The complot of Sir Henry Clinton
Desultory movements of the British
can troops in the North
during the winter of 1780 were baffled by unwonted cold and deep snows.
and the East
river were covered with solid ice, but Knyphausen
provided for the safety of New York by forming battalions of the loyal inhabitants and refugees.
Besides; the American
army, whose pay was in arrear and whom congress could not provide with food, was too feeble to hazard an attack.
In May the continental troops between the Chesapeake
amounted only to seven thousand men; in the first week of June, those under the command of Washington
, present and fit for duty, numbered but three thousand seven hundred and sixty.
On the twenty-eighth of May, the official report
of the surrender of Charleston
refugees insisted that the men of New Jersey
of compulsory requisitions of supplies, longed to return to their old form of government; and English generals reported so great disaffection among the starved and half-clothed American officers and men, that one-half of them would desert to the English
and the other half disperse.
The moment seemed opportune for setting up the royal standard in New Jersey
Strengthening the post at Kingsbridge
, and leaving only three regiments in New York, Knyphausen
formed nineteen regiments into three divisions under Robertson
, and Stachenberg, with an advanced guard under General Matthews
Of artillery he took eight pieces.
The army of Washington
was encamped at Morristown
On the east of the Passaic
, the Jersey
brigade under General Maxwell
was stationed at Connecticut Farms, and three hundred of the Jersey
militia occupied Elizabethtown
On the sixth of June, the Brit-
ish landed at Elizabethtown Point, but very slowly, from a scarcity of boats.
The brigadier who commanded the vanguard was early wounded and disabled.
Seven hours were lost in bridging a marsh which stopped their way. On the morning of the seventh, the American
militia, under Colonel Dayton
having had timely warning, retired before the enemy from Elizabethtown
; but with the aid of volunteers from the country people, who flew to arms, and of small patrolling parties of continental troops, they harassed the British
all the way on their march of five or six miles to Connecticut Farms.
, the presbyterian minister of that place, was known to have inspired his people with his own
A British soldier, putting his gun to
the window of the house where Caldwell
's wife was sitting with her children, one of them a nursling, shot her fatally through the breast.
Scarcely was time allowed to remove the children and the corpse from the house when it was set on fire.
The presbyterian meeting-house and the houses and barns of the village were burned down.
In the winter the presbyterian church at Newark
had in like manner been burned to the ground.
From Connecticut Farms, Maxwell
, with the remnant of a brigade, retreated to strong ground near Springfield
, where he awaited and repelled repeated attacks made by Colonel Wurmb
with a Hessian regiment.
Thrice did the Americans
charge with fixed bayonets; and they retired only on the arrival of a British brigade, the Hessian yagers alone having lost more than fifty killed or wounded.
Instead of men eager to return to their old allegiance, the British
encountered a people risking all to preserve their independence; suffered losses all the day from determined troops; and at five in the afternoon found that Washington
, on hearing that they were out in force, had brought in front of them a brave and faithful army, formed on ground of his own choice.
, though his command outnumbered the Americans
two to one, declined to attack, where victory must have cost dearly, and defeat would have been disastrous.
Learning at this moment that Clinton
with large numbers might be expected at New York within a week, he resolved to attempt nothing more; and at nine o'clock in the evening his army began a retreat to Elizabethtown
An American detachment, sent at break of
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. June 8.
day in pursuit, drove the twenty-second English regiment out of Elizabethtown
and returned without being molested.
In general orders Dayton
‘received particular thanks.’
At this time a committee from congress was in the American
camp, to whom Washington
explained the hardships of his condition.
Not only had congress accomplished nothing for the relief and re-enforcement of his army, it could not even tell how far the several states would comply with the requisitions made on them.
While awarding liberal praise to the militia of New Jersey
, he renewed his constant plea for regular troops: ‘Perseverance in enduring the rigors of military service is not to be expected from those who are not by profession obliged to it. Our force, from your own observation, is totally inadequate to our safety.’2
On the nineteenth of June, two days after his
arrival in New York, Clinton
repaired to New Jersey
He had now at his disposition nearly four times as many regular troops as were opposed to him; but he fretted at ‘the move in Jersey
as premature,’ and what he ‘least expected.’3
With civil words to the German officers, he resolved to give up the expedition; but he chose to mask his retreat by a feint, and to give it the air of a military manoeuvre.
Troops sent up the Hudson river
as if to take the Americans
in the rear induced Washington
to move his camp to Rockaway bridge, confiding the post at Short Hills
to two brigades under the command of
Early on the twenty-third, the British
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. June 23.
advanced in two compact divisions from Elizabethtown Point to Springfield
The column on the right had to ford the river before they could drive Major Lee
from one of the bridges over the Passaic
At the other, Colonel Angel
with his regiment held the left column in check for about forty minutes. Greene
prepared for action; but the British
army, though it was drawn up and began a heavy cannonade, had no design to engage; and at four in the afternoon, after burning the houses in Springfield
, it began its return.
All the way back to Elizabethtown
, it was annoyed by an incessant fire from American skirmishers and militia.
Its total loss is not known; once more the Hessian yagers lost fifty in killed or wounded, among the latter one colonel, two captains, and a lieutenant.
From Elizabethtown Point the fruitless expedition crossed to Staten Island
by a bridge of boats, which at midnight was taken away.
was never again to have so good an opportunity for offensive operations as that which he had now rejected.
On the return of d'estaing from America
, he urged the French
ministry to send twelve thousand men to the United States
, as the best way of pursuing the war actively; and Lafayette
had of his own motion given the like advice to Vergennes
, with whom he had formed relations of friendship.
The cabinet adopted the measure in its principle, but vacillated as to the number of the French
For the command Count de Rochambeau
was selected, not by court favor, but from the consideration in which he was held by the troops.4
On the tenth
of July, Admiral de Ternay
with a squadron of ten
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. July 10.
ships of war, three of them ships of the line, convoyed the detachment of about six thousand men with Rochambeau
into the harbor of Newport
To an address from the general assembly of Rhode Island
, then sitting in Newport
, the count answered: ‘The French troops are restrained by the strictest discipline; and, acting under General Washington
, will live with the Americans
as their brethren.
I assure the general assembly that, as brethren, not only my life, but the lives of the troops under my command, are entirely devoted to their service.’
in general orders desired the American
officers to wear white
cockades as a symbol of affection for their allies.
The British fleet at New York having received a large re-enforcement, so that it had now a great superiority, Sir Henry Clinton
embarked about eight thousand men for an expedition against the French
in Rhode Island
Supported by militia from Massachusetts
, the French
longed for the threatened attack; but the expedition proceeded no further than Huntington Bay
in Long Island
, where it idled away several days, and then returned to New York.
Of the incapacity of Arbuthnot, the admiral, Clinton
sent home bitter complaints, which were little heeded.
There were those who censured the general as equally wanting energy.
The sixth summer during which the British
had vainly endeavored to reduce the United States
was passing away, and after the arrival of French auxiliaries the British
commander-in-chief was more than ever disheartened.
On the twenty-fifth of August, 1780, Clinton
knowing well that he had in Cornwallis a favored
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. Aug. 25.
rival eager to supplant him, reported officially from New York: ‘At this new epoch in the war, when a foreign force has already landed and an addition to it is expected, I owe to my country, and I must in justice to my own fame declare to your lordship, that I become every day more sensible of the utter impossibility of prosecuting the war in this country without re-enforcements.
The revolutions fondly looked for by means of friends to the British
government I must represent as visionary.
These, I well know, are numerous, but they are fettered.
An inroad is no countenance, and to possess territory demands garrisons.
The accession of friends, without we occupy the country they inhabit, is but the addition of unhappy exiles to the list of pensioned refugees.
A glance at the returns of the army divided into garrisons and reduced by casualties on the one part, with the consideration of the task yet before us on the other, would, I fear, renew the too just reflection, that we are by some thousands too weak to subdue this formidable rebellion.’
Yet for the moment the only regiments sent to the United States
were three to re-enforce Lord Cornwallis.
Hopeless of success in honorable warfare, Clinton
stooped to fraud and corruption.
From the time when officers who stood below Arnold
were promoted over his head, discontent rankled in his breast and found expression in threats of revenge.
After the northern campaign, he complained more than ever that his services had not been sufficiently rewarded.
While he held the command in Philadelphia
, his extravagant mode of living tempted
him to peculation and treasonable connections; and
towards the end of February, 1779, he let it be known to the British
commander-in-chief that he was desirous of exchanging the American
service for that of Great Britain
His open preference for the friends of the English
disgusted the patriots.
