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whom only the attempt against Arnold was to be intrusted. This person entered with promptitude into the design, promising his cordial assistance. To procure a proper associate for Champe was the first object, and this he promised to do with all possible despatch. Furnishing a conveyance to Major Lee, to whom Champe stated that he had that morning the last of September) been appointed one of Arnold's recruiting sergeants, having enlisted the day before with Arnold; and that he was induced to take this afflicting step, for the purpose of securing uninterrupted ingress and egress to the house which the General occupied; it being indispensable to a speedy conclusion of the difficult enterprise which the information he had just received had so forcibly urged. He added, that the difficulties in his way were numerous and stubborn, and that his prospect of success was by no means cheering. With respect to the additional treason, he asserted that he had every reason to believe that it was groundless; that the report took its rise in the enemy's camp, and that he hoped soon to clear up that matter satisfactorily. The pleasure which the last part of this communication afforded, was damped by the tidings it imparted respecting Arnold, as on his speedy delivery depended Andre's relief. The interposition of Sir Henry Clinton, who was extremely anxious to save his aid-de-camp, still continued; and it was expected the examination of witnesses and the defence of the prisoner, would protract the decision of the court of inquiry, now as
How did this person enter into the measure?
Major Lee, damped ?
sembled, and give sufficient time for the consummation of the project committed to Champe. A complete disappointment took place from a quarter unforeseen and unexpected. The honorable and accomplished Andre, knowing his guilt, disdained defence, and prevented the examination of witnesses by confessing the character in which he stood. On the next day, (the 2d of October) the court again assembled; when every doubt that could possibly arise in the case having been removed by the previous confession, Andre was declared to be a spy, and condemned to suffer accordingly.
The sentence was executed on the subsequent day in the usual form, the commander-in-chief deeming it improper to interpose any delay.
The fate of Andre, hastened by himself, deprived the enterprise committed to Champe of a feature which had been highly prized by its projector, and which had very much engaged the heart of the individual chosen to execute it.
Champe deplored the sad necessity which had occurred, and candidly confessed that the hope of enabling Washington to save the life of Andre, (who had been the subject of universal commiseration in the American camp) greatly contributed to remove the serious difficulties which opposed his acceding to the proposition when first propounded. Some documents accompanied this communication, tending to prove the innocence of the accused General; they were completely satisfactory, and did credit to the discrimina
What was expected?
tion, zeal, and diligence of the sergeant. Nothing now remained to be done, but the seizure and safe delivery of Arnold. To this subject Champe gave his undivided attention.
Ten days elapsed before Champe brought his measures to conclusion, when Major Lee received from him his final communication, appointing the third subsequent night for a party of dragoons to meet him at Hoboken, when he hoped to deliver Arnold to the officer. Champe had from his enlistment into the American legion, (Arnold's corps) every opportunity he could wish, to attend to the habits of the General. He discovered that it was his custom to return home about twelve every night, and that previous to going to bed he always visited the garden. During this visit the conspirators were to seize him, and being prepared with a gag, intended to have applied the same instantly.
Adjoining the house in which Arnold resided, and that in which it was designed to seize and gag him, Champe had taken off several of the palings and replaced them, so that with care and without noise he could readily open his way to the adjoining alley. Into this alley he meant to have conveyed his prisoner, aided by his companion, one of two associates who had been introduced by the friend to whom Champe had been originally made known by letter from the commander-in-chief, and with whose aid and counsel he had so far conducted the enterprise. His other associate was with the boat prepared at one of the wharves on the Hudson river, to receive the party.
Champe and his friend intended to have placed themselves each under Arnold's shoulder, and to have thus
What remained now to be done?
borne him through the most unfrequented alleys and streets to the boat; representing Arnold, in case of being questioned, as a drunken soldier, whom they were conveying to the guard-house.
When arrived at the boat the difficulties would be all surmounted, there being no danger nor obstacle in passing to the Jersey shore. The day arrived, and Major Lee with a party of dragoons left camp late in the evening, with three led horses; one for Arnold, one for the sergeant, and the third for his associate, never doubting the success of the enterprise, from the tenor of the last received communication. The party reached Hoboken about midnight, where they were concealed in the adjoining wood,—Lee, with three dragoons, stationing himself near the river shore. Hour after hour passed,—no boat approached. At length the day broke and the Major retired to his party, and with his led horses returned to camp, when he proceeded to head-quarters to inform the General of the disappointment, as mortifying as inexplicable.
In a few days, Major Lee received an anonymous letter from Champe's patron and friend, informing him that on the day previous to the night fixed for the execution of the plot, Arnold had removed his quarters to another part of the town, to superintend the embarkation of troops, preparing (as was rumored) for an expedition to be directed by himself; and that the American legion, consisting chiefly of deserters, had been transferred from their barracks to one of the transports; it being apprehended that if left on shore until the expedition was ready, many of them might desert. Thus it happened that John Champe, in
Describe the preparations and arrangements for taking Arnold off?
stead of crossing the Hudson that night, was safely deposited on board one of the fleet of transports, from whence he never departed until the troops under Arnold landed in Virginia! Nor was he able to escape from the British army until after the junction of Lord Cornwallis at Petersburg, when he deserted; and proceeding high up into Virginia, he passed into North Carolina near the Saura towns, and keeping in the friendly districts of that State, safely joined the army soon after it had passed the Congaree in pursuit of Lord Rawdon.
His appearance excited extreme surprise among his former comrades, which was not a little increased when they saw the cordial reception he met with from LieutenantColonel Lee. His whole story soon became known to the corps, which re-produced the love and respect of officer and soldier, heightened by universal admiration of his daring and arduous attempt.
Champe was introduced to General Greene, who cheerfully complied with the promises made by the commanderin-chief, as far as in his power; and having provided the sergeant with a good horse and money for his journey, sent him to General Washington, who munificently anticipated every desire of the sergeant, and presented him with a discharge from further service,* lest he might in the vi
*“When General Washington was called by President Adams to the com. mand of the army, prepared to defend the country from French hostility, he sent to Lieutenant-Colonel Lee to inquire for Champe; being determined to bring him into the field at the head of a company of infantry.
When, and where, did Champe desert?