Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. I., Chapter XXXII.







King’s Ferry. – Jolly old Waterman. – Stony Point. – Evening walk toward Haverstraw. – "God’s Acre." – Benson’s Tavern. – Interview with a Builder of Stony Point Fort. – View from Smith’s House. – Ancient black Walnut-tree. – Tarrytown. – Cow-boys and Skinners. – Neutral Ground. – Place where Andrè was Captured. – Journey of Andrè and Smith to Crompond. – Vigilance of Captain Boyd. – Andrè’s Uneasiness. – Volunteer Expedition against the Cow-boys. – Arrest of Major Andrè. – Discovery of Papers in his Stockings. – Deposition of David Williams. – Strange Conduct of Colonel Jameson. – His Letter to General Arnold. – Better Judgment of Colonel Tallmadge. – Major Andrè at Sheldon’s Head-quarters. – Andrè’s Letter to Washington. – Andrè taken to West Point and thence to Tappan. – His Disclosures to Tallmadge. – His Case and Hale’s compared. – Bridge over Sleepy Hollow Creek. – Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. – Castle Philipse. – Greenburgh on the Nepera. – Van Wart’s Monument. – Sunnyside, the Residence of Washington Irving. – View of Sunnyside, the ancient "Wolfert’s Roost." – Jacob Van Tassel. – "The Roost" a Castle. – Its Garrison. – Attack upon, and Defense of "the Roost." – Dobbs’s Ferry. – Old Fort at Dobbs’s Ferry. – The Livingston Mansion. – Rendezvous of the British. – The Palisades. – Tappan. – Massacre of Baylor’s Corps at Tappan. – The "76 Stone House," where Andrè was confined. – Washington’s Headquarters. – Court of Inquiry in Andrè’s Case. – The Prisoner’s Conduct. – Names of those who composed the Court. – Judge Laurance. – Washington’s Approval of the Decision of the Court. – Memoir of Andrè. – Honora Sneyd. – Mr. Edgeworth. – Miss Seward. – Andrè’s Death-warrant. – His Will. – Disposition of his Remains. – His Monument. – Equity of Andrè’s Sentence. – Efforts to Save him. – Embassy of Colonel Ogden. – Washington Vilified. – Proposition to Exchange Andrè for Arnold declined. – A Deputation from the British General. – Result of the Efforts to Save Andrè. – His Letter to Washington asking to be Shot. – Willis’s Paraphrase. – Andrè’s Composure of Mind. – Pen-and-ink Sketch of himself. – Name of his Executioner. – Dr. Thacher’s Account of Andrè’s Execution. – Feelings of the Spectators. – The Place of his Death and Burial. – The Captors of Andrè rewarded. – Disinterment of Andrè’s remains. – Honored by the Duke of York. – Desire to secure Arnold. – A Plan to Abduct him. – Its Execution committed to Major Henry Lee. – Sergeant Champe. – His Sense of Honor. – Consents to attempt the Abduction of Arnold. – His Desertion favored by Lee. – Pursuit of Champe. – His Skill in eluding his Pursuers. – He escapes to a British Galley. – Sir Henry Clinton deceived. – Champe sent to Arnold. – Joins his Legion. – Preparations for carrying off the Traitor. – Champe foiled. – Taken by Arnold to Virginia. – Escapes and rejoins his Legion in the Carolinas. – Ramapo Valley. – Ramapo Village. – Mr. Pierson. – Movements of the two Armies in 1777. – Washington’s Perplexities. – March of the American Army toward the Highlands. – Howe’s Destination determined. – The Clove. – The Ramapo Pass. – March of the allied Armies to Virginia. – Clinton deceived by Washington’s Letters. – The "Hopper House." – Patriotism of the Owner. – Interesting Relics. – Burr’s Head-quarters. – Colonel Aaron Burr at Sufferns’s – Confusion of the Militia. – Night Attack upon the British Pickets near Hackensack.


"From Cain to Catiline, the world hath known

Her traitors – vaunted votaries of crime –
Caligula and Nero sat alone
Upon the pinnacle of vice sublime;
But they were moved by hate, or wish to climb
The rugged steeps of Fame, in letters bold
To write their names upon the scroll of Time;
Therefore their crimes some virtue did enfold –
But Arnold! thine had none – ’twas all for sordid gold!"


The localities more immediately associated with the brief career of Andrè during his hapless connection with Arnold, now commands our attention, for toward Haverstraw I next journeyed. It was three o’clock in the afternoon when I crossed the ferry at Verplanck’s Point in a small row-boat This was the old King’s Ferry of the Revolution, where the good Washington so often crossed, and where battalion after battalion of troops, royal, French, and American, at various times spanned the Hudson with their long lines of flat-boats, for it was the main crossing-place of armies moving between the Eastern and Middle States. It was here, too, that a portion of the forces of Burgoyne crossed the Hudson when on their march from Massachusetts to Virginia. The landing-place on the Stony Point side, in former times, was in the cove at the opening of the marsh, on the north of the promontory; now the western terminus of the ferry is a little above, at the cottage of Mr. Tenyck, the jolly old ferryman, who has plied the oar there, almost without intermission, ever since 1784.


He was sitting upon his door-stone when his son moored the boat at its rock-fastening; and, as we ascended the bank, the old man held up a bottle of whisky, and proffered a draught as a pledge of welcome to the "millionth man" that had crossed his ferry. Preferring milk to whisky, I sat down under the rich-leaved branches of a maple, and regaled myself with that healthful beverage. While the veteran and two of his neighbors were enjoying the aqua vitæ, I sketched the old King’s Ferry sign-board, with its device, which was nailed to a sapling near, and then, accompanied by the old man and his companions, started for a ramble over the rough site of the fort on Stony Point.

Upon its ancient mounds I sat and listened for an hour to the adventurous tales of the octogenarian, until the long shadows of the mountains warned me that the day was fast waning, when I hastened to make the drawings upon pages 744 and 746. At sunset, accompanied by one of the men as bearer of my light baggage, I started on foot for the neighborhood of Haverstraw. The road passes through a truly romantic region, made so by nature, history, and tradition. I stopped often to view the beautiful river prospect on the southeast, while the outlines of the distant shores were imperceptibly fading as the twilight came on. At dusk we passed an acre of ground, lying by the roadside on the right, which was given many years ago for a neighborhood burial-place. Its numerous white slabs proclaimed an already populous city of the dead, and ere long another generous hand should donate an acre near for the same purpose.

"I like that ancient Saxon phrase which calls

The burial-ground God’s Acre! It is just;
It consecrates each grave within its walls,
And breathes a benison o’er the sleeping dust.
God’s Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts
Comfort to those who in the grave have sown
The seed that they had garner’d in their hearts,
Their bread of life, alas! no more their own."

It was quite dark when we reached the tavern of Mr. Benson, near Sampsonville, about three miles below Stony Point. Haverstraw was two miles distant, and, wearied with the rambles of the day, I halted at Benson’s until morning. After an early breakfast I proceeded to the foot of Torn Mountain, a little northwest of Haverstraw, to visit a man named Allison, who was eighty-eight years old. I had been informed of his vigor of body and mind, and was much disappointed on finding him in bed, feeble and sinking from the effects of a fall. Our conversation was brief, but his short communications were interesting. He was a young man of eighteen when the fort at Stony Point was built, and assisted in carrying material for its construction from the main. In company with many others in the neighborhood not allowed to join in Wayne’s expedition, he hung upon the rear of the little army on that eventful night; and when the shout of victory arose from the fort, his voice was among the loudest in the echo that was sent back by the yeomanry gathered upon the neighboring hills. He gave me a minute account of the movements of the Americans before crossing the morass, and told me of a black walnut-tree still standing by the roadside between Haverstraw and Stony Point, under which the negro, Pompey, took charge, as pilot, of Wayne’s assaulting force. I had intended, on leaving Mr. Allison, to go down near the river bank, where Arnold and Andrè met; but the hour was approaching at which I had promised myself to return to Verplanck’s Point, so I postponed my visit to this interesting spot until a subsequent date.


On my return toward Stony Point, I tarried at and sketched Smith’s House, delineated on page 720. It is in the present possession of William C. Houseman, whose good taste has adorned the grounds around it with fine shrubbery. It is located upon the brow of an eminence, known, for obvious reasons, as Treason Hill, and commands an extensive view of the Hudson and the country beyond. 1 From the window in the second story, where, tradition avers, Andrè looked with anxious eyes for the appearance of the Vulture, I made the drawing printed on the opposite page. Between the foreground and the river is seen the broad alluvial fiat in the rear of Haverstraw, and on the brink of the water is the village. The headland on the left is Teller’s Point, and the highest ground on the extreme right is Torn Mountain, extending down to the verge of Haverstraw Bay, where it is called the Hook Mountain. The vessel in the river denotes the place where the Vulture lay at anchor.

Half a mile above the Smith House, on the right of the road to Stony Point, is the huge black walnut-tree mentioned by Mr. Allison. I procured a branch from it, large and straight enough for a maul-stick, and then plodded on in the warm sun, to the ferry. The old waterman, though nearly eighty years of age, rowed his boat across with a vigorous hand, and at one o’clock I left Verplanck’s for Tarrytown, a village on the eastern bank of the Hudson, twenty-seven miles above New York, and memorable as the place where Major Andrè was captured.

The village of Tarrytown lies scattered over the river front of the Greenburgh Hills, and presents a handsome appearance from the water. It is upon the site of an Indian village called Alipconck, which, in the Delaware language, signifies the Place of Elms. The Dutch, who settled there about 1680, called the place Tarwe Town, or "wheat town," probably from the abundant culture of that grain in the vicinity. 2 The salubrity of its climate, and the commanding river view in front, has always made it a desirable place of residence. During the Revolution it was the theater of many stormy scenes, consisting chiefly of skirmishes between the lawless bands of marauders known by the distinctive appellation of Cow-boys and Skinners. 3 These infested the Neutral Ground 4 in West Chester, and made it a political and social hell for the dwellers. Many left it, and allowed their lands to become a waste, rather than remain in the midst of perpetual torments.


The place where Andrè was captured is upon the turnpike on the northeast verge of the village, three quarters of a mile from the river, and near the academy of Mr. Newman. A few yards south of the academy, a small stream crosses the road and runs through a deep ravine riverward. The marshy and thickly-wooded glen into which it poured was known as Wiley’s Swamp. A little south of this stream, on the west side of the road, is a dwarf cedar, near which (indicated, in the picture, by the spot where the figure sits) are the remains of a tree, said to be that of the stately white-wood under whose shadow the captors of Andrè caused him to strip, and then made the momentous discovery of the papers in his stocking. 5 By a spring in the grove, just over the fence on the left, the young men were card-playing when their victim approached. We will not anticipate the history in the description, but here resume the narrative of events connected with Andrè’s capture and trial, from the time we left him and Smith to pursue their journey from Verplanck’s Point toward the Neutral Ground.

It was after dark [September 22, 1780.], when Andrè and Smith left Verplanck’s Point. They took the road toward White Plains, and met with no interruption until hailed by a sentinel near Crompond, a little village eight miles from Verplanck’s Point. 6 He belonged to a party under Captain Boyd. That vigilant officer made many and searching inquiries of the travelers, and would not be satisfied that all was right until he procured a light and examined the pass from Arnold, which they assured him they possessed. During the investigation Andrè was uneasy, but the pass being in explicit terms, and known to be genuine, Captain Boyd was readily persuaded that all was correct. The captain apologized for the strictness of his scrutiny, and manifested much concern for their safety on account of the prevalence of Cow-boys in the neighborhood. He advised them to remain till morning; but Smith assured him that their business was urgent, and it was necessary for them to proceed immediately toward White Plains. The captain magnified the dangers to which they were exposed, and Smith, taking counsel of his fears, was disposed to tarry. Andrè was differently inclined, and it was a long time before he could be persuaded to turn back and take lodging at the cottage of Andreas Miller. The travelers slept in the same bed, and, according to Smith’s account, it was a weary and restless night for Andrè. He was up at dawn, and at an early hour they were again in the saddle. As they approached Pine’s Bridge, and Andrè was assured that they were beyond patrolling parties, his taciturnity and gloom were exchanged for garrulity and cheerfulness, and he conversed in an almost playful manner upon poetry, the arts, literature, and common topics. Near Pine’s Bridge 7 they parted company, after partaking of a frugal breakfast with Mrs. Sarah Underhill, whose grandson, I believe, still owns the house. Smith proceeded to Fishkill by the way of the Robinson House, where he pleased Arnold by communicating the particulars of the journey and the place where he left Andrè. It is not at all probable that Smith, at this time, was acquainted with the real name and mission of Andrè, for he knew him only as Mr. Anderson.

Andrè, being told that the Cow-boys were more numerous on the Tarrytown road, took that direction, contrary to the advice of Smith and others, for these marauders were his friends, and from them he had nothing to fear.

On the morning when Andrè crossed Pine’s Bridge, a little band of seven volunteers went out near Tarrytown to prevent cattle being driven to New York, and to arrest any suspicious characters who might travel that way. John Yerks (who was living in the town of Mount Pleasant in 1848) proposed the expedition the day before, and first enlisted John Paulding, John Dean, 8 James Romer, and Abraham Williams. They were at North Salem, and Paulding procured a permit from the officer commanding there, at the same time persuading his friend, Isaac Van Wart, to accompany them. On their way toward Tarrytown they were joined by David Williams. They slept in a hay barrack at Pleasantville that night, and the next morning early they arrived near Tarrytown. Four of the party agreed to watch the road from a hill above, while Paulding, Van Wart, and David Williams were to lie concealed in the bushes by the stream near the post-road. Such was the position of the parties when Andrè approached. The circumstances of the capture are minutely narrated in the testimony of Paulding and Williams, given at the trial of Smith, eleven days afterward. The testimony was written down by the judge-advocate on that occasion, from whose manuscript Mr. Sparks copied it, as follows: 9 "Myself, Isaac Van Wart, and David Williams were lying by the side of the road about half a mile above Tarrytown, and about fifteen miles above Kingsbridge, on Saturday morning, between nine and ten o’clock, the 23d of September. We had lain there about an hour and a half, as near as I can recollect, and saw several persons we were acquainted with, whom we let pass. Presently, one of the young men who were with me said, ‘There comes a gentleman-like looking man, who appears to be well dressed, and has boots on, and whom you had better step out and stop, if you don’t know him.’ On that I got up, and presented my firelock at the breast of the person, and told him to stand, and then I asked him which way he was going. ‘Gentlemen,’ said he, ‘I hope you belong to our party.’ I asked him what party. He said, ‘The Lower Party.’ Upon that I told him I did. 10 Then he said, ‘I am a British officer, out in the country on particular business, and I hope you will not detain me a minute,’ and, to show that he was a British officer, he pulled out his watch. Upon which I told him to dismount. He then said, ‘My God! I must do any thing to get along,’ and seemed to make a kind of laugh of it, and pulled out General Arnold’s pass, which was to John Anderson, to pass all guards to White Plains and below. Upon that he dismounted. Said he, ‘Gentlemen, you had best let me go, or you will bring yourselves into trouble, for your stopping me will detain the general’s business;’ and said he was going to Dobbs’s Ferry to meet a person there and get intelligence for General Arnold. Upon that I told him I hoped he would not be offended; that we did not mean to take any thing from him; and I told him there were many bad people on the road, and I did not know but perhaps he might be one."

