Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John André The Cow Chace , 1751-1780

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, August 2009

Summary Information
Title: John André The Cow Chace
Creator: André, John, 1751-1780
Inclusive dates: 1780-1881
Extent: 1 volume
This collection is a single volume that contains an 1866 publication of John André's satirical poem The Cow Chace with additional preface and notes and interspersed illustrations of people and places referenced in the poem. Also included is a manuscript of the poem, copied by André before its 1780 publication, and letters attesting to its authenticity.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1946. M-642.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

John André The Cow Chace , William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


John André (May 2, 1750-October 2, 1780) was born in London where he worked in his father's merchant business till 1770. In 1771 he bought a second lieutenant's commission in the 23d Regiment, Royal Welsh Fusiliers and later purchased a first lieutenancy in the same regiment. In 1775 he was sent to St. Johns on the Sorel River in Canada where the British were fortifying against an impending American attack. He was taken prisoner by the Americans in November 1775 and not released till November 1776 in a prisoner exchange. In 1777, André became an aide-de-camp to Major General Charles Grey, with whom he accompanied to battles of the Brandywine (September 11), Paoli (September 20-21), Germantown (October 4), and Whitemarsh (December 4). In 1778, he became an aid to General Clinton and was promoted to deputy adjutant general of the army in 1779. In this position, André managed correspondence between Clinton and secret agents in America and was involved with currying letters for Benedict Arnold. On Septembers 23, 1780, André was caught with an incriminating military letter from Arnold and was arrested, tried as a spy and was executed shortly after.

A few months before his death, André composed The Cow Chace, A Poem in Three Cantos, which satirized the Battle of Bull's Ferry, an unsuccessful attack by American generals Anthony Wayne, Henry Lee, and William Alexander, which won only cattle for the Americans. The poem was first published in the London Gazette.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The John André The Cow Chace collection consists of a volume of the The Cow Chace, published in Albany in 1866, that has been re-bound with interfiled illustrations of people and places referenced in the poem. Following this published edition is a manuscript of the poem in André's hand, written on August 1st, 1780. This copy, made previous to publication, was likely made for circulation among British officers. Next in the volume are letters from Benson Lossing and Doctor J.K. [Jeffs?] attesting that the manuscript copy of the poem is in André's handwriting. The volume ends with a facsimile of Arnold's Pass and additional illustrations.

Subject Terms

    • Bull's Ferry, N.J., Engagement at, 1780.
    • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Poetry.
    • Wayne, Anthony, 1745-1796.
    Genre Terms:
    • Albumen prints.
    • Engravings (prints)
    • Etchings (prints)
    • Poems
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Volume   1  
    The Cow Chace [series]:
    Pages   1-150  
    The  1866 publication of the poem with additional illustrations.
    Pages   156-166  
    A manuscript of The Cow Chace in André's hand, written on  August 1, 1780.
    Pages   169-188  
    Various additional illustrations and correspondence, including a facsimile of "Arnold's Note" and a letter from Benson Lossing explaining his ownership of the handwritten manuscript of the poem.
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Gold Star collection: John André pencil sketch of Indians in Quebec, [1775?]

    Benson Lossing collection: 1850-1904, 0.25 linear ft.

    Mackenzie papers: Great Britain Army in America Distribution report. 1779 December 1 (signed by André)

    Miscellaneous collection: Dr. James Thatcher ALS to John Goodwin: Camp Tappan (NY), 1780 October 6 (re: the Death of André)

    Schoff Revolutionary War collection: John André ALS to Mary André; Quebec, [1775?]. Also: John André mms. journal; Germantown, 1777 September 28, October 8, November 20 (12 pp.)

    Sir Henry Clinton papers: A large selection of André's correspondence may be found in the Clinton papers - see the Clements Library card catalog


    Nelson, Paul David. "André, John" American National Biography Online Feb. 2000.