To R. W, Murphy, Esq. of Preston Hollow, a nephew of David Williams, would the author acknowledge his indebtedness for several interesting incidents in the life of the latter.
The captor Williams was a son of After and Phebe Williams, who emigrated from Holland in early life. They were poor but reputable: he died near the close of the Revolution, and the widow died at the residence of her son David, in 1795. The following biography of David Williams appeared in the Albany Daily Advertiser in January preceding his death, said to have been dictated by himself.
"I was born in Tarrytown, then called Philips' Manor, Westchester county, New-York, October 21st, 1754. I entered the army in 1775, at the age of 21, and was under Gen. Montgomery at the siege of Fort St. Johns, and afterwards on board the flat bottomed boats to carry provisions, &c.; served out my time which was six months. I then went, listed again in the spring of 1776, and continued in the service by different enlistments as a New-York militiaman until 1779.
In 1778, when in Capt. Acker's company of New-York militia at Tarrytown, I asked his permission to take a walk in company with William Van Wart, a boy sixteen or seventeen years old. I proceeded to the cross-roads on Tompkins' ridge, stood looking a few minutes, saw five men coming, they had arms; we jumped over a stone fence and concealed ourselves in a corner of it; observed that they were armed with two muskets and three pistols. They came so nigh that we recognised two of them, viz. William Underhill and William Mosher, who were tories, and known to be of DeLancey's corps. When they came within proper distance, I said to my companion, 'Billy, neck or no joint!' I then said aloud, as if speaking to a number, with the view of intimidating them, 'men make ready!' They stopped immediately; I told them to ground their arms, which they did; I then said, 'march away;' they did so; I then jumped over the fence, secured their arms, and made them march before us to our quarters. I continued in the service until a week or ten days before the year 1780. In December, 1779, Captain Daniel Williams, who was commander of our company, mounted us on horses and we went to Morrisiana, Westchester county. We swept all Morrisiana clear; took probably $5,000 worth of property, returned to Tarrytown, and quartered at Young's house. My feet being frozen, my uncle Martinus Van Wart took me to his house. I told Capt. Williams that the enemy would soon be at Young's, and that if he remained there he would be on his way to Morrisiana before morning. He paid no attention to my remarks -- he did not believe me; but in the course of the night a woman came to my uncle's crying 'Uncle Martinus! Uncle Martinus!' The truth was the British had surrounded Young's house, made prisoners of all the company except two, and burnt the barn.
"Having got well of my frozen feet, on the third of June, 1780, we were all driven from Tarrytown to the upper part of Westchester county, in the town of Salem. We belonged to no organised company at all; were under no command, and worked for our board or johnny-cake. Isaac Van Wart, who was a cousin of mine, [the father of Williams and mother of Van Wart were brother and sister,] Nicholas Storms and myself went to Tarrytown on a visit; we carried our muskets with us, and on our way took a Quaker who said he was going to New-York after salt and other things. The Quaker was taken before the American authority and acquitted.
"In July or August a number of persons of whom I was one, went on a visit to our friends in Tarrytown, and while on the way took ten head of cattle which some refugees were driving to New-York, and on examination before the authority, the cattle were restored to their right owners, as they pleaded innocence saying they were stolen from them. I then returned to Salem and worked with a Mr. Benedict for my board until the 22d of September. It was about one o'clock, P.M., as I was standing in the door with Mr. Benedict's daughter, (who was afterwards my wife), when I saw six men coming; she remarked 'they have got guns.' I jumped over a board fence and met them. 'Boys,' said I, 'where are you going!' they answered 'we are going to Tarrytown.' I then said 'if you will wait until I get my gun I will go with you.'
The names of the six persons were Isaac Van Wart, John Paulding, William Williams, John Yerks, and James Romer; the name of the sixth I have forgotten. We proceeded about fifteen miles that night, and slept in a hay barrack. In the morning we crossed Buttermilk hill, when John Paulding proposed to go to Isaac Reed's and get a pack of cards to divert ourselves with. After procuring them we went out to Davis' hill, where we separated; leaving four on the hill, and three, viz. Van Wart, Paulding and myself proceeded on the Tarrytown road about one mile and concealed ourselves in the bushes on the west side of the road, and commenced playing cards three handed, that is each one for himself. We had not been playing more than an hour, when we heard a horse galloping across a bridge but a few yards from us; which of us spoke I do not remember, but one of us said, 'there come as trader going to New-York.' We stepped out from our concealment and stopped him. 'My lads,' said he, 'I hope you belong to our party.' We asked him 'what party?' he replied 'the lower party.' We told him 'we did.' He then said 'I am a British officer, have been up the country on particular business, and would not wish to be detained a minute.' and as a token to convince us he was a gentleman, he pulled out and shewed us his gold watch; we then told him we were Americans. 'God bless my soul,' said he, 'a man must do any thing these times to get along;' and then shewed us Arnold's pass. We told him it would not satisfy us without searching him. 'My lads,' said he, 'you will bring yourselves into trouble.' We answered, we did not fear it,' and conducted him about seventy rods into the woods. My comrades appointed me to search him; commencing with his hat, I searched his person effectually, but found nothing until I pulled off his boot, when we discovered that something, was concealed in his stocking. Paulding caught hold of his foot and exclaimed, 'By G-d here it is!' I pulled off his stocking and inside of it next to the sole of his foot, found three half sheets of paper enclosed in another half sheet which was endorsed 'West Point;' and on pulling off the other boot and stocking, I found three like papers, enclosed and endorsed as the others. On reading them one of my companions said, 'By G-d he is a spy!' We then asked him where he got those papers: he told us 'of a man at Pine's bridge,' but he said 'he did not know his name.' He offered us his gold watch, his horse, saddle, bridle and 100 guineas if we would let him go; we told him 'no, unless he would inform us where he got the papers.' He answered us as before, but increased his offer to 1000 guineas, his horse, &c.: we told him again we would not let him go; he then said 'gentlemen, I will give you 10,000 guineas [nearly $50,000], and as many dry goods as you will ask; conceal me in any place of safety while you can send to New-York with an order to Sir Henry Clinton from me, and the goods and money will be procured so that you can get them unmolested.' [Paulding then told him, as he stated on the trial of Joshua H. Smith a few days after the arrest,] 'no, by G-d, if you would give us ten thousand guineas you should not stir a step; we are Americans, and above corruption, and go with us you must.' We then took him about twelve miles to Col. Jamieson's quarters at North Castle."