When further questioned, Paulding replied, that he asked the person his name, who told him it was John Anderson; and that, when Anderson produced General Arnold’s pass, he should have let him go, if he had not before called himself a British officer. Paulding also said, that when the person pulled out his watch, he understood it as a signal that he was a British officer, and not that he meant to offer it to him as a present.

All these particulars were substantially confirmed by David Williams, whose testimony in regard to the searching of Andrè, being more minute than Paulding’s, is here inserted.

"We took him into the bushes," said Williams, "and ordered him to pull off his clothes, which he did; but, on searching him narrowly, we could not find any sort of writings. We told him to pull off his boots, which he seemed to be indifferent about; but we got one boot off, and searched in that boot, and could find nothing. But we found there were some papers in the bottom of his stocking next to his foot; on which we made him pull his stocking off, and found three papers wrapped up. Mr. Paulding looked at the contents, and said he was a spy. We then made him pull off his other boot, and there we found three more papers at the bottom of his foot within his stocking.

"Upon this we made him dress himself, and I asked him what he would give us to let him go. He said he would give us any sum of money. I asked him whether he would give us his horse, saddle, bridle, watch, and one hundred guineas. He said ‘Yes,’ and told us he would direct them to any place, even if it was that very spot, so that we could get them. I asked him whether he would not give us more. He said he would give us any quantity of dry goods, or any sum of money, and bring it to any place that we might pitch upon, so that we might get it. Mr. Paulding answered, ‘No, if you would give us ten thousand guineas, you should not stir one step.’ I then asked the person who had called himself John Anderson if he would not get away if it lay in his power. He answered, ‘Yes, I would.’ I told him I did not intend he should. While taking him along, we asked him a few questions, and we stopped under a shade. He begged us not to ask him questions, and said when he came to any commander he would reveal all.

"He was dressed in a blue over-coat, and a tight body-coat, that was of a kind of claret color, though a rather deeper red than claret. The button-holes were laced with gold tinsel, and the buttons drawn over with the same kind of lace. He had on a round hat, and nankeen waistcoat and breeches, with a flannel waistcoat and drawers, boots, and thread stockings."


Andrè was conducted to North Castle, the nearest military post, and there, with all the papers found upon his person, he was delivered up to Lieutenant-colonel Jameson, the officer in command. With an obtuseness of perception most extraordinary and unaccountable, Jameson resolved to send the prisoner immediately to Arnold! He knew a portion of the papers to be in the undisguised handwriting of General Arnold, and it is most extraordinary that the circumstances under which they were found should not have awakened a suspicion of the fidelity of that officer. Washington afterward said, in allusion to Jameson’s conduct, that, either on account of his "egregious folly or bewildered conception he seemed lost in astonishment, and not to know what he was doing." There can be no doubt of the purity of his intentions, but who can respect his judgment? He penned a letter to Arnold, saying that he sent a certain Mr. Anderson forward under the charge of Lieutenant Allen and a guard, who had been taken while on his way to New York. "He had a passport," said Jameson, "signed in your name; and a parcel of papers, taken from under his stockings, which I think of a very dangerous tendency." He described the papers, and informed Arnold that he had sent them to Washington.

Major Benjamin Tallmadge, next in command to Jameson, was on duty below White Plains on that day [September 23, 1780.], and did not return until evening. When informed of the circumstances, he was filled with astonishment at the folly of Jameson, and boldly expressed his suspicions of Arnold’s fidelity. He offered to take upon himself the entire responsibility of proceeding on that ground, if Jameson would allow it. The latter refused to sanction any action that should imply a distrust of Arnold. Tallmadge then earnestly besought him to have the prisoner brought back. To this he reluctantly consented, but insisted that his letter to Arnold should be forwarded, and that the general should be informed why the prisoner was not sent on. This was the letter which Arnold received in time to allow him to make his escape to the Vulture.

Jameson sent an express after Lieutenant Allen, with orders to conduct his prisoner back to head-quarters at North Castle. As soon as Tallmadge saw him, and observed his manner and gait while pacing the room, he was convinced that he was a military man; and, joining this belief with other circumstances, 12 his suspicions of Arnold’s treachery were fully confirmed to his own mind. He partially imbued Jameson with the same opinions, and that officer agreed, with Tallmadge, that it was advisable to keep their prisoner in close custody until orders should be received from Arnold or Washington. Andrè was accordingly removed, under an escort commanded by Major Tallmadge, to Colonel Sheldon’s quarters at North Salem, as a more secure place. They arrived there at about eight in the morning. Andrè was introduced to Mr. Bronson, who was attached to Sheldon’s regiment, and that gentleman kindly offered to share his little room with the prisoner. Learning that the papers found on his person had been sent to General Washington, he wrote, in Bronson’s room, a letter to the American chief, in which he frankly avowed his name and rank, and briefly related the circumstances connected with his present situation. This letter he handed to Major Tallmadge to read, who was greatly astonished to find that the prisoner in his custody was the adjutant general of the British army. The letter was sealed and sent to Washington. From that hour the prisoner’s mind seemed relieved. 13

Pursuant to an order from General Washington, Andrè was conducted to West Point, September, where he remained until the morning of the 28th [September, 1780.], when he was conveyed in a barge to Stony Point, and from thence conducted, under a strong escort, to Tappan, about two miles westward of the present Piermont, the Hudson River terminus of the New York and Erie rail-road. Major Tallmadge, who commanded the escort, and rode by Andrè’s side all the way, has left, in a communication to Mr. Sparks, an interesting account of the events of that day’s march. As he and Andrè were about the same age, and held the same rank in the respective armies, they agreed on a cartel, by the terms of which each one was permitted to put any question to the other not involving a third person. In the course of conversation, thus made as unreserved as possible, Andrè informed Tallmadge that he was to have taken a part in the attack on West Point, if Arnold’s plan had succeeded, and that the only reward he asked was the military glory to be won by such service to his king. He had been promised, however, the rank and pay of a brigadier general if he had succeeded. In reply to Andrè’s earnest inquiries respecting the probable result of his capture, Tallmadge frankly reminded him of the character and fate of the unfortunate Captain Hale. "But you surely do not consider his case and mine alike?" said Andrè. "Yes, precisely similar," replied Major Tallmadge, "and similar will be your fate." Andrè became troubled in spirit, and from that time until the hour of his execution his most poignant sorrow arose from the reflection that he was branded with the odious name of a spy. 14

As soon as Washington had completed all necessary arrangements for the security of West Point, he hastened to the army at Tappan. The next day after his arrival [September 29.] he summoned a board of general officers, and directed them to examine into the case of Major Andrè and report the result. He also directed them to give their opinion as to the light in which the prisoner ought to be regarded, and the punishment that should be inflicted. We shall visit Tappan presently, and then the events in the last scene of this drama shall be rehearsed; for the present, let us stroll about Tarrytown during the remainder of this pleasant afternoon.


After sketching a view of the spot where Andrè was captured, I walked to the famous old Dutch church of Sleepy Hollow, standing by the side of the post-road, about a mile northward. I can not better describe its location than by quoting the language of Mr. Irving concerning it. "The sequestered situation of the church." he says, "seems always to have made it a favorite haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust-trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent white-washed walls shine modestly forth, like Christian purity beaming through the shades of retirement. A gentle slope descends to it from a silver sheet of water, bordered by high trees, between which peeps may be caught of the blue hills of the Hudson. To look upon its grass-grown yard, where the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there, at least, the dead might rest in peace. On one side of the church extends a woody dell, along which laves a large brook among broken rocks and trunks of fallen trees. Over a deep black part of the stream, not far from the church, was formerly thrown a wooden bridge. The road that led to it, and the bridge itself, were thickly shaded by overhanging trees, which cast a gloom about it, even in the daytime, but occasioned a fearful darkness at night." 16


It was at this bridge, in the dark glen near the church, that poor Ichabod Crane had his terrible encounter with the headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow. 17 The road still "leads through a sandy hollow, shaded by trees for about a quarter of a mile," but "the bridge famous in goblin story" is no more. The present structure is a few yards westward of the site of the old one; and although not so shaded in cavernous gloom, is quite as romantic in its situation. From its planks there is a fine view of Castle Philipse, as the ancient manor house of Frederic Philipse was called, from the circumstance of its being originally fortified against the Indians. It is a spacious and substantial stone building, and near it is the old mill, whose wheel turned in the same place during the Revolution. The dam forms a pleasant little lake extending back almost to the bridge.


Upon the slopes and the brow of the hill eastward of the old church is the Tarrytown cemetery, extending down to the ancient burial-ground. It is susceptible of being made one of the most attractive burial-places in this country, for, aside from the beauties of nature there spread out, associations of the deepest interest give a charm to the spot. The Receiving Tomb, constructed of light stone, is near the top of the hill; and around it for many rods, where the hand of improvement had not yet effaced them, might be seen vestiges of a small fortification, thrown up there during the war.


I passed the night at Tarrytown, and the next morning rode out to the beautiful Saw-mill Valley, to visit the burial-ground at Greenburgh, wherein repose the remains of Isaac Van Wart, one of the captors of Andrè. The ground is attached to the Presbyterian church, and is near the lovely Nepera, or Saw-mill River. Over the remains of the patriot is a handsome marble monument, erected to his memory by the citizens of West Chester county, in 1829. Its completion was celebrated by a large concourse of people assembled there on the 11th of June of that year. General Aaron Ward, of Sing Sing, was the orator on the occasion. Mr. Van Wart was an efficient officer of that church for many years, and acted as chorister up to the time of his death. On returning to Tarrytown, I rode down to Sunnyside, the residence of Washington Irving, situated upon the river bank, about two miles below. It is reached from the post-road by a winding carriage-way, that cleaves rich cultivated fields and pleasant woodlands. Desirous of passing an hour at Dobbs’s Ferry, and of crossing the Hudson at Tappan in season to visit places of note there, I enjoyed the friendly greeting of the gifted proprietor but a few moments, and then pursued my journey. I subsequently visited Sunnyside, and made the sketch given on the opposite page. It was in leafy June [1850.], and a lovelier day never smiled upon the Hudson and its green banks. Close by Mr. Irving’s residence, a prospective village 18 had recently burst into existence, almost as suddenly as the leaves had unfolded from the buds in the adjacent groves; and a rail-way station, with its bustle and noise, was upon the river margin, within bird-call of the once secluded Wolfert’s Roost. I strolled along the iron way to a stile, over which I clambered, and, ascending the bank by a shaded pathway, was soon seated in the elegant little parlor at Sunnyside, where the kindest courtesy makes the stranger-visitor feel that he is indeed upon the sunny side of humanity, and in the warmest glow of that generous feeling which illumines every pen-stroke of Geoffrey Crayon. Beautified and enriched by the hand of nature, hallowed by the voice of traditionary history speaking out from the old walls and umbrageous trees, and consecrated by the presence of true genius, Sunnyside has a charm for the American mind as bewitching and classic as were the groves where Orpheus piped and Sappho sang to the Acadians of old. As I sat beneath a spreading cedar sketching the unique villa, and scolded without stint by a querulous matronly cat-bird on one side and a vixen jenny-wren on the other, and observed the "lord of the manor" leading a little fair-haired grand-nephew to the river brink in search of daisies and butter-cups, I could not repress the thoughts so beautifully expressed in his own little story of The Wife: "I can wish you no better lot than to have a wife and children. If you are prosperous, they are to share your prosperity; if otherwise, they are to comfort you. . . . . Though all abroad is darkness and humiliation, yet there is still a little world of love at home [for the husband] of which he is the monarch." 20


The residence of Mr. Irving is upon the site of the famous "Wolfert’s Roost" of the olden time. It was built by Wolfert Ecker, an ancient burgher of the town, and afterward came into the possession of Jacob Van Tassel, one of the "race of hard-headed, hard-handed, stout-hearted Dutchmen, descended of the primitive Netherlanders." Van Tassel was the owner when the Revolution broke out, and was a stanch Whig. His house was in the midst of the debatable region called the Neutral Ground, and in the broad waters of the Tappan Sea 21 in front, British vessels were almost constantly anchored. The Republican propensities of Van Tassel were well known, and as the Roost was a place of general rendezvous for the American water-guards 22 and land-scouts, he was made liable to attacks from the enemy. He pierced his old mansion with musketry loop-holes, and took other measures for defense. His garrison, per se, consisted of his stout-hearted wife and a redoubtable sister, Nochie Van Wurmer, a match, as he said, for the "stoutest man in the country." His ordnance was a goose gun "of unparalleled longitude," capable of doing great execution. He was in league with many ardent Whigs in his vicinity, who had sworn eternal hostility to the Cow-boys and Skinners who infested the region, and the Roost was their head-quarters. Van Tassel frequently joined his companions in distant expeditions. On one of these occasions, while far away from his castle, an armed vessel came to anchor off the Roost. The garrison consisted of only Jacob’s spouse, his sister Nochie, a blooming daughter, and a brawny negro woman. A boatful of armed men put off from the vessel toward the Roost. The garrison flew to arms. The goose gun, unfortunately, was with its owner. Broomsticks, shovels, and other missiles were seized, and a vigorous defense was made; but, alas it was all in vain. The house was sacked, plundered, and burned; and as the marauders were about departing, they seized the pretty "Laney Van Tassel, the beauty of the Roost," and endeavored to bear her to the boat. Mother, aunt, and Dinah flew to the rescue, and a fierce struggle ensued all the way to the water’s edge. A voice from the frigate ordered the spoilers to leave the prize behind, "and the heroine of the Roost escaped with a mere rumpling of the feathers." 23 Soon after this event Van Tassel fell into the hands of the enemy, was sent to New York, and there remained a prisoner until near the close of the war. 24 His house was rebuilt upon the ruins of the Roost and that phœnix, modified and enlarged, is the present mansion at Sunnyside.


