s03e10 - Trial and Execution

announcer: Previously on "Turn: Washington's Spies..."

Congress still refuses to pay me.

John, Andre's coming here.

In exchange for 20,000 pounds, I shall transfer to you the plans for West Point.

Arnold's a traitor, sir.


Andre has been captured. Will they hang him?

They'll hang us. I must flee, now.

(gun shot)


If I don't stand up to Simcoe, who will?


Get a rope.

The accused, Nathan Hale, having been found guilty of espionage and treasonous conspiracy against His Majesty King George III, shall hereby be executed as a spy on this day the 22nd of October, 1776.

If the condemned has any last words, let him speak them now.

I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.

Wait there!

Come here.




Richard: Stop!

Stop! What is this madness?

This fiend just raided the garrison and assaulted an officer.


This is murder.

Stand back, old man, or I'll see you up this tree as well.

I am magistrate of this town, Captain, charged with upholding the rights of the king's subjects.

And those rights state that no man shall be condemned without trial.


Justice may only be delivered by the just.

Perhaps what this town needs is a new magistrate.

I stand only for the law, nothing more.

If my son has committed crimes, let him stand trial for them.

A trial where you sit as judge?


If the crimes are committed against army persons or property, then the case falls to martial law and the highest ranking military officer will sit.

But as this case involves colonists, you would be obliged to prosecute for the Crown.

Isn't that correct, Magistrate?

You're damn right it is.

Put the prisoner in the stockade.


And construct a gallows up there on the hill for one where the last one stood.

I want it built to exact military specifications.

We're going to do this properly.

♪ Hush, hush ♪
♪ There's snakes in the garden ♪
♪ Soul for sale ♪
♪ Blood on the rise ♪
♪ Hush, hush ♪
♪ I know there will come a day ♪
♪ As they're hiding in the cover of night ♪

♪ I can't wait anymore ♪

♪ Soul for sale ♪

♪ I can't wait anymore ♪

♪ Soul for sale ♪
♪ I can't wait anymore ♪



Man: Attention!

Fall in!

Fall in!

(door opens)

Courier: Colonel Hamilton, dispatch from one of our gunboats.

(object clatters)

Peggy's voice: You have drawings of me, but I have nothing to remember you by.

Arnold has made good on his escape.

Caleb: Damn it!

He boarded the Vulture, which sailed off before our guard boats could arrive.

He sent these ashore first.

We must secure West Point.

Nathaniel Greene will assume command of the fort, effective immediately.

Have Colonel Jameson and David Franks arrested and transport Major André to the main army away from potential rescue.

Yes, sir.

We must endeavor to keep this quiet.

Your Excellency, I'm afraid that may prove difficult.

(Peggy screams)



Who are you? Where is he?

Where is who?

My husband.

He's gone.


Yes, we know, madam.

He's gone forever.

He's there. He's there.

The spirits have taken him up there.

They have... oh, they have put hot irons in his head.

Mrs. Arnold, just...

Oh, they've... oh, they've... they've... they have put them on me.

Oh, they have put... oh, they have put them on me!

Madam! Madam!

They have put them on me!

It's all right, madam. It's all right.

To the bed. To the bed.

Only Washington can take them away.


Only Washington!

I'm here.

Peggy: No, you are not Washington.

You are the man in the fire.

She's in hysterics.

In the ceiling!

Fetch the doctor.

Peggy: Benedict!

(whimpering, stuttering) Benedict!

(footsteps approach)

Reading up on martial law, are we?

I hope you don't mind if I sup while you prepare your case.

I do mind.

But it's not a problem.

I will repair to my study.

You mean my office?

I'd rather you not.

Captain, the lady wants a word with you.

By all means, let her come down.

He already has, but he couldn't explain to me why it was necessary I be imprisoned in my room.

Well, ask your father-in-law.

It was he who requested you be confined to quarters.

I'm merely honoring his request.

You are sequestered, not imprisoned.

I plan to call on you as a witness.

