Life of Major General Henry Lee
Cecil B. Hartley


Arnold’s treason—Lee’s correspondence with Washington on the suspicions against St. Clair and other officers—Lee engages his sergeant major, Champe, to desert, go to the British camp, and seize Arnold and bring him off alive—Lee’s own interesting narrative of the whole affair.

WHEN the treason of General Arnold became known to Washington and the army, “rumors went abroad, that other officers of high rank in the American army were implicated with Arnold. It was proved afterwards, that these rumors were set afloat by the enemy, for the purpose of exciting distrust and discord in the American camp. Till this fact was established, however, General Washington felt extreme anxiety, and omitted no effort to ascertain the truth. Secret agents were sent into New York to make inquiries and procure intelligence. The intercourse was managed chiefly by Major Henry Lee, who was stationed with his dragoons on the lines, and whose ability and address, as well as his energy and promptitude, peculiarly qualified him for such a service. A paper had been found, in which the name of General St. Clair was mentioned in a suspicious manner, and which was traced to an emissary by the name of Brown.”[note 1]


October 13th, 1780.—Sir: I have made it my business to see the person, who was Captain Brown’s guide. From a minute examination of him, I am confident that General St. Clair was named to deceive, that Captain Brown did not see or hear from General St. Clair, and that Captain Brown passed himself on his conductor as a person engaged in our service, although his object was to communicate with some gentleman of consequence among us. I am apt to believe that he was charged with despatches for General Arnold. I have the honor to be, &c.


October 13th.—Dear Sir: I am very glad your letter of this date has given strength to my conviction of the innocence of the gentleman who was the subject of your inquiry. I want to see you on a particular piece of business. If the day is fair, and nothing of consequence intervenes, I will be at the Marquis’s quarters by ten o’clock to-morrow. If this should not happen, I shall be glad to see you at head-quarters. I am, &c.

Other papers were sent to General Washington by his spies in New York, which cleared up the matter fully, and rendered it certain, that all the insinuations against the American officers were to be ascribed to the arts of the enemy.

A project was set on foot for seizing the person of Arnold. It was concerning this matter, that Washington wished to see Major Lee. The romantic adventures of Sergeant Champe, so spiritedly and beautifully described in Lee’s Memoirs, are well known.[note 2] The following letters passed between General Washington and Major Lee on that subject.


Light Camp, 16 October, 1780. I waited on Colonel Dey yesterday, but received no information favorable to the business you were pleased to charge me with. On my return last evening the Marquis mentioned to me the same matter as very eligible, and Colonel Hamilton made some inquiry on the same subject. I communicate this to you, lest a mention of it by those gentleman to you may alarm you on the score of secrecy. Be assured, Sir, I shall endeavour most earnestly to accomplish your wishes, and have hopes to establish the commencement on Wednesday next.


[October 20th.][note 3]—Sir: I have engaged two persons to undertake the accomplishment of your Excellency’s wishes. In my negotiation I have said little or nothing concerning your Excellency, as I presumed it would operate disagreeably, should the issue prove disastrous.

The chief of the two persons is a sergeant in my cavalry. To him I have promised promotion. The other is an inhabitant of Newark; I have had experience of his fidelity; and his connections with the enemy render him, with his personal qualifications, very fit for the business. To this man I have engaged one hundred guineas, five hundred acres of land, and three negroes. I gave him the promise of negroes, because he is engaged in aiding me to destroy the refugees at Bergen Point. Success there puts it in my power to reward him according to compact. If nothing is done, he is to receive an additional sum of money. The outlines of the scheme, which I have recommended, are, that the sergeant should join General Arnold as a deserter from us, should engage in his corps now raising, and should contrive to insinuate himself into some menial or military berth about the General’s person; that a correspondence should be kept up with the man in Newark, by the latter’s visiting the former every two days; and that, when the favorable moment arrives, they should seize the prize in the night, gag him, and bring him across to Bergen woods.

If your Excellency approves of what is done, the sergeant will desert from us to-morrow. A few guineas will be necessary for him. I have advised that no third person be admitted into the virtuous conspiracy, as two appear to me adequate to the execution of it.

The sergeant is a very promising youth, of uncommon taciturnity, and inflexible perseverance. His connections, and his service in the army from the beginning of the war, assure me that he will be faithful. I have instructed him not to return till he receives directions from me, but to continue his attempts however unfavorable the prospects may appear at first. I have incited his thirst for fame, by impressing on his mind the virtue and glory of the act. I have the honor to be, &c.


