence of
its father, in a manner that would have
pierced insensibility itself. All the sweet
ness of beauty, all the loveliness of inno
cence, all the tenderness of a wife, and
all the fondness of a mother, showed them
selves in her appearance and conduct.

We have every reason to believe that she
was entirely unacquainted with the plan,
and that the first knowledge of it was
when Arnold went to tell her he must
banish himself from his country and from
her for ever. She instantly fell into con
vulsions, and he left her in that situa

The tenderest care was bestowed upon
the unfortunate lady by all in attendance
at the Robinson house, and she was soon
escorted in safety to Philadelphia, where,
after residing some time with her rela
tives and friends, she joined her husband
at New York.


Washington on his Guard. The Strengthening of Posts. Arrests. A Conversation with Major Andre. His Probable
Fate. The Case of Captain Nathan Hale. Civil Treatment. Strong Guards. A Court-Martial convened at Tap-
pan. Efforts to save Andre. The Prisoner before the Court. His Frank Confession. His Magnanimity and Deli
cacy. A Spy. Sentence of Death. Letter from Andre to Sir Henry Clinton. Offer of Exchange of Andre for
Arnold. Its Refusal. Unjust Suspicion against General St. Clair. A Jluse. The Suspicion cleared. A Cunning

the commander of every post on the Hud
son was directed to be particularly watch

Washington despatched an officer to
arrest Joshua Hett Smith (the guide of
Andre previous to his capture), and at
the same time sent orders to Colonel
Jameson to forward his prisoner under a


WASHINGTON, although of opinion
that, by the capture of Andre, the
purpose of General Arnold s treason had
been thwarted, carefully guarded against
danger by prudently providing every se
curity. General Greene, who had been
left in command of the army at Old Tap-
pan, in New Jersey, during the absence
of the chief at Hartford, was ordered to
march the left wing with all despatch to
King s ferry. The defences of West Point
were immediately manned, and put in the
best possible condition for resistance ; and

* Lossing.

* Mrs. Arnold had only arrived at West Point ten days
before the discovery of her husband s treason, and there was
no reason to suppose that she was at all cognizant of his
purpose. Some have, however (hut upon no better author
ity, we believe, than that of Aaron Burr), declared that she
was throughout well informed of Arnold s proceedings, and
that the tears and convulsive agonies were merely shams got
up for the occasion.




strong guard immediately to the Robin
son house. The summons reached North
Salem in the middle of the night; and
Andre, being aroused from his bed, was
hurried off in the darkness, while torrents
of rain were pouring down, to add to the
dismalness of the time. Early the next

morning, the captive arrived at
Sept, 26,

the Kobmsonhouse,where Wash
ington declined seeing him. The same
evening he was taken across the river to
West Point, where he remained for two
days, and was thence conveyed to the
American camp at Tappan.

When we left West Point for

o ... ,, - , . rl , , , i

Tappan, says Major Tallmadge,
who commanded the guard, " early in the
morning, as we passed down the Hudson
river to King s ferry, I placed Andre by
my side, on the after-seat of the barge.
I soon began to make inquiries about the
expected capture of our fortress, then in
full view, and begged him to inform me
whether he was to have taken a part in
the military attack, if Arnold s plan had
succeeded. He instantly replied in the
affirmative, and pointed me to a table of
land on the west shore, which he said
was the spot where he should have land
ed, at the head of a select corps. He then
traversed in idea the course up the mount
ain into the rear of Fort Putnam, which
overlooks the whole parade of West Point.
And this he did with much greater exact
ness than I could have done ; and as Ar
nold had so disposed of the garrison, that
little or no opposition could be made by
our troops, Major Andre supposed he
should have reached that commanding
eminence without difficulty. In

case, that important key of our country
would have been theirs [the enemy s],
and the glory of so splendid an achieve
ment would have been his.

"The animation with which he gave
the account I recollect perfectly delight
ed me, for he seemed as if he was enter
ing the fort sword in hand. To complete
the climax, I next inquired what was to
have been his reward, if he had succeed
ed. He replied that military glory was
all he sought ; and that the thanks of his
general, and the approbation of his king,
were a rich reward for such an underta
king. I think he further remarked that,
if he had succeeded (and, with the aid of
the opposing general, who could doubt
success?), he was to have been promoted
to the rank of brigadier-general.