From Mr. Irving’s I rode down to Dobbs’s Ferry, two or three miles below. This is a small village, lying pleasantly upon the river slope, and along a ravine of the Greenburgh Hills, at the mouth of the Wysquaqua Creek. It derives its name from the ancient family of Dobbs, who owned the property here, and first established a ferry [1698.]. It is a place memorable in the annals of the Revolution, not for sanguinary battles, but for the relative importance of its location in the movements of armies. Upon the high bank immediately above the rail-way station at the lower landing are remains of the first fort erected there. It was built at the beginning of 1776, and in October of that year Colonel Sargent strongly garrisoned it, by order of General Heath. 26 Several other strong redoubts were thrown up in the vicinity, remains of which are still visible. One, a little southwest of the residence of Mr. Stephen Archer (the ancient mansion of Van Brugh Livingston), appears to have been equally strong with the one just mentioned. A few rods north of this mansion, in a locust grove, on the west of the post-road, are very prominent remains of a strong redoubt. They extended through the adjoining garden, but there the mounds have been leveled and the fossé filled up. These forts commanded the ferry to Paramus (now Sneeden’s) landing on the Jersey shore, and also the passage of the river. They often greatly annoyed the British shipping while passing and repassing.


In this vicinity the British portion of the enemy rendezvoused after the battle of White Plains [October 28, 1776.], before marching against Fort Washington [November 16.]; and at Hastings, one mile below, a British force of six thousand men, under Cornwallis, embarked in boats, and, crossing over to Paramus, marched to the attack of Fort Lee [November 18.], and then commenced the pursuit of Washington and his broken army through the Jerseys. Here, in January, 1777, the division of the American army under Lincoln was encamped for a brief space. Here was the spot selected by Arnold for his first conference with Andrè in 1780; and here, on the night of the 3d of August, 1781, while the American army lay in the neighborhood, and the chief’s head-quarters were at the Livingston mansion, a skirmish ensued between some guard-boats of the enemy and the little garrison of the fort on the river bank.

After viewing the remains of the old forts, and passing a pleasant half hour with Mr. Archer (a member of the society of Friends) upon the shaded porch of the Livingston Mansion, I crossed the Hudson in a small boat to Sneeden’s, and proceeded on foot to Tappan, a distance of about two miles, where I arrived in time to sketch the head-quarters of Washington, printed on page 764 {original text has "196".}, and to visit the place of Andrè’s execution.

Tappan village lies in the bosom of a fertile, rolling valley, not far from the head of the deep gorge which terminates on the Hudson at Piermont. Southwest of the village is a lofty ridge, on which the American army lay encamped. Upon its gentle slope toward the road to old Tappan, Major Andrè was executed. Travelers passing up the Hudson, and viewing with astonishment the mighty amorphous wall of the Palisades, along the western shore, have no idea of the beauty and fertility of the country in the rear. The Palisades, so bare and precipitous in front, present a heavily-wooded slope in the rear, reaching down into a plain of great fertility. This plain extends, with a slight variance from a level, from Tappan to Bergen Point, a distance of twenty-seven miles, and is watered by the Hackensack and its tributaries. It was a country noted for the abundance of its forage at the time of the Revolution, and was an eligible place for an army to encamp. After visiting the interesting localities in the neighborhood, I walked to Piermont, about two miles distant, where I arrived in time to embark in the boat of the Erie Rail-road Company, at eight o’clock, for New York. Though "wearied and worn" with the day’s ramble, let us turn to history a while before retiring to rest.

Tappan, lying upon one of the great lines of communication from the East, by way of King’s Ferry, was made a place of considerable importance as a camping-ground; its position among the hills, and yet contiguous to the river, being very favorable. When, in September, 1778, Cornwallis had possession of the Hudson portion of New Jersey, foraging parties were sent in this direction, as well as scouts, to ascertain the condition of the posts at West Point. General Knyphausen, with a large force, was at the same time on the east side of the Hudson, at Dobbs’s Ferry, and Washington believed that an expedition up the river was intended. Lieutenant-colonel Baylor, with a regiment of light horse, was sent to watch the movements of the enemy, and to intercept their scouts and foragers. He made his head-quarters at old Tappan, and there lay in a state of such unsoldierly insecurity, that Cornwallis was led to form a plan for taking his whole corps by surprise. 28 General Grey, with some light infantry and other troops, was sent, at night [September 27, 1778.], to approach Tappan on the west, while a corps from Knyphausen’s division was to approach from the east, and thus surround and capture not only the sleepers in Baylor’s camp, but a body of militia, under Wayne, who were stationed near. Some deserters from the enemy gave the militia timely warning; but Baylor’s troops, who lay unarmed in barns, 29 were not apprised of the proximity of the enemy. At midnight, Grey approached silently, cut off a sergeant’s patrol of twelve men without noise, and completely surprised the troop of horse. Unarmed, and in the power of the enemy, they asked for quarter, but this was inhumanly refused by Grey, who, like Tryon, was a famous marauder during the war. 30 On this occasion he gave special orders not to grant any quarter. Many of the soldiers were bayoneted in cold blood. Out of one hundred and four persons, sixty-seven were killed or wounded. Colonel Baylor was wounded and made prisoner, and seventy horses were butchered.


The event of the most importance which occurred at Tappan was the trial and execution of Major Andrè. He was confined, while there, in the old stone mansion, now occupied as a tavern, and called the "76 STONE HOUSE." Its whole appearance has been materially changed. The room wherein the unfortunate prisoner was confined, and which was kept with care in its original condition more than half a century, has been enlarged and improved for the purposes of a ball-room! I was there a few years ago, when the then owner was committing the sacrilege, and he boasted, with great satisfaction, that he had received a "whole dollar for the old lock that fastened up Major Andrew!" Sentiment does not obey the laws of trade – it seems to cheapen with a decrease of supply. The sign-board is now the only evidence that there is any on hand at the "76 Stone House." The trial took place in the old Dutch church, which was torn down in 1836. Upon its site another and larger one of brick has been erected. It stands within a few yards of the house where Andrè was confined. Washington’s head-quarters were in the old stone building now occupied by Samuel S. Verbryck, situated near the road from Sneeden’s Landing, within a few rods of its junction with the main street of the village. It was then owned by John de Windt, a native of St. Thomas’s, West Indies, and grandfather of Mrs. Verbryck, who now resides there.


From a Miniature, by himself.

I have mentioned that, on the arrival of Washington at Tappan, he ordered a court of inquiry. This court, consisting of fourteen general officers, 32 was convened at Tappan on the 29th of September, and on that day Major Andrè was arraigned before it and examined, John Laurance, 33 afterward a distinguished legislator and jurist, was judge advocate.


From a Pencil Sketch.

Andrè made a plain statement of the facts we have been considering; acknowledged and confirmed the truthfulness of his statements in his letter to General Washington from Salem; confessed that he came ashore from the Vulture in the night, and without a flag; and answered the query of the Board, whether he had any thing further to say respecting the charges preferred against him, by remarking, "I leave them to operate with the Board, persuaded that you will do me justice." He was remanded to prison, and, after a long and careful deliberation, the Board reported, "That Major Andrè, adjutant general of the British army, ought to be considered as a spy from the enemy, and that, agreeably to the law and usage of nations, it is their opinion he ought to suffer death." On the next day Washington signified his approval of the decision as follows:

"The commander-in-chief approves of the opinion of the Board of general officers respecting Major Andrè, and orders that the execution of Major Andrè take place to-morrow at five o’clock P.M."

The youth, candor, and gentlemanly bearing of Andrè during the trying scenes of his examination made a deep impression upon the court; and had the decision of those officers been in consonance with their feelings instead of their judgments and the stern necessities imposed by the expedients of war, he would not have suffered death. When the decision of the court was made known to him, the heroic firmness of his mind challenged the admiration of all. He exhibited no fear of death, but the manner was a subject that gave him uneasiness; he wished to die as a soldier, not as a spy. Tender of the feelings of his commander, he obtained permission of Washington to write to Sir Henry Clinton [September 29.], for the purpose of assuring him that the dilemma in which he found himself was not attributable to the duty required of him by his general. In that letter he implied a presentiment of his fate, and said, "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 effected their income," 35

There could be no question among military men as to the equity of Andrè’s sentence, and yet there was a general desire on the part of the Americans to save his life. Washington was deeply impressed with this feeling, and was ready to employ any measure to effect it consistent with his public duty. 36 The only mode to save Andrè was to exchange him for Arnold, and hold the traitor responsible for all the acts of his victim. This could hardly be expected, for Sir Henry Clinton was a man of nice honor; nor would the American commander make a formal proposition of this kind. It was, however, determined that an opportunity for such an arrangement should be offered, and a plan for that purpose was conceived. Washington placed a packet of papers, directed to Sir Henry Clinton, in the hands of a trusty officer of the New Jersey line, Captain Aaron Ogden, 37 containing an official account of the trial of Andrè, the decision of the Board of inquiry, and the letter written by Andrè to his general.

Ogden was directed to go to General La Fayette for further instructions, after he should arrange his escort of men, known for their tried fidelity. La Fayette was in command of the light infantry, stationed nearest to the British lines. He instructed Ogden to travel so slowly, that when he should reach Paulus’s Hook (now Jersey City), it might be so late that he would be invited to stay all night. He was then to communicate to the commandant of the post, as if incidentally, the idea of an exchange of Andrè for Arnold. Every thing occurred as was anticipated. The commandant received Ogden courteously, sent the packet across the river, asked him to stay all night, and in the course of the evening Andrè became the subject of conversation. Ogden, in reply to the commandant’s question, "Is there no way to spare Andrè’s life?" assured him that, if Sir Henry Clinton would give up Arnold, Andrè might be saved. He informed him, however, that he had no assurance to that effect from Washington, but that he had reason to know that such an arrangement might be effected. The commandant immediately left the company, crossed the river, and had an interview with Clinton. Sir Henry promptly refused compliance, for honor would not allow the surrender of a man who had deserted from the Americans and openly espoused the cause of the king. This decision was communicated to Ogden, and he prepared to return to the camp. At dawn, on mustering his men, a sergeant was missing – he had deserted to the enemy during the night. No time could be lost in searching for the deserter, and Ogden returned to Tappan without him [October 1, 1780.]. 38

Great was the distress of Sir Henry Clinton on reading Washington’s dispatch and the letter of Andrè. He immediately summoned a council of officers, and it was resolved that a deputation of three persons should proceed to the nearest American outpost, open a communication with Washington, and, presenting proofs of the innocence of Andrè, endeavor to procure his release. Toward noon on the 1st of October, General Robertson, Andrew Elliott, and William Smith, the deputation appointed by Clinton, accompanied by Beverly Robinson as a witness in the case, arrived at Dobbs’s Ferry, in the Greyhound schooner, with a flag of truce. A request for a parley had been sent by Clinton to Washington, by Captain Ogden, in the morning. General Greene was deputed by the chief to act in his behalf, and he was already at the ferry when the Greyhound came to anchor. General Robertson, with great courtesy of manner and flattering words, opened the conference, and was proceeding to discuss the subject at issue, when Greene politely interrupted him by saying, "Let us understand our position. I meet you only as a private gentleman, not as an officer, for the case of an acknowledged spy admits of no discussion." With this understanding the conference proceeded; but Robertson produced nothing new calculated to change Greene’s opinion respecting the justice of the sentence of the prisoner. A letter from Arnold to Washington, which had been kept in reserve, was now produced and read, The deputies believed that this would have the desired effect, and kept it back until verbal arguments should fail. Had their words been full of persuasion and convincing facts, this letter, so hypocritical, malignant, and impudent, would have scattered all favorable impressions in the mind of Greene to the winds. The traitor menaced Washington with dreadful retaliation if Andrè should be slain, and in prospective charged upon the commander-in-chief the guilt of causing torrents of blood to flow. 39 "It is hardly possible," says Sparks, "that this letter could have been read by Sir Henry Clinton, although written at his request, with a view of operating on the judgment and clemency of Washington. Could any language written by an individual have a more opposite tendency? Disgust and contempt were the only emotions it could excite; and it was at least an evidence that neither the understanding or the heart of the writer had been improved by his political change. Hitherto he had discovered acuteness and mental resources, but in this act his folly was commensurate with his wickedness." 40

The conference ended at sunset, and Greene returned to Tappan. Robertson expressed his confidence in Greene’s candor in communicating the substance of their discussion to Washington; informed him that he should remain on board the Greyhound all night, and expressed a hope that in the morning he might take Major Andrè back with him, or at least bear to his general an assurance of his ultimate safety. At an early hour the next morning [October 2, 1780.] the commissioners received a note from Greene, stating that the opinion and decision of Washington were unchanged, and that the prisoner would be executed that day. Robertson was overwhelmed with astonishment and grief. He had written to Clinton the evening before, expressing his belief that Andrè was safe. The wish was father to the thought, for he had no reasonable warrant for such a conclusion, except in the known clemency of General Washington. Reluctant to return without some word of consoling hope for Clinton, Robertson wrote a letter to Washington, recapitulating the points discussed at the conference; but it was of no avail. No new fact was presented; no new phase was exhibited. Sir Henry Clinton also wrote a long letter to Washington, offering some important prisoners in exchange; but it was too late. Let us turn from the contemplation of their noble efforts to save the prisoner, to the victim himself.

I have said that Andrè had no fear of death, but the manner was a subject that disturbed him. When the sentence of the Board was communicated to him, he evinced no surprise or evident emotion; he only remarked, that, since he was to die, there was still a choice in the mode, which would make a material difference in his feelings. He was anxious to be shot – to die the death of a soldier – and for this privilege he importuned Washington, in a letter written the day before his execution. 41 He pleaded with a touching yet manly earnestness for this boon, but it could not be granted by the customs of war. Unwilling to wound his feelings by a positive refusal, no answer was returned either to his verbal solicitation or his letter, and he was left the consoling hope that his wish might possibly be gratified.


From a Pen-and-ink Sketch by himself. 42

The 1st of October, at five o’clock in the afternoon, had been fixed for the time of his execution, but, in consequence of the protracted conference at Dobbs’s Ferry, it was postponed until the next day. Andrè had procured his military suit, and in calmness counted the speeding hours of his life, talking with self-possession to those who visited him, and even indulging in the practice of his favorite accomplishment. On the morning of the day fixed for his execution [October 1, 1780.], he sketched with a pen a likeness of himself, sitting by a table, of which a fac simile is here given. The original is now in the Trumbull Gallery at Yale College. It will be seen that there is a strong resemblance in the features of this sketch to those in the portrait on page 765 {original text has "197".}.

Major Andrè was executed at Tappan, at twelve o’clock, on the 2d of October, 1780. 43 Doctor Thacher, then a surgeon in the Continental army, and present on the occasion, has left the following account in his Journal: "Major Andrè is no more among the living. I have just witnessed his exit. It was a tragical scene of the deepest interest. . . . . . The principal guard-officer, who was constantly in the room with the prisoner, relates, that when the hour of execution was announced to him in the morning, he received it without emotion, and, while all present were affected with silent gloom, he retained a firm countenance, with calmness and composure of mind. Observing his servant enter his room in tears, he exclaimed, ‘Leave me, until you can show yourself more manly.’ His breakfast being 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 assembled. Almost all our general and field officers, excepting his excellency 44 and his staff, were present on horseback. Melancholy and gloom pervaded all ranks, and the scene was awfully affecting. I was so near, during the solemn march to the fatal spot, as to observe every movement, and to participate in every emotion the melancholy scene was calculated to produce. Major Andrè walked from the stone house in which he had been confined between two of our subaltern officers, arm-in-arm. The eyes of the immense multitude were fixed on him, who, rising superior to the fears of death, appeared as if conscious of the dignified deportment 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 was respectfully returned. It was his earnest desire to be shot, as being the mode of death most conformable to the feelings of a military man, and he had indulged the hope that his request would be granted. At the moment, therefore, that he came in view of the gallows, he involuntarily started backward and made a pause. ‘Why this emotion, sir?’ said 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 trepidation – placing his foot on a stone and rolling it over, and choking in his throat as if attempting to swallow.


So soon, 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 provost marshal, with one, loosely pinioned his arms, and with the other the victim, after taking off his hat and stock, bandaged 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 opportunity 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 expired. It proved, indeed, ‘but a momentary pang.’ He was dressed in his royal regimentals and boots. His remains, in the same dress, were placed in an ordinary coffin, and interred at the foot of the gallows; 46 and the spot was consecrated by the tears of thousands. Thus died, in the bloom of life, the accomplished Major Andrè, the pride of the royal army, and the valued friend of Sir Henry Clinton." 47


The captors of Andrè (Paulding, Williams, 48 and Van Wart), were nobly rewarded by Congress for their fidelity. In a letter to the president of Congress [October 7, 1780.], Washington said, "Their conduct merits our warmest esteem; and I beg leave to add, that I think the public would do well to allow them a handsome gratuity. They have prevented, in all probability, our suffering one of the severest strokes that could have been meditated against us." Pursuant to this recommendation, Congress adopted a resolution [November 3, 1780.], expressive of the public sense of the virtuous and patriotic conduct of the "three young volunteer militia-men," and ordered "that each of them receive annually, out of the public treasury, two hundred dollars in specie, or an equivalent in the current money of these states during life, and that the Board of War procure for each of them a silver medal, on one side of which shall be a shield with this inscription; FIDELITY; and on the other the following motto: VINCIT AMOR PATRIÆ, ‘the love of country conquers,’ and forward them to the commander-in-chief, who is requested to present the same, with a copy of this resolution and the thanks of Congress, for their fidelity, and the eminent service they have rendered their country." 49 The medals were afterward given to the three individuals by Washington himself, at head-quarters, and the captors enjoyed the annuity during their lives. 50

Commensurate with the strong feeling of sympathy evinced for Andrè was the sentiment of indignant hatred and disgust of Arnold, and it was the ardent desire of Washington and his compatriots to obtain possession of the person of the arch-traitor and punish him as his wickedness deserved. Various plans were arranged, secret and open, to capture him, and several expeditions were formed for that avowed object. One, while the army was yet at Tappan, and the tears of sympathy for poor Andrè were hardly dry upon the cheeks of the soldiers, was almost successful. It was known only to Washington, Major Henry Lee, and Sergeant Champe, the latter the principal actor in the movement.

Washington had learned that Arnold’s quarters in New York were next door to those of Sir Henry Clinton (now No. 3 Broadway), and that he seemed to feel so secure with his new friends that his usual caution was but little exercised. The chief conceived a plan for abducting the traitor and bringing him to the American camp. The principal difficulty appeared to be to procure the proper instruments for such an enterprise. Recent events had made the commander-in-chief suspicious, for he knew not where smaller traitors might be lurking. He sent for Major Henry Lee, the commandant of a brave legion of cavalry; a man in whose patriotism, prudence, and judgment he knew he could confide. Already he had intrusted to this officer the delicate service of ascertaining the truth of many flying rumors that other officers of high rank were likely to follow Arnold’s example. To him Washington disclosed his wishes. "I have sent for you, Major Lee," he said, "in the expectation that you have in your corps individuals capable and willing to undertake an indispensable, delicate, and hazardous project. Whoever comes forward on this occasion will lay me under great obligations personally, and in behalf of the United States I will reward him amply. No time is to be lost; he must proceed, if possible, to-night." The nature of the service was disclosed to Lee, and he promptly replied to his commander that he had no doubt his legion contained many men daring enough to undertake any enterprise, however perilous; but for the service required there was needed a combination of talent rarely found in the same individual. 51 Lee suggested a plan which was highly approved of by Washington. He named Champe, the sergeant major of his cavalry, as every way well qualified for the service, but he was afraid his sense of personal honor would not allow him to take the first step in the perilous expedition – desertion – for he was anxiously awaiting a vacancy in the corps to receive a promised commission. 52

Lee sent instantly for Champe, communicated to him the wishes of Washington, and depicted, with all the earnestness and eloquence of which he was master, the glory that awaited him, if successful. Champe listened with the deepest attention, his countenance evincing the greatest excitement of feeling. He expressed himself charmed with the plan, and its proposed beneficial results; declared that he was ready to embark in any enterprise for his country’s good, however perilous, which did not involve his honor; but the idea of desertion to the enemy, and hypocritically espousing the cause of the king, were obstacles in his way too grave to be disregarded, and he prayed to be excused. Lee combated these scruples with every argument calculated to impress the heart of a brave soldier. He spoke of the personal honor which success promised; the honor of the corps to which he belonged; the great service which he would perform for his beloved commander-in-chief, and the plaudits of his countrymen. He told him that desertion, by request of his general, for a laudable purpose, carried with it no dishonor, and that the stain upon his character would remain only until prudence should allow the publication of the facts. After long persuasion, the sergeant major consented to undertake the mission, and preparations were immediately made.

Washington had already drawn up instructions. These were read to Champe, and he carefully noted their import in such a way that their true meaning could not be understood by another. He was to deliver letters to two individuals in New York, unknown to each other, who had long been in the confidence of the general. He was to procure such aid in bringing Arnold away as his judgment should dictate; and he was strictly enjoined to forbear killing the traitor under any circumstances. 53 These preliminaries being settled, the difficulties that lay in his way between the camp and the enemy’s outposts at Paulus’s Hook, were next considered. There were many pickets and patrols in the way, and straggling parties of American irregulars often ventured almost to Bergen Point in search of booty or an adventure. Major Lee could offer the sergeant no aid against these dangers, lest he should be involved in the charge of favoring his desertion, and Champe was left to his own resources. All that Lee could do was to delay pursuit as long as possible, after it should be ascertained that the sergeant major had deserted.

At eleven o’clock at night [October 20, 1780.], Champe took his cloak, valise, and orderly-book, mounted his horse secretly, and with three guineas in his pocket, which were given him by Lee, "put himself on fortune." Lee immediately went to bed, but not to sleep. Within half an hour, Captain Carnes, the officer of the day, came to him in haste, and informed him that one of the patrols had fallen in with a dragoon, who, on being challenged, put spurs to his horse and escaped. Lee complained of fatigue and drowsiness, pretended to be half asleep, and thus detained the captain some minutes before he seemed fairly to understand the object of that officer’s visit. He ridiculed the idea that one of his own dragoons had deserted, for such an event had occurred but once during the whole war. The captain was not to be convinced by such arguments, but immediately mustering the whole squadron of horse, by Lee’s reluctant order, satisfied both himself and his commander that one had deserted, and that he was no less a personage than Champe, the sergeant major, who had decamped with his arms, baggage, and orderly-book. Captain Carnes ordered an immediate pursuit. Lee made as much delay in the preparation as possible, and when all was ready, he ordered a change in the command, giving it to Lieutenant Middleton, a young man whose tenderness of disposition would cause him to treat Champe leniently, if he should be overtaken. By parleying and other delays, Champe got an hour the start of his pursuers.

It was a bright starry night, and past twelve o’clock, when Middleton and his party took the saddle and spurred after the deserter. A fall of rain at sunset had effaced all tracks in the road, and thus favored the pursuit, for the single foot-prints of the dragoon’s horse were easily traced and recognized. 54 Often, before dawn, when coming to a fork or a cross-road, a trooper would dismount to examine the track. Ascending an eminence at sunrise near the "Three Pigeons," 55 a tavern a few miles north of the village of Bergen, they descried from its summit the deserting sergeant, not more than half a mile in advance. The pursuers were discovered by Champe at the same moment, and both parties spurred onward with all their might. They were all well acquainted with the roads in the vicinity. There was a short cut through the woods to the bridge below Bergen, which left the great road a little below the Three Pigeons. There Middleton divided his party, sending a detachment by the short road to secure the bridge, while himself and the others pursued Champe to Bergen. He now felt sure of capturing the deserter, for he could not reach Paulus’s Hook without crossing the bridge in question. The two divisions met at the bridge, but, to their great astonishment, Champe had eluded their vigilance, and was not to be found. He, too, was acquainted with the short cut, and shrewdly considered that his pursuers would avail themselves of it. He therefore wisely determined to abandon his design of going to the British post at Paulus’s Hook, and seek refuge on board one of two of the king’s galleys which were lying in the bay in front of the little settlement of Communipaw, about a mile from Bergen.

Middleton retired hastily from the bridge to Bergen, and inquired if a dragoon had been seen there that morning. He was answered in the affirmative, but no one knew which way he went from the village. The beaten track no longer gave a legible imprint of his horse’s shoes, and for a moment his pursuers were foiled. The trail was soon discovered on the road leading to Bergen. The pursuit was vigorously renewed, and in a few moments Champe was discovered near the water’s edge, making signals to the British galleys. He had lashed his valise, containing his clothes and orderly-book, upon his back. When Middleton was within a few hundred yards of him, Champe leaped from his horse, cast away the scabbard of his sword, and with the naked blade in his hand, he sped across the marsh, plunged into the deep waters of the bay, and called to the galleys for help. A boat filled with strong oarsmen responded to his call, and he was soon on board the galley, with all the evidences of the sincerity of his desertion in his possession. The captain of the galley gave him a letter to Sir Henry Clinton, in which the scene just mentioned was described, and before night the sergeant was safely quartered in New York.

Middleton recovered the horse, cloak, and scabbard belonging to Champe, and returned to Tappan. Lee was grieved when he saw the supposed evidence that poor Champe was slain; but equally great was his joy when he learned from Middleton that the sergeant had escaped safely on board one of the enemy’s galleys. Four days afterward Lee received a letter from Champe, in a disguised hand, and without signature, informing him of the occurrence just narrated.

Champe was sent by Clinton, for interrogation, to his adjutant general. The faithfulness of the legion to which he had hitherto been attached was well known in the British army, and this desertion was regarded as an important sign of increasing defection among the Americans. This opinion Champe fostered by adroit answers to questions proposed. Sir Henry Clinton also questioned him closely; and so sincere seemed to be the sergeant’s desire to serve the king, that he won the entire confidence of the British general. Clinton gave Champe a couple of guineas, and recommended him to call upon General Arnold, who was engaged in raising an American legion, to be composed of Loyalists and deserters. This was exactly the course to which Champe had hoped events would tend. Arnold received him courteously, and assigned him quarters among his recruiting sergeants. The traitor asked him to join his legion, but Champe begged to be excused, on the plea that if caught by the rebels, he would surely be hanged; but promised Arnold that, if he changed his mind, he would certainly join his legion.

Champe found means to deliver the two letters before mentioned, and five days after his arrival in New York [October 25, 1780.], he made arrangements with one of Washington’s correspondents to assist him in abducting Arnold, and then communicated the facts to Major Lee. 56 He enlisted in the traitor’s legion, so as to have free intercourse with him, and ascertain his night habits and pursuits. In the rear of Arnold’s quarters was a garden, extending down to the water’s edge. 57 Champe ascertained that it was Arnold’s habit to return to his quarters at about midnight, and that previous to going to bed he always visited the garden. Adjoining the garden was a dark alley leading to the street. These circumstances were favorable to Champe’s plans. He had arranged with two accomplices (one of whom was to have a boat in readiness) to seize and gag Arnold, on a certain night, in his garden, convey him to the alley, and from thence, through the most unfrequented streets, to the river. In case of detection while carrying the traitor, they were to represent him as a drunken soldier whom they were conveying to the guard-house. Once in the boat, they might pass in safety to Hoboken.