Head-Quarters, 20 October, 1780.—Dear Sir: The plan proposed for taking A——, the outlines of which are communicated in your letter, which was this moment put into my hands without a date, has every mark of a good one. I therefore agree to the promised rewards, and have such entire confidence in your management of the business, as to give it my fullest approbation; and leave the whole to the guidance of your own judgment, with this express stipulation and pointed injunction, that he (Ar—d) is brought to me alive. No circumstance whatever shall obtain my consent to his being put to death. The idea, which would accompany such an event, would be that ruffians had been hired to assassinate him. My aim is to make a public example of him; and this should be strongly impressed upon those who are employed to bring him off. The sergeant must be very circumspect; too much zeal may create suspicion; and too much precipitancy may defeat the project. The most inviolable secrecy must be observed on all hands. I send you five guineas; but I am not satisfied of the propriety of the sergeant’s appearing with much specie. This circumstance may also lead to suspicion, as it is but too well known to the enemy, that we do not abound in this article.

The interviews between the party in and out of the city should be managed with much caution and seeming indifference, or else the frequency of their meetings may betray the design, and involve bad consequences; but I am persuaded you will place every matter in a proper point of view to the conductors of this interesting business, and therefore I shall only add, that I am, dear Sir, &c.


October 21st.—I have just returned from Newark, where I completed the business your Excellency committed to me. The virtuous sergeant deserted last night. I saw the two in Newark this day. This night they go to York.

Desertion among us is a perfect stranger. My officers are very attentive, and some of them men of nice discernment. This leads me to apprehend they will discover, that the sergeant is on some secret command. Lest the example may operate on the soldiers, the captains will probably inform their troops of their conclusion. From the soldiers, the same sentiments may reach the people.

To prevent this, I wish your Excellency would order me to move to a forage country; this is very scarce of hay. I can send two troops, including the one to which the deserter belongs, to an abundant neighborhood back of the Mountain Meeting-House, where they will be safe, and ready for any operation. One troop can remain with me here, which number is adequate to the common duties. Sir Henry Clinton is still in New York. Report says Arnold sailed with the fleet, though this is not credible. I have the honor to be, &c.


Light Camp, 25 October, 1780.—My friend got safe into New York. He was before Sir Henry Clinton, and has passed all the forms of the garrison. He accidentally met Colonel Arnold[note 4] in the street, which has paved a natural way for further acquaintance. The party entertain high hopes of success. I fear their patience will be exhausted; therefore am of opinion it ought to be impressed on their minds at every meeting. I informed Mr. Baldwin, that I was under orders to march south; that I would see him to-morrow, and send on some officer from you, who should transact the business on your Excellency’s part in case of my departure. I also promised him ten or twelve guineas. I was induced to do this, because I apprehended he would fail in his assiduity, unless he received some part of his promised reward. On hearing from your Excellency, I shall be able to-morrow to ascertain with Mr. Baldwin the next interview, the time, the place, and the person. The time and place I will communicate to my successor. Should I leave this army, I entreat your Excellency’s attention to my sergeant, and should be happy if he could be sent on to me.

I beg leave to thank your Excellency, for the confidence and friendship you have been pleased to give me since I became a soldier. I flatter myself I shall enjoy a continuation of it, though absent, and that I shall be called on to perform any services, private or public, you may wish to execute, convenient to my local situation, and not superior to my ability or station. I sincerely pray for your health, happiness, and success. May you never again experience a second base desertion, and may you live to put an end to a war, which you have hitherto conducted happily, amidst so many and so great difficulties. I have the honor to be, &c.

There appears to be a discrepancy between these letters and some parts of the narrative of Champe’s adventures, as given in Lee’s Memoirs. The sergeant is there represented to have deserted before the execution of André, with the special design of seizing Arnold, and thereby saving André. But the execution of André took place on the 2d of October, and it is stated above that the sergeant did not desert till the night of the 20th. It was impossible, therefore, to have been a part of the scheme to save André.

The discrepancy may be explained upon the supposition, that the incidents described by Lee, as occurring previously to this latter date, applied to another person, and that in the lapse of time the transactions in which they were both engaged had become confounded in the writer’s memory. This solution is the more probable from the circumstance, that a sergeant, who was one of an escort that accompanied Captain Ogden to Paulus Hook, as the bearer of despatches from General Washington to Sir Henry Clinton, deserted at that place during the night of the 30th of September. (See Life and Treason of Arnold, p. 270.) The sergeant had been instructed to desert, and to act as a spy in New York for certain purposes. It may have been a part of his commission to seize Arnold, should circumstances favor such an enterprise.[note 5]

We now proceed to lay before the reader Major Lee’s account of Champe’s heroic conduct referred to in the above extract from Sparks. We commence at the point where he represents himself as giving instructions to Champe on the evening of his desertion.