The council of that state, after bearing with him for more than half a year, very justly desired his removal from the command; and, having early in 1779 given information of his conduct, against their intention they became his accusers.
The court-martial before which he was arraigned, on charges that touched his honor and integrity, dealt with him leniently, and sentenced him only to be reprimanded by the commander-in-chief
The reprimand was marked with the greatest forbearance.
The French minister, to whom Arnold
applied for money, put aside his request and added wise and friendly advice.
In the course of the winter of 1778-1779, he was taken into the pay of Clinton
, to whom he gave on every occasion most material intelligence.
The plot received the warmest encouragement from Lord George Germain
, who, towards the end of
September, wrote to Clinton
: ‘Next to the destruction of Washington
's army, the gaining over officers of influence and reputation among the troops would be the speediest means of subduing the rebellion and restoring the tranquillity of America
Your commission authorizes you to avail yourself of such opportunities, and there can be no doubt that the expense will be cheerfully submitted to.’5
In 1780, the command at West Point
needed to be
Acting in concert with Clinton
, and supported by the New York delegation in congress, Arnold
, pleading his wounds as an excuse for declining active service, solicited and obtained orders to that post, which included all the American
forts in the Highlands.
entered with all his soul into the ignoble plot which, as he believed, was to end the war. After a correspondence of two months between him and the British
commander-in-chief, through Major John Andre
of the army in North America
, on the thirtieth of August, Arnold
insisting that the advantages which he expected to gain for himself by his surrender were ‘by no means unreasonable,’ and requiring that his conditions should ‘be clearly understood,’ laid a plan for an interview at which a person ‘fully authorized’ was to ‘close with’ his proposals.
The rendezvous was given by him within the American
lines, where Colonel Sheldon
held the command; and that officer was instructed to expect the arrival ‘at his quarters of a person in New York to open a channel of intelligence.’
On the same day,
, disguising his name, wrote to Sheldon
New York by order of Clinton
: ‘A flag will be sent to Dobbs Ferry
on Monday next, the eleventh, at twelve o'clock. Let me entreat you, sir, to favor a matter which is of so private a nature that the public on neither side can be injured by it. I trust I shall not be detained, but I would rather risk that than neglect the business in question, or assume a mysterious character to carry on an innocent affair and get to your lines by stealth.’
To this degree could the British
commander-in-chief prostitute his word and a flag of truce, and lull the suspicions of the American
officer by statements the most false.
The letter of Andre
being forwarded to Arnold
, he ‘determined to go as far as Dobbs Ferry
and meet the flag.’
As he was approaching the vessel in which Andre
came up the river, the British
guard-boats whose officers were not in the secret fired upon his barge and prevented the interview.
became only more interested in the project, for of a sudden he gained a great fellow-helper.
At the breaking out of the war between France
, Sir George Rodney
, a British naval officer, chanced to be detained in Paris
But the aged Marshal de Biron
advanced him money to set himself free, and he hastened to England
to ask employment of the king.
He was not a member of parliament, and was devoted to no political party; he reverenced the memory of Chatham
, and yet held the war against the United States
to be just.
A man of action, quick-sighted, great in power of execution, he was just the officer whom a wise government would employ, and whom by luck the British
that day, tired of the Keppels and the Palisers, the
mutinous and the incompetent, put in command of the expedition that was to relieve Gibraltar
and rule the seas of the West Indies
. One of the king's younger sons served on board his fleet as midshipman.
He took his squadron to sea on the twenty-ninth of December, 1779.
On the eighth of January, 1780,
he captured seven vessels of war and fifteen sail of merchantmen.
On the sixteenth, he encountered off Cape St. Vincent
, the Spanish squadron of Languara, very inferior to his own, and easily took or destroyed a great part of it. Having victualled the garrison of Gibraltar
, and relieved Minorca, on the thirteenth
of February he set sail for the West Indies
At St. Lucie he received letters from his wife, saying: ‘Everybody is beyond measure delighted as well as astonished at your success;’ from his daughter: “Everybody almost adores you, and every mouth is full of your praise; come back when you have done some more things in that part of the world you are in now.”
The thanks of both houses of parliament reached
him at Barbadoes
In April and May, Rodney
had twice or thrice encounters with the French fleet of Admiral Guichen
, and with such success that in a grateful mood the British parliament thanked him once more.
Yet he did not obtain a decided superiority in the West Indian seas, and he reported to the admiralty as the reason, that his flag had not been properly supported by some of his officers.
With indifference to neutral rights, he sent frigates to seize or destroy all American vessels in St. Eustatius.
In June, he received a check by a Junc-
tion of the Spanish squadron under Solano with the
But the two admirals could not agree how their forces should be employed.
Contagious fever attacked the Spaniards, and reached the French
Solano returned to Havana
, whose squadron was anxiously awaited in the north, sailed for France
alone, passing to the north and recapturing a ship from Charleston
, anchored off Sandy Hook
, where he vexed the weak Admiral Arbuthnot
by taking command of the station of New York during his short stay.
To the vast superiority of the British
on land, was now added the undisputed dominion of the water.
In aid of the enterprise by which Sir Henry Clinton
expected to bring the war to an immediate close, Rodney
contributed his own rare powers; and perfect harmony prevailed between the two branches of the service.
On the eighteenth of September, Washington
crossed the North River
on his way from headquarters near Tappan
, where, attended by Lafayette
, he was to hold his first interview with General Rochambeau
He was joined on the river by Arnold
, who accompanied him as far as Peekskill
, and endeavored, though in vain, to obtain his consent for the reception of an agent on pretended business relating to confiscated property.
Had the consent been given, the interview with Andre
would have taken place under a flag of truce, seemingly authorized by the American
Time pressed on. Besides; Sir George Rodney
had only looked in upon New York, and would soon return to the West Indies
On the evening of the
, giving information that Washing-
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. Sept. 18.
ton on the following Saturday night was expected to be his guest at West Point
, proposed that Andre
should immediately come up to the ‘Vulture,’ ship of war, which rode at anchor just above Teller
's point, in Haverstraw bay
, promising on Wednesday evening ‘to send a person on board with a boat and a flag of truce.’
This letter of Arnold
evening, and he took his measures without delay.
Troops were embarked on the Hudson river
under the superintendence of Sir George Rodney
, and the embarkation disguised by a rumor of an intended expedition into the Chesapeake
On the morning of the twentieth, the British
jutant-general, taking his life in his hand, prepared to carry out his orders.
To diminish the dangers to which the service exposed him, ‘the commanderin-chief, before his departure, cautioned him not to change his dress, and not to take papers.’
At Dobbs Ferry
, he embarked on the river, and, as the tide was favorable, reached the ‘Vulture’ at about an hour after sunset, and declared to its captain ‘that he was ready to attend General Arnold
's summons when and where he pleased.’
‘The night the flag was first expected, he ex-
pressed much anxiety for its arrival,’ and, as it did not come, on the morning of the twenty-first by an ingenious artifice he let Arnold
know where he was. On the ensuing night one Smith
, in a boat with
muffled oars, went off from the western shore of the Hudson
to the ‘Vulture.’
‘The instant Andre
learned that he was wanted, he started out of bed
and discovered the greatest impatience to be gone.
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. Sept. 22.
Nor did he in any instance betray the least doubt of his safety and success.’
The moon, which had just passed into the third quarter, shone in a clear sky when the boat pushed for the landing-place near the upper edge of the Haverstraw mountains
It was very near the time for day to appear, when Andre
, dressed in regimentals, which a large blue cloak concealed, landed at the point of the Long Clove
, where Arnold
was waiting in the bushes to receive him. The general had brought with him a spare horse; and the two rode through the village of Haverstraw
within the American
lines to the house of Smith
, which lay a few miles from the river.
At the dawn of day, the noise of artillery was heard.
An American party had brought field-pieces to bear on the ‘Vulture;’ and Arnold
, as he looked out from the window, saw her compelled to shift her anchorage.
The negotiations of the two parties continued for several hours.
was in person to bring his army to the siege of Fort Defiance
, which enclosed about seven acres of land.
The garrison was to be so distributed as to destroy its efficiency.
was to send immediately to Washington
for aid, and to surrender the place in time for Sir Henry Clinton
to make arrangements for surprising the re-enforcement, which it was believed Washington
would conduct in person.6
It was no part of the plan to risk surprising Washington
while a guest at West Point
The promises to Arnold
were indemnities in money and the rank of brigadier in the British
American general returned to his quarters.
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. Sept. 22.
the afternoon Andre
, changing his dress for the disguise of a citizen, provided with passes from Arnold
and attended by Smith
, set off by land for New York.
