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Story of John Champe
Part Ten
Published By
The Historical Society of Hudson County, NJ


Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Lee's joy was now as full as, the moment before, his torture had been excruciating. Never was there a happier conclusion, the Sergeant escaped unhurt, carrying with him to the enemy unde- niable testimony of the sincerity of his desertion, cancelling every apprehension before entertained, unless 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 hair-breadth 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 Champ's departure, Lee received a letter from him teen the day before in a disguised hand, without any signature, and stating what had passed after he had got on board the galley. where he was kindly received. He was carried to the Commandant of Yew- 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 the 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 o f Arnold's example, that he had no doubt that 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, lie 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, form, countenance, hair, the corps in which he had served, with other remarks in conformity with the British usage, was noted clown. 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 hint 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 the most operating incitements – whether any general officers were suspected by Washington as concerned in Arnold's conspiracy or an- other officers of note, who they were and whether the troops approved or censured Washington's suspicions, whether his popularity in the army was sink- ing or remained stationary. What was Major Andre'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 that '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 Andre 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 upon 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 aides to write to Arnold, by Champe, stating who he was, and what he had said about the disposition of the army to follow his example, which, being soon done, the letter was given to the orderly attending on Champe, to he 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.


Part One

Hudson County Facts by Anthony Olszewski
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