Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

render of this into the hands of the British commander,
he expected to ensure a high price for his treason, and,
at the same moment, to inflict a mortal wound upon
his country. His measures were artfully adopted to
accomplish his perfidious purpose. He obtained a
letter from a member of Congress to General WAsh-
IngtoN, recommending him to the command of this
important post. He induced General Schuyler to
mention to the Commander in Chief, his desire to re-
join the army, and is inclination to do garrison duty
At the time General WASHINGTON was moving
down to New-York, when Sir Henry Clinton had em-
barked a large body of troops, with the design to attack
the French at Newport, he offered the command of
the left wing of the army to General Arnold, who de-
clined on the plea that his wound unfitted him for the
active duties of the field; but he intimated a desire to
command at West Point. Knowing his ambition for
military fame, the General was surprised that Arnold
declined this favourable opportunity to distinguish
himself; but the purity of his own mind forbade him
to suspect an officer of treason, whose blood had been
freely shed in the cause of his country, and he grati-
fied him with the solicited command.
Under fictitious names, and in the disguise of mer-
cantile business, Arnold had already opened a corre-
spondence with Sir Henry Clinton through Major
André, Adjutant General of the British army. To
him the British General committed the maturing of
Arnold's treason, and to facilitate measures for its exe-
cution, the Vulture sloop of war conveyed him up the
North river. Under a pass for John Anderson, André
came on shore in the night, and had a personal inter-
view with Arnold without the American works. The
morning opened upon them before their business was
accomplished. Arnold told André that his return on
board the Vulture by daylight was impracticable, and
that he must be concealed until the next night. For

w

this purpose he was conducted within an American post, and spent the day with Arnold. In the course of the day a gun was brought to bear on the Vulture, which obliged her to shift her station; and at night the boatmen on this account refused to carry André on board the sloop. The return to New York by land, was the only alternative left. To render the attempt the more safe, Major André laid aside his uniform, which he had yet worn under a surtout, and in a plain coat, on horseback, began his journey. He was furnished with a passport signed by Arnold, in which permission was granted to John Anderson “to go to the lines of White Plains, or lower if he thought proper, he being on publick service.” Alone, and without having excited suspicion, he passed the American guards, and was silently congratulating himself that he had passed all danger, when his imaginary security was disturbed by three militia men, who were scouring the country between the outposts of the hostile armies. They suddealy seized the bridle of his horse, and challenged his business in that place. The surprise of the moment put him off his guard, and instead of showing his pass, he hastily asked the men, “where do you belong?” they answered, “to below,” meaning New-York. he Major instantly replied, “so do I.” He declared

himself to be a British officer, and pressed for permis-.

sion to proceed on the urgent business on which he was employed. The mistake was soon apparent, and he offered the men a purse of gold and a valuable gold watch, for permission to pass; and on condition that they would accompany him to the city, he promised them present reward and future promotion. But the patriotism of these yeomen could not be bribed. They proceeded to search André, and found secreted in his coots, in the hand writing of Arnold, exact returns of the state of the forces, ordnance, and defences of West Point, with critical remarks on the works, and other important papers. They conducted their prisoner to Lieutenant Colonel Jameson, who commanded the troops on the lines. Their names were John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Vert. Con gress eventually settled on each of them an annual pension of two hundred dollars during life ; and presented each with a silver medal, on one side of which was a shield with the inscription “Fidelity;' and on the other the motto “Amor Patriae.” André still passed as John Anderson, and requested permission to write to General Arnold to inform him that Anderson was detained. The Colonel thoughtlessly permitted the letter to be sent. Colonel Jameson forwarded to General W AshingtoN the papers found on the prisoner, and a statement of the manner in which he was taken. The General was then on his return from Hartford, and the express unfortunately took a road different from that on which he was travelling, and passed him. This occasioned so great loss of time, that Arnold having received André's letter, made his escape on board the Vulture, before the order for his arrest arrived at West Point. As soon as André thought that time had been given for Arnold to make his escape, he threw off the disguise which was abhorrent to his nature, and assumed his appropriate character of ingenuousness and honour. The express which conveyed the intelligence of his capture, was charged with a letter from him to General WAs HINGTon, in which, he declared his name and rank, stated that he had, by order of his General, Sir Henry Clinton, corresponded with Arnold, that his intention was to have met him on neutral ground, and that against his stipulation he had been brought within an American post. Attempting to make his escape from it he had been betrayed into the vile condition of an enemy in disguise, and he requested that, * whateve his fate might be, a decency of treatment might be observed, which would mark, that though unfortunate he was branded with nothing that was dishonourable, and that he was involuntarily an impostor. The decorous and manly deportment of André greatly interested in his favour the American army and nation. He was endowed with properties to conciliate general esteem. His character is thus beautifully painted by the late General Hamilton, who without envy might have contemplated his eminent qualities, for they were not equal to his own. “There was something singularly interesting in the charactor of André. To an excellent understanding, well improved by education and travel, he united a peculiar elegance of mind and manners, and the advantages of a pleasing person. It is said that he possessed a pretty taste for the fine arts, and had himself attained some proficiency in poetry, musick, and painting. His knowledge appeared without ostentation, and embellished by a diffidence that rarely accompanies so many talents and accomplishments, which left you to suppose more than appeared. His sentiments were elevated and inspired esteem, they had a softness that conciliated affection. His elo

cution was handsome, his address easy, polite, and insinuating. By his merit he had acquired the unlimited confidence of his General, and wre making rapid progress in military rank and reputation. But in the height of his career, flushed with new hopes from the execution of a project the most beneficial to his party that could be devised, he is at once precipitated from the summit of prosperity, sees all the expectations of his ambition blasted, and himself ruined. The charac

ter I have given of him is drawn partly from what I saw of him myself, and partly from information. I am aware that a man of real merit is never seen in so favourable a light as through the medium of adversity. The clouds that surround him are so many shades that set off his good qualities. Misfortune cuts down little vanities, that in prosperous times serve as so man" spots in his virtues; and gives a tone to lunanity that makes his worth more amiable. “His spectators, who enjoy a happier lot, are less prone to detract from it through envy; and are much disposed by compassion to give the credit he deserves, and perhaps even to magnify it.” General WashingtoN referred the case of Major André to a Board of fourteen General officers. Of this Board General Green was President, and the fo. reign Generals La Fayette and Steuben were members. They were to determine in what character he was to be considered, and what punishment ought to be inflicted. This Board treated their prisoner with the utmost delicacy and tenderness. They desired him to answer no question that embarrassed his feelings But, concerned only for his honour, he franky confessed he did not come on shore under the sanction of a flag, and stated so fully all facts respecting himself, that it became unnecessary to examine a single witness; but he cautiously guarded against communications which would involve the guilt of others. The Board reported the important facts in the case, and gave it as their opinion that André was a Spy, and that agreeably to the laws and usages of nations, he ought to suffer death. His exeeution took place next day. André was reconciled to death, but not to the mode of dying, which the laws of war had assigned to persons in his situation. He wished to die as a soldier, not as a criminal. In language, which proved him possessed of the nicest feelings of heroism and honour, he wrote to General Washington, soliciting that he might not die on a gibbet: but the stern maxims of justice folbade a compliance with the request, although the sensibility of the General was wounded by a refu

Major André walked with composure to the place of execution between two American officers. When

« ZurückWeiter »