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

By DANIEL VAN WINKLE

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

In short, the accomplishment of so much good was in itself too attractive to be renounced by a generous mind, and when connected with the recollection of the high honor which the selection shed upon him as a soldier, he ought not, he must not, pause. This discourse was followed by a detail of the plan with a wish that lie would enter upon its execution instantly. Champe listened with deep attention and with a highly excited countenance, the pertubations of his breast not being hid even by his dark visage. He briefly and modestly replied that no soldier exceeded him in respect and affection for the Commander-in-Chief, to serve whom he would willingly lay down his life; and that he was sensible of the honor conferred by the choice of him for the execution of a project all over-arduous; nor could he be at a loss to know to whom was to be ascribed the preference bestowed, which he took pleasure in acknowledging, although increasing obligations before great and many.

That he was charmed with the plan; even its partial success would lead to great good, as it would give peace to the General's mind and do justice to the innocent, while full success would add powerful and delicious personal excitements, as well as the gratification of the General and the army. He was not deterred by the danger and difficulty which was evidently to be encountered, but he was deterred by the ignominy of desertion to be followed by the hypocrisy of enlisting with the enemy, neither of which comported with his feelings, and either placed an insuperable bar in his way to promotion. He concluded by observing that if any mode could be contrived free from disgrace, he would cordially embark in the enterprise. As it was he prayed to be excused and hoped that services always the best in his power to perform, faithfully performed, entitled his prayer to success. The objections at first apprehended, now to be combated, were extended to a consequence which had not suggested itself.

Lee candidly admitted that he had expected the first objection made, and that only, which had been imparted to the General, who gave it full consideration, and concluded by declaring that the crime of desertion was not incurred ; as no act done by the soldier at the request of the Commander-in-Chief could be considered a desertion; and that an action so manifestly praiseworthy as that to be performed when known, would dissipate by its own force the reflections excited by appearances, leaving the actor in full enjoyment of the rich rewards of his virtue. That the reflecting mind ought not to balance between the achievement of so much good and the doing wrong in semblance only; to which Major Lee subjoined that he had considered himself and corps highly honored by the General's call upon him for a soldier capable and willing to execute a project so tempting to the brave, and that he should feel himself reduced to a mortifying condition if the resistance to the undertaking compelled him to inform the General that he must recur to some other corps to provide an agent to execute this bold and important enterprise.

He entreated the Sergeant to ask himself what must be the reflections of his comrades, if a soldier from some other corps should execute the attempt, when they should be told that the glory transferred to the regiment of which he was one, might have been enjoyed by the Legion, had not Sergeant Champe shrunk from the overture made to him by his General, rather than reject scruples too narrow and confined to be permitted to interfere with grand and virtuous deeds. The esprit de corps could not be resisted; united to his inclination it subdued his prejudices, and he declared his willingness to conform to the wishes of the General, replying, as he confidently did. that his reputation would be protected by those who had induced him to undertake the enterprise, should he be unfortunate.

Next

Part One

Hudson County Facts by Anthony Olszewski
Hudson County, New Jersey is a place of many firsts - including genocide and slavery.
Political corruption is a tradition here.
First issue in a series by Anthony Olszewski
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