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

By DANIEL VAN WINKLE

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

These particulars, as soon as known to Lee, were communicated to the Commander-in-Chief, who was highly gratified with all. he 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 he evening with three led horses, one for Arnold, one for the sergeant and the third for his associates. 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 proceeded to headquarters to inform the General of the disappointment, as mortifying as inexplicable. Washington, having perused his party and with his led horses returned to camp, when he 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 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) it 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, 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 supreme surprise among his former comrades, which was not a little increased when they saw the cordial reception he met with from Lieutenant-Colonel Lee. His whole story soon became known to the corps, which reproduced 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 Commander-in-Chief so 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 vicissitudes of war fall into the enemy's hands, when, if recognized, he was sure to die on a gibbet.

End

Part One

Hudson County Facts by Anthony Olszewski
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