Vulture, off Spiken Devil,
October 5, 1781.
Sir,—The account Colonel Robinson has given your Excellency of our transactions
during our late excursion, is so full and just in all its particulars that there is very little
left for me to add.
But as they have been attended with such fatal consequences to Major Andr6, I
hope it will not be held improper if I beg leave to submit my own observations on the
subject:—at least so far as they relate to his leaving the Vulture and the light I then saw
him in. Your Excellency has already been informed that on the night of the 21st
September a Mr. Smith came on board with a flag of truce. The substance of his order
was for himself and two servants to pass to Dobbs' Ferry and back again. He likewise
had a written permission to bring up with him a Mr. John Anderson and boy, and a letter
addressed to Colonel Robinson: all of these papers signed B. Arnold. Most of these
circumstances I had been previously taught to expect; and I had also been informed that
Major Andr6 was the person understood by John Anderson, and that he was to go on
shore under that name, to hold a conference with General Arnold. Mr. Smith's powers
appeared to be of sufficient authority, and as Major Andrews going under a fictitious name
was at the particular request of the officer from whom they were derived, I saw no reason
for supposing he, from that circumstance, forfeited his claim to the protection they must
otherwise have afforded him. Clear I am that the matter must have appeared in the same
light to him; for had it not, measures might have been concerted for taking him off
whenever he pleased, which he very well knew I, at any time, was enabled to accomplish.
I am likewise persuaded that Mr. Smith's ideas perfectly coincided with ours;—for when
on the point of setting off Colonel Robinson observed, that as they had but two men in a
large boat, they would find some difficulty in getting on shore,—and proposed that one of
ours should tow them in some part of the way: to which he objected, as it might, in case
of falling in with any of their guard-boats, be deemed an infringement of the flag.
On my first learning from Major Andr6 that he did not intend going on shore in
his own name, it immediately occurred to me, that an alteration of dress might likewise
be necessary; and I offered him a plain blue coat of mine for that purpose, which he
declined accepting, as he said he had the Commander in Chief's direction to go in his
uniform, and by no means to give up his character, adding, at the same time, that he had
not the smallest apprehension on the occasion, and that he was ready to attend General
Arnold's summons when and where he pleased.
The night the flag was first expected, he expressed much anxiety for its arrival;
and all next day was full of fear lest anything should have happened to prevent its
coming. The instant it arrived on the ensuing night, he started out of bed, and dis-
covered the greatest impatience to be gone: nor did he in any instance betray the least
doubt of his safety or success. I own I was equally confident. Nor can I now, on the
most mature consideration of circumstances, find the least reason for altering my opinion.
What, therefore, could possibly have given rise to so tragical an event as has unhappily
befallen Major Andr6 is a matter of the utmost surprise and concern to me.
I have the honour, etc., etc.,
To His Excellency
Sir Henry Clinton.
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