Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

force against the French fleet and troops at Rhode-Island, for they had received a considerable naval reinforcement by the are i rival of adm. Rodney with several ships of the line from the i West-Indies on the 13th of September. Whether his coming.. to New-York was in the least under the influence of flattering prospects, upon West-Point's being delivered into the hands of the British, will be matter of conjecture among many.

: Gen. Washington appointed a board of fourteen general offie : cers - [Sept. 29.] (of whom were the marquis de la Fayette and baron de Steuben) with the assistance of the judge-advocate general, John Laurence, to examine into and to report a precise, state of major Andre's case; and to determine what light he: was to be considered in, and to what punishment he was liable : Andre, disdaining all subterfuge and evasion, and studying only. to place his character in so fair a light as might prevent its being shaded by present circumstances, voluntarily confessed more → than he was asked ; and sought not to palliate any thing relating to himself, while he concealed, with the most guarded and i scrupulous nicety, whatever might involve others. Being intera : zogated by the board, with respect to his conception of coming on shore under the sanction of a flag, he said, with a noble frankness of mind, that if he had, he might certainly have res. turned under it. The board was exceedingly struck with his 3 candor and magnanimity; and sufficiently showed how much i they felt for his situation. They treated him with such delicacy i at the opening of examination, as to desire that he would not answer any interrogatory, which would at all embarrass his feel ! ings. Every possible mark of indulgence, and the utmost attention and politeness were exercised toward him; so that the i major himself, deeply sensible of the liberality of their beba vior, declared, that he flattered himself he had never been illie beral; but that if there were any remains of prejudice in his i mind, his present experience must obliterate them. The board did not examine a single witness; but founded their report meres ly upon his own confession. In that, after a recital of a few facts, they declared, that major Andre 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. At

Gen. Washington wrote a short answer to Sir H. Clinton's 1: letter of the 26th, reclaiming the major, in which he stated, that. 5 though the major was under such circumstances as would have :: justified the most summary proceedings against him, he had re-> ferred his case to the examination and decision of a board of ge 4 meral officers, whose report, founded on his free and voluntary

confessioni,

in confession of his letters, was enclosed. This drew another

letter from Sir Henry, who proposed to send gen. Robertson and the two other gentlemen, as well to give his excellency a true state

of facts, as to explain to him his own sentiments on the subject.

The gentlemen were to be at Dobbs's ferry on the following , ü morning, to wait for Washington's permission and safe conduct,

and to meet himself or whoever he should appoint. He urged te it as a matter of the highest moment to humanity, that the ge. * Deral should fully understand the whole state of the business, bebetore he proceeded to carry the judgment of the board into s execution. Gen. Greene, who had been president of it, was as appointed to meet Robertson, but the others were not permitted 2 to come on shore. · Robertson used his utmostingenuity to show,

that Andre did not come within the character and description of , a spy. As Greene was far from admitting either his facts or conclusions, Robertson wished that the opinions of disinterested gentlemen might be taken on the subject, and proposed Knyphausen and Rochambeau, as proper persons. Humanity was the last string touched. Robertson said, he wished an intercourse of such civilities as 'might lessen the horrors of war; and quoted instances of Clinton's merciful disposition. He held out, that major Andre possessed a great share of that gentleman's esteem; and that he would be infinitely obliged if he was spared. ; He offered, if the former was admitted to return with him to

New-York, to engage that any person whatever, who was nam-; éd, should be set at liberty. Gen. Robertson having failed in

his other attempts, presented a long letter from Arnold to gen. Washington, filled with threats in case Andre should suffer, and insolently making the American commander answerable for the forrents of blood that might be spist in consequence of his disregarding the warning, and ordering the execution of Andre. The presentment of such a letter was considered as no less an absurdity than the writing of it.

On October the second, the tragedy was closed. The major was superior to the terrors of death, but the disgraceful mode of dying which the usage of war had annexed to his unhappy situation, was infinitely dreadful to him. He was desirous of being indulged with a professional death, and accordingly had written, the day before, a patletic letter, fraugit with all the feelings of a man of sentiment and honor, in which he requested of gen. Washington that he might not die on a gibbet. The general consulted his officers on the subject. Pity and esteem wrough so powerfully, that they were all for shooting him, till Greene in: sisted on it that his crime was that of a coinmon spy; that the

[ocr errors]

-3

public good required his.being hanged; and that was he shot, the generality would think there were favourable circumstances.entitling him to notice and lenity. His observations convinced them that there would be an impropriety in granting the major's request; while tenderness prevented its being divulged. When major Andre was led out to the place of execution, as he went along he bowed himself familiarly to all those with whom he had been acquainted in his confinement. A smile of complacency expressed the serene fortitude of his mind. Upon seeing the preparations at the fatal spot, he asked with some emotion “ Must I die in this manner?” He was told it was unavoidable, He replied, “ I am reconciled to my fate, but not to the mode. Soon after, recollecting himself, he added, “It will be but a momentary pang ;' and springing upon the cart, performed the last offices to himself, with a composure that excited the admiration, and melted the hearts of all the spectators. Being told the final moment was at hand, and asked if he had any thing to say, he answered "Nothing but to request that you will witness to the world, that I dic like a brave man.” He died universally esteemed and regretted. The sympathy he had excited in the Ames, xican army was perhaps unexampled, under any similar circumstances,

