A handwritten pass dated September 20, 1780, that Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold scratched for Joshua Smith and John Anderson—also John Andre, the British spy who allowed them to pass the guards—from the New York State Archives.

A handwritten pass dated September 20, 1780, that Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold scratched for Joshua Smith and John Anderson—also John Andre, the British spy who allowed them to pass the guards—from the New York State Archives.

Associated Press file

Apparently, on October 2, 1780, British Major John Andre met his execution for espionage during the Revolutionary War with remarkable calm.

“I resigned to my deathbut I hate this regime,” Andre, 29, told his American captors after flinching at the sight of the gallows, according to a witness report by James Thatcher.

He hoped to be shot like a soldier, not hanged like a common criminal.

Days earlier, a mistake had led to Andre’s capture after meeting with the traitorous Benedict Arnold to arrange the surrender of West Point, New York, to the British Army.

When notes about an important fort were found in his boot, Andre was found guilty and sentenced to death by a military tribunal ordered by George Washington.

More than 2000 people witnessed Andre’s execution in Tappan, New York, according to Intel.gov.

Thacher said Andre helped the clumsy cat put a noose around its neck.

“Be witnesses that I am carry my destiny as a brave man,” Andre told his executioners, according to the Journal of the American Revolution. And then it was done.

Deadly destinies

Andre was not the first Revolutionary War spy to die in the service of his country. Four years ago, the British hanged American spy Nathan Hale.

Hale, 21, a commander in the Continental Army, volunteered to step over the line to scout British positions in New York, according to Connecticut History.

After a suspicious fire in Manhattan, the British captured more than 200 Americans, including Hale, who was in disguise a Dutch school teacherreports History.

A search turned up incriminating documents, and he was hanged at the Dove Tavern in New York City on September 22, 1776.

Legend has it that Hale’s last words were, “I regret that I can lose but one life for my country,” but no modern versions of the quote have been found, according to History.

Americans later use Hale’s death The New England Historical Society reported the hanging as precedent for denying Andre’s request to be executed

Fatal error

After four more years of war, Andre saw an opportunity to embarrass the rebels by capturing the strategically important Fort West Point in New York.

The British major, born in London, was stationed in America from 1774 and became chief intelligence officer to General Sir Henry Clinton in New York, Brittanica reports.

In May 1779, Andre began a correspondence with Arnold, who was “disappointed” with the rebel cause, according to the Britannica. The following year, Arnold assumed command of West Point’s defense.

During a midnight meeting at a house on the Hudson River, Andre struck a deal with Arnold to hand over West Point to the British in exchange for 20,000 pounds, according to Intel.gov.

But fire drove the sloop intended to retrieve Andre from shore, the New England Historical Society said.

Arnold gave him a horse, civilian clothes, and a pass to escort him through the American lines. Andre hid detailed notes from Arnold about West Point’s defense in his boot.

Andre noticed that he was driving alone three soldiers in frontone wearing the overcoat of Hessians, German mercenaries fighting on the side of the British, according to The New York Times.

“I am a British officer out of the country on special business, and I hope you will not detain me for a moment,” Andre greeted his supposed comrades-in-arms, according to the publication.

But they were American militia, and after a search turned up incriminating notes from Arnold in his boot, they arrested him, seemingly sealing his fate.

Other spies of the War of Independence

Andre and Hale may have been the most famous spies of the American Revolution, but they were far from the only ones.

Culper’s Spy Ring operated for five years in and around British-occupied New York for American troops, reported George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Members of the spy ring used pseudonyms, digital codes and invisible ink to hide their activities, the website said. No one was ever caught.

But the messages had to be delivered to Washington’s agents from British-occupied territory. That’s where Anna Strong comes in.

Strong, who had a farm just outside of town, hung out laundry to dry in a pre-made pattern with a black petticoat to signal Washington’s agents across the river. The patterns told them which bays were safe to use to receive messages from the spy network.

Ring activity were later displayed in “The Twist: Washington’s Spies” on AMC.

Andre meets his end

Hearing of Andre’s capture, Arnold escaped on a British ship, reports Britannica. He later led a raid on New London, Connecticut for the British and eventually went to England where he died in 1801, reviled even by British loyalists for leaving Andre to die.

The three militia soldiers who captured Andre received “a farm, a large pension and a silver medal,” according to Intel.gov. Washington said they “prevented in all probability our suffering, one of the heaviest strokes that could have been struck against us.”

The “gentlemanly and charismatic” Andre impressed his captors, who did not want to execute him, according to the website.

“Perhaps no one ever suffered death so justly deserve lessAlexander Hamilton wrote in a letter to his friend John Lawrence after the novel.

Washington even wrote to Clinton, the British commander, with an offer trade Andre for Arnold so the traitor could be hanged instead, according to History.com. But Clinton did not respond by condemning Andre.

On October 5, in his daily orders, Washington called for the execution to be carried out “in the usual manner”, according to the website.

After being hanged, Andre was buried in a shallow grave nearby. He became a hero in Great Britain, and in 1782 a monument was erected to him in Westminster Abbey.

Four decades later, his body was sent home to England to be placed in a sarcophagus with the inscription: “Universally beloved and respected by the army in which he served and mourned even by his enemies,” according to Intel.gov.

A monument at the site of Andre’s death, erected a century later, contains a quote from Washington: “He was more unfortunate than criminal, a man of experience and a gallant officer.”

Don Sweeney was a newspaper reporter and editor in California for over 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter for The Sacramento Bee since 2016.