Andre was about five feet eight inches high, with black eyes, a bold military countenance, and was a good looking, though rather small, trim-built man.
The father of David Williams was a farmer in Tarrytown at the beginning of the war, who, being too poor to purchase a farm, worked land upon shares. When the British and tories began to commit acts of cruelty in the vicinity, Williams removed with his family into the town of South Salem. He lived on lands belonging to Joseph Benedict Esq., near the village of Cross River. The Americans having possession of the country in the vicinity of West Point, and the British that above New York, tories about the neutral ground, from their acts of cruelty, such as murder, theft, rapine, and the like, received from the whigs the title of cow-boys. These despoilers of Whig property, whose visits were generally made in the night, frequently drove off cattle, horses, swine, &c., to the British posts, where they were liberally rewarded for the stolen property of their neighbors. In consequence of the tories stealing so many cattle in the vicinity of the British army, they were called cow-boys by the patriots, a term implying at that period the very lowest calling in life. De Lancy's corps, which became a terror to well doers, from their being generally mounted on horseback, was chiefly formed from cow-boys.
On the removal of the Williams family to Cross River, David hired out to Mr. Benedict to work on his farm, and became so much of a favorite with the family, that, whenever he was not engaged in military service, he made the house of his employer his welcome-home. Mr. Benedict had a fair daughter named Nancy, and Cupid had so interwoven the affections of the young couple, it is not surprising that David found his time pass agreeably at her father's. The whigs who encountered the cow-boys in their excursions into the country, were generally in the militia service on short inlistments, and as they had been obliged in many instances to change their residences, they acquired the name of refugees, a title sometimes given the tories. The cow-boys were often overtaken or intercepted, and the plunder they had made taken from them by the refugees, almost within sight of the British camp. Not unfrequently the agressor's life was forfeited on these occasions, and now and then a conflict ensued, when the life-blood of friend and foe mingled together.
In the fall of 178O, at a time when Williams was at the house of Mr. Benedict, enjoying an agreeable tete-a-tete with his Nancy, she pointed out to him a small company of armed men approaching their village. They entered an inn near by, and the lover, having recognized them, stole a parting kiss from his fair one, and hastened to join them. The names of the party are given in the preceding statement of Williams. The night before, a party of cow-boys had been into the adjoining town of Poundridge, led on by one Smith, a noted tory, and besides stealing, much property, they had killed a neighbor to some of the whigs then convened, by the name of Pelham, who had run out in his night-clothes to save his horses. To reclaim the stolen property and return it to the widow, or avenge the death of her husband, was the especial object this scout of American militia had in view, when they set out for Tarrytown; true, some of them hoped also to see several relatives.
Williams and his companions kept together until they reached Tarrytown, when they separated; the former, with Paulding and his cousin Van Wart, taking the east road, and the other four the west road, leading to New York. At an angle of the road, Williams and his associates concealed themselves, obtaining a north and west view of it for some distance. The approach of Andre, his arrest, &c., is inserted as related by Williams. Meeting the three armed men below the American pickets, Andre took them to be cow-boys, and being thrown off his guard, his manner excited suspicion in his captors, and he was strictly searched. His pass from Arnold, which had protected "John Anderson" thus far, would protect John Andre no farther. While in the act of exhibiting his pass, he stated that he "was going below on an express from the head quarters of the American army at West Point, and here," he added, "is a pass from Gen. Arnold, who commands in the absence of Gen Washington." The pass, which was dated Head Quarters, Robinson house, September 22d, 1780, required all persons to assist John Anderson, who was going to New York on business highly important to the American army, forbidding any person to stop or molest him at their peril. Knowing that Washington had gone to Hartford on business, after the pass from Arnold was produced, his captors had nearly allowed him to proceed, and he was reining his horse into the road, when Paulding in an under tone observed, "D -- n him, I do not like his looks!" It is stated in the Life of Gen. Greene, who was president of the board which tried Andre, that when he first became visible to his captors he was engaged in examining a sketch of the route, to determine which of the several roads he ought to pursue.
At the expression of Paulding that he did not like his looks, he was again ordered to stop. One of the party enquired what he had done with the paper he had in his hands when he first appeared in sight. The question produced a momentary hesitation, and his embarrassment being noticed by the party, he was then told that the circumstances of his first avowing himself to belong to the lower party -- his having an undress British coat under his surtout, in connection with Arnold's pass -- required their searching his person, to which he firmly remonstrated, threatening them with the vengeance of Arnold for detaining him. But his threats were of no avail; his manner increased their suspicions; the love of liberty fired the patriotic heart, and leading his horse aside into a field partially covered with underwood, he was examined. His person was strictly searched -- his hat, coat, vest, shirt and breeches -- even his hair, which was done up in a cue, the fashion of the day, was untied without creating any unusual anxiety in the prisoner, until he was ordered to take off his boots, when he changed color, and fear was manifested in his countenance. As he did not feel disposed to remove them, Williams, who had been selected by his companions to search him, while they retained their arms, drew them off, and inside his stockings, next his bare feet, the treasonable papers were found: in one boot was also discovered the sketch of the route. He had upon his person eighty dollars, continental money. Finding his true character disclosed, and being told that he was considered as a spy, Andre saw at once the danger of his situation, and attempted to regain his liberty by the offer of bribes, such as required Roman firmness -- I should say American firmness, for Roman history exhibits no parallel -- to resist. But the attempt was futile, evincing in his captors a love of liberty stronger than love of riches and virtue that kings might envy.
While they were searching Andre, his horse had strayed some distance, grazing among the under-brush; when the search was completed, one of them led up the horse and he was permitted to mount and ride between his captors, to the military post, commanded by Lieut. Col. Jamieson. At the examination of Andre at Tappan, and also at his trial at the same place, the captors were present. While at West Point, the magnanimous Washington took the three intrepid soldiers into the arsenal, and presented each of them a sword and brace of pistols, telling them to go constantly armed -- that they would be hunted like partridges upon the mountains" -- offering at the same time, that if they chose to remain in the army, he would give to each of them a captain's commission. They all declined promotion, and returned to their friends; and as Williams was, I have no doubt they all were narrowly watched by the tories.
On one occasion, while at his father's, Williams came near being taken. The house was surrounded in the night by a party of cow-boys, but their cowardice in making the attack was probably the only circumstance to which he owed his life. At another time Williams, having spent the evening with his intended, was returning home from her father's in the night, was waylaid in a by-place, and a man, stepping from his concealment, exclaimed, "Stand, you d -- -- d rebel!" Williams drew a pistol and fired upon his nocturnal intruder, who vacated the path and retreated into the bushes. The next day the course of his assailant could be traced some distance by the drops of blood. Thus one of the pistols presented by Washington prevented his falling into the hands of his enemies, if it did not in fact save his life.
The following singular coincidence is related at the particular request of the widow of David Williams, and may be relied upon as strictly true. The father of David, a short time before the capture of Andre, had the following singular dream: He saw a crow alight in his path, having in its beak a folded paper. He was extremely anxious to obtain the paper, and see what it contained. For some time he followed after the bird, which would repeatedly fly up and again alight in his path. His anxiety to obtain the paper increasing, he threw his hat at the bird, which then dropped it. He snatched it up, and eagerly unfolding, found it a blank sheet of paper, containing in one end a piece of gold, and in the other a piece of silver. A few days after, he heard of Andre's arrest, and that his son was one of the captors. Diviners of dreams are at liberty to make out of this what they please. They can, if they choose, liken the bird to the dark spirit which was besetting the path of Andre; the paper to the pass of Arnold; the gold to the bribe offered by the prisoner for his release; and the silver to the reward granted the captors by act of Congress.
The following extract of a letter from Gen. Washington to the president of Congress, dated "Robinson's house, in the Highlands, September 26, 1780," will show the manner in which that body was apprized of Arnold's treason and Andre's arrest:
"I do not know the party that took Maj. Andre, but it is said that it consisted only of a few militia, who acted in such a manner upon the occasion as does them the highest honor, and proves them to be men of great virtue. As soon as I know their names I shall take pleasure in transmitting them to Congress."
Washington communicated to the president of Congress the names of Andre's captors, as the following extract of a letter, dated "Paramus, October 7, 1780," will show:
"I have now the pleasure to communicate the names of the three persons who captured Maj. Andre, and who refused to release him, notwithstanding the most earnest importunities , and assurances of a liberal reward on his part. The names are John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart." [They were presented to Gen. Washington by Col. Hamilton.]
The following is a resolution of Congress, adopted Nov. 3d, 1780:
"Whereas Congress have received information that John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van Wart, three young volunteer militiamen of the State of New York, did, on the 23d day of September last, intercept Maj. John Andre, Adjutant General of the British Army, on his return from the American lines in the Character of a Spy; and notwithstanding the large bribes offered them for his release, nobly disdaining to sacrifice their Country for the sake of Gold, secured and conveyed him to the Commanding officer of the district, whereby the dangerous and traitorous conspiracy of Benedict Arnold was brought to light, the insidious designs of the Enemy baffled, and the United States secured from impending danger: Resolved, That Congress have a high sense of the virtuous and patriotic conduct of the said John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van Wart: In testimony whereof, Ordered, That each of them receive annually, out of the Public Treasury, Two Hundred Dollars in specie, or an equivalent in 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 -- 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."
In addition to the medal and yearly annuity, Congress granted to each of the captors the privilege of locating any confiscated lands in the county of Westchester, to the value of $1250, or of receiving the said sum in cash, to be expended as they chose. About this time, Williams married Miss Benedict, who was several years younger than himself; and with the $1250 granted by Congress, bought a part of the farm owned by his father-in-law and settled upon it, erecting a log cabin to live in.
The medal, which is now treasured as a sacred relic by Mrs. Williams, is about as large again as a silver dollar. On one side is represented the United States coat of arms, bearing the simple inscription, "Fidelity." On the other side is inscribed the Latin sentence, "Vincit Amor Patriæ -- the love of country conquers. At the time of Andre's arrest, Williams was older than either of his comrades. It may be said of him, that his charity knew no bounds. He was liberal even to a fault; and the sin of selfishness was one of the least for which he had to render a final account. He was most esteemed and respected by those who knew him best, which is ever the surest test of merit. Naturally honest and confiding he believed others to be so, and therefore was liable to be plundered by the knavish. He was by habit an early riser, and very industrious. His early education, like that of many others who fought under the stars of liberty, was limited; but being fond of reading, he acquired before his death a good fund of general information. He collected some valuable books which he repeatedly read through, and not only took a newspaper and paid for it, but he read its contents. In principle, he was a warm republican. Liberal in his religious views, he never was heard extolling one denomination and denouncing another; and although he made no public profession of religion, he regularly attended divine worship when held in his neighborhood, frequently opening his own house for that purpose. In the latter part of his life, he often read the scriptures aloud in his family, and not unfrequently he was seen or overheard engaged in secret devotion.
In the fall of 1830, the Corporation of the city of New York sent an invitation, by a special messenger, to Mr. Williams, to be present as a guest at the celebration of the French Revolution. He was, with Enoch Crosby, another hero of '76, and two others, drawn in an elegant carriage at the head of the procession, attracting much attention, as the writer well remembers. While in the city, he visited with the mayor and other distinguished citizens, theatres, public schools, the navy yard, &c., at all of which he was a welcome guest. At one of the schools a silver cup was presented to him, and at another a silver headed cane, the stem of which was made from a part of a chevaux-de-frise, used near West Point in the Revolution. He was also presented while on this visit, with an elegant horse, carriage and harness by the mayor.