General Washington thus expressed himself upon this whole Business in a private letter (Oct. 13.) “ In no instance since the commencement of the war, has the interposition of Providence appeared more remarkably conspicuous, than in the rescue of the post and garrison of West-Point How far Arnold meant to involve me in the catastrophe of this place, does not appear by any indubitable evidence, and I am rather inclined to think, he did not wish to hazard the inore im portant object ., by attempting to combine two events, the tesser of which might have marred the greater. A combination of extraordinary circumstances, and unaccountable deprivation of presence of mind in a man of the first abilities, and the virtue of three militia nien, threw the adjutant-general of the British forces (with full proof of Arnold's intention) into our hands; and but for the egregious folly, or the bewildered conception of lieut. col. Jameson, who seemed lost in astonishment, and not to have known what he was doing, I should undoubtedly have gotten Aro nold. Andre has met his fate, and with that fortitude which was to be expected from an accomplished man and a gallant officer; but I mistake if Arnold is not suffering at this time, the torments of a mental hell.” The unhappy event of which Arnold's proe ject was productive, the death of major Andre, deeply affected the

whole

whole royal army. Arnold was made a British brigadier-genea tal in America, and it was hoped, that with the aid of the loyo alists and the discontented of all sorts, he would raise a considerable body of forces, to act under his own separate command; but neither an address of his to the inhabitants of America, nor his proclamation inscribed to the officers and soldiers of the continental army, had any effect. Notwithstanding the discontents among the American troops, through their various difficulties, Arnold's example and endeavors were so far from being the means of bringing over even a smallbody ordetachment, that they do not appear to have produced the desertion of a single soldier, much less of an officer. * Sir Henry Clinton, in obedience to the orders sent him (Oct. 15.] to prosecute the war with vigor in North-Carolina and Vir. ginia; dispatched general Leslie from New-York to the Bay of Chesapeake, with near 3000 choice troops. He was to cooperate with lord Cornwallis, who was expected to have beer får advanced toward, if not to have reached Virginia. Within a few days the fleet arrived in the bay. The troops were landed in different parts of Virginia. In the beginning of November Leslie was engaged in establishing a post at Portsmouth, till he could hear from his lordship, according to whose orders he was to act in all cases. It was some time before he learned for a certainty where Cornwallis was; but at length instructions were received from his lordship, for the fleet and troops to proceed without delay to Charleston. While in Virginia they possessed themselves of some tobacco and stores; but the vessels seized in the harbours and rivers were the most valuable part of the booty. About the time that Leslie landed at Portsmouth, Sir H. Clinton sent to Charleston all the recruits belonging to the southern army, amounting to near 800, which he treckoned would place under Cornwallis's orders, full 11,306 effective rank and file, including Leslie's corps.. 9 Gen. Washington made a proposition to Sir H. Clinton for the exchange of a number of officers, which was not acceded to. A general exchange being what the other sincerely wished, a propo, sition to that purpose was returned. The British gen. Philips, and the American gen. Lincolii, were enployed for the settling of a cartel. The former supposed, that the reason why the Americans declined the exchange of privates, was an unwillingness to throw into the hands of their enemy, in the middle of an active campaign, such a reinforcement as they would receive by the exchange of all the privates. To obviate this dif ficulty, Philips mentioned, that the exchange of the privates. might be postponed to some future day that might be agreed on, Lincoln, on the 25th of Septeinber, expressed his desire in wri. ting, that this night remove the objections which had existed a gainst an exchange of privates. He wrote on Oct. the 1st to the Massachusetts and South-Carolina delegates, and to general Sullivan, now one of the New-Hampshire representatives in congress-L"The enemy have made a proposition for a general exchange. I think policy, justice and humanity demand it on our part. I cannot but hope you will be with me in opinion : if so the proposition will have your support and interest.” At length " an exchange of all officers, prisoners of war, on both sides, in

cluding such as were upon their paroles in New York or in Great-Britain, was settled. The exchange comprehended also an equivalent of British and German soldiers, prisoners of war, for those Americans that were at New-York. In the course of the negociation, an ineffectual effort was made on the part of the British for the release of the privates of the convention troops. . On the 3d of Nov. it was resolved, “That congress have a high sense of the virtuous and patriotic conduct of John Pauld. ing, David Willianis, and Isaac Van Vert: in testimony whereof, ordered that each of them receive annually two hundred dollars in specie, or an equivalent in the current money of these states during life: and that the board of war be directed to 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 fore ward 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.” The next day they recommended to the several states to levy a tax equal to 6 millions of silver dol. lars, to be paid partly in specific articles, and the residue in gold or silver, or bills of credit, emitted pursuant to the resolution of the 18th of March last. On the 28th, they had before them an account of major Talmedge of the light dragoons, having surprised and taken fort St. George on Long-Island, with the garrison, they extolled the enterprise as planned and conducted with wisdom and great gallantry, and executed with intrepidity and complete success by the officers and soldiers of his detachment. Such commendations not only reward, but excite to military adventurers. The major crossed the sound on the island with 80 men ; left 20 to guard the boats ; made a circuitous route of 20 miles to the fort, and reduced it almost instantly. The enemy. had 8 killed and wounded. He captivated 1 lieut. colonel, 1 caps

« ForrigeFortsett »