Robert Tomes.

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

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through anonymous letters and papers,
and other cowardly means. In them he
was charged with direct complicity with
the traitor. The mind of Washington
was disturbed, yet his sense of justice
would not allow him to condemn any
man, even by his own impressions, with
out ample proof of guilt. His tenderness
also would not allow him to accuse with

out a solid ground for belief of guilt ; and
he employed the trusty Major Henry Lee
(who was stationed upon the lines with
his dragoons) to investigate the matter
secretly. The result was, a full convic
tion of St. Glair s innocence.

" Colonel Richard Varick and Major
Franks, the aids of Arnold, were also in
cluded in those unjust suspicions : indeed,
almost every hour a malicious whisper
against the fidelity of the best men reach
ed the ear of the commander-in-chief. But
his uneasiness soon gave way to confi
dence and serenity ; and the treason of
Arnold served to make the true friends
of the cause of freedom more vigilant."


No Hope for Major Andre. Commissioners and Letters. Threats of Arnold. Unsuccessful Attempt to abduct the Trai
tor from the British Camp. Sergeant Champe. The Halter or a Ball. Affecting Letter of Andre" to Washington.
Stern Sense of Duty. The Hanging of Andr6. Description by an Eye-Witness. His Fortitude. Sight of the Gal
lows. Last Words. A Momentary Pang. The Burial. The Remains removed to England. A Monument in West
minster Abbey. Royal Honors. Sympathy of Americans. Monument at Tarrytown. Rewards of the Captors of
Andre. Their Conduct. Incorruptible Patriots. Their Graves. Rewards of Arnold. Contempt for Him by the
English. His Duel. Vicissitudes in the Life of Mrs. Arnold.


THERE was now no hope for Ma
jor Andre. Washington had ap
proved the sentence of the court-martial
which tried and condemned him, and had
signed his death-warrant. The time ap
pointed for his execution was the first of
October, at five o clock in the afternoon.
Sir Henry Clinton, however, still strove
to save the unfortunate youth; and the
execution was delayed one day, in con
sequence of a letter from the British com-

mander, asking for a conference between
commissioners on the subject, to be held
at Dobbs s ferry. That conference was
held, at which the British commissioners
endeavored to prove that Andre was not
a spy, and therefore did not merit the
penalty ; but nothing was presented by
the friends of the prisoner to warrant a
change in the decision of the court-mar

General Arnold now wrote another let-




ter to Washington, in which, as before,
he not only assumed the responsibility
of Andre s conduct, and claimed immuni
ty for him, but threatened retaliation in
case he should be executed. " If, after
this just and candid representation of
Major Andre s case," said Arnold, at the
close of his letter, " the board of general
officers adhere to their former opinion, I
shall suppose it dictated by passion and
resentment ; and if that gentleman should
suffer the severity of their sentence, I
shall think myself bound by every tie of
duty and honor to retaliate on such un
happy persons of your army as may fall
within my power, that the respect due to
flags, and to the law of nations, may be
better understood and observed.

" If this warning should be disregarded,
and he suffer, I call Heaven and earth to
witness that your excellency will be just
ly answerable for the torrents of blood
that may be spilt in consequence."

In the meanwhile, as the honor of the
British commander would not allow him
to deliver up Arnold in exchange for the
captive Andre, a scheme was finally laid
to abduct the traitor, convey him to the
American camp, and execute him. Spies
in New York informed the American com-
mander-in-chief of Arnold s quarters, his
habits, his hours of privacy, and the im
portant fact that he walked late every
night alone in a garden that led down to
the shore of the Hudson. Washington
sent for Major Henry Lee, a man in whom
he could confide implicit! y,,and asked his
aid in efforts to secure the traitor. Lee
selected Sergeant Champe, of his legion,
for the enterprise, who deserted by per

mission, went to New York, enlisted in
Arnold s corps, and matured a plan for
his abduction on some occasion when he
should be walking in the garden. Whale-
boats were to come from the Jersey shore
at a certain hour, when the traitor was to
be seized, gagged and bound, and carried
away. On the very day when the scheme
was to be executed, Arnold and his corps,
including Sergeant Champe, sailed on a
predatory expedition into Virginia, and
the plan failed. Some months afterward,
Champe deserted and rejoined his legion,
then in North Carolina.*

Andre, made aware of his fate, showed
neither surprise nor fear. He calmly
awaited his death, although he said that
there was still " a choice in the mode,"
which would make a material difference
in his feelings. He desired that he mi<z;ht


be shot, instead of being hung, as is usual
in the case of spies. To obtain this favor,
he wrote to Washington:

"TAPPAN, 1 October, 17 SO.