" After we disembarked at King s ferry,
near Haverstraw, we took up our line of
march, with a fine body of horse, for Tap-
pan. Before we reached the Clove, Major
Andre became very inquisitive to know
my opinion as to the result of his capture.
In other words, he wished me to give him
candidly my opinion as to the light in
which he would be viewed by General
Washington and a military tribunal, if
one should be ordered. This was the
most unpleasant question that had been
propounded to me, and I endeavored to
evade it, unwilling to give him a true an
swer. When I could no longer evade his
importunity, or put off a full reply, I re
marked to him as follows:

" I had a much-loved classmate in Y;ile
college, by the name of Nathan Hale, who
entered the army in 1775. Immediately
after the battle of Long island, General



Washington wanted information respect
ing the strength, position, and probable
movements, of the enemy. Captain Hale
tendered his services, went over to Brook
lyn, and was taken just as he was passing
the outposts of the enemy on his return.
Said I with emphasis, ( Do you remember
the sequel of this story? Yes, said
Andre, he was hanged as a spy. But
you surely do not consider his case and
mine alike ? I replied, Yes, precisely
similar, and similar will be your fate !
He endeavored to answer my remark, but
it was manifest he was more troubled in
spirit than I had ever seen him before.

" We stopped at the Clove to dine, and
to let the horse-guard refresh. While
there, Andre kept reviewing his shabby
dress, and finally remarked to me that he
was positively ashamed to go to the head
quarters of the American army in such a
plight. I called my servant, and directed
him to bring my dragoon-cloak, which I
presented to Major Andre. This he re
fused to take for some time ; but I insist
ed on it, and he finally put it on, and rode
in it to Tappan."

Washington sent orders that the cap
tive should be carefully guarded, but at
the same time he added, I wish the room
for Major Andre to be a decent one, and
that he may be treated civilly." The pris
oner was accordingly confined to a single
room of the stone-house in which he was
imprisoned (but a short distance from the
headquarters of the commander-in-chief),
and out of which he was riot allowed to
go on any pretext whatever; and, in ad
dition to the usual guards, two officers,
with drawn swords, remained constantly

in the apartment, while the others were
ordered to " keep walking the entry and
around the sentries, to see that they are
alert." Andre not only received the ci
vility which Washington enjoined, but was
treated by every one with a kindness of
manner in accordance with the universal
sympathy felt for the accomplished young
officer who had been seduced to ruin by
that arch-traitor Arnold.

The commander-in-chief, having taken
every possible precaution at West Point
and on the Hudson, returned to the camp
at Tappan, and immediately convened a

board of fourteen general offi-

. b Sept, 29,

cers in the Dutch church near at

hand, to investigate the case of Major
Andre. It consisted of Major-Generals
Greene,Stirling,St.Clair, Lafayette, Howe,
and Steuben; and of Brigadiers Parsons,
James Clinton, Knox, Glover, Paterson,
Hand, Huntington, and Stark. General
Greene was president of the board ; and
Colonel John Lawrence, subsequently a
distinguished legislator and jurist, acted
as judge advocate-general.*

In the meantime, great efforts were be
ing made by the British commander, Sir
Henry Clinton, and the other officers, by
all of whom Andre was greatly beloved,
to obtain his release. Sir Henry s first
communication was merely a direct re
quest that his majesty s adjutant-general
might be permitted to return immediate
ly to his orders. This was, however, ac
companied by a letter from General Ar
nold, in which the whole responsibility of

* Colonel Lawrence was a member of Congress through
out President Washington s administration, and was then
appointed a judge of the district court of New York. He
was four years in the United Statos senate.



Sept, 29,

Andre s conduct was assumed by himself.
He had sent a flag of truce to bring him
on shore ; he had given him the papers
written by himself; he had directed him
to assume a feigned name, and he had
furnished him with a passport to go to
New York by White Plains. These were
acts which Arnold declared he himself
had not only done, but, being in com
mand, had a right to do : if wrong, there
fore, the traitor insisted that the respon
sibility should rest with him and not with
Major Andre.

The board assembled, and Andre was
brought before it. He was treated with
every indulgence, and w r as not
required to answer any interrog
atory which might embarrass his feelings.
The prisoner, in a few words, gave a nar
rative of the incidents which had occurred
from the time of his coming on shore to
his capture ; but, while he frankly con
fessed everything relating to himself, he
took care not to implicate others. His
delicacy in this particular was such, that
when General Greene spoke of Smith s
house as the place of meeting with Ar
nold, Andre quickly interposed, " I said a
house, sir, but I did not say whose house."
" True," replied Greene, "nor have we
any right to demand this of you, after the
condition we have allowed."