Champe carefully removed some of the palings between the garden and the alley, and replaced them so slightly that they might again be removed without noise. When all was arranged, he wrote to Lee, and appointed the third subsequent night [November 5, 1780.] for the delivery of the traitor on the Jersey shore. On that evening, Lee and a small party left the camp, with three accoutered horses – one for Arnold, one for the sergeant, and one for his associate – and at midnight concealed themselves at an appointed place in the woods at Hoboken. Hour after hour passed, and the dawn came, but Champe and his prisoner did not arrive. Lee and his party returned to camp greatly disappointed. A few days afterward he received a letter from his sergeant, explaining the cause of his failure, and an assurance that present success was hopeless. On the very day when Champe was to execute his plan, Arnold changed his quarters, to superintend the embarkation of troops for an expedition southward, to be commanded by himself. 58 In this expedition the American legion was to be employed, and poor Champe, who had enlisted in it to carry out his plans, was in a sad dilemma. Instead of crossing the Hudson that night, with the traitor his prisoner, he found himself on board of a British transport, and that traitor his commander! The expedition sailed [December 16, 1780.], and Champe was landed on the shores of Virginia. He sought opportunities to escape, but found none, until after the junction with Cornwallis at Petersburg, where he deserted. He passed up toward the mountains, and into the friendly districts of North Carolina. Finally, he joined the legion of Major Lee, just after it had passed the Congaree in pursuit of Lord Rawdon. Great was the surprise of his old comrades when they saw him, and it was increased at the cordial reception which the deserter received at the hands of Lee. His story was soon told, and four-fold greater than before his desertion was the love and admiration of his corps for him. They felt proud of him, and his promotion would have been hailed by general acclamation. Knowing that he would immediately be hanged if caught by the enemy, he was discharged from service. The commander-in-chief munificently rewarded him; and seventeen years afterward, when President Adams appointed Washington to the chief command of the armies of the United States, then preparing to defend the country from the threatened hostility of the French, the chief sent to Colonel Lee for information concerning Champe, being determined to bring him forward in the capacity of a captain of infantry. But the gallant soldier had removed to Kentucky, and was asleep in the soil. 59

A few months after my visit to Tappan, I made another tour to the vicinity. I passed two days in the romantic valley of the Ramapo, through which the New York and Erie rail-way courses. Every rocky nook, sparkling water-course, and shaded glen in that wild valley has a legendary charm. It is a ravine sixteen miles in extent, opening wide toward the fertile fields of Orange county. It was a region peculiarly distinguished by wild and daring adventure during the Revolution, and, at times, as important military ground. There the marauding Cow-boys made their rendezvous; and from its dark coverts, Claudius Smith, the merciless freebooter, and his three sons, with their followers, sallied out and plundered the surrounding country. 60 Along the sinuous Ramapo Creek, before the war of the Revolution broke out. and while the ancient tribe of the Ramapaughs yet chased the deer on the rugged hills which skirt the valley, iron-forges were established, and the hammer-peal of spreading civilization echoed from the neighboring crags.

Not far distant from its waters the great chain which was stretched across the Hudson at West Point was wrought; 61 and the remains of one of the Ramapo forges, built at the close of the war, now form a picturesque ruin on the margin of the rail-way. 62 A few miles below it, Ramapo village, with its extensive machinery, sends up a perpetual hymn of industry from the wilderness. This village, now containing a population of three hundred, 63 is owned by the Piersons, the elder having established iron-works there fifty years ago. Jeremiah H. Pierson, the original proprietor, is yet living there at the age of eighty-four, and to the kind hospitality of himself and family I am indebted for much of the pleasures and profit of my visit to the Ramapo Valley [October, 1850.]. God has taken his eyesight from him, but mercifully vouchsafes good health, sound mind, sunny cheerfulness, and the surroundings of a happy family. I listened with interest to a narrative of his clear recollections of the past, and the traditions gathered from his scattered neighbors when he first sat down there in the almost wilderness. Not twenty years had elapsed since the war closed when he erected his forges, and the sufferers were living in small groups all around him. They have all passed away, and volumes of unwritten traditionary history are buried with them.

The American army under Washington was encamped in the vicinity of Ramapo for a few days in July, 1777. The head-quarters of Washington had been at Morristown during the previous winter and spring. Believing it prudent to act on the defensive, he had waited anxiously for Sir William Howe, who was quartered in New York city, to make some decided movement. Summer approached, and yet the British commander gave no intimations respecting his designs for a campaign. It was believed that he would either make a demonstration against the strong posts in the Highlands, or attempt a passage of the Delaware and a seizure of Philadelphia. Washington’s position at Morristown was an eligible one for acting promptly and efficiently when Howe should move either way.

General Howe had a considerable force stationed at New Brunswick. This force was augmented early in May, and Washington received information that they had begun to build a portable bridge there, so constructed that it might be laid upon flat boats. Believing this to be a preparation for crossing the Delaware, Washington collected the new levies from Virginia and the Middle States, at Morristown, and ordered those from the eastward to assemble at Peekskill. Toward the close of May [1777.], the American army moved from Morristown, and encamped upon the heights of Middlebrook, in a very strong position, and commanding the country from New Brunswick to the Delaware. The maneuvers of detachments of the two armies in this vicinity in June [1777.] are noticed on page 331, vol. i. The British finally crossed over to Staten Island from Amboy [June 30.] on the bridge which they had constructed at New Brunswick, and entirely evacuated the Jerseys.

The next day Washington received intelligence of the approach of Burgoyne from Canada, and at the same time spies and deserters from New York informed him that a fleet of large vessels and transports were preparing in the harbor of that city. The commander-in-chief was greatly perplexed. At first it appeared probable that Howe was preparing to sail with his army southward, go up the Delaware, and attack Philadelphia by land and by water; but the intelligence that Washington continued to receive from the North made it appear more probable that a junction with Burgoyne, and the consequent possession of the Hudson River, by which the patriots of the Eastern and Middle States would be separated, and a free communication with Canada be established, would engage the efforts of Sir William Howe. The possession of the Hudson River had been a prominent object from the beginning of the war.

Washington remained at Middlebrook with the main division of the army, anxiously awaiting the movements of the enemy, until toward the middle of July. He dispatched two regiments to Peekskill, on the Hudson, and had his whole army in readiness to march in that direction, if circumstances should require. When it was certainly known that the British army had actually embarked on board the fleet, Washington moved slowly toward the Highlands by way of Morristown, Ramapo, 64 and the Clove 65. He encamped in the latter place on the 15th [July, 1777.], eleven miles above the Ramapo Pass (of which I shall presently write), and immediately sent forward Lord Stirling, with a division, to Peekskill. He established his head-quarters at Ramapo on the 23d; but so much was that region infested with Cow-boys and other Tories, that it was with great difficulty that he could obtain correct information from a distance. 66 Northward from the present Ramapo village rises a range of lofty hills, upon the highest summit of which is upreared a huge mass of granite, shaped like a mighty dome, the top covered with trees. From this eminence, five hundred feet above the village, a small portion of New York Bay, Staten Island, and the ocean near Sandy Hook, may be distinctly seen on a clear day, the distance being about thirty-five miles. To this observatory, it is said, Washington was piloted, and with his glass saw a portion of the fleet of the enemy near Sandy Hook. The Weehawken Hill obstructed a full view of New York Harbor, and the commander-in-chief was uncertain whether the whole fleet had dropped down to the Hook; but, on returning to his quarters at Ramapo, he received positive information that the British fleet had gone to sea. Convinced that Philadelphia was the destination of Howe, Washington recalled Stirling’s division from Peekskill, broke up his encampment in the Clove, and the army pursued various routes toward the Delaware. The battle of Brandywine, and other events in the vicinity of Philadelphia, which occurred soon afterward, will be noticed in subsequent chapters.


On the return of Commodore Sir George Collier and General Matthews from a marauding expedition to Virginia, at the close of May, 1779, they sailed up the Hudson River to attack the forts in the Highlands [June 1, 1779.]. This expedition, as we have noticed on page 743 {original text has "175".}, was under the command of Sir Henry Clinton. As soon as Washington was advised of this movement, he drew his troops from their cantonments in New Jersey, and, by rapid marches, reached the Clove on the 7th with five brigades and two Carolina regiments. He pressed forward to Smith’s Clove, whence there were mountain passes to the forts in the Highlands, and there he encamped.


Small detachments for observation and protection to couriers were stationed at different points from the encampment southward to old Ramapo, and strong intrenchments were thrown up at the Pass, a narrow gorge about half a mile below the present Ramapo village. The passage between the hills here is only wide enough for the stream, the rail-way, a wagon-road, and a narrow strip of meadow-land. The hills on each side rise abrupt and rocky. It was a place almost as easy to fortify and guard as the pass of old Thermopylæ. The ditch and bank from the wagon-road eastward are yet quite prominent. Large trees have overgrown them, and with care these mementoes of the past may be long preserved.

While the army was encamped at Smith’s Clove, the successful expedition of General Wayne against Stony Point was accomplished. This success, the subsequent evacuation of that post and of Verplanck’s Point by the British, and the necessity for sending re-enforcements to General Lincoln at the South, caused the camp in the Clove to be broken up early in the autumn [1779.]. The main portion of the army went into winter quarters at Morristown, where the commander-in-chief established himself, and strong detachments were stationed at different points among the Highlands.

Once again, and for the last time, the Ramapo Valley became the temporary theater of military operations. It was in the summer of 1781, when the allied armies took up their line of march for Virginia to achieve the defeat of Cornwallis. They had conjoined upon the Hudson for the purpose of making an attack upon the head-quarters of the British army in the city of New York. The failure of Count De Grasse, commander of a French fleet then in the West Indies, to co-operate with the land forces, made Washington abandon this project, and turn his attention to the military operations at the South. To prevent obstacles being thrown in his way by Sir Henry Clinton, or re-enforcements being sent to Cornwallis, Washington kept up the appearance of a meditated attack upon New York.

The two armies, which had remained nearly six weeks in the vicinity of Dobbs’s Ferry, crossed the Hudson at Verplanck’s Point, and marched by different routes to Trenton, under the general command of Lincoln; some passing through the Ramapo Valley and the Pass to Morristown, and others taking the upper route above the Ringwood Iron-works. The French took the river route, by Tappan and the Hackensack Valley, to Newark and Perth Amboy. At the latter place they built ovens, constructed boats, collected forage, and made other movements indicative of preparations to commence an attack, first upon the British posts on Staten Island, and then upon New York. Previous to the passage of the Hudson, Washington had caused deceptive letters to be written and put in the way of being intercepted, 69 all of which deceived Sir Henry Clinton into the belief that an attack upon New York city was the grand object of the Americans. The allied armies had crossed the Delaware, and were far on their way toward the head of Elk, before the British commander was fully aware of their destination.


About four miles south of the Ramapo Pass, and three from Suffern’s Station, on the road to Morristown, is the "Hopper House," where Washington made his head-quarters from the 2d until the 18th of September, 1780. The mansion was owned by ----- Hopper, one of the most active Whigs of the day. He was often employed by Washington in the secret service, and frequently visited his friends in New York city while the enemy had possession of it. On such occasions, he obtained much valuable information respecting the strength of the enemy, without incurring suspicion, as he never committed a word to paper.

The remains of the patriot rest beneath a small marble monument, in a family cemetery, upon a grassy knoll by the road side, not far from the mansion. This is the house wherein those letters of Washington, beginning with "Head-quarters, Bergen county," were written; it being in New Jersey, about two miles from the New York line. It was here that he received the news of the defeat of Gates at the disastrous battle near Camden, on the 16th of August, 1780; and from hence he set out on his journey to Hartford, on Monday, the 18th of September [1780.], to meet the French officers in council, the time when Arnold attempted to surrender West Point into the hands of the enemy. The venerable widow of Mr. Hopper resided there until her death in 1849, when she had reached the ninety-ninth year of her life. Her daughter, who was often dandled on the knee of Washington, is still living, but was absent on the day of my visit, and I was denied the gratification of viewing those relics of the Revolution which are preserved in the house with much care. 71


Close by Suffern’s Station is an old building coeval with the original Hopper house. It was the head-quarters of Lieutenant-colonel Aaron Burr, while stationed there in command of Malcolm’s regiment in September, 1777. It has been sometimes erroneously called the head-quarters of Washington. While encamped here for the purpose of guarding the Ramapo Pass, Colonel Burr performed an exploit which was long remembered in the neighborhood. He received intelligence that the enemy were in considerable force at Hackensack, and advancing into the country. Leaving a guard to protect the camp, Burr marched with the remainder of his effective men to Paramus, a distance of sixteen miles, in the direction of Hackensack. They arrived there at sunset, and found the militia of the district gathered in great confusion. Having arranged them in order, Burr marched forward with thirty picked men, and at ten o’clock at night approached the pickets of the enemy. When within three miles of Hackensack, Burr led his men into the woods, ordered them to sleep until he should awaken them, and then went alone to reconnoiter. A little before daylight he returned, aroused his men, and directed them to follow him, without speaking a word or firing a gun until ordered, on pain of death. Leading them unobserved between the sentinels, until within a few yards of the picket-guard, he gave the word Fire! His men rushed upon the enemy before they had time to take up their arms, and a greater portion of them were killed. A few prisoners and some spoil was carried off by the Americans, without the loss of a man on their part. Burr sent an order to Paramus by an express for all the troops to move, and to rally the country. This success inspirited the militia, and they flocked in great numbers to the standard of Burr. The enemy, thoroughly frightened, retreated in haste to Paulus’s Hook (Jersey City), leaving behind them a greater portion of the plunder which they had collected.

We will now leave the Ramapo, and, saying farewell to the Hudson and its associations, wend our way toward the sunny South.



1 The Marquis de Chastellux, in his Travels in North America (i., 98, 99), says, "My thoughts were occupied with Arnold and his treason when my road brought me to Smith’s farm-house, where he had his interview with Andrè, and formed his horrid plot . . . . Smith, who was more than suspected, but not convicted of being a party in the plot, is still in prison, * where the law protects him against justice. But his home seems to have experienced the only chastisement of which it was susceptible; it is punished by solitude; and is, in fact, so deserted, that there is not a single person to take care of it, although it is the mansion of a large farm."

* Joshua Hett Smith, implicated in Arnold’s treason, was a brother of the Tory chief justice, William Smith, and a man of considerable influence. The part which he had acted with Arnold made him strongly suspected of known participation in his guilt. He was arrested at Fishkill, in Dutchess county, and was taken to the Robinson House a few hours previous to the arrival of Andrè. There Smith was tried by a military court and acquitted. He was soon afterward arrested by the civil authority of the state, and committed to the jail at Goshen, Orange county, whence he escaped, and made his way through the country, in the disguise of a woman, to New York. He went to England with the British army at the close of the war, and in 1808 published a book in London, entitled An Authentic Narrative of the Causes which led to the Death of Major Andrè; a work of very little reliable authority, and filled with abuse of Washington and other American officers. Smith died in New York In 1818.