Mr. Williams returned from New York in December, soon after which he began rapidly to fail. The excitement attending his visit had no doubt been too great for one of his age and retired habits. When spring again opened, and nature began to deck her offspring in blooming apparel, he exhibited symptoms of approaching dissolution. Conscious of his situation, he manifested a spirit of resignation to the Divine will. His complaint was dyspepsia. At times he suffered great pain in his limbs and breast, which could only be relieved by opium as an anodyne. During the paroxysms of pain he would frequently say, "Oh, how long before the contest will be over!" He wished for relief in death. He was attended in his last illness by good physicians, among whom was the late Doct. Hyde, of Rensselaerville. He continued gradually to waste away until sunset on Tuesday, the 2nd day of August, l831, when he expired without a struggle or a groan. The last time he spoke was on Monday morning to give some directions about the place of his burial. Mr. Williams at his death, left an only child, a son, David W. Williams, who now lives upon the farm formerly owned by his father in Broome. He has seven children, four sons and three daughters, and is now (1845) 48 years old. His mother, now in her 89th year, lives with him. After her husband had been dead ten years, Mrs. Williams obtained a continuance of his pension, which had been stopped at his death, receiving $2000 at once.
The following account of the death and burial of Mr. Williams, is copied from the Schoharie Republican, dated Tuesday, August 9th, 1831.
"The venerable David Williams, the last of the captors of Major Andre, has gone to his rest, full of years and full of glory. He died in Broome, Schoharie county, on Tuesday, the 2d instant, at the age of 77. His remains were interred on Thursday with military honors, at Livingstonville, in the presence of a large concourse of citizens, who had assembled to pay the last sad tribute of respect to his mortal remains.
"At l0 o'clock, A. M. a sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. Smith of Rensselaerville. After the service, a procession was formed, under the direction of Col. Joseph Bouck, of Middleburgh, in the following order:
Military. Reverend Clergy. T h Pall Bearers. e Pall Bearers C o Col. John Niles r Col. L. M. Dayton. p Col. Z. Pratt. S Lt. H. Dayton e Relations of the Deceased. Citizens."
At the grave a very appropriate eulogy was pronounced by Robert McClellan, Esq. Mr. Murphy addressed the assemblage, briefly reviewing the former life of his deceased kinsman; and the solemn exercises were closed by a prayer from the Rev. Mr Smith.
When the British evacuated Philadelphia in 1778, Gen. Benedict Arnold was given command of that station. His extravagance and dissipation, while a resident of that city, subjected him to a court martial, and a reprimand from the Commander-in-chief. From that moment the star that had guided his footsteps in the path of glory and honor was extinguished, and more evil spirits took possession of his soul, than haunted a certain woman of olden time. In 1780, Arnold sought and obtained from Gen. Washington, the command of the forts at West Point. He soon after, by letter, signified to Sir Henry Clinton, the British Commander-in-chief, then at New York, by a correspondence carried on for a while between Maj. Andre and Mrs. Arnold, and afterwards by himself, under the assumed name of Gustavus, while Andre assumed that of John Anderson, his intention of surrendering that fortress, the Gibralter of the Union, to the British. Andre was selected by Clinton to complete the diabolical design, and he, for that purpose, landed from the sloop of war Vulture, which had ascended the Hudson, on Thursday night, September 21st, 1780, and held an interview with Mons. Gustavus. Joshua H. Smith, with two brothers, Samuel and Joseph Cahoon, as oarsmen, visited the Vulture about midnight, with oars muffled with sheep-skins, agreeable to the orders of Gen. Arnold, and receiving Andre on board their boat, landed with him at the foot of a mountain called the Long Clove, on the west margin of the river, 3 1/4 miles below Smith's residence at Haverstraw, (which residence was distant from Stony Point 2-3/4 miles,) and nearly 20 miles below West Point. To the place of meeting, Arnold had ridden from Smith's house. The boatmen refused to return that night to the ship, and after a protracted conference, Arnold and Andre proceeded on horseback to the dwelling of Smith, who went with the boatmen to Crom's Island, in Haverstraw creek, where the boat was left, and then returned with them to his home, arriving about daylight. Andre was clad in full uniform, but over it he wore a blue traveling coat. The positive orders from Clinton to Andre were -- "not to change his dress -- go within the American lines -- or receive any papers."
Morning dawned ere the hellish plot was consummated, and his return to the sloop deferred until the next night. Early in the morning a heavy gun was brought to bear on the Vulture, by a party of Americans on shore; and several shots planted between wind and water compelled her to drop down the stream, where her men stole some plank on the bank of the river, and stopped her leaks. The night following, two men deserted from the Vulture in a boat. It was very dark, but the darkness being lit up at intervals by vivid lighting, the fugitives escaped to the shore, although they were pursued some distance by a boat's crew. -- Jude Watson a sentinel in the Highlands at the time.
Finding his return to the vessel cut off, Andre was compeled to set out for New York by land. Laying aside his regimentals, he put on a plain suit of clothes belonging to Smith, and having received a pass from Arnold, he started on horseback, under his assumed name, on Friday evening, September 22d, accompanied by Smith and a black servant of the latter. About sundown they crossed the Hudson at King's Ferry, from Stony Point on the west, to Verplanck's Point on the east side. They met with but little interruption until they arrived near Crom pond, between eight and nine o'clock, when they were hailed by a sentinel under Capt. Ebenezer Boyd. That officer examined the pass of Arnold to Smith, and advised the party to put up at one Andreas Miller's over night, which advice was followed. He also advised Smith to take the road by North Castle Church and Wright's mills, as being less likely to meet with cow-boys on that than on the Tarrytown road: the latter advice was, however, not regarded, for obvious reasons. Two miles beyond Pine's bridge they ate a breakfast of hasty pudding, or supawn and milk, at the house of a Dutch woman. Smith soon after took leave of Andre, and with his servant returned to Peekskill, and from thence to Fishkill, where his wife had been previously sent. Andre succeeded in passing all the American guards and posts on the road without suspicion, and was proceeding to New York in perfect security, when, on Saturday morning, between nine and ten o'clock, he was arrested in what was then called Beekman's forest, near a small brook, about half a mile from Tarrytown. He had taken the road that way as being more likely to meet with friends upon it, or to find safety on board a British vessel in that part of the river.
The following papers were found on the person of Andre:
"No. 1. -- Artillery orders [then] recently published at West Point, directing the disposition of each corps in case of alarm. No. 2. -- An estimate of the American force at West Point and its dependencies. No. 3. -- An estimate of the number of men requisite to man the works. No. 4 -- A return of the ordnance in the different forts, redoubts, and batteries. No. 5. -- Remarks on the works at West point, describing the construction of each, and its strength or weakness. No. 6. -- A report of a council of war lately held at Head Quarters, containing hints respecting the probable operations of the campaign, and which had been sent by Gen. Washington a few days before, requesting his opinion on the subjects to which it refered. These papers were all in the handwriting of Arnold, and bore his signature. In case of Andre's detection, the papers were to be destroyed."
When taken before Col. Jamieson by his captors, Andre, anxious for his own safety and that of his accomplice, requested Col. Jamieson to inform Arnold that Anderson (himself,) was taken, which solicitation was very imprudently complied with. A line was despatched by Solomon Allen, which gave the traitor an opportunity of making his escape; and he readily embraced it, leaving the spy to his fate.
At the time of his treason, Arnold was making his head quarters at the Beverly, or Robinson house, as still called, a dwelling which belonged to Beverly Robinson, then an officer in the British service, situated about two miles below West Point, on the east side of the river. It was at his own quarters he had purposed to have held his interview with Andre, at an earlier date; but circumstances prevented. Washington was to have breakfasted with Arnold on the morning of his flight; but sending his aids with his compliments, and an apology to Ms. Arnold, he rode down to inspect the redoubts on that side of the river. The messenger with Jamieson's note arrived while the company were at breakfast. Leaving the table abruptly, and with evident emotion, Arnold set out for West Point, saying that his immediate presence was demanded there. Washington had been to Hartford on business, and an express dispatched to him passed him, in consequence of his taking an unexpected route back, else he would have been apprized the evening before of Arnold's treason. Instead of going to West Point, Arnold proceeded to the river; and entering his barge, ordered two men to row him on board the Vulture, then at anchor in Tappan bay, below King's ferry. They did not like to comply with his request, but were stimulated to do so by the promise of a liberal reward. Once on board the vessel, Arnold wished to detain the men as prisoners; but the captain, on being informed what was passing, interfered, ordered the men to be paid what the traitor had promised them, and then liberated; which order was promptly obeyed. He made his escape at 10 o'clock on Monday morning following the capture of Andre, and Washington was apprized of his treasonable conduct at 4 P. M. of the same day.
It seems not a little surprising that Col. Jamieson, after enjoining secrecy on the captors, from a belief that others were concerned, should himself take measures to notify one he could not fail, in his right mind, to suspect, even if he did not discover that the treasonable papers were all in his hand-writing. Col. Jamieson was probably bewildered; for at first he actually ordered Maj. Andre sent to Arnold's head quarters. From the Journal of Maj. Tallmadge, who had command of a corps of cavalry in West Chester, I make the following extract:
"When I reached Lieut. Col. Jamieson's quarters, late in the evening of the 23d, and had learned the circumstances of the capture of the prisoner, I was very much surprised to learn that he was sent by that officer to Arnold's head quarters at West Point, accompanied by a letter of information respecting his capture. At the same time he despatched an express to meet Gen. Washington, then on his way to West Point. I felt much impressed with the course which had been taken, and did not fail to state the glaring inconsistency of this conduct to Col. Jamieson in a private and most friendly manner. He appeared greatly agitated when I suggested to him a measure which I wished to pursue; offering to take the whole responsibility on myself, and which, as he deemed it too perilous to permit, I will not further disclose." [The measure proposed by Major Tallmadge was, as he at a subsequent period informed his family, to proceed as speedily as possible with his troops to Arnold's head quarters, and arrest him on his own responsibility.]
"Failing in this purpose," [continues the journal,] "I instantly set about a plan to remand the prisoner to our quarters, which I finally effected, although with reluctance on the part of Col. Jamieson. When the order was about to be despatched to the officer to bring the prisoner back, strange as it may seem, Col. J. would persist in his purpose of letting the letter go to Gen. Arnold. The letter did go on, and the prisoner returned before the next morning. As soon as I saw Anderson, and especially after I saw him walk (as he did almost constantly) across the floor, I became impressed with the belief that he had been bred to arms. I very soon communicated my suspicion to Col. Jamieson, and requested him to notice his gait, and especially when he turned on his heel to retrace his course across the room. It was deemed best to remove the prisoner to Salem, and I was to escort him. I kept constantly in the room with the prisoner, who became very conversable, and extremely interesting. Indeed, he very pleasantly inquired why I watched him so narrowly. It was very manifest that his agitation and anxiety were great; and after dinner on the 24th, perhaps by 3 o'clock P. M., he asked to be favored with a pen, ink, and paper, which I readily granted, and he wrote the letter to Gen. Washington, dated Salem, 24th September, 1780, which is recorded in most of the histories of that eventful period. In this letter he disclosed his true character to be 'Major John Andre, Adjutant General to the British Army.' When I received and read the letter, for he handed it to me as soon as he had written it, my agitation was extreme, and my emotions wholly inddscribable. If the letter of information had not gone to Gen. Arnold, I should not have hesitated for a moment in my purpose; but this I knew must reach him before I could possibly get to West Point.
"I took on Maj. Andre, under a strong escort of cavalry, to West Point, and the next day I proceeded down the Hudson to Kings' ferry, and landed at Haverstraw, on the west side of the Hudson, where a large escort of cavalry had been sent from the main arm at Tappan, with which I conducted the prisoner to head quarters, where I reported proceedings to Gen. Washington, who ordered a Court Martial."
The part Joshua H. Smith had acted in the treasonable affair, left suspicions resting upon him; on which account he was tried by a court martial. The board consisted of Col. H. Jackson, as president, Lieut. Col. Hait, Maj. Ball, and Captains Jacob Wright, Drew, Fry, Sandford, Fowle, Daniels, J. A. Wright, Marshall, Chase, and Tiffany; conducted by John Lawrence, Judge Advocate General. The captors of Andre were among the witnesses called on the trial. In the absence of testimony to criminate him, after an investigation lasting two weeks, he was fully acquitted, though not without some suspicion of guilt. Arnold and Andre, however, both exonerated Smith from any knowledge of what was passing between them; the former by letter, and the latter when on trial.
Maj. Andre was tried at Tappan, Sept. 29, 1780, and condemned to be hung as a spy. The board consisted of
Nathaniel Greene, M. Gen., President. Sterling, M. G. H. Knox. B. G. LaFayette, " Jno. Glover, " R. Howe, " Jno. Patterson, " Steuben, " Edw. Hand, " Saml. H. Parsons, B. G. J. Huntington, " James Clinton, " John Starke, " John Lawrence, Judge Adv. Gen.
Of this court martial it may justly be said, that an abler or more impartial one was never convened on a similar occasion. When the examination commenced, he was informed by the court, from whom he received every possible indulgence, that he was at liberty to answer no questions unless he chose; but he frankly confessed every thing material to his condemnation. He evinced great firmness on his trial, in the course of which he spoke of Capt. Hale. Said he, "I wish that in all that dignifies man, that adorns and elevates human nature that I could be named with that accomplished, but unfortunate officer. His fate was wayward and untimely; he was cut off yet younger than I now am. But ours are not parallel cases."
After his condemnation, Andre wrote to Gen. Washington requesting as a last favor that he might be shot; a request the commander would have granted, had he consulted only his own feelings, instead of the inflexible demands of justice. The execution was first ordered to take place at 5 o'clock P. M. on the 1st day of October, and a vast concourse of people then assembled, but it was postponed until the next day in consequence of the arrival of a flag from the enemy. Gen. Greene met Gen. Robertson at Dobb's Ferry, but as the latter could make no proposals calculated to save the spy, the conference soon ended. -- Journal of Maj. Tallmadge.
When led out on the morning of Oct. 2d, he chose to walk to the place of execution, some two miles distant. The American army was drawn out to witness the sad spectacle, and as he passed through the files of soldiers bowing to those he knew, many a brave heart throbbed with emotion, and from many an eye, which had calmly glanced along the rifle's barrel in the hour of peril when it was dealing groans and death, now gushed the warm tears of pity.
A wagon containing his coffin, the latter painted black, followed a number of American officers of rank on horseback; behind which Andre marched in procession with Maj. Tallmadge on foot. About one-quarter of a mile from the village of Tappan, in Rockland county, stood a high gallows, made by setting up two crotches and laying a pole across the top. The wagon that contained his coffin was drawn under the gallows. Andre, after shaking hands with several friends, stepped into the wagon, and stood upon the coffin. Laying down his hat, he paced back and forth several times the length of his narrow house, with his hands upon his hips, casting his eyes upon the pole overhead and the surrounding scenery. He was dressed in a British uniform, sent to him after his arrest. It consisted of a rich scarlet coat trimmed with green, with vest and breeches of bright buff. His dying request to the spectators was -- "Witness to the world that I die like a brave man!" The executioner, painted black, stepped into the wagon to adjust the halter, which had a hang-man's knot at the end. "Keep off your black hands," said Andre, as he removed his cravat and unpinned the collar of his shirt. Seizing the rope, he placed the noose around his neck with the knot under the right ear, and drew it up snugly; then taking from his coat a handkerchief, he tied it over his eyes. An officer told the hangman his arms must be tied. Andre drew the handkerchief from his eyes, and taking out another, handed it to the executioner, replacing the one over his eyes. His arms were tied above the elbows, behind his back -- and the rope made fast to the pole overhead. The wagon was then suddenly drawn from under him, and soon his spirit was in the presence of his God.
After hanging nearly half an hour, the body was taken down and laid upon the ground. His coat, vest, and breeches were taken off and handed to two dwarfish looking servants dressed in gaudy apparel, who were in attendance from New York; to one of whom Andre handed his watch while standing in the wagon. The body was wrapped in a shroud, (as I have been informed by an eye witness,) before it was placed in a coffin. The captors of Andre witnessed his execution. Very great sympathy was manifested for Andre at his death. Says Maj. Tallmadge,
"When I saw him swing under the gibbet, it seemed for a time as if I could not support it. All the spectators appeared to be overwhelmed with the affecting spectacle, and many seemed to be suffused in tears. There did not appear to be one hardened, or indifferent spectator in all the multitude of persons assembled on that solemn occasion."
Sir Henry Clinton made some efforts to save Andre, but still greater were those made by Gen. Washington; and "it is a singular fact, that while the former was hastening the death of Andre, the latter was exerting himself to ward off that calamity." So great was the desire of Gen. Washington to get Arnold and save Andre, that he sent one of his best soldiers into the camp of the enemy. Major Lee, who was entrusted by the Commander with the attempt to arrest the traitor, selected John Champe, a sergeant of cavalry, for the enterprise. Champe was a native of Loudon county, Virginia; a young man of much discernment and great personal bravery. The sergeant was to enter the enemy's lines as an American deserter -- enlist into the British service under Arnold, and having matured his plans, was, with a trusty companion to surprise and gag him late in the evening -- bear him to a boat and cross to the Jersey shore from New-York; where Major Lee was to await his arrival with two spare horses. -- Champe approached the enemy hotly pursued by a party of his countrymen, and as they supposed their former comrade a deserter, it is not surprising the enemy admitted him into communion. Having all things ready, he notified Lee when to meet him; but fortunately for Arnold, on the afternoon of the very day on which the plan was to be consummated, that officer shifted his quarters, and the sergeant was transferred to another regiment. The scheme, of course proved abortive. Nothing but an unforeseen event saved Arnold from the just vengeance of his countrymen. The intrepid sergeant readily embraced the earliest opportunity to desert and return to the camp of Washington, who kindly received and rewarded him. -- Niles' Principles of the Revolution.