When Andre was asked whether, when
he came on shore, he considered himself
under the protection of a flag of truce, he
frankly declared that "it was impossible
for him to suppose he came on shore un
der the sanction of a flag ; and added that,
if became on shore under that sanction, he
might certainly have returned under it."

Without any examination of witnesses,
and from the prisoner s own confession
alone, the board reported that in its opin
ion Major Andre ought to be considered
a spy, and to suffer death accordingly.
When the decision was announced to the
captive, he received it with manly forti
tude, and remarked to Colonel Hamilton,
whose sympathies, with those of all the
younger officers, were warmly enlisted in
behalf of the condemned man : " I foresee
my fate, and, though I pretend not to play
the hero, or to be indifferent about life,
yet I am reconciled to whatever may hap
pen ; conscious that misfortune, not guilt,
has brought it upon me."

With a delicacy characteristic of Andre,
he seemed more sensible of the grief that
his condemnation might cause to others
than of the fatal consequences to himself.
To Sir Henry Clinton he wrote the fol
lowing letter:

"TAPPAN, 29 September, 1780.

"Sin: Your excellency is doubtless al
ready apprized of the manner in which I
was taken, and possibly of the serious
light in which my conduct is considered,
and the rigorous determination that is im

" Under these circumstances, I have ob
tained General Washington s permission
to send you this letter; the object of which
is to remove from your breast any suspi
cion that I could imagine I was bound by
your excellency s orders to expose my
self to what has happened. The events
of coming within an enemy s posts, and
of changing my dress, which led me to
rny present situation, were contrary to
my own intentions, as they were to your



[PART n.

orders ; and the circuitous route which I
took to return was imposed (perhaps un
avoidably) without alternative upon me.

"I am perfectly tranquil in mind, and
prepared for any fate to which an honest
zeal for my king s service may have de
voted me.

"In addressing myself to your excel
lency on this occasion, the force of all
my obligations to you, and of the attach
ment and gratitude I bear you, recurs to
me. With all the warmth of my heart,
I give you thanks for your excellency s
profuse kindness to me ; and I send you
the most earnest wishes for your welfare
which a faithful, affectionate, and respect
ful attendant, can frame.

" I have a mother and two sisters, to
whom the value of my commission would
be an object, as the loss of Grenada has
much affected their income. It is need
less to be more explicit on this subject ;
I am persuaded of your excellency s good

" I receive the greatest attention from
his excellency General Washington, and
from every person under whose charge I
happen to be placed.

" I have the honor to be, with the most
respectful attachment, your excellency s
most obedient and most humble servant,

" Adjutant- General."

Washington sent with this letter one
from himself to Sir Henry Clinton, in
which he announced the decision of the
board, and repeated the circumstances
which in his opinion justified it. There
was now but one hope for Major Andre.
Could the enemy be persuaded to deliver

up Arnold., then Andre would be set free.
Washington himself could hardly venture
to hope that a proposition to that effect
could be entertained, and he therefore
made no formal advances for the purpose.
Captain Aaron Ogden, however, was sent
with an escort to carry despatches to the
British post at Paulus Hook (now Jersey
City) for Sir Henry Clinton at New York,
and at the same time was authorized to
declare that Andre would be given in ex
change for Arnold. But the English com
mander would not listen to the sugges
tion for a moment.

As Captain Ogden was mustering his
escort to return to the American camp,
he found that the sergeant -was missing.
Seeking for him in vain, he came back
with the conclusion that he had lost the
man by desertion to the British. The
sergeant, however, was playing a part un
suspected by his captain, but in accord
ance with the direction of Washington,
who had prevailed upon him to enter the
enemy s lines, under the pretence of be
ing a deserter. The object of the com-
mander-in-chief was, to obtain information
in regard to the truth of a paper implica
ting General St. Clair in Arnold s treason,
and which had been intercepted. The
sergeant acted his part successfully, and
came back with the satisfactory intelli
gence that there was no foundation what
ever for the imputed treason ; and it was
inferred that the paper was a contrivance
of the enemy, to cause distrust and dis
sension in the American army. " The
treason of Arnold," says Lossing, "so un
expected and so appalling, aroused for a
moment the most unjust and ungenerous


suspicions against many of the most faith
ful republicans in and out of the army.
The old slanders against the unfortunate
St. Clair, propagated after his retreat from
Ticonderoga in 1777, were awakened from
their slumbers; and these, assuming a new
shape, were put into active circulation

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 101 of 126)