2 Bolton. Irving, in his Legend of Sleepy Hollow, says, "This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days."

3 The party called Cow-boys were mostly Refugees belonging to the British side, and engaged in plundering the people near the lines of their cattle and driving them to New York. Their vocation suggested their name. The Skinners generally professed attachment to the American cause, and lived chiefly within the patriot lines; but they were of easy virtue, and were really more detested by the Americans than their avowed enemies, the Cow-boys. They were treacherous, rapacious, and often brutal. One day they would be engaged in broils and skirmishes with the Cow-boys; the next day they would be in league with them in plundering their own friends as well as enemies. Oftentimes a sham skirmish would take place between them near the British lines; the Skinners were always victorious, and then they would go boldly into the interior with their booty, pretending it had been captured from the enemy while attempting to smuggle it across the lines. The proceeds of sales were divided between the parties. See Sparks’s Life of Arnold, 218-21 inclusive.

4 The Neutral Ground, thirty miles in extent along the Hudson, and embracing nearly all West Chester county, was a populous and highly cultivated region, lying between the American and British lines. Being within neither, it was called the Neutral Ground. The inhabitants suffered dreadfully during the war, for they were sure to be plundered and abused by one party or the other. If they took the oath of fidelity to the American cause, the Cow-boys were sure to plunder them; if they did not, the Skinners would call them Tories, seize their property, and have it confiscated by the state.

5 "This tree towered like a giant," says Irving, in his Sketch Book, "above all the other trees of the neighborhood, and formed a kind of landmark. Its limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising again into the air." The trunk was twenty-six feet in circumference, and forty-one feet in length. It was struck by lightning on the same day that intelligence of Arnold’s death arrived at Tarrytown, a coincidence which many thought remarkable.

6 Here, at the parsonage, the Yorktown Committee of Public Safety met; and members of the Provincial Congress assembled there to grant commissions to officers. Colonel Robertson, who commanded a regiment of Loyalists, was ordered to destroy that post; and, piloted thither by a Tory named Caleb Morgan, he burned the parsonage in the autumn of 1776.

7 This bridge, situated in the southeast corner of Yorktown, spanned the Croton River. At this place the great dam connected with the Croton aqueduct is situated, and the present bridge crosses the lake above it, a little eastward of the Revolutionary structure. Here the Americans generally kept a strong guard, as it was the chief point of communication between the lines.

8 I While strolling among the ancient graves in the Sleepy Hollow church-yard, a little north of Tarrytown, at the time of my visit there, I was joined by an elderly gentleman, a son of Mr. Dean. He pointed out a brown freestone at the head of his father’s grave, on which is the following inscription: "In memory of John Dean. He was born September 15th, A. D. 1755, and died April 4th, A. D. 1817, aged 61 years, 6 months, and 20 days.

"A tender father, a friend sincere,
A tender husband slumbers here;
Then let us hope his soul is given
A blest and sure reward In heaven."

By his side is the grave of his father, who was buried eighty years ago.

9 See Sparks’s Life and Treason of Arnold, Am. Biog., iii., 223-226.

10 "Paulding had effected his escape," says Bolton (i., 224), "only three days previously, from the New York Sugar House, in the dress of a German Yager. General Van Cortlandt says that Paulding wore this dress on the day of the capture, which tended to deceive Andrè, and led him to exclaim, ‘Thank God! I am once more among friends.’ "

11 This is a view of the out-buildings of Mr. Sands, at North Castle, situated a few yards from his residence. The lowest building, on the left, is the dwelling, now attached to the barn of Mr. Sands, which Jameson used as his head-quarters. In that building Andrè was kept guarded until sent to West Point.

12 I Eight or nine days previous to the capture, Major Tallmadge received a letter from Arnold of similar import to the one Colonel Sheldon received from him, in which he requested, if a man by the name of Anderson should come within the lines, to have him sent to head-quarters with two horsemen. This incident was strongly in favor of Tallmadge’s suspicions.

13 The following is a copy of the letter:


"Salem, September 24th, 1780.

"SIR, – What I have as yet said concerning myself was in the justifiable attempt to be extricated. I am too little accustomed to duplicity to have succeeded.

"I beg your excellency will be persuaded that no alteration in the temper of my mind, or apprehension for my safety, induces me to take the step of addressing you, but that it is to rescue myself from an imputation of having assumed a mean character for treacherous purposes or self-interest; a conduct incompatible with the principles that actuate me, as well as with my condition in life. It is to vindicate my fame that I speak, and not to solicit security. The person in your possession is Major John Andrè, adjutant general to the British army.

"The influence of one commander in the army of his adversary is an advantage taken in war. A correspondence for this purpose I held, as confidential (in the present instance), with his excellency Sir Henry Clinton. To favor it, I agreed to meet, upon ground not within the posts of either army, a person who was to give me intelligence. I came up in the Vulture man-of-war for this effect, and was fetched by boat from the ship to the beach. Being here, I was told that the approach of day would prevent my return, and that I must be concealed until the next night. I was in my regimentals, and had fairly risked my person.

"Against my stipulations, my intention, and without my knowledge beforehand, I was conducted within one of your posts. Your excellency may conceive my sensation on this occasion, and must imagine how much more must I have been affected by a refusal to reconduct me back the next night as I had been brought. Thus become a prisoner, I had to concert my escape. I quitted my uniform, and was passed another way in the night, without the American posts, to neutral ground, and informed I was beyond all armed parties, and left to press for New York. I was taken at Tarrytown by some volunteers. Thus, as I have had the honor to relate, was I betrayed (being adjutant general of the British army) into the vile condition of an enemy in disguise within your posts.

Having avowed myself a British officer, I have nothing to reveal but what relates to myself, which is true on the honor of an officer and a gentleman. The request I have to make to your excellency, and I am conscious I address myself well, is, that in any rigor policy may dictate, a decency of conduct toward 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 involuntarily an impostor. Another request is, that I may be permitted to write an open letter to Sir Henry Clinton, and another to a friend for clothes and linen.

"I take the liberty to mention the condition of some gentlemen at Charleston, who, being either on parole or under protection, were engaged in a conspiracy against us. Though their situation is not similar, they are objects who may be set in exchange for me, or are persons whom the treatment I receive might affect. It is no less, sir, in a confidence of the generosity of your mind, than on account of your superior station that I have chosen to importune you with this letter.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your excellency’s most obedient and most humble servant,

"JOHN ANDRÈ, Adjutant General."


14 See Sparks’s Amer. Biog., iii., 255-259.

15 This view is from the church-yard, looking southwest. The porch seen on the right fronts upon the highway, and is a modern addition, the ancient entrance being on the south side. This is believed to be the oldest church in existence in this state, having been erected, according to an inscription upon a stone tablet upon its front, by Vredryck Flypsen (Frederic Philips) and Catharine his wife, in 1699. It is built of brick and stone, the former having been imported from Holland for the express purpose.


The old flag-shaped vane, with the initials of the founder cut out of it, yet turns upon its steeple. and in the little tower hangs the ancient bell, bearing this inscription: "SI. DEUS. PRO. NOBIS. QUIS. CONTRA. NOS. 1685" – "If God be for us, who can be against us!"


The pulpit and communion-table were imported from Holland; the latter alone has escaped the ruthless hand of modern improvement.

16 Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

17 Ichabod, according to Irving, in the Legend, returning from a late evening tarry with Katrina Van Tassel, on his lean steed Gunpowder, was chased by a huge horseman, without a head, from the Andrè tree to the bridge. "He saw the walls of the church dimly gleaming under the trees beyond. He recollected the place where Brom Bones’s ghostly competitor had disappeared. ‘If I can but reach that bridge,’ thought Ichabod, ‘I am safe.’ Just then he heard the black steed panting and blowing close behind him; he even fancied that he felt his hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the resounding planks; he gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod cast a look behind, to see if his pursuer should vanish, according to rule, in a flash of fire and brimstone. Just then he saw the goblin rising in his stirrups, and in the very act of hurling his head at him. Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile, but too late; it encountered his cranium with a terrible crash; he was tumbled headlong into the dust, and Gunpowder, the black steed, and the goblin rider, passed like a whirlwind." A shattered pumpkin was found on the road the next day, but Ichabod had gone to parts unknown.

Brom Bones, his rival, soon afterward led the pretty Katrina to the altar. The good country people always maintained that Ichabod was spirited away by the headless horseman, who was the ghost of a Hessian soldier, whose body, deprived of its caput by a cannon-ball, was sleeping in the church-yard near.

18 Dearman; afterward altered to Irvington.

19 The following are the inscriptions upon this monument:

NORTH SIDE. – "Here repose the mortal remains of ISAAC VAN WART, an elder in the Greenburgh church, who died on the 23d of May, 1828, in the 69th year of his age. Having lived the life, he died the death, of the Christian."

SOUTH SIDE. – "The citizens of the county of West Chester erected this tomb in testimony of the high sense they entertained for the virtuous and patriotic conduct of their fellow-citizen, as a memorial sacred to public gratitude."

EAST SIDE. – "Vincit, Amor Patriæ. Nearly half a century before this monument was built, the conscript fathers of America had, in the Senate chamber, voted that ISAAC VAN WART was a faithful patriot, one in whom the love of country was invincible, and this tomb bears testimony that the record is true."

WEST SIDE. – "Fidelity. On the 23d of September, 1780, ISAAC VAN WART, accompanied by JOHN PAULDING and DAVID WILLIAMS, all farmers of the county of West Chester, intercepted Major Andrè, on his return from the American lines in the character of a spy, and, notwithstanding the large bribes offered them for his release, nobly disdained to sacrifice their country for gold, secured and carried him to the commanding officer of the district, whereby the dangerous and traitorous conspiracy of Arnold was brought to light, the insidious designs of the enemy baffled, the American army saved, and our beloved country free."

20 Sketch Book.

21 Tappaan Zee, or Tappan Sea, was the name given by the Dutch to the expansion of the Hudson at this place.

22 The water-guards were resolute men, well armed with muskets, and skillful with the oar, who, in small vessels technically called whale-boats (sharp, canoe-shaped boats), lurked in the coves and behind the headlands of the river, to obtain information of the approach or position of vessels of the enemy. With muffled oars, they often reconnoitered the British ships at night, and sometimes cut off boats that ventured from them toward the shore.

23 Knickerbocker Magazine.

24 There were a number of the Van Tassels living in the vicinity of the Greenburgh church. In November, 1777, a party of Chasseurs, under Captain Emerick, went up from Kingsbridge, surprised the Van Tassels, burned their houses, stripped the women and children of their clothing, and carried off Peter and Cornelius Van Tassel prisoners. In retaliation for the outrage, the patriots fitted out an expedition at Tarrytown under the command of Abraham Martlingh, which proceeded down the river in boats, passed the water-guards of the enemy in safety, landed a little below Spuyten Devil Creek, set fire to General Oliver de Lancey’s house, and returned without losing a man. General De Lancey was a most active and bitter Loyalist. He will come under our observation in a conspicuous manner hereafter. See page 624, vol. ii.

25 This view is from the bank immediately above the rail-way station, looking northwest. In the foreground is seen the wagon-road, passing by, on an arch of masonry, over the rail-way. On the left is the wharf. Toward the right, in the distance, is seen the long pier and village of Piermont; and at the extreme right, in the distance, is the mountain near the foot of which Andrè and Arnold first met. Piermont is the port of Tappan, the place where Andrè was executed. The sketch here presented was made when I visited Dobbs’s Ferry in the autumn of 1849, after the rail-way was finished.

26 The garrison consisted of five hundred infantry, forty light horse, a company of artillery, with two twelve-pounders under Captain Horton, and Captain Crafts with a howitzer.

27 This is a view from the lawn on the north side. It is embowered in trees and shrubbery, and is one of the most pleasantly-located mansions in the country, overlooking interesting portions of the Hudson River. Within its walls many of the leading men of the Revolution were entertained. It was the head-quarters of Washington, when he abandoned an attempt to capture New York city, changed his plans, and marched his whole army to Virginia to capture Cornwallis. There, at the close of the war, Washington, Governor Clinton, and General Sir Guy Carleton, and their respective suites, met to make arrangements for the evacuation of the city of New York by the British. Washington and Clinton came down the river from West Point in a barge; Carleton ascended in a frigate. Four companies of American Infantry performed the duty of guards on that occasion.

28 Gordon, ii., 391.

29 The encampment, on the night in question, was about two and a half miles southwest of Tappan village, near the Hackensack River.

30 General Grey, on account of his common practice of ordering the men under his command to take the flints out of their muskets, that they might be confined to the use of the bayonet, acquired the name of the no-flint general.

31 This view is from the yard, near the well. The date of its erection (1700) is made by a peculiar arrangement of the bricks in the front wall. In the large room called "Washington’s quarters" the fire place is surrounded by Dutch pictorial tiles illustrative of Scripture scenes. Indeed, the whole house remains in precisely the same condition, except what the elements have changed externally, as it was when the chief occupied it. When I visited it, Mrs. Verbryck’s sister, an old lady of eighty, was there. She said she remembered sitting often upon Washington’s knee. She was then ten years old.

32 The following are the names of the officers who composed the court martial on that occasion: Major-generals Greene, Stirling, St. Clair, La Fayette, R. Howe, and the Baron Steuben; and Brigadiers Parsons, James Clinton, Knox, Glover, Paterson, Hand, Huntington, and Stark, General Greene was president of the board, and John Laurance judge-advocate general.

33 Mr. Laurance was a native of Cornwall, England, where he was born in 1750. He held the rank of colonel in the Continental army, and was highly esteemed hy the commander-in-chief. Colonel Laurance was a representative for New York in the first Congress held after the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and retained a seat therein during President Washington’s first administration. On his retiring from office, Washington appointed him a judge of the District Court of New York. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1796, and served four years, when he resigned his seat and retired to private life. He died at No. 356 Broadway, New York, in November, 1810, in the sixtieth year of his age. Judge Laurance married a daughter of General Alexander M‘Dougall, of the Continental army, who, with Sears, Willet; Lamb, and others, early and earnestly opposed the British government in its aggressive acts. An interesting sketch of the public life of Judge Laurance, from the pen of Edwin Williams, Esq., was published in a New York journal in February, 1851.

34 This is a fac simile of a pencil sketch which I received from London with the drawing of Andrè’s monument in Westminster Abbey, printed on page 767. I do not know from what picture the artist copied, but, considering the channel through which I received it, I think it may be relied on as a correct profile.

Joan ANDRÈ was a native of London, where he was born in 1751. His parents were from Geneva, in Switzerland, and at that place he was educated. He returned to London before he was eighteen years of age, and entered the counting-house of a respectable merchant, where he continued nearly four years. Possessing a literary taste and promising genius, he became acquainted with several of the writers of the day, among whom was Miss Anna Seward, the daughter of a clergyman in Litchfield. Miss Seward had a cousin named Honora Sneyd, a charming girl of whom Andrè became enamored. * His attachment was reciprocated by the young lady, and they made an engagement for marriage. The father of the girl interposed his authority against the match, and the marriage was prevented. Four years afterward, Honora was wedded to Richard Lovell Edgeworth, father of the late Maria Edgeworth, the novelist, by a former wife. Until that event occurred, Andrè had cherished the hope that some propitious circumstance might effect their reunion. The portal of hope was now closed, and, turning from commercial pursuits, he resolved to seek relief from the bitter associations of his home amid the turmoils of war. He entered the army which came to America in 1775. He was taken prisoner at St. John’s, on the Sorel, when that post was captured by Montgomery, and was sent to Lancaster, in Pennsylvania. In a letter written to a friend from that place, he said, "I have been taken prisoner by the Americans, and stripped of every thing except the picture of Honora, which I concealed in my mouth. Preserving that, I yet think myself fortunate." This picture had been delineated by his own hand from the living features of his beloved, at the time of his first acquaintance with her at Buxton, in 1769. The bravery and talents of Andrè secured for him the affectionate regards of his commander, Sir Henry Clinton, and he raised him to the duty of adjutant general of the British army in America, with the rank of major. His future career was full of brilliant promises, when Arnold, the wily serpent, crept into the paradise of his purity and peace, and destroyed him. He was not yet thirty years old when he suffered the death of a spy.

Major Andrè possessed a graceful and handsome person, with rare mental accomplishments. He was passionately fond of the fine arts, and his journal, kept during his life in America, was enriched by many drawings of such objects of interest as attracted his attention. While here, he wrote several poetical pieces for the loyal newspapers; and it is a singular fact that the last canto of his satirical poem, called THE COW CHASE, was published in Rivington’s Royal Gazette, in New York, on the 23d of September, 1780, the day of his capture. It ends with the following stanza:

"And now I’ve closed my epic strain,

I tremble as I show it,
Lest this same warrio-drover, Wayne,
Should ever catch the poet!"



His memory has been embalmed in verse by his friend, Miss Seward; § and his king testified his admiration of his character and genius by the erection of a beautiful monument to his honor in Westminster Abbey, near the Poets’ Corner. The monument is in relief against the wall, and is about seven and a half feet in height. It is composed of a sarcophagus, elevated on a molded paneled base and plinth, and was executed in statuary marble by P. M. Van Gelder, from a design by Robert Adam. On the front of the sarcophagus is a basso relievo, in which is represented General Washington and officers in a tent at the moment when the chief had received the report of the court of inquiry; at the same time a messenger has arrived with the letter from Andrè to Washington, petitioning for a soldier’s death (see page 770). On the right is a guard of Continental soldiers, and the tree on which Andrè was executed. Two men are preparing the prisoner for execution, while at the foot of the tree, Mercy, accompanied by Innocence, is bewailing his fate. On the top of the sarcophagus is the British lion, and the figure of Britannia, who is lamenting the fate of the accomplished youth. Upon a panel is the following inscription: "Sacred to the memory of Major JOHN ANDRÈ, who, raised by his merit at an early period of life to the rank of adjutant general of the British forces in America, and employed in an important but hazardous enterprise, fell a sacrifice to his zeal for his king and country, on the 2d of October, A. D., 1780, universally beloved and esteemed by the army in which he served, and lamented even by his FOES. His gracious sovereign, KING GEORGE THE THIRD, has caused this monument to be erected." On the base of the pedestal upon which the sarcophagus rests has subsequently been inscribed the following: "The remains of MAJOR JOHN ANDRÈ were, on the 10th of August, 1821, removed from Tappan by JAMES BUCHANAN, Esq., his majesty’s consul at New York, under instructions from his Royal Highness, the DUKE OF YORK; and with the permission of the Dean and Chapter, finally deposited in a grave contiguous to this monument, on the 28th of November, 1821." **

The king settled a pension upon the family of Andrè; and, to wipe out the imputed stain produced by his death as a spy, the honor of knighthood was conferred upon his brother. A certified copy of Andrè’s will is in the office of the Surrogate of New York. It is dated at Staten Island, 7th of June, 1777, and signed "JOHN ANDRÈ, captain in the 26th regiment of foot." The date of probate is October 12, 1780, ten days after his execution. The will is sworn to October 9, 1781, before Carey Ludlow, Esq., then Surrogate of New York. By his will, Andrè gave the bulk of his property to his three sisters (Maria, Anna Marguerite, and Louisa) and his brother, each $3500, on condition that they pay to his mother, Mary Louise Andrè, each $50 a year. Anna Marguerite Andrè – "the tuneful Anna," as Miss Seward called her – his last surviving sister, lived a maiden, and died in London in 1848, at the age of ninety years. Andrè’s watch was sold for the benefit of his captors. It was bought by Colonel William S. Smith, of the Continental army, for thirty guineas, and, through General Robertson, he generously transmitted it to Andrè’s family. His commission was sold by Sir Henry Clinton for the benefit of his mother and sisters.

* Miss Seward, in her poem entitled "The Anniversary," thus alludes to her cousin:

"Why fled ye all so fast, ye happy hours,
That saw Honora’s eyes adorn these bowers?
These darling bowers that much she loved to hail,
The spires she called The Ladles of the Vale!"

Mr. Edgeworth was educated partly at Trinity College, Dublin, and partly at Oxford. Before he was twenty, he ran off with Miss Elers, a young lady of Oxford, to whom he was married at Gretna Green. He embarked in a life of gayety and dissipation. In 1770 he succeeded to his Irish property. During a visit to Litchfield soon afterward, he saw Honora Sneyd, loved her, and married her after the death of his wife, Honora died six years afterward of consumption, when he married her sister. - Chambers’s Cyclopedia of English Literature, ii., 568.

This satirical poem was written at General Clinton’s head-quarters, now No. 1 Broadway, New York. It is not a little singular that Wayne commanded the division of the army at Tappan when Andrè was executed.

§ In Ainsworth’s Magazine of a recent date I find the following record of A dream realized: "Major Andrè, the circumstances of whose lamented death are too well known to make it necessary for me to detail them here, was a friend of Miss Seward’s, and, previously to his embarkation for America, he made a journey into Derbyshire to pay her a visit, and it was arranged that they should ride over to see the wonders of the Peak, and introduce Andrè to Newton, her minstrel, as she called him, and to Mr. Cunningham, the curate, who was also a poet.

"While these two gentlemen were awaiting the arrival of their guests, of whose intentions they had been apprised, Mr. Cunningham mentioned to Newton that, on the preceding night, he had a very extraordinary dream, which he could not get out of his head. He had fancied himself in a forest; the place was strange to him; and, while looking about, he perceived a horseman approaching at great speed, who had scarcely reached the spot where the dreamer stood, when three men rushed out of the thicket, and, seizing his bridle, hurried him away, after closely searching his person. The countenance of the stranger being very interesting, the sympathy felt by the sleeper for his apparent misfortune awoke him; but he presently fell asleep again, and dreamed that he was standing near a great city, among thousands of people, and that he saw the same person he had seen seized In the wood brought out and suspended to a gallows. When Andrè and Miss Seward arrived, he was horror-struck to perceive that his new acquaintance was the antitype of the man in the dream."

** An account of this transaction may be found on page 773.

35 Colonel Hamilton, who was the bearer of the request from Andrè to Washington asking his permission to send this open letter to Clinton, observes, in an account which he gave to Colonel Laurens, that Andrè seemed to foresee the result of the proceedings in which he was concerned. "There is only one thing which disturbs my tranquillity," he said to Hamilton. "Sir Henry Clinton has been too good to me; he has been lavish of his kindness; I am bound to him by too many obligations, and love him too well, to bear the thought that he should reproach himself, or others should reproach him, on the supposition of my having conceived myself obliged, by his instructions, to run the risk I did. I would not for the world leave a sting in his mind that should imbitter his future days."

36 Never was a sympathy more real, or feeling more genuine, than that exhibited by the American officers on this occasion; and yet the prejudiced M‘Farland, after quoting from a letter of La Fayette to his wife, in which he expressed his sympathy for Andrè, says, "Some of the American generals, too, lamented, but kept twisting the rope that was to hang him;" and then falsely adds, "There are accounts which say that the deep sympathy and regret was all a farce, and that Andrè, who was a wit and a poet, was most cordially hated by the Americans on account of some witticisms and satirical verses at their expense." – Pictorial History of the Reign of George III., i.; 434.

The London General Evening Post for November 14th, 1780, in an article abusive of Washington, gives a pretended account of Andrè’s "last words," in which the unfortunate man is made to say, "Remember that I die as becomes a British officer, while the manner of my death must reflect disgrace on your commander." Andrè uttered no sentiment like this. Miss Seward, his early friend, on reading this account, wrote thus in her " Monody on Major Andrè:"

"Oh Washington! I thought thee great and good,
Nor knew thy Nero-thirst for guiltless blood!
Severe to use the pow’r that Fortune gave,
Thou cool, determin’d murderer of the brave!
Lost to each fairer virtue, that inspires
The genuine fervor of the patriot fires!
And you, the base abettors of the doom,
That sunk his blooming honors in the tomb.
Th’ opprobrious tomb your harden’d hearts decreed
While all he asked was as the brave to bleed!"

37 Aaron Ogden was born the 3d of December, 1756, at Elizabethtown, New Jersey. He graduated at Princeton in 1773. He was nurtured in the love of Whig principles, and took an active part in the early struggles of the patriots. In the winter of 1775-6, he was one of a party who boarded and captured a vessel lying off Sandy Hook, named Blue Mountain Valley, and carried her safely into Elizabethport. Mr. Ogden received an appointment in the first New Jersey regiment in the spring of 1777, and continued in the service until the close of the war. He was in the battle of Brandywine in the autumn of 1777; was brigade major in a portion of the advanced corps of General Lee at Monmouth in the summer of 1778, and served as assistant aid-de-camp to Lord Stirling during that memorable day. He was aid-de-camp to General Maxwell in the expedition of Sullivan against the Indians in 1779, and was in the battle at Springfield, in New Jersey, in 1780, where he had a horse shot under him. On the resignation of Maxwell, Ogden was appointed to a captaincy of light infantry under La Fayette, and was serving in that capacity when called upon to perform the delicate service mentioned in the text. He afterward accompanied La Fayette in his memorable campaign in Virginia in 1781. At the siege of Yorktown, Captain Ogden and his company gallantly stormed the left redoubt of the enemy, for which he was "honored with the peculiar approbation of Washington." He applied himself to the study of the law after the war, and rose rapidly in his profession. He was appointed one of the electors of president and vice-president in 1800, a state senator in 1801, and in 1812 he was elected governor of New Jersey. He died in April, 1839, at the age of eighty-three years.

38 The desertion of the sergeant was arranged by Washington, without the knowledge of Ogden. The object was to obtain information of much importance. A paper had been intercepted in which was found the name of General St. Clair, so relatively connected with other particulars as to excite a suspicion that he was concerned in Arnold’s treason. The intelligent sergeant soon ascertained that there were no grounds for such suspicion, and that the paper in question was designed by the enemy to fall into Washington’s hands, and excite jealousy and ill feelings among the American officers. The papers were traced to a British emissary named Brown. The sergeant found means to convey this intelligence to Washington.

39 "If, after this just and candid representation of Major Andrè’s case," wrote Arnold, "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 unhappy persons of your army as may fall in my power, that the respect due to flags and the law of nations may be better understood and observed."

What could have been more injudicious than holding such language to Washington, under the circumstances? and as to the "respect due to flags," the traitor well knew that in no part of the transaction had Andrè been under such protection.

40 Life of Arnold, Amer. Biog., iii., 275.

41 The following is a copy of his letter: the original is at Charlottesville, Virginia.


"SIR, – 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 excellency at this serious period, and which is to soften my last moments, will not be rejected. Sympathy toward a soldier will surely 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 my character impresses you with esteem toward me, if aught in my misfortunes marks me as the victim of policy and not of resentment, I shall experience the operation of these feelings in your breast by being informed that I am not to die on a gibbet.

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



This letter has been thus beautifully paraphrased, in verse, by N. P. Willis:

"It is not the fear of death

That damps my brow;
It is not for another breath
I ask thee now;
I can die with a lip unstirr’d,
And a quiet heart –
Let but this prayer be heard
Ere I depart.

"I can give up my mother’s look –
My sister’s kiss;
I can think of love – yet brook
A death like this!
I can give up the young fame
I burn’d to win;
All – but the spotless name
I glory in.

"Thine is the power to give,
Thine to deny.
Joy for the hour I live,
Calmness to die.
By all the brave should cherish,
By my dying breath,
I ask that I may perish
By a soldier’s death."

42 I copied this fac simile from one in Sparks’s Life and Treason of Arnold, where is given the following extract from a letter, written by Ebenezer Baldwin to the president of Yale College, and dated at New Haven August 8th, 1832:

"It affords me pleasure, as agent of Mr. Jabez L. Tomlinson, of Stratford, and of Mr. Nathan Beers [see page 431, this volume, for a notice of Mr. Beers], of this city, to request your acceptance of the accompanying miniature of Major JOHN ANDRÈ. It is his likeness, seated at a table, in his guard-room, and drawn by himself, with a pen, on the morning of the day fixed for his execution. Mr. Tomlinson informs me that a respite was granted until the next day, and that this miniature was in the mean time presented to him (then acting as officer of the guard) by Major ANDRÈ himself. Mr. Tomlinson was present when the sketch was made, and says it was drawn without the aid of a [looking] glass. The sketch subsequently passed into the hands of Mr. Beers, a fellow-officer of Mr. Tomlinson, on the station, and from thence was transferred to me. It has been in my possession several years."

43 His executioner was a Tory named Strickland, who resided in the Ramapo Valley. He was in confinement at Tappan, and was set at liberty on condition that he should perform the office of hangman. Benjamin Abbot, a drum-major, who died at Nashua, New Hampshire, in June, 1851, at the age of 92 years, played the dead march on that occasion.