To testify against Abraham?

To testify to the truth.

What gives you the right to judge...

His Majesty the King.

And his right is given him by Almighty God.

God will judge you.

Actually, he's just prosecuting the case.

Wakefield will serve as judge as he is Royal Army and I am mere Ranger.

And witness, too, I hope.

And who will stand for Abraham?

Who will defend him?

Abraham has elected to stand for himself.


(men chattering)


André: The plan was to lead the invasion force around to the rear of Fort Putnam and overwhelm the garrison.

General Arnold would send for reinforcements and then surrender before they could arrive.

I would assume control of West Point while General Arnold would wait to surprise the reinforcements led by you, sir.

When did the correspondence begin between yourself and General Arnold?

The first inquiry was in September and done through Arnold's contacts on the black market.

Smugglers, as they are, pledge true allegiance to coin.

I don't know how much Arnold paid the fellow to drop a letter through my door, but it must have been enough that he didn't break the seal and read it.

And he acted alone?

Far as I know, yes, sir.

I don't believe that his aide-de-camp was aware of our conspiracy nor poor Colonel Jameson.

Or Arnold's family, for that matter.

Yes, I received a letter from Arnold saying as much.

In it he asks mercy for his poor wife whom he abandoned and begs that she be spared the mistaken vengeance of her country.

I have made it known that it would be exceedingly painful to me if Mrs. Arnold were not to be treated with the greatest kindness.

He betrayed her as much as his country.

I wish it were not so that the innocent often suffer most in war.

Are there any other questions I might answer, sir?

Sir, regarding sources and contacts...

Not today.

Then may I trouble you for a request, sir?

Of course.

May my servant be cleared to visit from New York and bring with her a fresh uniform so that I may stand trial properly as a soldier?

Colonel Hamilton will see to it.

André: Thank you, sir.

I fully expect the tribunal to find me guilty and to recommend my execution.

I beg of you to allow that sentence to be carried out by firing line rather than the gallows.

One is a fate befitting an officer and the other is meant for a spy.

I am an officer dedicated to service and stained with no action that can give me cause for remorse.

I wish the mode of my death to reflect this.

I will consider it.

Thank you, sir.


Major André isn't home.

We are aware.

This place as good as any for your lodgings until we've determined what's to be done with you.

I do not require comfort, sir, only the opportunity for service.

As soon as I'm provided with uniform and regiment, I will deliver upon my promise.

May I inquire as to my new rank?

No, you may not.

Sir, will Major André be returning home soon?

Major André has been captured by the enemy.

Efforts are underway to secure his return.

Allow me to lead those efforts, sir.

Washington's army is vulnerable. I know their weaknesses.

I can redraw the fortifications at West Point.

It's likely he's been moved by now.


And the defenses strengthened in the wake of your defection.


We've received a dispatch from General Washington.

I rode first to your headquarters...

Yes, yes, hand it over, lad.

What are you doing?

Completing my rounds, sir.

I collect Major André's correspondence each day.

Anything for me?

Well, I...

Sort through.

See if there is post intended for me since I am standing right here.

Just cut through the red tape, man.

He's going to try André as a spy.

That's absurd. He is an officer.

He proposes an exchange.

For prisoners?

For you.

He writes since you are the author of this mischief, you ought more properly to be the victim.

Well, that is... that... this will not stand.

We will not stand for this.

I will draft a personal response to this attack.

Courier: There is nothing for you, sir.

André's voice: "To General Clinton, I can conclusively report that Agent Culper is Abraham Woodhull of Setauket."


Richard: Who is Abraham Woodhull?

Some assembled here may know him as a friend, a Christian, an adulterer, a criminal, a husband or a son.

Or you may not know him at all.

I will show that Abraham Woodhull committed crimes against the Crown.

First, by the attempted theft of army property.

Second, by conspiracy to commit insurrection.

And third, by the assault of an officer.

(clears throat)

Abraham Woodhull, you have heard the charges against you.

