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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Hammontree

The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution

God’s Third Miracle to America:

The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution

By Kenneth Hammontree

George Washington used many spies during the American Revolution. However, thanks to a little-known top-secret group, called the Culper Spy Ring, Washington out spied the powerful British army. Washington realized that he couldn’t beat the British with military might, so he recruited a sophisticated intelligence network to infiltrate the British army.

Washington carefully guarded the secret six member’s identities with a number. Names were never used under any circumstances. Even after the war those few who knew the Culper secret kept a very closed lid. Who were these five men and one woman, who carried out the most intense spy ring in the history of our country?

Caleb Brewster was a first-class longshoreman, using his intimidating physical size to make himself a regular nuisance to the British. Brewster knew the coves and waterways, slipping out of the reach of the British. Brewster and his men rowed without a sound, around the British ships to Connecticut, where they handed off the secret letters to Tallmadge and Washington.

James Rivington was the owner of a coffeehouse and print shop where British officers talked military plans and secret military orders. Robert Townsend, a Quaker, was a shop owner in New York City who gathered the military information in Manhattan and handed it off to Austin Roe and Abraham Woodhull. Austin Roe was a tavern keeper who risked his life every day, transferring military information. Abraham Woodhull, a small farmer on Long Island at the time, traveled back and forth to New York city, gathering secret information. Finally, there was agent 355, a woman whose identity remains unknown, even to this day, assisted in transferring military information. She represents all covert agents whose true identities will never be known.

The greatest contribution of the Culper Ring was preventing Benedict Arnold from carrying out his act of treachery, in surrendering West Point and capturing Washington.

The secret six also were responsible in delivering Yorktown to Washington. Washington was torn between attacking New York city or marching to Yorktown. Fortunately, another informer outside the Culper Ring, by the name of Allen McLane, came in contact with James Rivington, owner of the coffee house who was still fraternizing with British Officers and who managed to procure a copy of the entire British naval code book. Rivington passed it on to McLane, who rushed it on to Washington, who in turn rushed it off to Admiral de Grasse’s and the French navy. The rest is history. All were aware now, that General Clinton would not be bringing his army by sea to Yorktown and that the French Navy would be blocking any efforts of General Cornwallis’s escape.

The Culper Ring was made up of ordinary citizens, performing extraordinary feats of heroism that saved a revolution, created a new Country, and changed the course of history.


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