Flat Andre Visits The Old Dutch Church

jj feild
British actor JJ Feild as Major John Andre
in the AMC production TURN.

We are used to having fans of the first internationally acclaimed American writer, Washington Irving, visit The Old Dutch Church and Burial Ground. Followers of the various television and film adaptations of his story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” are always on site looking for tell-tale signs of the Headless Horseman. But we have a new fandom visiting us – followers of the AMC series TURN, a dramatization of the New York Times Bestseller, “Washington’s Spies”. This book by Alexander Rose, tells the story of the Culper Spy Ring. More importantly, it drives home the civil war characteristic of the American Revolution and the important role espionage played on both sides of the conflict. We are familiar with this notion at the Old Dutch Church since it sits somewhat in the middle of an area that was known as Neutral Ground during the revolution. An area held by neither the British or the Americans and the place not far from where Major John Andre met his fate at the hands of three patriot militiamen who were well known to this community.

As a fan of the show, and in the spirit of the #FlatAndre fan experience that is currently in progress on Twitter, I brought Major Andre to the Old Dutch Church last Saturday. The church sits about a half mile north of where he was captured and he may even have passed it if he was traveling on the Albany Post Road.

Welcome back, Major Andre!
Looking out at the Burying ground from inside the church.

While not buried at the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow, Andre’s captors John Paulding and Isaac Van Wart were members of the church at one time. Van Wart is buried in the Reformed Church Cemetery in Elmsford, NY, not far from Tarrytown. Paulding is buried at the Old Van Cortlandville Cemetery. Williams was born in Tarrytown and is buried at Old Stone Cemetery in Schoharie, NY.

Visiting the area of his capture, the good Major decided a moment of reflection was in order…


And perhaps a prayer…


We have many Legends in Sleepy Hollow but there is probably no other place in the country where the memory of Major John Andre takes on such legendary proportions as here in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown.



John Paulding 1780

The incidents connected with the capture and trial of Major Andre are well known. Many songs have been written, lamenting his unhappy fate. I love how this song celebrates the heroism of the captors and honor of the captured Major Andre.


COME all you brave Americans,
And unto me give ear,
And I’ll sing you a ditty
That will your spirits cheer,
Concerning a young gentleman
Whose age was twenty-two;
He fought for North America,
His heart was just and true.

They took him from his dwelling,
And they did him confine,
They cast him into prison,
And kept him there a time.
But he with resolution
Resolv’d not long to stay;
He set himself at liberty,
And soon he ran away.

He with a scouting-party
Went down to Tarrytown,
Where he met a British officer,
A man of high renown;
Who says unto these gentlemen,
“You’re of the British cheer,
I trust that you can tell me
If there’s any danger near ?”

Then up stept this young hero,
John Paulding was his name,
“Sir, tell us where you’re going,
And, also, whence you came ?”
I bear the British flag, sir;
I’ve a pass to go this way,
I’m on an expedition,
And have no time to stay.”

Then round him came this company,
And bid him to dismount;
“Come, tell us where you’re going,
Give us a strict account;
For we are now resolvèd,
That you shall ne’er pass by.”
Upon examination
They found he was a spy.

He beggèd for his liberty,
He plead for his discharge,
And oftentimes he told them,
If they’d set him at large,
“Here’s all the gold and silver
I have laid up in store,
But when I reach the city,
I’ll give you ten times more.”

“I want not the gold and silver
You have laid up in store,
And when you get to New York,
You need not send us more;
But you may take your sword in hand
To gain your liberty
And if that you do conquer me
O, then you shall be free.”

“The time it is improper
Our valor for to try,
For if we take our swords in hand,
Then one of us must die;
I am a man of honor,
With courage true and bold,
And I fear not the man of clay,
Although he’s cloth’d in gold.”

He saw that his conspiracy
Would soon be brought to light;
He begg’d for pen and paper,
And askèd leave to write
A line to General Arnold,
To let him know his fate,
And beg for his assistance;
But now it was too late.

When the news it came to Arnold,
It put him in a fret;
He walk’d the room in trouble
Till tears his cheek did wet;
The story soon went through the camp,
And also through the fort;
And he callèd for the Vulture
And sailèd for New York.

Now Arnold to New York is gone,
A-fighting for his king,
And left poor Major Andre’
On the gallows for to swing;
When he was executed,
He looked both meek and mild;
He look’d upon the people,
And pleasantly he smil’d.

It mov’d each eye with pity,
Caus’d every heart to bleed,
And every one wish’d him releas’d
And Arnold in his stead.
He was a man of honor,
In Britain he was born;
To die upon the gallows
Most highly he did scorn.

A bumper to John Paulding!
Now let your voices sound,
Fill up your flowing glasses,
And drink his health around;
Also to those young gentlemen
Who bore him company;
Success to North America,
Ye sons of liberty !

If I’m around when you visit the Old Dutch, I’ll sing it for you!


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