George Washington Papers

General Orders, 1 October 1780

General Orders

Head Quarters Orangetown Sunday October 1st 1780

Parole Hellespont Countersigns M. G:
Watchword Look about

[Officers] For the day Tomorrow[:] Brigadier General Glover[,] Colonel Cilley[,] Lieutenant Colonel Dearbom[,] Major Harwood[,] Brigade Major Pettingall

The Board of General officers appointed to examine into the Case of Major André have reported:

1st “That he came on shore from the Vulture sloop of War in the night of the 21st of September last on an interview with General Arnold in a private and secret manner.
2dly “That he changed his dress within our Lines and under a feigned name and in a disguised habit passed our works at Stoney and Vere-Planks Points the Evening of the 22d of September last and was taken the morning of the 23d of September last at Tarrytown in a disguised habit being then on his way to New York; and when taken he had in his possession several Papers which contain’d intelligence for the Enemy.”

The Board having maturely considered these Facts do also report to his Excellency General Washington:

“That Major Andrè Adjutant General to the British Army ought to be considered as a spy from the Enemy and that agreeable to the Law and usage of nations it is their opinion he ought to suffer Death.”

The Commander in Chief directs the execution of the above Sentence in the usual way this afternoon at five ô clock precisely.1

At a divison General Court martial the 11th of September last Lieutenant Colonel Commandant sherman President Major Albert Chapman was tried upon the following Charges:

1st “For Embezzling public property and endeavouring to induce the Quartermaster of the regiment to assist him in embezzling powder for his own private use.
2d “For making up two enormous bills against Colonel Nelson an inhabitant of Morristown for taking up a strayed horse the property of said Nelson and that without any expence to himself.
3d “For giving a Certificate to a soldier in the 7th regiment that he was inlisted for three years only, when he had repeatedly mus-ter’d him for during the war and sworn to the Muster Rolls.[”]

The Court on considering the first and third Charges against Major Chapman are of opinion the charge of Embezzling public property is not supported therefore do acquit him of it; but find him guilty of the other part of the first and third charge being a breach of Article 5th Section 18th of the Articles of War2 and do sentence him to be reprimanded in Division orders.

The General is sorry to be under the disagreeable necessity of differing in opinion with the Court, but he thinks the Sentence entirely inadequate to charges of so serious a nature as those of which they find Major Chapman guilty. He is released from Arrest.

There was a mistake in entering the evening order of the 25th ultimo: instead of the Pennsylvania division the first Pennsylvania brigade only should have been mentioned as the second brigade did not receive marching orders ’till several hours after.3

After Orders

The Execution of Major André is postponed ’till tomorrow.

Evening Orders

Major André is to be executed tomorrow at twelve ô clock precisely a Battalion of Eighty files from each wing to attend the Execution.4

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See “After Orders” and “Evening Orders” below.

2For the fifth article of the eighteenth section of the articles of war, see General Orders, 29 Aug., n.6.

4A Continental soldier wrote in his diary entry for 1 Oct.: “Lord’s Day. … Pleasant weather, attended divine service, text, Psalms 52 v. 7. on the occasion of treason.

“Gen’l. Orders that Maj. Andrie the British Adjt. Gen’l., was tried by a board of Gen’l. officers & condemned to suffer death, the sentence to be put in execution the usual way. The gallows was erected, grave dug & numerous spectators had assembled expecting to see the execution. A flagg arrived—execution put off” (Nichols, “Doughboy of 1780,” description begins James R. Nichols, ed. “The Doughboy of 1780: Pages from a Revolutionary Diary.” The Atlantic Monthly: A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics 134 (July–December 1924): 459–63. description ends 460–61; see also Documents VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII with Major John André’s Capture and Execution, 23 Sept.–7 Oct., editorial note). Psalm 52, verse 7, reads: “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.”

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