How do you plead?

(people whispering)

The prisoner stands mute.

The, uh... the Crown calls Elias Appleby as its first witness.

He meant to get the guns that were taken from us.

That we turned over.

Did he say how he pnned to do this?

No, sir.

Your witness.

(people murmuring)

Thank you, Mr. Appleby.

The Crown calls Jeremiah Scroggins.

I remember him saying, "Without gunpowder, there is no freedom."

And what was his temperament when he uttered this venom?

He was vicious, nearly foaming at the mouth.

If the firelocks had been loaded, I fear I wouldn't be sitting here today.

And what happened then?

I informed him he was under arrest and requested he surrender peacefully.

He answered with a fist aimed at my wounded ear.

It hurt very badly.

Richard: And that will be all.

Captain Simcoe.

On the 23rd of May, 1777, a musket round was fired at Judge Woodhull on his property.

The bullet nearly killed him.

Did you order Corporal Eastin to fire that shot?


(gavel bangs)

The prisoner will restrict his interview to this case.

More recent, then. Do you deny torching Appleby's barn and livestock along with Herman Weaver's cordwood and Jonas Gullet's hayfield?

Your Honor!

(bangs gavel)

The prisoner may present evidence of the truth.

The truth of the matter.

The matter being the charges brought against you here.

If you wish to present names, make them of your coconspirators.

The prisoner may present evidence of the truth.

Rivington: Surely this must herald the end, don't you think?

The end? The end of what?

The bloody rebellion, Jonathan.

The bloody...

Benedict Arnold tries to nab 3,000 Yanks and comes over with two bargemen.

He's a rat who didn't get the cheese.

The ship must be near sinking when the rats are leaving it.

Don't you agree, Townsend?


(laughs) Here's what I know...


(door opens)



Didn't know you were coming.

Haven't heard from you in quite some time.

Well, I thought we might have a word in private.

Really? About what?

You know what.

Do you know that man?


(chatter stops)

Go see what that was about, yes?

You truly are a glutton for punishment.


After everything they did?

For the cause, we shall freely give up our bodies for sacrifice.

This is not about them, Robert. It's about something greater than them and us.

Lord, lettest thou thy servants depart in peace.

We have sacrificed enough, Father.

He knows that.

Taken without permission from https://tvshowtranscripts.ourboard.org/

Rivington: Townsend.

Come break your vow and have some rum.

I think I will.

Washington: It should come as no surprise that in light of General Arnold's defection, the future of our cause lies in peril.

As I assess the true strength of our army, I must reassess our chains of intelligence.

Yes, sir. General Arnold is undoubtedly aware of the alias Culper, though he does not know his true name or location.

We have no reason to believe that he even suspects the presence of Culper Jr., though he does know that our chain extends as far as New York.

Does it still? Lieutenant Brewster?

We ain't heard from Culper Jr. since he warned us about Tryon.

I did tell him that our door was still open and he alone had the key.

Place an ad in the "Gazette" and I'll come rowing out to you.

Do you think he will?

Well, if I had to place a wager on it, sir, no, I don't.

What about 355?

Since the capture of Major André, I do not think we can expect any new discovery from Abigail.

Major Tallmadge has informed me that André has requested his servant bring his uniform from New York.

I humbly submit that if Abigail is allowed to cross the lines, we should secure for her the emancipation she was promised in Setauket.

It's the least we can do to show our gratitude for her service in our cause.

But would her deed then be transferred to another royal officer?

I mean, perhaps we can establish a new channel between her and Culper.

We need to bring Culper in as well.


It's not safe for him, sir. There are so many eyes on him now.

A mistake for me to cut him from the chain, but he must remain there.

So you would spare André, but not Abe?

Colonel Hamilton told me about your offer to exchange André for Arnold.

Arnold is a traitor.

André was merely doing his duty.

I would trade a thousand Andrés for Arnold.

Nathan Hale was doing his duty, sir, and they hanged him as a spy.