44 It is said that Washington never saw Major Andrè, having avoided a personal interview with him from the beginning.

45 The place of Andrè’s execution is now designated by a stone, lying on the right of a lane which runs from the highway from Tappan village to old Tappan, on the westerly side of a large peach orchard owned by Dr. Bartow, about a quarter of a mile from Washington’s head-quarters. The stone is a small bowlder, on the upper surface of which is inscribed "ANDRÈ EXECUTED OCT. 2d, 1780." It is about three feet in length. This stone was placed there and inscribed in 1847, by a patriotic merchant of New York. A more elegant and durable monument should be erected upon the spot.

46 In a subsequent publication by Doctor Thacher, entitled Observations relating to the Execution of Major Andrè, he says that the regimentals of that officer were given to his servant. His remains were taken up in 1831 by Mr. Buchanan, the British consul at New York, removed to England, and deposited near his monument in Westminster Abbey. As no metallic buttons were found in his grave, it is evident he had been stripped of his regimentals before burial. He was interred in an open field then belonging to a Mr. Mabie.

Mr. Buchanan published an interesting account of the disinterment in 1831. It was done by command of the Duke of York. On opening the grave, the moldering coffin was found about three feet below the surface. The roots of a peach-tree, which some sympathizing hand had planted at the head of his grave, had twined like a net-work around the young hero’s skull. A leather string, which he had used for tying his hair, was perfect; this Mr. Buchanan sent to Andrè’s surviving sisters. While a prisoner after his capture at St. John’s in 1775, Andrè parted with his watch. This was also obtained and sent to his sisters. Two small cedars were growing by the grave. A portion of one of these was sent to England with the remains, and Mr. Buchanan suggested to the duke the propriety of having a snuff-box made of some of the wood, as a present for the Reverend Mr. Demarest, of Tappan, who greatly assisted the consul in the disinterment. The duke had an elegant box made, lined with gold, and inscribed "From his royal highness the Duke of York to the Reverend Mr. Demarest." Mr. Buchanan received a silver inkstand, inscribed "The surviving sisters of Major Andrè to James Buchanan, Esq., his majesty’s consul, New York." They also sent a silver cup, with a similar inscription, to Mr. Demarest.

47 Military Journal, p. 222, 223.

48 DAVID WILLIAMS was born in Tarrytown, October 21st, 1754. He entered the army in 1775, was under Montgomery at St. John’s and Quebec, and continued in the militia service until 1779. He took an active part against the Cow-boys and Skinners on the Neutral Ground. He was not in regular service when he joined in the expedition the day before the capture of Andrè. After the war, he married a Miss Benedict, and settled in Schoharie county. He died at Broome, in that county, on the 2d day of August, 1831, at the age of seventy-seven. His remains were interred, with military honors, at Livingstonville, in the presence of a large concourse of citizens. His widow, I believe, is yet living with her son at Broome, at the age of ninety-four. Ten years after the death of her husband, she obtained a continuance of his pension, which had been stopped at his death, receiving $2000 at once. Congress has been repeatedly petitioned for an appropriation to erect a monument to Williams, but without success. See Simms’s Schoharie County.

49 Journals of Congress, vi., 154.

50 In 1817, Mr. Paulding applied to Congress for an augmentation of his annuity. Major Tallmadge, who was then a member of the House of Representatives, strongly opposed the prayer of the petitioner, on the ground that he and his companions had been more than compensated for the real patriotism which they exercised on the occasion of making Major Andrè a prisoner. The statements of Andrè, at the time, impressed Tallmadge with the belief that the plunder of a traveler was their first incentive to arrest his progress, and that, could they have been certified of their prisoner’s ability to perform his promises of large pay for his release, they would not have detained him. Andrè solemnly asserted that they first ripped up the housings of his saddle and the cape of his coat, in search of money, but finding none, one of the party said, "He may have it [money] in his boots." The discovery of the papers there concealed gave them the first idea that be might be a spy. Major Andrè was of opinion that if he could have given them a small sum in specie at first, they would have let him pass; but he only had a small amount in Continental bills, which was given him by Smith. While we may not claim entire purity of intent on the part of the captors when they first arrested the progress of Andrè, we can not doubt the strength of their patriotism to withstand the lure of large bribes after they discovered his real character. For particulars on this point, see a small volume, entitled Vindication of the Captors of Major Andrè, published in New York in 1817; also Walsh’s American Register, vol. ii., 1817. In this volume of the Register may be found a translation of Marbois’s Complot du Arnold.

51 In addition to the capture of Arnold, the emissary was to be commissioned to ferret out information touching the alleged defection of other officers of the Continental army. Already, as we have noticed, a sergeant under the command of Captain Ogden had been employed for such a purpose, and satisfied Washington of the innocence of one general officer who was accused.

52 JOHN CHAMPE was a Virginian. "He was a native of London county," says Lee, in his Memoirs, "and at this time twenty-three or twenty-four years of age; enlisted in 1776; rather above the common size; full of bone and muscle; with a saturnine countenance, grave, thoughtful, and taciturn, of tried courage and inflexible perseverance, and as likely to reject an overture, coupled with ignominy, as any officer in the corps." – Memoirs, p. 272.

53 Lee made an arrangement with Mr. Baldwin, of Newark, to aid Champe. With him the sergeant was to have daily intercourse, as if by accident, and through him Lee was to receive communications from his sergeant major. He agreed to pay Baldwin, if successful, one hundred guineas, five hundred acres of land, and three negroes.

54 The horses of Lee’s legion were all shod by a farrier attached to the corps, and every shoe, alike in form, had a private mark put upon it. By this means the foot-prints of Champe’s horse were recognized, and the course of the deserter made obvious to his pursuers.

55 There is now a hamlet of that name there, situated on the high road from Hackensack to Hoboken.

56 In this first communication he assured Lee that his inquiries concerning the alleged defection of other American officers were satisfactory, and that no such defection existed.

57 Arnold’s quarters were at No. 3 Broadway, adjoining those of Sir Henry Clinton. The house is yet standing, and is represented, with Clinton’s quarters, on page 592, of volume ii. The garden extended along the street to the northern boundary of the Atlantic Hotel, No. 5, where the dark alley, mentioned in the text, divided it from the premises No. 9, now known as the Atlantic Garden. The shore of the river was formerly a few yards west of Greenwich Street, West Street being all "made ground."

58 Arnold received, as the price of his desertion from the Americans and attempted betrayal of the liberties of his country into the hands of the enemy, a commission as colonel, with a brevet rank of brigadier, in the British army, and the sum of nearly fifty thousand dollars. It may be mentioned, for the information of those unskilled in the technicalities of the military service, that the term brevet is used to a commission giving nominal rank higher than that for which pay is received. A brevet major serves and draws pay as a captain, and a brevet brigadier as colonel. Arnold was lower in office, both actual and nominal, among his new friends than he had been in the American army. But large bribes of gold was a salvo to that nice sense of honor for which he had so often wrangled. He was heartily despised by the British officers, and he was frequently insulted without possessing the power to show his resentment. Many anecdotes illustrative of this point have been related. It is said that, on one occasion, a British statesman, as he rose to make a speech in the House of Commons, saw Arnold in the gallery. "Mr. Speaker," he said, "I will not speak while that man (pointing toward Arnold) is in the house." George the Third introduced Arnold to Earl Balcarras, one of Burgoyne’s officers at Bemis’s Heights. "I know General Arnold and abominate traitors," was the quick reply of the earl, as he refused his hand and turned on his heel. When Talleyrand was about to come to America, he was informed that an American gentleman was in an adjoining room. He sought an interview, and asked for letters to his friends in America. "I was born in America, lived there till the prime of my life, but alas! I can call no man in America my friend," replied the stranger. That stranger was Arnold.

59 See Lee’s Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States, from page 270 to 284 The reader, by observing the dates of his correspondence with Washington, will perceive that Lee has confounded the effort of Ogden to save Andrè by having Arnold given up, and the desertion of his sergeant, with the expedition of Sergeant Champe. In his account of Champe’s maneuver, he makes the salvation of Andrè a leading incentive to efforts to capture Arnold; but Andrè was executed on the 2d of October, whereas Champe did not desert until the 20th of the same month.

60 Claudius Smith was a large, fine-looking man, of strong mind, and a desperado of the darkest dye. Himself and gang were a terror to Orange county for a long time, and tempting rewards were offered for his apprehension. He was finally captured near Oyster Bay, on Long Island, and taken to Goshen, where he was chained to the jail floor, and a strong guard placed over him. He was hung in the village on the 22d of January, 1779, with Gordon and De la Mar – the former convicted of horse-stealing, and the latter of burglary. Smith’s residence was in the lower part of the present village of Monroe, on the Erie railway. Several murders were afterward committed by Smith’s son Richard, in revenge for the hanging of his father; and for a while the Whigs in that region suffered more from the desperate Cow-boys than before the death of their great leader. For a detailed account of transactions connected with Claudius Smith, see Eager’s History of Orange County, p. 550 - 564.

61 See page 700.

62 This ruin is situated about half way between the Sloatsburgh station and Monroe works. The forge was built in 1783-4, by Solomon Townshend, of New York, to make bar-iron and anchors, and was named the Augusta Works. A sketch of the ruin forms a pretty frontispiece to The Salamander (or Hugo, as it is now called), a legend of the Ramapo Valley, by Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith. The historic anecdote related in the introduction to this charming legend I also heard from the lips of the "venerable Mr. P------" through whose kindness I was enabled to visit the "Hopper House." The relics of the Revolution are pleasingly grouped in the introduction referred to.

63 When the large cotton factory (the spindles of which are now idle) and the screw factory of Mr. Pierson were in operation here, the village contained about seven hundred inhabitants. The whole valley of the Ramapo has but three or four owners. Many thousand acres belong to the Townsends; the Lorillard family own another immense tract; Mr. M‘Farland another; the Sloats have considerable possessions, and the lower part belongs to the Piersons.

64 Ramapo, or Romopock, was a small settlement on the Ramapo River, about five miles south of the present Suffern’s Station on the New York and Erie rail-way, and within the province of New Jersey. It was nearly seven miles below the present village of Ramapo, founded by Mr. Pierson.

65 The Clove here mentioned was chiefly the Ramapo Valley extending to Smith’s Clove, which continues northward from the former, in the vicinity of Turner’s Station, on the New York and Erie rail-road, far in the rear of Haverstraw and Stony Point. Through this clove, by the way of Ramapo, was the best route for an army from New Windsor into the upper part of New Jersey. The main division of the Continental army was again encamped in the Clove in 1779, when General Wayne captured Stony Point.

66 "I can not give you any certain account of General Howe’s intended operations," wrote Washington to General Schuyler. "His conduct is puzzling and embarrassing beyond measure. So are the informations which I get. At one time the ships are standing up toward the North River; in a little while they are going up the Sound; and in an hour after they are going out of the Hook. I think in a day or two we must know something of his intentions."

67 This view is from the verge of the dam above the Ramapo works, near the rail-way, looking northeast. The eminence is called Torn Rock, from its ragged appearance on its southeastern side. There is a deep fissure in a portion of the bare rock, from which comes up a sound like the ticking of a watch, caused by the water which percolates through the seams in the granite. A tradition was long current that Washington lost his watch in the fissure, and that, by some miraculous power, it continued to tick!

68 This view is from the road, looking north toward the village of Ramapo. The remains of the intrenchments are seen along the right in the foreground. On the left, in the distance, is seen a glimpse of the hills on the other side of the narrow valley.

69 One of the bearers of these letters was a young Baptist clergyman, named Montagnie, an ardent Whig, who was directed by Washington to carry a dispatch to Morristown. He directed the messenger to cross the river at King’s Ferry, proceed by Haverstraw to the Ramapo Clove, and through the Pass to Morristown. Montagnie, knowing the Ramapo Pass to be in possession of the Cow-boys and other friends of the enemy, ventured to suggest to the commander-in-chief that the upper road would be the safest. "I shall be taken," he said, "if I go through the Clove." "Your duty, young man, is not to talk, but to obey!" replied Washington, sternly, enforcing his words by a vigorous stamp of his foot. Montagnie proceeded as directed, and, near the Ramapo Pass, was caught. A few days afterward he was sent to New York, where he was confined in the Sugar House, one of the famous provost prisons in the city. The day after his arrival, the contents of the dispatches taken from him were published in Rivington’s Gazette with great parade, for they indicated a plan of an attack upon the city. The enemy was alarmed thereby, and active preparations were put in motion for receiving the besiegers. Montagnie now perceived why he was so positively instructed to go through the Ramapo Pass, where himself and dispatches were quite sure to be seized. When they appeared in Rivington’s Gazette, the allied armies were far on their way to the Delaware. Montagnie admired the wisdom of Washington, but disliked himself to be the victim. Mr. Pierson, from whom I obtained the narrative, received it from the lips of Montagnie himself.

Upon this incident Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith (who also received the narrative from Mr. P.) founded her interesting prize tale called the Ramapo Pass. She also mentions it in her introduction to The Salamander.

70 This view is from the road, looking northeast. The low part, on the left, is a portion of the old mansion of the Revolution, which contained the dining-hall. It was a long stone building. A part of it has been taken down, and the present more spacious edifice, of brick, was erected soon after the war.

71 Mrs. Smith, in her introduction to The Salamander, makes mention of the centenarian, and of these relics. "The ancient matron," she says, "has none of the garrulity of old age; on the contrary, as she adverted to past scenes, a quiet stateliness grew upon her, in beautiful harmony with the subject. Rarely will another behold the sight, so pleasing to ourselves, of five generations, each and all in perfect health and intelligence, under the same roof-tree. She spoke of this with evident satisfaction, and of the length of time her ancestors had been upon the soil; in truth, we had never felt more sensibly the honorableness of gray hairs. . . . . We were shown the bed and furniture, remaining as when he [Washington] used them, for the room is kept carefully locked, and only shown as a particular gratification to those interested in all that concerns the man of men. Here were the dark chintz hangings beneath which he had slept; the quaint furniture; old walnut cabinets, dark, massive, and richly carved; a Dutch Bible, mounted with silver, with clasps and chain of same material, each bearing the stamp of antiquity, yet all in perfect preservation; large China bowls; antique mugs; paintings upon glass of cherished members of the Orange family. These and other objects of interest remain as at that day."




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