Sir,—Buoyed above the terror of death by the consciousness of a life devoted to
honourable pursuits, and stained with no action that can give me remorse, I trust that the
request I make to your excellency at this serious period, and which is to soften my last
moments, will not be rejected. Sympathy towards a soldier will surely induce your
excellency, and a military tribunal, to adopt the mode of my death to the feelings of a
man of honour. Let me hope, Sir, if aught in my character impresses you with esteem
towards me, if aught in my misfortunes marks me as the victim of policy and not of
resentment, I shall experience the operation of these feelings in your breast by being
informed I am not to die on a gibbet.1
I have the honour, etc., etc.,
From Washington's silence in regard to it Andre1 must have inferred a
refusal, at first, as is shown by his letter to his friend Lieutenant Colonel
William Crosbie, a 2d Regiment, in New York:2
The manner in which I am to die at first gave me some slight uneasiness; but I
instantly recollected that it is the crime alone that makes any mode of punishment
ignominious—and I could not think an attempt to put an end to a civil war, and to stop
the effusion of human blood, a crime.
From his subsequent words, it would seem that the impression had given
place to a belief that his request would be granted.
The morning of the eventful second of October brought no message of
comfort to the waiting Robertson, but a note from Greene conveyed the news that
the execution would not be further delayed:
Sir,—Agreeably to your request, I communicated to General Washington the
substance of your conversation, with all the particulars, as far as my memory served me.
It made no alteration in his opinion and determination. I need say no more, after what
you have already been informed.
Robertson, as a last hope, wrote again to Washington:
Flag of Truce,
October 2, 1780.
Sir,—A note I had from General Greene leaves me in doubt if his memory had
served him, to relate to you with exactness the substance of the conversation that had
passed between him and myself on the subject of Major Andre\ In an affair of so much
8 Sargent says he remarked : " Since it is my lot to die, there is still a choice in the mode which would make a
material difference to my feelings, and I would be happy, if possible, to be indulged with a professional
1 On the morning of the second, Hamilton wrote to Miss Schuyler:
Everything that is amiable in virtue, in fortitude, in delicate sentiments, and accomplished
manners, plead for him; but hard-hearted policy calls for a sacrifice. He must die. I must inform you
that I urged a compliance with his request to be shot, and I do not think it would have had an ill effect,
but some people are only sensible to motives of policy, and sometimes, from a narrow disposition—
2 This was taken to New York by Laune, after the execution.
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