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Andre’s Capture

Another correspondent says:1—”I doubt not you have heard, ere this reaches you, of the most cursed plot ever formed by man, for the seizing of the person of his Excellency General Washington, with his family, on their return from the eastward, which would have taken place on the night of the 25th instant, had it not been providentially discovered by the taking of a person who turns out to be Major Andre, Adjutant-General to General Clinton, who, it seems, has been all through our camp, disguised in the habit of a servant, and acted, when in camp, as waiting man to one Joseph Smith, formerly of New York, who lives near King’s Ferry. General Arnold was the principal agent in carrying on this diabolical scheme. I shall endeavor, from the information received, to give you the particulars, viz.:

“On the 25th of this instant,2 Colonel Andre was stopped by three of the militia,3 at or near Tarrytown, upon which he produced General Arnold’s pass, in the following words: ‘Permit the bearer to pass all guards and outposts of the Continental army wheresoever posted.’ The pass being somewhat singular, the militia undertook to detain him, notwithstanding it was signed by General Arnold. When Andre found he could not prevail on them to pass him, he then offered them one hundred guineas, and it is said, rose to four hundred if they would dismiss him. This convinced them that he was a person of consequence and a spy, upon which they pinioned him and conducted him to one of their officers, who ordered him stripped, and his Boots being the first articles taken off, they therein discovered a plan of the fortifications at West Point and King’s Ferry, and our encampment at this place. Unfortunately for us, as they were searching Andre, a gentleman passed by, who inquired who he was, and was answered by the militia that he was a spy, and Adjutant-General of the British army; upon which the gentleman, pleased no doubt with the intelligence, rode off to West Point, and acquainted General Arnold with the same, not suspecting him to be concerned in the affair. Arnold apprehending the whole matter was discovered, immediately mounted his horse and rode to the water side, where his barge lay ready to receive him, and pushed off. Just at this instant his Excellency appeared in sight, and being acquainted with the taking of Andre, and Arnold’s sudden flight, Colonel Hamilton, one of his Excellency’s aids, was despatched to King’s Ferry with all possible speed, in hopes of stopping him, but the barge, rowed by eight stout fellows, had passed by before the colonel’s arrival; and he had the mortification to see the greatest villain on earth go on board a vessel prepared for the reception of his Excellency and family; on board of which vessel Colonel Beverly Robinson was, with a sufficient number of picked men, for the purpose aforesaid.

“The plan was, to have surprised his Excellency and family, with the Marquis de la Lafayette, in the dead time of the night, in the above-mentioned Robinson’s house, which was the quarters of Arnold, and where his Excellency was to have lodged that night, and Robinson was pitched upon to execute it, as being best acquainted with the avenues leading thereto. Had they succeeded, the garrison at West Point was next to be given up.”4


1 Extract of a letter from a gentleman at the camp, dated Tappan, September 28.
2 Actual date was September 23rd, not the 25th.
3 John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart.
4 Pennsylvania Packet, October 3.