Four years before, Washington
had sailed between the Highlands, where nature blends mountains and valleys and the deep river in exceeding beauty; and he had selected for fortification the points best adapted to command the passage.
In 1778, it was still a desert, nearly inaccessible; now it was covered with fortresses and artillery.
alone was defended by a hundred and twenty pieces of cannon, and was believed to be impregnable.
Here were magazines of powder and ammunition, completely filled, for the use not of the post only, but of the whole army.
The fortifications built by a nation just rising into notice, seemingly represented a vast outlay in money.
With prodigious labor, huge trunks of trees and enormous hewn stones were piled up on steep rocks.
All this had been done without cost to the state by the hands of the American
soldiers, who were pervaded by a spirit as enthusiastic and as determined as that of the bravest and most cultivated of their leaders; and who received for their work not the smallest gratification, even when their stated pay remained in arrear.7
And these works, of which every stone was a monument of humble, disinterested patriotism, were to be betrayed to the enemy with all their garrison.
On that same evening Washington
, free from suspicion, was returning to his army.
He had met
and Admiral de Ternay
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. Sept. 22.
‘The interview was a genuine festival for the French
, who were impatient to see the hero of liberty.
His noble mien, the simplicity of his manners, his mild gravity, surpassed their expectations and gained for him their hearts.’
All agreed that, for want of a superiority at sea, active operations could not be begun; so that the meeting served only to establish friendship and confidence between the officers of the two nations.
Washington on his return was accompanied a day's journey by Count Dumas
, one of the aids of Rochambeau
The population of the town where he was to spend the night went out to meet him. A crowd of children, repeating the acclamations of their elders, gathered around him, stopping his way, all wishing to touch him and with loud cries calling him their father.
Pressing the hand of Dumas
, he said to him: ‘We may be beaten by the English
in the field; it is the lot of arms: but see there the army which they will never conquer.’
At this very time Andre
, conducted by Smith
, crossed the Hudson river
It was already dark before they passed the American
post at Verplanck
's point under the excuse that they were going up the river, and to keep up that pretence they turned in for the night near Crompond
early on the twenty-third, they were in the saddle.
Two miles and a half north of Pine's Bridge, over the Croton
, assuring Andre
that the rest of the way he would meet only British parties, or cow boys as they were called, and having charged him to take the inner route to New York through the valley of the Bronx
by way of White Plains
, near which the British
had an outpost, bade him farewell and rode up to
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. Sept. 23.
dine with Arnold
at his quarters.
At a fork in the road about six miles below the Croton
, quitting the road to White Plains
, took that which led over the hills and entered the highway from Albany
to New York at a short distance above Tarrytown
He now thought himself beyond all danger, and according to his own account he believed himself to be the bearer of a plan that would bring the civil war to an immediate end. The British troops, embarked by Sir George Rodney
, lay waiting for Clinton
to give the word and to lead them in person.
It happened that John Paulding
, a poor man, then about forty-six years old, a zealous patriot who had served his country from the breaking out of the war, and had twice suffered captivity, had lately escaped from New York and had formed a little corps of partisans to annoy roving parties, taking provisions to New York, or otherwise doing service to the British
On that morning, after setting a reserve of four to keep watch in the rear, he and David Williams
and Isaac van Wart
seated themselves in the thicket by the wayside, just above Tarrytown
, and whiled away the time by playing cards.
At an hour before noon, Andre
was just rising the hill out of Sleepy Hollow
, within fifteen miles of the strong British post at King's Bridge
, when Paulding
got up, presented a firelock at his breast, and asked which way he was going.
Full of the idea that he could meet none but friends to the English
, he answered: ‘Gentlemen, I hope you belong to our party?’
‘The lower party,’ said Andre
he did. Then said Andre
: ‘I am a British officer,
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. Sept. 23.
out on particular business, and I hope you will not detain me a minute.’
Upon this Paulding
ordered him to dismount.
Seeing his mistake, Andre
showed his pass from Arnold
, saying: ‘By your stopping me, you will detain the general's business.’
‘I hope,’ answered Paulding
, ‘you will not be offended; we do not mean to take anything from you. There are many bad people going along the road; perhaps you may be one of them;’ and he asked if he had any letters about him. Andre
I They took him into the bushes to search for papers, and at last discovered three parcels under each stocking.