We thus proceed:

He was further urged, to bear in constant recollection the solemn injunction so pointedly expressed in the instructions to Major Lee, of forbearing to kill Arnold in any condition of things.

This part of the business being finished, the major and serjeant’s deliberation were turned to the manner of the latter’s desertion; for it was well known to both that to pass the numerous patrols of horse and foot crossing from the stationary guards, was itself difficult; which was now rendered more so by parties thrown occasionally beyond the place called Liberty Pole, as well as by swarms of irregulars, induced sometimes to venture down to the very point at Paulus Hook with the hope of picking up booty. Evidently discernible as were the difficulties in the way, no relief could be administered by Major Lee, lest it might induce a belief that he was privy to the desertion, which opinion getting to the enemy would involve the life of Champe. The Serjeant was left to his own resources and to his own management, with the declared determination, that in case his departure should be discovered before morning, Lee would take care to delay pursuit as long as was practicable.

Giving to the serjeant three guineas, and presenting his best wishes, he recommended him to start without delay, and enjoined him to communicate his arrival in New York as soon thereafter as might be practicable. Champe pulling out his watch, compared it with the major’s, reminding the latter of the importance of holding back pursuit, which he was convinced would take place in the course of the night, and which might be fatal, as he knew that he should be obliged to zigzag in order to avoid the patrols, which would consume time. It was now nearly eleven. The Serjeant returned to camp, and taking his cloak, valise, and orderly book, he drew his horse from the picket, and mounting him put himself upon fortune. Lee, charmed with his expeditious consummation of the first part of the enterprise, retired to rest. Useless attempt! the past scene could not be obliterated; and, indeed, had that been practicable, the interruption which ensued would have stopped repose.

Within half an hour Captain Carnes, officer of the day, waited upon the major, and with considerable emotion told him that one of the patrol had fallen in with a dragoon, who, being challenged, put spur to his horse and escaped, though instantly pursued. Lee complaining of the interruption, and pretending to be extremely fatigued by his ride to and from head-quarters, answered as if he did not understand what had been said, which compelled the captain to repeat it. “Who can the fellow that was pursued be?” inquired the major; adding, “a countryman, probably.” “No,” replied the captain, “the patrol sufficiently distinguished him as to know that he was a dragoon; probably one from the army, if not certainly one of our own.” This idea was ridiculed from its improbability, as during the whole war but a single dragoon had deserted from the legion. This did not convince Carnes, so much stress was it now the fashion to lay on the desertion of Arnold, and the probable effect of his example. The captain withdrew to examine the squadron of horse, whom he had ordered to assemble in pursuance of established usage on similar occasions. Very quickly he returned, stating that the scoundrel was known, and was no less a person than the sergeant-major, who had gone off with his horse, baggage, arms, and orderly book,—so presumed, as neither the one nor the other could be found. Sensibly affected at the supposed baseness of a soldier extremely respected, the captain added that he had ordered a party to make ready for pursuit, and begged the major’s written orders.

Occasionally this discourse was interrupted, and every idea suggested which the excellent character of the sergeant warranted, to induce the suspicion that he had not deserted, but had taken the liberty to leave camp with a view to personal pleasure: an example, said Lee, too often set by the officers themselves, destructive as it was of discipline, opposed as it was to orders, and disastrous as it might prove to the corps in the course of service.

Some little delay was thus interposed; but it being now announced that the pursuing party was ready, Major Lee directed a change in the officer, saying that he had a particular service in view, which he had determined to entrust to the lieutenant ready for duty and which probably must be performed in the morning. He therefore directed him to summon Cornet Middleton for the present command. Lee was induced thus to act, first to add to the delay, and next from his knowledge of the tenderness of Middleton’s disposition, which he hoped would lead to the protection of Champe, should he be taken. Within ten minutes Middleton appeared to receive his orders, which were delivered to him made out in the customary form, and signed by the major. “Pursue so far as you can with safety sergeant Champe, who is suspected of deserting to the enemy, and has taken the road leading to Paulus Hook. Bring him alive, that he may suffer in the presence of the army; but kill him if he resists, or escapes after being taken.”