Capt. Nathan Hale, to whom Major Andre alluded on his trial, is not sufficiently well known to the American reader. He was a son of Deacon Richard Hale, of South Coventry, Connecticut, and was born on the sixth day of June, 1756. He graduated at Yale College in September, 1773, with the first honors of the institution. He ardently espoused the cause of his suffering at an early day, and when the news of the Lexington fight reached New London where he was then teaching an academy, he dismissed his school, and joining the company of Capt. Coit, as a volunteer, marched to the vicinity of Boston. In the fall of 1775, he received a lieutenant's commission, and soon after a captain's, in Col. Charles Webb's regiment. Early in the summer of 1776, Gen. Washington formed a select regiment of infantry for special service, under the command of Col. Knowlton, a brave officer who fell that season at Harlem Hights.
After the unfortunate engagement which took place on Long Island, August 27, 1776, the Americans under the prudent Washington, abandoned the island and retreated to New-York, in the manner described in the journal of Major Tallmadge.
About this time an incident occurred as stated in the Memoir of Capt. Hale, (a neat pamphlet published early in the summer of 1844, for the Hale Monument Association -- for a copy of which and the beautiful poem sent with it, the author would here acknowledge his indebtedness to the society,) which will serve to show the daring spirit of that hero.
"Our troops were still wretchedly supplied with even the necessaries of life; things without which the warmest zeal cannot long endure. there was much suffering and much repining. A British sloop, laden with provisions, was lying in the East river, under cover of the ship Asia, man-of-war with 90 guns. Capt. Hale formed the bold project of capturing this sloop, and bringing her into the harbor of New-York. He soon found hardy compeers for the enterprise. At dead of night the little band of adventurers rowed silently, in a small boat, to a point near the sloop, and there waited for the moon to go down. As soon as it was dark, and all still, save the watchman's voice from the deck of the Asia, they darted upon their prey, sprang aboard, hoisted sail, and brought her into port with the British tars in the hold, and without the loss of a man. This exploit was loudly applauded, and the daring leader distributed the goods of his prize to feed and clothe the hungry and naked soldiers."
The retreat of the Americans from Brooklyn, left the whole island in possession of the British. Anxious to obtain information of their strength and intended future operations, Washington applied to Col. Knowlton to gain such information, who made the request known to his officers. Among others, he solicited a sergeant to undertake it, who had served in the French war: but the knotted hero promptly refused, saying that he was ready to fight the British at any place or time, but did not feel willing to go among them to be hung up like a dog. Young Hale, inspired with a sense of duty, and a belief that the safety of his country demanded the desired information, at once volunteered his services for the enterprise; and in a citizen's dress and capacity of a school teacher, he proceeded to Norwalk, Conn., from whence he was conveyed to Huntington, L. I., in an armed sloop. He journeyed to Brooklyn, went through the enemy's lines, and after making a careful survey of their posts and strength, he crossed over to New-York, where a part of the British army were then stationed; and having faithfully completed his charge, set out on his return to the American camp, then near the Harlem Heights -- five or six miles from the city. When nearly out of danger as he supposed, he met a small party of the enemy, and one of their number, a refugee cousin who had espoused the cause of oppression, recognized and betrayed him. This relative was on a visit to Hale's father's only a year or two before. The party made the spy a captive, and hastened with him to the presence of Sir William Howe.
The proof of his object was so clear that he frankly acknowledged who he was, and what were his views. Howe at once gave orders for his execution on the following morning. The order was executed on the morning of September 22d, in a most unfeeling and barbarous manner, by William Cunningham, 1 the British provost-marshal, than whom a greater villain never disgraced a human form. "A clergyman, whose attendance he requested, was refused him; a Bible, for a few moments' devotion, was not procured, although he wished it. "Letters, which, on the morning of his execution, he wrote to his intended, and other friends, were destroyed; and this very extraordinary reason given by the provost-marshal, "That the rebels should not know they had a man in their army who could die with so much firmness." Unknown to all around him, -- without a single friend to offer him the least consolation, -- thus fell as amiable and as worthy a young man as America could boast, with this, his dying observation: "He only lamented that he had but one life to lose for his country." Andre, in his defence, alluded to the death of Capt. Hale, and paid his character a just tribute. He closed his allusion to the fate of Hale by saying that their cases were not parallel. Let us see how far they differed:
Both, when taken, were in a citizen's dress, and that of Andre at least, not his own; both had been within the lines of the enemy in that disguise; Andre had assumed a false name, although it is not certain that Hale did; both had gone to learn the situation of the enemy's works, and Andre was taking measures to criminate another -- and while neither the expectation of pecuniary reward or promotion influenced the action of Hale, it is not certain but both were in prospect for Andre. The one was the agent of a powerful king, sent to fix the manacles of despotism upon his fellow subjects, and by so doing entwine the laurel wreath upon his own brow, or receive a high sounding court title; the other was the agent of an oppressed people, struggling to be free, who felt it his duty, not for gold or worldly honors, to peril his life. Andre was planning the easy capture of a strong fortress by becoming accessory to treason; Hale was endeavoring to learn the future operations of the enemy, not through the treachery and crime of her officers. Andre was twenty-nine years old when he suffered, and Hale but twenty-two. If both were guilty of the same crime, under precisely the same circumstances, should not sympathy naturally incline to the younger ? for age is expected to bring with it experience divested of rashness. Contrast the treatment of the two officers after their arrest: The one is tried by court-martial, and every possible indulgence granted him, added to the sympathy of the whole American people; while the other, without the form of a trial, or the sympathy of a single Briton, -- without being granted the favor of Christian devotion, -- without permission to send a dying epistle to his father, -- is hurried out and executed, with the cold formality that would attend the hanging of a rabid dog. Finally, let us contrast their dying words. Said Andre to the spectators, "Witness to the world that I die like a brave man!" Said Hale, "I only lament that I have but one life to lose for my country!". The one implies a desire for personal fame, even in death; while in the other, self is buried deep in the love of country. Reader! can you look on this picture, and feel that justice is done to the character of your beloved Hale? -- to an accomplished and feeling scholar, who laid down his life a willing sacrifice for his bleeding country? His blood, while yet warmed with the fire of youth, watered the then withering roots of the tree of Liberty. The time has arrived when justice ought to be done to the character of Hale; and I believe that if ever this Republic rears two monuments for her illustrious dead, the one, should bear the name of "the father of his country," and on the other should be inscribed the name of the patriot martyr to American liberty, Nathan Hale. It is said that the father of Capt. Hale was mentally deranged ever after the execution of his son.
