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Historical marker near place of death

Sergeant Major John Champe (1752–1798) was a Revolutionary War senior enlisted soldier in the Continental Army who became a double agent in an attempt to capture the American traitor General Benedict Arnold.


Champe was born in Loudoun County, Virginia. Handpicked by George Washington and Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee for the mission, Champe "defected" to the British side where he was introduced to Arnold. Champe formulated a plot to capture Arnold on his regular evening stroll, and came very close to succeeding, but at the last moment Arnold changed plans and the whole endeavor had to be called off.

After the failed attempt, Champe served in the British army for many months before finding a way to escape back to the Continental Army.

Upon rejoining the Americans, Champe voiced a desire to re-enlist and continue fighting the British, but Henry Lee dissuaded him from it—pointing out that if captured, he could now be hanged as a spy.[1]

After the war, Champe retired to Kentucky, and then western Virginia (now West Virginia) where he died. He had seven children.[2]


  • Champe Rocks, Pendleton County, West Virginia near where Champe settled after the War, is named for him. His gravesite is nearby.
  • In the American Civil War, the Confederate rifle company from Aldie, Virginia, "Champe's Rifles", named themselves in honor of Champe.
  • Namesake for new John Champe High School in Aldie, VA

See also


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