Hale? Hale was captain in our militia.

André is Adjutant General of the British Army.

He does not hang without consequences.

May I request that Lieutenant Brewster and Mrs. Strong be excused before I respond, sir?

No, owing to the value of truth, let them be present.

Very well. The consequences are upon us now.

In the wake of Arnold's treachery, the men are reluctant to trust their officers.

Officers doubt their commanders.

An example must be made to restore that order.

This is about doing what is right.


Neither of you ever have a chance to meet Captain Hale?

No, sir. No.

No, sir.

Benjamin's beloved classmate from Yale.

As a friend, you knew him better than most.

Do you remember his final words?

"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

From the drama "Cato," except he didn't write them and he never said them.

We did.

When I received the report from General Howe's aide-de-camp, it described Hale behaving with great resolution.

Before hanging, he said he thought of the duty of every good officer to obey any orders given him by his commander-in-chief.

He wished to be seen as a soldier, not a spy.

We altered what he said and thus converted a failed mission into an act of martyrdom.

The truth that links Hale and André is they were both captured on their very first mission undercover.

Woodhull has been surviving under his for years.

(people murmuring)

You've done an excellent job, Magistrate.

I think it's time you rest your case.

I have more evidence to present.

If I didn't know better, I'd say you were deliberately drawing out the case longer than needs be.

Since the outcome is inevitable, I wonder is it out of sentiment or cruelty?

The Crown calls Mary Woodhull.

Richard: You are married to the prisoner?

I am wife to Abraham Woodhull.

And how did you come to be wife to him?

I was first engaged to his brother Thomas.

The dowry for which was settled with me by your father John Blake.


And why did you not wed Thomas?

Because he died in New York.

During the Liberty Pole Riots.

While he was fighting for his king and country against the so-called Sons of Liberty.

But you did not break that contract.

Instead, you married Thomas's younger brother Abraham under the laws of coverture.

Abraham proposed.

(clears throat) What is the point of this, Magistrate?

That Mary Blake Woodhull is a woman who holds to her obligations.

And as those obligations multiplied by inheritance, by property, by motherhood, she had to be loyal to Abraham even as he grew disloyal.

I witnessed no act of treason.

I meant to you, not to the Crown.

Everyone knows he was adulterous with that harlot Anna Strong.

And I myself remember the months you spent living away from him bringing up your child.

How could you witness treason?

I love my husband and I will stand by him now.

If he broke the law, it was done from a need to protect those he loves, to protect the town that he loves from you.

Sit down!

It is Judge Woodhull who gave Captain Simcoe your names.

The fields that were burned were from a list that he wrote up.

I saw him do it.

The witness is excused.

He was in a scheme with Major Hewlett to sell off crops to the Royal Army.

That's enough! I am not the one on trial here.

Perhaps you should be.

I know you gave me up!

The attainders were illegal!

Dismiss the witness.

(bangs gavel)

The court will consider that Major André travelled upriver under a flag of truce.

When his vessel departed without him, he proceeded on foot and was caught out in the neutral ground... that is, between enemy lines and not in American-held territory.

He does not meet the status of a spy according to the "Laws and Ordinance of War."

The board has studied the letters of General Arnold and Sir Clinton and have determined that there was no valid flag of truce.

Furthermore, Major André was travelling in disguised habit and under an assumed name.

He carried with him incriminating papers given to him by a known traitor.

The recommendation of this tribunal is that Major André ought to be considered a spy from the enemy and that, agreeable to the law and usage of nations, it is our opinion that he suffer death.

(bangs gavel)

Sir, the board did not speak to the manner of his execution.

Yes, they left that to my discretion and it remains complicated.

This arrived inside a packet from Sir Clinton.

It is written from Arnold to me threatening retaliation to American prisoners under their power.

"Should this warning be disregarded...

I shall call upon heaven and earth to witness... you will be accountable for the torrent of blood that may be spilled in consequence."

(fire crackling)


Sir, my apologies.

My house servant and her boy seem to have gone off without leave.

"A torrent of blood"?

Did you threaten to slaughter 40 hostages if Washington harms André?

Washington seeks my ruin.

He threatened first when he offered the trade.

I meant to make our position clear.

Our position?

We do not murder prisoners of war and you do not speak for the king, ever.

And just to make my position clear, I would trade you with André in a heartbeat if my hands were not tied.

We do not trade defectors, for it would discourage new ones.

And she is not your house servant.

She is André's. And I have sent her across the lines with his uniform at his request.

I understand, sir. He deserves that.

He deserves more than that.

So do I. I apologize for my letter, but I am a warrior, not a diplomat.

Allow me a uniform and let me fight.

Give me a command and I will give you victory.

You will be made a brigadier in our service.

Any higher rank would offend our generals.

But that is a demotion.

You shall be allowed to raise a regiment of Loyalists, though it remains to be seen whether any man will fight under a turncoat.

(door opens, closes)



I'm so glad they let you take Cicero.

I told them he's the one who always shaves Major André's beard, so they wrote him into the pass.

Abi, listen to me. You don't have to go back.

But the pass is only for...

Lots of things get lost on the road.

You don't have to go back.

And you don't have to stay here, though you're welcome to for as long as you like.

Thank you.

It's you who deserves to be thanked.

Both of you.

You remember Ben from Setauket.

I'll show you to Major André.

Would you like to see the camp?

I've got to tell you about the letter.

What letter?


How good to see you.

I brought your uniform.

Thank you.

I, um... apologize.

It seems I won't be able to make it home after all.

I'm sorry.

You mustn't cry.


It's not your fault.

Major, after you're dressed, I will escort you to the site.

(rooster crows)

(footsteps approach)



Closing statements.

(horses neighing)

This is an excellent likeness.

Did you study portraiture back in Europe?

Major Tallmadge, allow me to say that it's an honor to properly make your acquaintance.

I wonder if you might indulge my curiosity.

Do you remember the first time you heard my name?

Oh, I remember it well.

It was a brisk Thursday, January of '77.

Mr. Nathaniel Sackett, a friend of mine, he was telling me how he had managed to place a man within your inner circle posing as a Coldstream Guard.

That man was later killed by a knife to the throat, as was Mr. Sackett.

I would like you to accept my personal apology for Mr. Sackett.

My orders to Lieutenant Gamble were to avoid violence at all costs.

I accept.

Though I will not apologize for the punishment that Lieutenant Gamble received in kind.

Gamble knew well the risks of our particular business.

I suppose that Sackett knew the risks as well.

I must say that he was quite impressed with the ruse that you concocted with Sutherland and Shanks.

A master stroke, he would have called it.


I sometimes wonder if Sackett would have seen right through Benedict Arnold.

Arnold was a failure.

Culper is the master stroke.

Seeing as I'm about to take a vow of eternal silence, who was Culper's contact in York City?

I had a classmate in Yale College by the name of Nathan Hale.

I followed him into the army in '76.

He was tracked and caught by Robert Rogers and subsequently hanged as a spy.

And you think his case and mine are alike?

He did his duty for his country.

You did yours for your king.

And I want you to know that I see the honor in both.

Then you're mistaken.

I didn't do it for the king.

I did it for a woman.

That is the loss I regret more so than my own life.


Called to order.

All parties present?


(Wakefield clears throat)

Does the Crown or the prisoner have any closing statements to make?

Yes, Your Honor.

(clears throat)

Are these... are these final statements of a lengthy nature?

Mine shall take quite some time, yes.

Then the prisoner will proceed first.

The prisoner? The Crown should speak first.

Your Honor, I beg you, hold to the practice and the procedure...

(voice fades)

Richard: ...proper justice.

I killed him.

I killed Thomas. I killed my brother.

I killed... I killed Thomas.

I started the riots at King's College.

It was a prank that went wrong, but I started it.

I felt responsible... responsible for his life, so I took it.