Among these were a plan of the fortifications of West Point
; a memorial from the engineer on the attack and defence of the place; returns of the garrison, cannon, and stores, all in the handwriting of Arnold
‘This is a spy,’ said Paulding
offered a hundred guineas, any sum of money, if they would but let him go. ‘No,’ cried Paulding
, ‘not for ten thousand guineas.’
They then led him off, and, arriving in the evening at North Castle, they delivered him with his papers to Lieutenant Colonel Jameson
, who commanded the post, and then went their way, not asking a reward for their services, nor leaving their names.
What passed between Andre
is not known.
The result of the interview was, that on the twenty-fourth the prisoner was ordered by Jameson
to be taken to Arnold
; but on the sharp remonstrance of Major Tallmadge
, the next in rank, the order was countermanded, and he was confined at
Old Salem, yet with permission to inform Arnold
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. Sept. 25.
letter of his arrest.
His letter was received on the twenty-fifth, too late for an order to be given for his release, and only in time for Arnold
himself to escape down the river to the ‘Vulture.’
, who had turned aside to examine the condition of the works at West Point
, arrived a few hours after his flight.
The first care of the commander-in-chief
was for the safety of the post.
The extent of the danger appeared from a letter of the twenty-fourth, in which Andre
avowed himself to be the adjutant-general
of the British
army, and offered excuses for having been ‘betrayed into the vile condition of an enemy in disguise’ within his posts.
He added: ‘The request I have to make to your Excellency
, and I am conscious I address myself well, is, that, in any rigor policy may dictate, a decency of conduct towards me may mark, that, though unfortunate, I am branded with nothing dishonorable, as no motive could be mine but the service of my king, and as I was unvoluntarily an impostor.’
This request was granted in its full extent, and in the whole progress of the affair he was treated with the most scrupulous delicacy.9 Andre
further wrote: ‘Gentlemen at Charleston
on parole were engaged in a conspiracy against us; they are objects who may be set in exchange for me, or are persons whom the treatment I receive might affect.’
The charge of conspiracy against Gadsden
and his fellow-sufferers was groundless; and had been brought forward only as an excuse for shipping them away from the city, where their mere presence
kept the love of independence alive.
Chap. XVIII.} 1780. Sept. 25.
security by a threat of retaliation on innocent men was an unworthy act which received no support from Sir Henry Clinton
was without loss of time conducted to the headquarters of the army at Tappan
His offence was so clear that it would have justified the promptest action; but, to prevent all possibility of complaint from any quarter, he was, on the twenty-ninth, brought before a numerous and very able board of
officers. On his own confession and without the examination of a witness, the board, on which sat Greene
, second only to Washington
in the service; St. Clair
, afterwards president of congress; Lafayette
, of the French
, from the staff of Frederic the Second; Parsons
, and others, all well known for their uprightness,—made their unanimous report that Major Andre
of the British
army, ought to be considered as a spy from the enemy and to suffer death.
Throughout the inquiry Andre
was penetrated with the liberality of the members of the court, who showed him every mark of indulgence, and required him to answer no interrogatory which could even embarrass his feelings.10
He acknowledged their generosity in the strongest terms of manly gratitude, and afterwards remarked to one who visited him, that if there were any remains in his mind of prejudice against the Americans
, his present experience must obliterate them.11
On the thirtieth the sentence was approved by Washington
, and ordered to be carried into effect
the next day. Clinton
had already in a note to
Chap. XVIII.} 1780 Sept. 30.
release, as one who had been protected by ‘a flag of truce and passports granted for his return.’
had himself, in his examination before the board of officers, repelled the excuse which Clinton
made for him; and indeed to have used a flag of truce for his purposes would have aggravated his offence.
replied by enclosing to the British
commander-in-chief the report of the board of inquiry, and observed ‘that Major Andre
was employed in the execution of measures very foreign to flags of truce, and such as they were never meant to authorize.’
At the request of Clinton
, who promised to present ‘a true state of facts,’ the execution was delayed till
the second day of October, and General Robertson
, attended by two civilians, came up the river for a conference.
The civilians were not allowed to land; but Greene
was deputed to meet the officer.