"Sin: Buoyed above the terror of death,
by the consciousness of a life devoted to
honorable pursuits, and stained with no
action that can give me remorse, I trust
that the request I make to your excel
lency at this serious period, and which is
to soften my last moments, will not be

"Sympathy toward a soldier will sure
ly induce your excellency and a military
tribunal to adapt the mode of my death
to the feelings of a man of honor.

" Let me hope, sir, that if aught in iny
character impresses you with esteem tow
ard me, if aught in my misfortunes marks

* Lossing.




me as the victim of policy and not of re
sentment, I shall experience the opera
tion of these feelings in your breast, by
being informed that I am not to die on a

" I have the honor to be your excellen
cy s most obedient and most humble ser


"JoiiN ANDRE."

Oct. 2.

This letter could not fail to impress
Washington, as it has done all who ever
read it, by its dignified pathos; but its
request was denied, from a stern sense of

The hour of Major Andre s execution
was fixed at twelve o clock. An
eye-witness thus described it:
"The principal guard-officer, who was con
stantly in the room with the prisoner, re
lates that when the hour of his execution
was announced to him in the morning, he
received it without emotion ; and, while
all present were affected with silentgloom,
he retained a firm countenance, with calm
ness and composure of mind. Observing
his servant enter the room in tears, he
exclaimed, Leave me till you can show
yourself more manly ! His breakfast be
ing sent to him from the table of General
Washington, which had been done every
day of his confinement, he partook of it
as usual ; and, having shaved and dressed
himself, he placed his hat on the table,
and cheerfully said to the guard-officers,
I am ready at any moment, gentlemen,
to wait on you.

" The fatal hour having arrived, a large
detachment of troops was paraded, and
an immense concourse of people assem
bled; almost all our general and field-

officers, excepting his excellency* and his
staff, were present on horseback ; melan
choly and gloom pervaded all ranks, and
the scene was affectingly awful. I was
so near during the solemn march to the
fatal spot as to observe every movement,
and participate in every emotion which
the melancholy scene was calculated to

" Major Andre walked from the stone-
house in which he had been confined, be
tween two of our subaltern officers, arm-
in-arm. The eyes of the immense mul
titude were fixed on him, who, rising su
perior to the fears of death, appeared as
if conscious of the dignified deportment
which he displayed. He betrayed no want
of fortitude, but retained a complacent
smile on his countenance, and politely
bowed to several gentlemen whom he
knew, which w r as respectfully returned.
It was his earnest desire to be shot, as
being the mode of death most conform
able to the feelings of a military man, and
he had indulged the hope that his request
would be granted. At the moment, there
fore, when suddenly he came in view of
the gallows, he involuntarily started back
ward, and made a pause. l Why this emo
tion, sir ? inquired an officer by his side.
Instantly recovering his composure, he
said, I am reconciled to my death, but I
detest the mode.

" While waiting, and standing near the
gallows, I observed some degree of trepi
dation ; placing his foot on a stone, and
rolling it over, and choking in his throat,
as if attempting to swallow. So soon,

* Washington is believed never to have seen Andre, or at
least to have held any direct personal intercourse with him.



[PART n.

however, as he perceived that things were
in readiness, he stepped quickly into the
wagon, and at this moment he appeared
to shrink ; but instantly elevating his head
with firmness he said, It will be but a
momentary pang ; and, taking from his
pocket two white handkerchiefs, the pro
vost-marshal with one loosely pinioned
his arms, and with the other the victim,
after taking off his hat and stock, band
aged his own eyes with perfect firmness,
which melted the hearts and moistened
the cheeks, not only of his servant, but
of the throng of spectators. The rope
being appended to the gallows, he slipped
the noose over his head and adjusted it
to his neck, without the assistance of the
awkward executioner. Colonel Scammel
now informed him that he had an oppor
tunity to speak, if he desired it. He raised
the handkerchief from his eyes, and said,
I pray you to bear me witness that I
meet my fate like a brave man. The
wagon being now removed from under
him, he was suspended, and instantly ex
pired ; it proved, indeed, but a moment
ary pang."*