Detaining the cornet a few minutes longer in advising him what course to pursue,—urging him to take care of the horse and accoutrements, if recovered,—and enjoining him to be on his guard, lest he might, by his eager pursuit, improvidently fall into the hands of the enemy,—the major dismissed Middleton, wishing him success. A shower of rain fell soon after Champe’s departure, which enabled the pursuing dragoons to take the trail of his horse; knowing, as officer and trooper did, the make of their shoes, whose impression was an unerring guide.[note 6]

When Middleton departed, it was a few minutes past twelve; so that Champe had only the start of rather more than an hour—by no means as long as was desired. Lee became very unhappy, not only because the estimable and gallant Chanipe might be injured, but lest the enterprise might be delayed; and he spent a sleepless night. The pursuing party during the night, was, on their part, delayed by the necessary halts to examine occasionally the road, as the impression of the horse’s shoes directed their course; this was unfortunately too evident, no other horse having passed along the road since the shower. When the day broke, Middleton was no longer forced to halt, and he pressed on with rapidity. Ascending an eminence before he reached the Three Pigeons, some miles on the north of the village of Bergen, as the pursuing party reached its summit, Champe was descried not more than half a mile in front. Resembling an Indian in his vigilance, the sergeant at the same moment discovered the party (whose object he was no stranger to), and giving spur to his horse, he determined to outstrip his pursuers. Middleton at the same instant put his horses to the top of their speed; and being (as the legion all were) well acquainted with the country, he recollected a short route through the woods to the bridge below Bergen, which diverged from the great road just after you gain the Three Pigeons. Reaching the point of separation, he halted; and dividing his party, directed a sergeant with a few dragoons to take the near cut, and possess with all possible despatch the bridge, while he with the residue followed Champe; not doubting but that Champe must deliver himself up, as he would be closed between himself and his sergeant. Champe did not forget the short cut, and would have taken it himself, but he knew it was the usual route of our parties when returning in the day from the neighborhood of the enemy, properly preferring the woods to the road. He consequently avoided it; and persuaded that Middleton would avail himself of it, wisely resolved to relinquish his intention of getting to Paulus Hook, and to seek refuge from two British galleys, lying a few miles to the west of Bergen.

This was a station always occupied by one or two galleys, and which it was known now lay there. Entering the village of Bergen, Champe turned to his right, and disguising his change of course as much as he could by taking the beaten streets, turning as they turned, he passed through the village, and took the road towards Elizabethtown Point. Middleton’s sergeant gained the bridge, where he concealed himself, ready to pounce upon Champe when he came up; and Middleton, pursuing his course through Bergen, soon got also to the bridge, when, to his extreme mortification, he found that the sergeant had slipped through his fingers. Returning up the road, he inquired of the villagers of Bergen, whether a dragoon had been seen that morning preceding his party. He was answered in the affirmative, but could learn nothing satisfactorily as to the route he took. While engaged in inquiries himself, he spread his party through the village to strike the {rail of Champe’s horse, a resort always recurred to. Some of his dragoons hit it just as the sergeant, leaving the village, got in the road to the Point. Pursuit was renewed with vigor, and again Champe was descried. He, apprehending the event, had prepared himself for it, by lashing his valise (containing his clothes and orderly book) on his shoulders, and holding his drawn sword in his hand, having thrown away its scabbard. This he did to save what was indispensable to him, and to prevent any interruption to his swimming by the scabbard, should Middleton, as he presumed, when disappointed at the bridge, take the measures adopted by him. The pursuit was rapid and close, as the stop occasioned by the sergeant’s preparations for swimming had brought Middleton within two or three hundred yards. As soon as Champe got abreast of the galleys, he dismounted, and running through the marsh to the river, plunged into it, calling upon the galleys for help. This was readily given; they fired upon our horse, and sent a boat to meet Champe, who was taken in and carried on board, and conveyed to New York, with a letter from the captain of the galley, stating the past scene, all of which he had seen.

The horse with his equipments, the sergeant’s cloak and sword scabbard, were recovered; the sword itself, being held by Champe until he plunged into the river, was lost, as Middleton found it necessary to retire without searching for it.

About three o’clock in the evening our party returned, and the soldiers, seeing the horse (well known to them) in our possession, made the air resound with exclamations that the scoundrel was killed.

Major Lee, called by this heart-rending annunciation from his tent, saw the sergeant’s horse led by one of Middleton’s dragoons, and began to reproach himself with the blood of the high prized, faithful, and intrepid Champe. Stifling his agony, he advanced to meet Middleton, and became somewhat relieved as soon as he got near enough to discern the countenance of his officer and party. There was evidence in their looks of disappointment, and he was quickly relieved by Middleton’s information, that the sergeant had effected his escape with the loss of his horse, and narrated the particulars just recited.


