If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing. — Benjamin Franklin

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber




The Spy

You may remember that Benedict Arnold marched gallantly through the Maine woods to attack Quebec, and was wounded there in the beginning of the war. After his recovery he showed his courage in many ways. For instance, he was once surrounded by Tories, who killed his horse. While Arnold was trying to release his foot from the stirrup, one of his foes rushed toward him, crying, Surrender!" "Not yet," answered Arnold, and, drawing his pistol, he shot the Tory, jumped up, and ran into the woods near by. There, finding another horse, he quickly mounted, and came back to take part in the fight once more.

You remember, too, how he won the victory of Stillwater, with Morgan and Schuyler, while Gates was lingering idly in his tent. On this occasion, however, Arnold was again badly wounded. As he lay upon the ground, helpless, one of the enemy, who had fought with great valor and had fallen only a moment before him, slowly raised himself, and, in spite of a bad wound, tried to get at Arnold to kill him. Just then a friend of Arnold's came up, and was about to slay the soldier, when Arnold stopped him by crying: "For God's sake, don't hurt him; he is a fine fellow!"

Although Arnold could thus show himself both brave and forgiving, he had one great fault, his vanity. While recovering from his wound, in Philadelphia, he got into bad company, ran into debt, and behaved in such a way that Congress bade Washington reprove him publicly for his conduct. Washington did so as gently as he could, and some time later, when Arnold asked him for the command at West Point, he gladly granted this request; for he knew that Arnold was brave, and thought he had been treated rather unfairly. But no sooner had Arnold secured this important place than, forgetting his duty to his country and his honor as a man, he determined to avenge his wrongs by giving up the fort to the British (1780). He therefore began a secret correspondence with General Clinton, and finally arranged to meet a British officer, so as to settle the particulars of the affair with him.

True to the appointment, Major John Andre came up the Hudson in an English vessel, the Vulture. Landing at night, he met Arnold as agreed; but their talk lasted until morning, and the ship, being then discovered by the Americans, was fired upon. It therefore dropped down the river. Seeing that he could not join it without running too great a risk of discovery, Andre now got a pass from Arnold. He then crossed the Hudson, and set out for New York on horseback, reaching Tarrytown in safety, although travelers were then often stopped by parties of "Skinners" or "Cowboys," as marauding British and American troops were generally called. Andre was just beginning to think that all danger of capture was over, when three men suddenly sprang out of the bushes, seized his horse, and forced him to dismount.

Although Andre offered his horse, his watch, and a large sum of money to these three men if they would only let him go, they held him fast and began searching him. At first they found nothing suspicious; but in his boots they finally discovered plans of the fort at West Point, and other important papers.

Andre and his Captors
ANDRE AND HIS CAPTORS.


Sure that they held a spy, Paulding, Williams, and Van Wart now sent word to Arnold to look out, for they had caught a spy, and then they took Andre to White Plains. Arnold was at breakfast when the notice of Andre's capture reached him. Rising from the table, he hurriedly explained matters to his fainting wife, kissed his child good-by, and, mounting his horse, galloped wildly off to the river. There he found his boat, as usual, and was rowed off to the Vulture. The British, who had watched his approach, received him in grim silence; for while they would have been glad to take advantage of his baseness, they all despised him as a traitor.

Washington, then on his way to West Point, received the news of Andre's arrest too late to seize Arnold, although he tried very hard to do so. Still, he did not forget that Arnold's wife was innocent. Pitying her evident suffering, he soon sent her word that her husband had escaped, and said that she would be allowed to join him in New York.

The news of Arnold's treachery, which wrung tears from Washington, and made him exclaim, "Whom can we trust now?" filled the whole country with dismay. People were horror-struck; but while all hated Arnold, many were almost as excited over the capture and probable fate of Andre. An artist, writer, and soldier, this young man had many admirers; but as he had played the part of a spy, and had been captured in disguise within the American lines, most people thought he deserved to be hanged.

Still, it was felt that Arnold, the traitor, was the one who merited that death most, so when the British protested that Andre should not be hanged, the Americans offered to exchange him for Arnold, thinking that if they could only make an example of the real culprit it would prevent similar cases in the future.

But, much as the British despised Arnold, they could not, of course, give him up. Andre's trial, therefore, went on, and the jury condemned him to death as a spy. Instead of treating him as the British had treated Hale, however, the Americans allowed him to write to his friends and prepare for death. When he was ready, Andre paid the penalty of his wrongdoing by being hanged. Still, people have always felt sorry for him, and the British, who would have gained greatly by his spying, declared that he had fallen a martyr. They therefore gave him a place in Westminster Abbey, where many of their greatest men are buried. Besides, two monuments have been erected for him in our country, at Tarrytown and Tappan, thus marking the places where he was captured and hanged.

But, although Andre was hanged, his sufferings were slight and merciful compared with those of Arnold. This was just; for, while the former had tried to serve his country, the latter had betrayed his trust, and it was natural that his conscience should trouble him night and day. Although the British, as they had promised, gave him a large sum of money and a place in their army, none of their officers ever treated him as a friend.

We are told that Washington, still anxious to secure and punish Arnold for the country's sake, made a plan to seize him shortly after his escape. An officer named Campe deserted the American army, by Washington's orders, and—narrowly escaping recapture by his comrades, who were not in the secret—swam out to a British vessel anchored in New York Bay. The enemy, having breathlessly watched his escape from his pursuers, welcomed him warmly, and, without asking any questions, allowed him to enlist in Arnold's new regiment.

Campe intended, with the help of two other patriots, to seize and gag Arnold when he was walking alone in his garden, as he did every night. Thence they meant to convey him to a boat, row him secretly across the river, and hand him over to one of Washington's most devoted officers, Henry Lee, who was called "Light-Horse Harry," to distinguish him from the Lee who disgraced himself at Monmouth.

Unfortunately, on the very night when Campe's plan was to have been carried out, Arnold took his regiment on board a vessel in the bay, and sailed south to fight for the British in Virginia. There poor Campe had to wait for months before he got a chance to desert Arnold and rejoin his countrymen. Until then all his fellow-soldiers had believed him a real deserter; but after welcoming him cordially, Washington and Lee publicly told the others how nobly Campe had tried to serve his country, and how nearly he had secured the traitor.

While fighting in the South, we are told, Arnold once asked one of his prisoners, "What do you suppose my fate would be if my misguided countrymen were to take me prisoner?" The man, who was a good American, promptly answered: "They would cut off the leg that was wounded at Quebec and Saratoga, and bury it with the honors of war; but the rest of you they would hang on a gibbet."



Contents

Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell