captor.1 I Yes, any quantity of drygoods,"2 was the reply, Andre finally rising
to ten thousand guineas—an amount which surpassed the bribe paid to Arnold,3
and must have seemed simply fabulous to his hearers.4 " Where did you get
these papers ?" he was asked. " Of a man at Pine's Bridge, a stranger to me,"
was the reply—too transparent to deceive for a moment.5 His watch—the gold
one—was now taken from him, and the eighty dollars Continental bills which
Smith had given him.6 The fence was replaced, the order given him to mount
1 This admission certainly tends to make one believe Andrews subsequent declaration to Tallmadge that they
ripped open his saddle for money, and finding none, said : "He may have it in his boots," and so those
were taken off.
The truth is, to the imprudence of the man (Andre himself) and not to the patriotism of anyone, is to be
attributed the capture. Had money been at command after the imprudent confession, or any security
given that the "patriots" could put confidence in, he might have passed on to Clinton.—King, in 1823.
Sargent prints this interesting affidavit:
Crom Pond, July 9, 1780.
Miss Hannah Sniffen says that * * * and Isaac Van Wart did, on the night of the 27th ult. take
from Mr. James Sniffen, an inhabitant of White Plains, without civil or military authority, three milch
cows, which they converted to their own private use.
in behalf of her father.
Sargent says this is among the Rufus Putnam papers in Ohio.
Sargent further says that Williams and- others, twice in the Summer of 1780, made seizures of people and
cattle, but the civil authorities interfered and compelled restitution in both cases.
The disbelief of Tallmadge, King, and others, in the purity of the captors' motives, is an old story, and need
not be repeated here. I am, however, enabled to give a valuable statement bearing on the characters of
Van Wart and Williams, which has never before been printed, and which proves beyond question that they
had been marauders (as Colonel A. G. Hammond wrote to Tallmadge). My informant is Rev. Chester C.
Thorne, of Windham, New York, grandson of Jesse Thome, whom I have quoted on page 24.
"My grandfather came to visit my father at the time we were living near West Oneonta, N. V., and I
remember his calling me to him, saying, 'I have something to tell thee'—and he told me this story
so vividly that I never forgot it: In speaking of the captors, he said repeatedly (referring to Williams
and Van Wart) 'They were Cowboys.' (While my great-grandfather, Stevenson Thome, suffered terribly
at the hands of the 'Cowboys' he never complained particularly of the 'Skinners.' He was repeatedly
plundered by the former—of live stock and household goods.) It become known that he had money
secreted, and one day (the exact date cannot be positively given, but was probably in 1777 or '78) an
armed gang came to his house, and demanded it. Failing to force him to surrender it or reveal its
hiding place, they endeavored to break open a wardrobe where it was really hidden, but failed. They
then proceeded to hang him to one of the trees in his orchard, and strung him up twice, each time letting
him down just in time to save his life, and then demanding the surrender of the gold.
A third time they drew him up to the limb, and on letting him down life was almost extinct. Convinced that
death would be his portion if he persisted in further resistance, the unfortunate man, after being revived,
surrendered the hidden treasure, which amounted to $1,300 in gold. One of the gang engaged in the
robbery was Isaac Van Wart and David Williams was not far off. (So naively adds Jesse Thorne, in the
written narrative.) This incident in his life is known to all of Stevenson Thome's posterity, and
being given is such detail by his son, an eye-witness to the cruel treatment of his father, the status of Van
Wart and Williams not long before 1780 may be regarded as definitely settled, as that of Cowboys.
1 Though neither knew it, captive and captor had met before, for when Andre1 was captured at St. John's, in
1775, Williams was a soldier of Montgomery's command.
2 "Any amount you may name, in cash or drygoods."—Dr. Eustis to Dr. Thacher, on Van Wart's testimony.
3 As Grant Thorburn remarked in 1840 (when Williams, the last survivor, had been dead only ten years) this
sum would have made the three so rich that they could have owned more live stock than Job in the height
of his prosperity. The very magnitude of the sum may have over-reached its object. It is highly probable
no one of the three had ever possessed a hundred guineas at any one time.
He offered also to let them keep him concealed while their messenger should go to the British lines with the
letter he would write. They held a long consultation (as he told Tallmadge subsequently) but finally
decided the risk was too great, " a detachment would probably be sent out against them, they be captured
and imprisoned in the Sugar House" (probably that in Liberty Street, near Nassau). The fear was
realized in part, in Paulding's case, soon afterwards. He was wounded, a third time captured and was in
a British hospital until the end of the war.
6 "We refused to accept his bribes, unless he would say from whom he got the papers. He refused to say."—
Williams, in iSij. 'Thelaw allowed, page 32.
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