Major John André
A Gallant in Spy’s Clothing
It was to be the biggest secret service operation of the war. In the middle of the life-and-death struggle, one of the enemy’s highest-ranking generals had decided to defect and had sent this information by undercover messenger to army headquarters in New York. What he had to offer was more than just a personal crossover – he was in command of a key enemy fortification, which he would lay open to attack. In addition, he would reveal the enemy’s strategy for the near future.
The young major in charge of intelligence operations was almost dazed by the possibilities. A quick strike at the fortress could give his army control of an important river valley. Then the old dream of cutting the enemy’s homeland in two might come true. Perhaps, if the surprise attack was fast enough, it might even trap the enemy commander-in-chief. The prospects for success were so remarkable that the young major decided to take personal charge of the defection. Contrary to the orders of his own commander-in-chief, he would cross enemy lines and make the final deal with the general.
The case was interesting. Here was a twice-wounded, much-decorated war hero who was willing to sell out his country for the equivalent of about $ 30.000 and equal rank in the opposing army. Few knew how venal and disillusioned the general had become.
To complicate matters, the general’s wife was a former friend of the intelligence officer. And this major was hardly a stereotype of a military man. He was graceful and elegant; he charmed many women. He wrote light verse, sketched well, and was the producer of a musical extravaganza. But he was also the survivor of a deadly siege in a frontier fort and he had commanded troops in combat.
What reads like a novel is actually part of our history. The defecting general waiting in the nicht on the banks of the Hudson was Benedict Arnold, and the British intelligence major was John André. This is where their story begins.
- Title: Major John André, A Gallant in Spy’s Clothing
- Period: American Revolutionary War, 1775–1783
- Type: Biography
- Author: Robert McConnell Hatch
- Format: 333-page Book with 19 b/w Illustrations
- Language: English
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston 1986
- ISBN: 0-395-35324-6