In August, 1831, the remains of Andre were exhumed by royal mandate, under the direction of J. Buchanan, British Consul at New York, and removed to England to find a resting place in Westminster Abbey, where a monument had previously been erected to his memory.
Major Andre was no doubt a brave, accomplished, and at times, generous man; but sympathy, for which the American character has ever been distinguished, and for which I trust it ever will be, tended at the time of his death to throw around his name a fictitious coloring that would not stand the ordeal of scrutiny. Going to prove that fact, is the following article, which is an extract of a communication published in the Philadelphia True American, and copied by Niles in his Register, March 1, 1817:
"Andre was in Philadelphia with the English army, and was quartered at the house of Dr. Franklin, in which the Doctor's furniture and very valuable library had been left. When the British were preparing to evacuate the city, M. D. Simetre, 2 who was an intimate friend of Andre, called to take leave, and found him busily engaged in packing up and placing amongst his own baggage a number of the most valuable books belonging to Doctor Franklin. Shocked and surprised at the proceeding, he told him, in order that he might be influenced by the highly honorable conduct of Gen. Kniphausen, who had been quartered at Gen. Cadwallader's that that officer sent for the agent of the latter, gave him an inventory, which he had caused his steward to make out on his first taking possession, told him he would find every thing in proper order, even to some bottles of wine in the cellar, and paid him rent for the time he occupied it. Not so with Andre; he quietly carried off his plunder. I have often thought his character owes many beams which play around it, to the fascination of Miss Seward's verse and description, of which he was by no means worthy, though there can be no doubt but he was a gallant soldier, and in some respects, an honest man."
It is also stated in a pamphlet publication of the proceedings, at the time a monument was erected to the memory of John Paulding, on the authority of Johnson's Life of Gen. Greene, that Maj. Andre was in Charleston, South Carolina, in the character of a spy, during the seige of that city by the British; and that he was probably instrumental, to a great extent, in involving the very men in captivity, whose fate he intimated in his letter to Washington avowing his real character, "the treatment he received might affect."
Gen. Greene was in command of the army at head quarters during Washington's visit to Hartford, to meet the French officers, and in a letter to him, dated two days before Andre's arrest, He thus writes from Tappan:
"Col. -- -- - communicated the last intelligence we have from New York; since that I have not been able to obtain the least information of what is going on there, though we have people in from three different quarters. None of them returning, makes me suspect some secret expedition is in contemplation, the success of which depends upon its being kept a secret."
"Arnold knew the bearing of this post (West Point), upon all the operations of the American army; and afterwards avowed his confident expectation, that, had the enemy got possession of it, the contest must have ceased and America been subdued."
Andre was not only pleased with poetry, but wrote it very well. His poetic wit generally flowed in a strain of sarcasm, and the American officers were usually the butt of it. His most celebrated poem of the kind was called the Cow Chase, written a short time before his death, and in this he aimed a share of his wit at Gen. Wayne, one of the bravest of the brave. The doggerel ended with the following stanza:
When Andre was delivered a prisoner at the village of Tappan, he found Gen. Wayne in command of a division of the army, the first Pennsylvania brigade, then stationed at that place. Thus we see that indirectly "the warrior-drover Wayne" did catch the poet.
As a reward for his treason, Arnold received from the British government, as is supposed, ten thousand pounds, and a commission in her service. He issued a proclamation to induce the American soldiers to desert; yet, as dark as their prospects were, English writers say there was not a solitary instance of desertion on his account. He was actively employed until the close of the war, exerting himself to injure his parent country. At the end of the war, he was engaged in commercial pursuits in the West Indies. He afterwards removed to England, where he was shunned and despised by all virtuous and honorable men. 3
He died in London in l801. The following acrostic, published many years ago, and for which the writer is indebted to the tenacious memory of a bachelor friend, does ample justice to his character:
"Born for a curse to nature and mankind, Earth's darkest realms can't show so black a mind; Night, sable night, his crimes can never hide, Each is so great it gluts historic tide: Defunct, in memory shall ever live, In all the glare that infamy can give; Curses of ages shall attend thy name; Traitors alone shall glory in thy fame.
Almighty vengeance sternly waits to roll Rivers of sulphur o'er thy treach'rous soul; Nature looks back, with conscious error sad, On such a tarnished blot that she had made. Let hell receive thee, riveted in chains, Damned to the focus of its hotest flames."
The captors of Andre are now dead, and monuments have been erected over the dust of two of them, to point the traveler not only to the generosity of their countrymen, but to the triumph of virtue over the corrupting influence of gold. Paulding died Feb. 18th, 1818, and was buried at Peekskill, Westchester county, where a monument was raised to his memory by the common council of New York, Nov. 22d, 1827. Van Wart died May 23d, 1828, and on the 11th of June, 1829, the citizens of Westchester placed a monument over his remains. My friend, Mr. Murphy, who well knew the merits of the last survivor, Williams, has been indefatigable in his efforts to get a monument to his memory. He has repeatedly petitioned Congress, the proper source surely, for an appropriation to erect one, and has even been in person to urge the matter -- but as yet in vain. Are republics ungrateful? Mr. Murphy has several times elicited from Congress a favorable report; but those reports, like similar ones for a monument to the ill-fated Hale, have died still-born. The memory of those heroes should be honored, although it be necessary to lessen the mileage of Congressmen, or tax their receipts for imaginary distance to do it. Virtue merits the cherished recollection of the good, and surely it is not vanity that dictates the erection of marble to remind us of departed worth, and tell where rests a hero.