Thus perished the brave, amiable, and
accomplished John Andre, at the early
age of twenty-nine years. The regiment
als in which he was executed were given
to his servant. His body was interred at
Tappan, near the place of execution, and
there it remained until 1821, when, under
the auspices of the duke of York (the next
younger brother of George IV., and com-
mander-in-chief of the British army), the
remains were removed to England, and
deposited in Westminster abbey.

* Thacher.

King George III., in order to wipe away
the stain of his mode of death from the
family, bestowed the order of knighthood
upon a younger brother, and ordered a
magnificent monument to be erected to
the memory of Andre in Westminster ab
bey, on which was inscribed a glowing

Sir Henry Clinton also paid the follow
ing tribute to his adjutant in his general
orders to the army on the occasion of his
death : " The unfortunate fate of this offi
cer calls upon the commander-in-chief to
declare that he ever considered Major An
dre a gentleman of the highest integrity
and honor, and incapable of any base ac
tion or unworthy conduct."

Even among the Americans there was
a sad feeling of regret at the necessity
which existed for the condemnation of
Andre. " While every one acquainted
with the facts," observes Lossing, "regard
ed the sentence as just, there was a uni
versal feeling of sympathy for the unfor
tunate young officer. In all the trying
scenes to which he was exposed, his de
portment was noble and winning. Death
appeared to have no terrors for him, but
he was deeply grieved at the manner in
which he was doomed to suffer. He dis
claimed all intentions to become a spy,
declaring that he was left within the
American lines by accident ; and upon
this plea some have predicated a severe
judgment concerning the part taken in
the matter by Washington and his gener
al officers. But the judgment of military
men, and those who have weighed all the
circumstances dispassionately, is, that the
sentence was just, and its execution expe



dient. Could the members of the court-
martial, with due regard to the good of
their country, have made a decision in
consonance with their feelings, he would
not have suffered death. In the army,
and among the people, there was a strong
desire to substitute Arnold for Andre;
and sympathy for the victim of a villain s
wiles has ever been a predominant feeling
in the breasts of Americans when consid
ering the treason of Arnold. That sym
pathy found expression a few years ago,
when a monument to the memory of the
unfortunate young officer was erected up
on the spot, at Tarry town, where he was
arrested by the three republicans."

The men who had captured Andre*
Paul ding, Van Wart, and Williams were
highly applauded for their noble spirit.
"Their conduct," said Washing
ton, in a letter to the president
of Congress, " merits our warmest esteem,
and I beg leave to add that I think the
public will do well to make them a hand
some gratuity. They have prevented, in
all probability, our suffering one of the
severest strokes that could have been
meditated against us." Congress acted
upon this suggestion, and generously re
warded each of the captors with a pen
sion for life of two hundred dollars, and
honored each with a silver medal, on one
side of which was inscribed Fidelity, and
on the other Vincit Amor Patrice "THE

Major Andre had stated that, when
these men first discovered him, they were
playing a game of cards ; and that, after
they had captured him, their sole object
seemed to be money. They ripped up

Oct. 7,

the housings of his saddle and the cape
of his coat, to seek for it; but, finding
none, one of the three exclaimed, " He
may have it in his boots !" Andre be
lieved that, if he could have given them
a small sum of money at first, he might
have escaped. Granting, however, as is
probable, that the first object of the cap
tors was money, there can be no question
that, when they discovered, by means of
the papers, the true character of their
prisoner, they resisted all appeals to their
own interests, and were constant to those
of their country. Their integrity was cer
tainly proof against bribery, and they de
serve to be recorded in history as incor
ruptible patriots. The remains of Pauld-
ing sleep beneath a handsome white mar
ble monument, in the burial-ground of
St. Peter s church, near Peekskill ; those
of Van Wart are under a similar monu
rnent in the Greenburg churchyard, near
the banks of the beautiful Neparan, in
Westchester county; and those of Wil
liams lie in the churchyard at Livings-
tonville, in Schoharie county.

