Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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CHAMPE, John, soldier, born in Loudon county, Virginia, in 1752; died in Kentucky, about 1798. He was sergeant-major of Henry Lee's cavalry legion, and, just after Arnold's treason, was sent to New York as a spy by Lee, at Washington's request. His mission was to discover whether another American officer (supposed to have been General Gates) was also a traitor, and to capture Arnold, if possible, and bring him before Washington. Champe fled as a deserter from the American camp at Tappan, at eleven o'clock in the night, was hotly pursued, and gained the British galleys at Paulus Hook. He was taken to New York, and, after being examined by Sir Henry Clinton, was sent by him to Arnold, who made him sergeant-major in a legion he was raising. Champe was able to send to Washington complete proofs of the suspected general's innocence, but he was not so successful in the other part of his mission. Discovering that Arnold walked in his garden every night, he formed a plan with a comrade to seize and gag him, to drag him, as a drunken soldier, to a boat on the Hudson, and deliver him to a party of horsemen on the New Jersey shore. On the appointed night, however, Arnold moved his quarters, and the legion to which Champe belonged was sent to Virginia. Champe afterward escaped from the British army and joined Greene's troops in North Carolina. Washington discharged him from further service, lest he should fall into the hands of the British and be hanged. In 1798 Washington wished to make him captain of an infantry company, but learned that he had died in Kentucky some time before. See Henry Lee's "Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States" (Philadelphia, 1812; 2d ed., Washington, 1827).
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