Lee’s joy was now as full as, the moment before, his torture had been excruciating. Never was a happier conclusion. The sergeant escaped unhurt, carrying with him to the enemy undeniable testimony of the sincerity of his desertion,—canceling every apprehension before entertained, lest the enemy might suspect him of being what he really was.

Major Lee imparted to the commander-in-chief the occurrence, who was sensibly affected by the hairbreadth escape of Champe, and anticipated with pleasure the good effect sure to follow the enemy’s knowledge of its manner.

On the fourth day after Champe’s departure, Lee received a letter from him, written the day before in a disguised hand, without any signature, and stating what had passed after he got on board the galley, where he was kindly received.

He was carried to the commandant of New York as soon as he arrived, and presented the letter addressed to this officer from the captain of the galley. Being asked to what corps he belonged, and a few other common questions, he was sent under care of an orderly sergeant to the adjutant-general, who, finding that he was sergeant-major of the legion horse, heretofore remarkable for their fidelity, began to interrogate him. He was told by Champe, that such was the spirit of defection which prevailed among the American troops in consequence of Arnold’s example, that he had no doubt, if the temper was properly cherished, Washington’s ranks would not only be greatly thinned, but that some of his best corps would leave him. To this conclusion, the sergeant said, he was led by his own observations, and especially by his knowledge of the discontents which agitated the corps to which he had belonged. His size, place of birth, his form, countenance, color of his hair, the corps in which he had served, with other remarks, in conformity to the British usage, was noted in a large folio book. After this was finished, he was sent to the commander-in-chief, in charge of one of the staff, with a letter from the adjutant-general. Sir Henry Clinton treated him very kindly, and detained him more than one hour, asking him many questions, all leading,—first to know to what extent this spirit of defection might be pushed by proper incitements,—what were the most operating incitements,—whether any general officers were suspected by Washington as concerned in Arnold’s conspiracy, or any other officers of note;—who they were, and whether the troops approved or censured Washington’s suspicions; —whether his popularity in the army was sinking, or continued stationary. What was Major André’s situation, —whether any change had taken place in the manner of his confinement,—what was the current opinion of his probable fate,—and whether it was thought Washington would treat him as a spy. To these various interrogations, some of which were perplexing, Champe answered warily; exciting, nevertheless, hopes that the adoption of proper measures to encourage desertion (of which he could not pretend to form an opinion) would certainly bring off hundreds of the American soldiers, including some of the best troops, horse as well as foot. Respecting the fate of André, he said he was ignorant, though there appeared to be a general wish in the army that his life should not be taken; and that he believed it would depend more upon the disposition of Congress, than on the will of Washington.

After this long conversation ended, Sir Henry presented Champe with a couple of guineas, and recommended him to wait upon General Arnold, who was engaged in raising an American Legion in the service of his majesty. He directed one of his aids to write to Arnold by Champe, stating who he was, and what he had said about the disposition in the army to follow his example; which, very soon done, it was given to the orderly attending on Champe, to be presented with the deserter to General Arnold. Arnold expressed much satisfaction on hearing from Champe the manner of his escape, and the effect of Arnold’s example, and concluded his numerous inquiries by assigning quarters to the sergeant,—the same as were occupied by his recruiting sergeants.

He also proposed to Champe to join his legion, telling him he would give to him the same station he had held in the rebel service, and promising further advancement when merited. Expressing his wish to retire from war, and his conviction of the certainty of his being hung if ever taken by the rebels, he begged to be excused from enlistment, assuring the general, that should he change his mind, he would certainly accept his offer. Retiring to the assigned quarters, Champe now turned his attention to the delivery of his letters, which he could not effect until the next night, and then only to one of the two incogniti to whom he was recommended. This man received the sergeant with extreme attention, and having read the letter, assured Champe that he might rely on his faithful coöperation in doing everything in his power consistent with his safety, to guard which required the utmost prudence and circumspection. The sole object in which the aid of this individual was required, regarded the general and others of our army, implicated in the information sent to Washington by him. To this object Champe urged his attention, assuring him of the solicitude it had excited, and telling him that its speedy investigation had induced the general to send him into New York. Promising to enter upon it with zeal, and engaging to send out Champe’s letters to Major Lee, he fixed the time and place for their next meeting, when they separated.

Lee made known to the general what had been transmitted to him by Champe, and received in answer directions to press Champe to the expeditious conclusion of his mission, as the fate of André would be soon decided, when little or no delay could be admitted in executing whatever sentence the court might decree. The same messenger who brought Champe’s letter, returned with the ordered communication. Five days had nearly elapsed after reaching New York, before Champe saw the confidant to whom only the attempt against Arnold was to be entrusted. This person entered with promptitude into the design, promising his cordial assistance. To procure a proper associate to Champe was the first object, and this he promised to do with all possible despatch. Furnishing a conveyance to Lee, we again heard from Champe, who stated what I have related, with the additional intelligence 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 André’s relief. The interposition of Sir Henry Clinton, who was extremely anxious to save his much loved aide-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 assembled, 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 André, knowing his guilt, disdained defence, and prevented the examination of witnesses by confessing the character in which he stood. On the next day (the 2nd of October) the court again assembled, when every doubt that could possibly arise in the case having been removed by the previous confession, André was declared to be a spy, and condemned to suffer accordingly.[note 7]

The sentence was executed on the subsequent day in the usual form; the commander-in-chief deeming it improper to interpose any delay. In this decision he was warranted by the very unpromising intelligence received from Champe; by the still existing implication of other officers in Arnold’s conspiracy, by a due regard to public opinion, and by real tenderness to the condemned.

Neither Congress nor the nation could have been with propriety informed of the cause of the delay, and without such information it must have excited in both alarm and suspicion. André himself could not have been entrusted with the secret, and would consequently have attributed the unlooked for event to the expostulation and exertion of Sir Henry Clinton, which would not fail to produce in his breast expectations of ultimate relief; to excite which would have been cruel, as the realization of such expectation depended upon a possible but improbable contingency. The fate of André, 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.

Washington ordered Major Lee to communicate what had passed to the sergeant, with directions to encourage him to prosecute with unrelaxed vigor the remaining objects of his instructions, but to intermit haste in the execution only as far as was compatible with final success.

This was accordingly done by the first opportunity, in the manner directed. Champe deplored the sad necessity which occurred, and candidly confessed that the hope of enabling Washington to save the life of André, (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 discrimination, zeal, and diligence of the sergeant. Lee inclosed them immediately to the commander-in-chief, who was pleased to express the satisfaction he derived from the information, and to order the major to wait upon him the next day; when the whole subject was re-examined, and the distrust heretofore entertained of the accused was forever dismissed. Nothing now remained to be done, but the seizure and safe delivery of Arnold. To this object Champe gave his undivided attention; and on the 19th October, Major Lee received from him a very particular account of the progress he had made, with the outlines of his plan. This was, without delay, submitted to Washington, with a request for a few additional guineas. The general’s letter, written on the same day, (20th October) evinces his attention to the minutiae of business, as well as his immutable determination to possess Arnold alive, or not at all. This was his original injunction, which he never omitted to enforce upon every proper occasion.

Major Lee had an opportunity in the course of the week of writing to Champe, when he told him that the rewards which he had promised to his associates would be certainly paid on the delivery of Arnold; and in the mean time, small sums of money would be furnished for casual expenses, it being deemed improper that he should appear with much, lest it might lead to suspicion and detection. That five guineas were now sent, and that more would follow when absolutely necessary.

Ten days elapsed before Champe brought his measures to conclusion, when 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 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 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. These particulars as soon as known to Lee, were communicated to the commander-in-chief, who was highly gratified with the much desired intelligence. He directed Major Lee to meet Champe, and to take care that Arnold should not be hurt. The day arrived, and Lee with a party of dragoons left camp late in the evening, with three led accoutred 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 much lamented disappointment, as mortifying as inexplicable. Washington having perused Champe’s plan and communication, had indulged the presumption that at length the object of his keen and constant pursuit was sure of execution, and did not dissemble the joy such conviction produced. He was chagrined at the issue, and apprehended that his faithful sergeant must have been detected in the last scene of his tedious and difficult enterprise.

In a few days, Lee received an anonymous letter from Champe’s patron and friend, informing him that on the day preceding 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 American 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, instead 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 the late Major now Lieutenant Colonel Lee. His whole story soon became known to the corps, which reproduced the love and respect of officer and soldier (heretofore invariably entertained for the sergeant), heightened by universal admiration of his late daring and arduous attempt.

Champe was introduced to General Greene, who very cheerfully complied with the promises made by the commander-in-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 his discharge from further service,[note 8] lest he might, in the vicissitudes of war, fall into the enemy’s hands; when, if recognized, he was sure to die on a gibbet.