Instead of presenting facts, Robertson
, after compliments to the character of Greene
, announced that he had come to treat with him. Greene
answered: ‘The case of an acknowledged spy admits no official discussion.’
then proposed to free Andre
by an exchange.
answered: ‘If Andre
is set free, Arnold
must be given up;’ for the liberation of Andre
could not be asked for except in exchange for one who was equally implicated in the complot.
then forgot himself so far as to deliver an open letter from Arnold
, in which, in the event Andre
should suffer the penalty of death, he used these threats: ‘I shall think myself bound by every tie of duty and honor to retaliate on such
unhappy persons of your army as may fall within my
Forty of the principal inhabitants of South Carolina
have justly forfeited their lives; Sir Henry Clinton
cannot in justice extend his mercy to them any longer, if Major Andre
entreated with touching earnestness that he might not die ‘on the gibbet.’
and every other officer in the American
army were moved to the deepest compassion; and Hamilton
, who has left his opinion that no one ever suffered death with more justice and that there was in truth no way of saving him, wished that in the mode of his death his feelings as an officer and a man might be respected.
But the English
themselves had established the exclusive usage of the gallows.
At the beginning of the war, their officers in America
threatened the highest American officers and statesmen with the cord.
It was the only mode of execution authorized by them.
Under the orders of Clinton
, Lord Cornwallis in South Carolina
had set up the gallows for those whom he styled deserters, without regard to rank.
Neither the sentence of the court nor the order of Washington
names death on the gallows; the execution took place in the manner that was alone in use on both sides.
In going to the place of execution, a constrained smile hid the emotions of Andre
Arrived at the fatal spot, the struggle in his mind was visible; but he preserved his self-control.
‘I am reconciled,’ he said, ‘to my fate, but not to the mode.’
Being asked at the last moment if he had any thing to say, he answered: ‘Nothing but to request you to witness to the world that I die like a brave man.’
Tried by the laws of morals, it is one of the worst
forms of dissimulation to achieve by corruption and treachery what cannot be gained by honorable arms.
If we confine our judgment within the limits of the laws of war, it is a blemish on the character of Andre
that he was willing to prostitute a flag, to pledge his word, even under the orders of his chief, for the innocence and private nature of his design, and to have made the lives of faultless prisoners hostages for his own. About these things a man of honor and humanity ought to have had a scruple; ‘but the temptation was great, let his misfortunes cast a veil over his errors.’
The last words of Andre
committed to the Americans
the care of his reputation; and they faithfully fulfilled his request.
The firmness and delicacy observed in his case was exceedingly admired on the continent of Europe
His king did right in offering honorable rank to his brother, and in granting pensions to his mother and sisters; but not in raising a memorial to his name in Westminster Abbey
Such honor belongs to other enterprises and deeds.
The tablet has no fit place in a sanctuary, dear from its monuments to every friend to genius and mankind.
As for Arnold
he had not feeling enough to undergo mental torments, and his coarse nature was not sensitive to shame.
He suffered only when he found that baffled treason, is paid grudgingly; when employment was refused him; when he could neither stay in England
nor get orders for service in America
; when, despised and neglected, he was pinched by want.
But the king would not suffer his children to stave,
and eventually their names were placed on the pension list.
Sir George Rodney
returned to the West Indies
, and, so far as related to himself, let the unsuccessful conspiracy sink into oblivion.
, the cup of humiliation was filled to the brim.
‘Thus ended,’ so he wrote in his anguish to Germain
, ‘this proposed plan from which I had conceived such great hopes and imagined such great consequences.’
He was, moreover, obliged to introduce into high rank in the British
army, and receive at his council table, a man who had shown himself so sordid that British officers of honor hated to serve under him, or with him, or over him. Bankrupt and escaping from his creditors, Arnold
preferred claims for indemnity, and received between six and seven thousand pounds. Moreover he had the effrontery to make addresses to the American
people respecting their alliance with France
; to write insolent letters to Washington
; to invite all Americans
to desert the colors of their country like himself; to advise the breaking up of the American
army by wholesale bribery.
Nay, he even turned against his patron as wanting activity, assuring Germain
that the American
posts in the Highlands might be carried in a few days by a regular attack.
No one knew better than Clinton
was punished justly; yet in his private journal he aimed a stab at the fair fame of his signally humane adversary, whom he had been able to overcome neither in the field nor by intrigue; and attributed an act of public duty to personal ‘rancor,’ for which no cause
The false accusation proves not
so much malignity in its author as feebleness.13
sought out the three young men who, ‘leaning only on their virtue and an honest sense of their duty,’ could not be tempted by gold; and on his report congress voted them annuities in words of respect and honor.