I took his intended. I took his inheritance.

I took his good Tory name, but it wasn't me.

It was never me, and...

You ask who I am.

I don't know.

I buried that man along with my brother.

I thought that maybe one day I'd meet him again in the soul of the son that I named after him.

And on that day I'd tell him that I lied.

Then I lied to try and make things right, but it didn't work.

It didn't work.

But I can't lie anymore.

And as for these crimes that I'm accused of committing... my only regret is that I didn't commit them sooner.


(bangs gavel)


Death by hanging.

(band playing)

(horse whinnies)

This is illegal, a lynching!

Captain Wakefield.

Ensign Meadows. Scout, 27th Foot.

Colonel Cooke is en route and wishes...

Captain Wakefield is otherwise engaged.

Whatever your business is, it can wait.

If death takes too long, we may pull down on the legs of the condemned in order to speed along mercy.

♪ Well, was it worth it? ♪
♪ Was it worth the price? ♪
♪ The horrors of war? ♪
♪ The loss of life? ♪

It'll be but a momentary pang.

♪ I saw a man ♪
♪ Hanging in the wind ♪
♪ I saw a man ♪
♪ Hanging in the wind... ♪

(clears throat)

The accused, Abraham Woodhull...

...having been found guilty of espionage against America, shall hereby be executed as a spy.

If the condemned has any last words, let him speak them now.

I pray that you all bear me witness that I meet my fate like a brave man.


(shouts, gasping)





Help! Help me!

Help me!

Shoot every man that stands at the gallows.

Men, present arms! Take aim at the Rangers.

Ranger: Captain.

Captain Simcoe, look there, sir.

I told you Colonel Cooke was en route.


John Graves Simcoe!

Rangers at attention.

Explain yourself, Captain.

We're hanging a traitor, sir.

Not that, man.

Explain your wanton destruction of one's cordwood, of one's hay, sheep, and horse.

(stuttering) Those fields belonged to men sheltering criminals, sir.

They belonged to me!

To the army.

I think your talents ought to be put to better use elsewhere, perhaps the front where you can destroy the enemy rather than our own resources or good Tory neighbors.

The Rangers are needed to protect the people of this town.

There have been frequent raids.

People of Setauket, do you feel protected by this man?

All: No!

Man: We don't!


Those names, those fields, and DeJong to take the message after I blocked your correspondence.

I underestimated you, Magistrate.

So it was sentiment.

Get out of my town, you pathetic amateur.

Captain Simcoe, clear the field.

Rangers, fall in.



Mrs. Arnold.

His thoughts were with you in the end.

Now, it's only a matter of time before your role in all of this is discovered.

I suggest you cross the lines as quick as you can manage.


Rivington: "When the epic strain was sung, the poet by his neck was hung, and to his cost he found too late, the dung-born tribe decides his fate."

Our André will be avenged.

All: Hear, hear!

(men muttering)

Is that Arnold?

Man: Turncoat...

Mr. Rivington.

Brigadier General Benedict Arnold at your service, sir.

I wish to publish a proclamation, "To the Inhabitants of America."

Can you afford the space, sir?

That is, after all the ink you purchased to publish your exoneration by the American court.

(men laughing)

I can afford that and more.


Whatever's cheapest.

Here you are, sir. Our best ale on the house.

Do you know who I am?

I believe so, sir.

I read the "Gazette."

Don't believe everything you read.

Some claim my defection a failure.

They don't know our plans were betrayed by a treacherous ring of rebel spies.

Oh, that story was not printed.

It was their young leader who sabotaged me.

He'll come to regret that.

I'll find his spies wherever they lie in their filth and I'll drag them screaming to the gallows.

Then you can read about that.

No one will ever know the true measure of my sacrifice.

It is difficult to measure sacrifice.

Often it seems to me that it is a road with no end.

Of course there's an end.

The end is death.

Mr. Rivington.

What is it, Townsend?

I'd like to buy an advertiment.