Soon after the traitor s arrival in New
York, with the hope of alluring the dis
contented to his standard, he published
" an address to the inhabitants of Amer
ica," in which he endeavored to justify his
conduct. This was followed in about a
fortnight by a proclamation, addressed
" to the officers and soldiers of the conti
nental army, who have the real interest
of their country at heart, and who are de
termined to be no longer the tools of Congress
and of France" But these proclamations
did not in the least produce the effects



[PART n.

Arnold reaped the reward of his trea
son the elevated rank of brigadier-gen
eral in the British army, and the hand
some sum of ten thousand pounds ster-
lincr though it has been affirmed that

o O

he obtained only a portion of the money
stipulated for. In gaming these, however,
he lost everything else. He was looked
upon with contempt by those very per
sons who had sought to profit by his
treachery; and was taunted with being
the author of an abortive treason, in the
conception and partial execution of which
he stood alone, and as the only American
officer who forsook the cause of freedom,
turned his sword against his country, and
so left to his children " a name of hateful
celebrity." It is true he was employed
subsequently in the war, in consequence
of his military talents, and his acquaint
ance with the country ; and into the ser
vice of his royal purchaser the traitor now
entered with a ferocious spirit of revenge,
mercilessly ravaging the coast and sea
port towns of Virginia, and desolating
with fire and sword the property of his in
jured countrymen of Connecticut almost
within sight of his childhood s home : but
he never acquired the confidence of his
superiors, the friendship of his equals, nor
the respect of his inferiors. Indeed, he
was both hated and despised by his new
companions-in-arms. The British officers
shunned his society ; and the common sol
diers on guard, while acknowledging his
official rank with a salute, would whisper
to each other as he passed, "There goes
the traitor Arnold T

Thus wrote Colonel Laurens, in a letter
to Washington, concerning the death of

Andre : " Arnold must undergo a punish
ment comparatively more severe, in the
permanent, increasing torment of a men
tal hell." Washington, however, viewed
his case in a different light, and regarded
Arnold as callous. " He wants feeling,"
replied the chief. " He seems to have
been so hackneyed in villany, and so lost
to all sense of honor and shame, that,
while his faculties will enable him to con
tinue his sordid pursuits, there will be no
time for remorse."

On arriving in England, after the close
of the war, Arnold was recognised offi
cially as it were, by those in authority
only, while the rest of the world regarded
him with contempt. The British people,
though they might "love the treason, de
spised the traitor." On one occasion, as
Arnold was standing near the throne,
while a petition for a bill \vas being pre
sented in the usual form to the king, he
was observed by Lord Lauderdale, who,
when he returned to the house of peers,
declared that, " however gracious might
be the language he had heard from the
throne, his indignation could not but be
highly excited at beholding his majesty
supported by a traitor." On another oc
casion, the earl of Surrey, as he arose to
speak, caught a glimpse of Arnold in the
gallery, when he at once sat down, and,
with his finger pointed at him, exclaimed,
"I will not speak while that man is in
the house!"

It may well be conceived that Arnold,
with his revengeful spirit and reckless
physical courage, could ill brook such
contemptuous treatment, and that noth
ing but their privilege as peers saved



them from being held amenable to the
code of the duelist. One nobleman, how
ever, who had insulted Arnold, permitted
a friend to accept his challenge to fight.
The next morning, at the hour appoint
ed for the meeting, in a secluded quarter
of London, Arnold appeared promptly on
the ground, and his opponent somewhat
late. The parties having taken their re
spective positions, and the word to fire
about to be given, Arnold prematurely
discharged his pistol, but without hitting
his antagonist ; upon which the latter,
raising his weapon aloft, fired it in the
air, and then with a glance of scorn, cool
ly turned upon his heel, and left the spot.

Arnold resided principally in England
after the conclusion of the war ; though
he was for a while in Nova Scotia, where
he found a welcome among the refugee
American loyalists. He was afterward
in the West Indies, where he was taken
prisoner by the French ; but, making his
escape, he returned to England, and end
ed his life in comparative obscurity, in
Gloucester place, London, June 14,

A spirit of avarice seems to have been

the ruling trait in the character of Ar
nold. When Washington learned the de
fection of his general, he was almost over
whelmed by the discovery; but calling
to mind Arnold s habits of extravagance
and his peculations, he said, " I thought
that a man who had shed his blood in
the cause of his country could be trusted,
but I am convinced now that those tuho
are wanting in private probity are unworthy
of public confidence."

The unfortunate wife of the traitor
became an exile from her country, and
shared in a degree the coldness of pub
lic feeling abroad toward her husband.
When she returned to Philadelphia, at
the time of his treason, she resolved to
separate from him for ever; but the ex
ecutive council of Pennsylvania, sus
pecting her of complicity in his commu
nications with Andre (it being known
that she had corresponded with that offi
cer before her marriage), would not con
sent, and ordered her to leave the state
within fourteen days, and not return
again during the war. Joining her hus
band in New York, she went with him
to Nova Scotia, and thence to England.


[PART u.


Lord Cornwallis in Camp at Camden. A Savage Proclamation. Cruelty to Prisoners. Awe not Subjection. Marion
in the Swamps. Spirit of the Patriots. Victory of Britton s Neck. Tarleton "on a Fox-Hunt." The British beaten
at Broad River. Sumterat Black Stocks. Victory. Sumter wounded. Ferguson on his March. The "Mountain-
Men." An Appeal to the Loyalists. Ferguson posted on King s Mountain. The March of the Mountain-Men.
Campbell, of Virginia. His Life and Character. The Farmers astir. A Grim Audience. King s Mountain. De
scription. Order of Attack. The Struggle. The Fourth Charge. Desperate Fight. The Last Charge. Fall of
Ferguson. Victory of the Patriots. Death of Edmonston. The Results.

LORD CORNWALLIS, triumphant as

lie had been at Camden over Gen
eral Gates, on the 16th of August, did not
immediately pursue his conquests. The
extreme heat of the weather, and the
want of supplies, kept him in his camp at
Camden. His lordship, however, was ac
tive in preparations for the coming cam
paign. He sent his emissaries into North
Carolina, to encourage the loyalists there
to take up arms and assemble, with the
promise of soon marching to their sup

In the meantime, every measure of rig
or was adopted which might be supposed
effective in crushing out the remnants of
"rebellion" in the Carolinas. A savage
proclamation was issued by the earl, ac
cording to which all those who, after hav
ing once submitted, had again taken up
arms against the king, were to be impris
oned, and their property taken from them
or destroyed ; and every militiaman who
had once served with the British, and af
terward joined the Americans, was threat
ened with immediate hanging! These
cruel threats, however, instead of effect
ing his lordship s object of extinguishing

the " rebellion," gave the strength of des
peration to resistance.

No measure of Lord Cornwallis was
more odious and more exasperating than
his treatment of the prisoners taken on
the fall of Charleston. Finding letters
from some of these in the baggage which
had fallen into his hands after the defeat
of Gates, the earl charged them with hav
ing broken their parole, and made this
accusation a cover for the greatest severi
ty. Regardless of his previous promises,
he caused many of the leading republi
cans of South Carolina, including Christo
pher Gadsden, the lieutenant-governor of
the state, Doctor David Ramsay, the his
torian of the war, most of the civil and
militia officers, and a large number of the
principal inhabitants of Charleston, about
sixty in all, to be dragged from
their beds early in the morning
by armed parties ; and, after being mus
tered at the public exchange, they were
hurried on board a guard-ship and trans
ported to St. Augustine, in Florida, where
they were subjected equally to bondage
and every form of indignity, and kept as
I so many hostages for the good behavior

Aug. 27,



of the citizens. After Major Andre s ex
ecution, these hostages were frequently
threatened with the halter, in retaliation
for the fate of that officer. The deter
mination of the British commander ap
peared to be to annihilate the spirit of
independence by trampling upon the per
sons of its best asserters. On their arri
val at St. Augustine, the prisoners were
offered paroles to enjoy liberty within the
precincts of the town. The sturdy pa
triot Gadsderi refused acquiescence, for
he disdained making further terms with
a power that did not regard the sanctity
of a solemn treaty. He was determined
not to be deceived a second time. " Had
the British commanders," said the lieu
tenant-governor, " regarded the terms of
capitulation. at Charleston, I might now,

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 102 of 126)