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Career of Major John Andre Is Vital Link in Our History

Major Andre Conveyed Washington And Party Across Hudson From Kings Ferry To Peekskill (Ed. Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles on the life of Major Andre, whose untimely death while but a young officer was regretted by friend and foe alike. Harper’s Magazine of May 1876, is used as a reference.)

Washington was about to make a journey to Hartford, Connecticut, accompanied by Lafayette, Colonel Hamilton and other aids for a personal conference with Rochambeau. Upon his arrival at the Kings Ferry, Arnold was there with his barge to convey the party across the Hudson to Peekskill. The British sloop-of-war Vulture lay at anchor in full slight of Washington’s party. While viewing her with his glasses, Washington spoke to his officers in a low tone, which made Arnold very uneasy.

At this time the Count De Guichen was expected on our coast with a French squadron, and the conversation dwelt upon that topic, when Lafayette, turning to Arnold, said, “General, since you have a correspondence with the enemy, you must ascertain as soon as possible what has become of Guichen.” Arnold was disconcerted for a moment and demanded to know what he meant; but he soon recovered his composure and no more was said on that point. Arnold, believing his plot was discovered or at least suspected, resolved to bring matters to a head while Washington was in Connecticut.

Arnold had received an open letter, written by General Putnam to Colonel Robinson, asking a personal interview concerning the land of the latter in the highlands. It was covered by one for Arnold asking him to hand it to Putnam, Arnold understood its covered meaning, and showed it to Colonel Lamb and others at West Point. He frankly laid it before Washington who, after reading it said only the civil authorities could act in the matter, and that he did not approve of personal interviews with the enemy. After this expression of opinion, Arnold dared not disregard it to meet Robinson, so he informed him that on the night of the 20th he should send a person on board the Vulture, this person to be furnished with a boat and flag of truce. In order to avoid suspicion, and let the enemy know at what time the commander-in-chief would return from Hartford, he added, in a postscript “I expect General Washington to lodge here at Saturday next, and I will lay before him any matter you may desire to communicate.

Source: Unknown Author, The Yorktown Herald, Vol. XVI No. 45, April 4, 1940

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