As most of you might know, I love history, and I’m always sensitive to the atrocities of war no matter which side that they occur on. In historical war dramas that involve the Revolutionary War, the British are normally portrayed as overly violent, pompous, daft, or other unsavoury characters.
I just feel that if there’s any violence inflicted on human beings, then you are not on the right side. The Revolutionary War was just a blood bath for power, and it tossed good, decent people into the world of spying, killing, ambushing, being killed/hanged/torn apart.
John Andre was a lovely, kind person who was artistic and despised brutality. American loyalists adored his pleasant demeanour. He believed in the ethical treatment of prisoners, but when the time came for him to be executed, he was hanged as a spy rather than being given an officer’s execution, which he had requested. Even the Colonial Army shed tears at his execution. He was just another person who had left a mother back home, with a love of culture, art, and education, but was born in the wrong time and place. Not so say that he was any sort of angel, being a spy and being the cause of the deaths of many American soldiers, but my meaning is that the Americans were no more good, and, in fact, they failed on many accounts regarding the treatment of British prisoners.
I feel as though the death of John Andre really reminded everyone – on every angle – that they were all brothers fighting and killing one another over taxes and land. That freedom and power, whomever won it, had already come at such a high cost.
An eyewitness account of John Andre in his final moments before his hanging as a spy:
“Major André walked from the stone house, in which he had been confined, between two of our subaltern officers, arm in arm; the eyes of the immense multitude were fixed on him, who, rising superior to the fears of death, appeared as if conscious of the dignified deportment which he displayed. He betrayed no want of fortitude, but retained a complacent smile on his countenance, and politely bowed to several gentlemen whom he knew, which was respectfully returned. It was his earnest desire to be shot, as being the mode of death most conformable to the feelings of a military man, and he had indulged the hope that his request would be granted. At the moment, therefore, when suddenly he came in view of the gallows, he involuntarily started backward, and made a pause.”
- An eyewitness account of the last day of Major André can be found in the book The American Revolution: From the Commencement to the Disbanding of the American Army Given in the Form of a Daily Journal, with the Exact Dates of all the Important Events; Also, a Biographical Sketch of the Most Prominent Generals by James Thatcher, M.D., a surgeon in the American Revolutionary Army: