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1780. sult with respect to the Americans. Such a stroke could scarcely have been recovered. Independent of the loss of artillery and stores, such a destruction of their disci • plined force, and many of their best officers, must have been satal. The British might also have turned their whole force against the French fleet and troops at Rhode Island: for they had received a considerable naval reinforcement by the arrival of adm. Rodney with several ships of the line from the 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.
General Washington appointed a board of fourteen general officers (of whom were the marquis de la Fayette and baron de Steuben) with the assistance of the judge advocate general, John Laurence, [gen. M'Dougall's son-in-law] to examine into and to report a precise state of major Andre's cafe; and to determine what light he . was to be considered in, and to what punishment he 99, was liable. Andre disdaining all subterfuge and evar lion, 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 scrupulous nicety, whatever might involve others. Being I interrogated 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 j rfiight certainly have returned under it. The board was exceedingly struck with his candor and magnanimity;
and sufficiently showed how much they felt for his situ- ll?0* ation. They treated him with such delicacy at the opening of the examination, as to desire that he would not answer any interrogatory which would ac all embarrass his feelings. Every possible mark of indulgence, and , the utmost attention and politeness were exercised toward him: so that the major himself, deeply sensible of the liberality of their behaviour, declared that he flattered himself he had never been illiberal; but that if there were any remains of prejudice in his mind, his; present experience must obliterate them, The board did not examine a single witness: but founded their report merely upon his own confession, Jn that, after a , recital of a few sacts, they declared, that major Andre ought to be considered as a spy from the enemy; and that, agreeable to the law and usage of nations, it is their opinion he ought to suffer death.
General Washington wrote a short answer to Sir H. j0. Clinton's letter of the 26th, reclaiming the major,, in which he stated, that though the major was under such circumstances as would have justified the most summary proceedings against him, he had referred his cafe to the examination and decision of a board of general officers, whose report, founded on his free and voluntary confession of his letters, was enclosed. This drew another letter from Sir Henry, who proposed to send gen. Robertson and two other gentlemen, as well to give his excellency a true state of sacts, as to explain to him his own sentiments on the subject. The gentlemen were to be at Dobb's ferry on the following morning, to wait for Washington's permission and safe conduct, and to meet himself, or whoever he should appoint. He urged it
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1780. as a matter of the highest moment to humanity, that the general should fully understand the whole state of the business, before he proceeded to carry the judgment of the board into execution. Gen. Greene, who had been president of it, was appointed to meet Robertson, but the others were not permitted to come on shore. Robertson used his utmost ingenuity to show, that Andre did not come within the character and description of a spy. As Greene was sar 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 named, 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 cafe Andre should suffer, and insoj lently making the American commander answerable for 'the torrents of blood that might be spilt, 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. Oct. On October the 2d 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 1 annexed.
annexed to his unhappy situation, was infinitely dreadful 17s0* to him. He was desirous of being indulged with a professional death: and accordingly had written, the day before, a pathetic letter, fraught 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 wrought so powerfully, that they were all for shooting him, till Greene insisted on it, that his crime was. that of a common spy; that the public good required his being hanged; and that was he shot, the generality • would think there were favorable 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 satal 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, penformed 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 die like a brave man." He died universally
178* sally esteemed and regretted. The sympathy he had excited in the American army was perhaps unexampled, under any similar circumstances. Oct. '. General Washington thus expressed himself upon this ,5* whole business in a private letter—" 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 Ar
nold meant to involve me in the catastrophe of this
attempting to combine two events, the lesser of which