Connect The Conspiracy
Connect The Conspiracy

Episode · 9 months ago

The Culper Spy Ring

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This week on an all-new episode of Connect The Conspiracy, we dive into the infamous Culper Spy Ring, created by George Washington during the Revolutionary War. 

The Culper Ring was a network of spies active during the American Revolutionary War, organized by Major Benjamin Tallmadge and General George Washington in 1778 during the British occupation of New York City. The name "Culper" was suggested by George Washington and taken from Culpeper County, Virginia. The leaders of the spy ring were Abraham Woodhull and Robert Townsend, using the aliases of "Samuel Culper Sr." and "Samuel Culper Jr.", respectively; Tallmadge was referred to as "John Bolton."

While Tallmadge was the spies' direct contact, Washington often directed their operations. The ring was tasked to provide Washington information on British Army operations in New York City, the British headquarters. Its members operated mostly in New York City, Long Island, and Connecticut between late October 1778 and the British evacuation of New York in 1783.

The information supplied by the spy ring included details of a surprise attack on the newly arrived French forces under Lieutenant-General Rochambeau at Newport, Rhode Island, before they had recovered from their arduous sea voyage, as well as a British plan to counterfeit American currency on the actual paper used for Continental dollars, which prompted the Continental Congress to retire the bills.

The ring also informed Washington that Tryon's raid of July 1779 was intended to divide his forces and allow Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton to attack them piecemeal. In 1780, the Culper Ring discovered a high-ranking American officer, subsequently identified as Benedict Arnold, was plotting with British Major John André to turn over the vitally important American fort at West Point, New York on the Hudson River and surrender its garrison to the British forces.

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This episode is powered by pod decks. Pod decks are unique interview questions and episode starting prompts in the palm of your hands. Whether you're a new podcaster or existing broadcaster looking to grow your audience and have more meaningful conversations, you're going to want to check out pod decks now. If you want to get ten percent off your order right now, you can go to pod dexcom and typing coupon code. What's the code, Larry Twenty One? Yes, that's the code. Check out pod dexcom take your podcast to the next level. Welcome to connect the conspiracy with your host, Larry Lease. Join it. He dives into some of the biggest conspiracies in history and attempts to separate fact from a fiction. Conspiracy is partner our culture. Sometimes it's merror imagination.

Sometimes a conspiracy is so deep and it makes it even hard to track down. Fact is, we as humans trying to connect the dots and make sense of everything. I'm your host, Larry Release, and I'm here to be find details about conspiracy theories while having a good time to connect and discuss in depth topics. Follow the podcast on social media at CTC podcast one. Seventy of your comments today. Let's dive right into the copper spy ring. Prior British General William House moved from Staten Island, George Washington had received information varying utility from individual spies working independently and without significant direction, such as Lawrence Maskell. After evacuating continental army from Brooklyn Heights, Washington asked William Heath and George Clinton to set up a channel information on Long Island, but he did not yet try to establish permanent agents behind enemy lines. Instead, he saw volunteers...

...for espionage missions. Among them was captain Nathan Hale, who went to New York City under a false identity but was quickly captured by the British and executed on September twenty two. Seventeen, seventy six. This made Washington realize that a more discreet and well organized espionage system would be necessary and ordered infiltrate British operations. He decided that civilians would attract a less attention than soldiers and he asked William Dower to recommend his suitable agent. Do we recommended thaniel second. His Army contact was HAL's former classmate, then captain Benjamin Tell Midge. Second had some success, for example discovery that the British were building flap bottom boats for a campaign against Philadelphia. However, Washington felt he did not produce enough correct intelligence fast enough and SEC it was soon paid off. Early in seventeen seventy seven, American colonel allies Stayton set up a spy network on Staten Island...

...which worked with an established network known as the Mur Murceru Ring. The British victory at the Battle of brandy one September eleven seventeen seventy seven led into the capture of Philadelphia on September twenty six, which became a new focus of intelligence gatherering Washington and aside this task to major John Clark, recently returned to service after being wounded before brand new line. Clark set up a success full network, but poor health forced them to take up a text job. In August seventeen seventy eight, Washington accepted an offer from Lieutenant Caleb Brewster, based at normal Connecticut, to provide intelligence. His first report included details on the condition of British warships prior to the Battle of Rhode on and the dispatching of several regiments to Newport Rhode Island. Washington asked General Charles Scott to handle brewster and find additional agents, assisted bog tellmadge. Scott delegated and most of the work to Televidge, and Washington Askedon to recruit reliable intelligence agents in New York City. As contact for brewster, telemage recommended a mutual childhood friend, Abraham would...

...hall of set it Tucket on Long Island. A few months earlier, when all has been had been arrested for legal trading, of which he had been guilty and was being held in a Connecticut prison. talmage arranged his release through Governor Jonathan Trumbull and a samed approval about Washington and Scott to recruit him as an intelligence agent. Washington suggested the alias Samuel Cooper, after Copper County Virginia, where he had worked as a surveyor and his youth talm engine. Scott had different approaches. Scott preferred single mission agents who returned to base after each completion. Talmage, fate favored embedding agents and establishing a secure line of communication. Since Scott lost three out of five agents sent in a New York City and early September, Washington decided that telemage his method should be used. He opened discussions on setting up in an abended network with woodall and brewster. Scott Resign on October twenty nine and telement replaced him as intelligence chief. Would hold...

...travel to New York City every few weeks to gather intelligence. His married sister, Mary Under Hill, lived there in game of gave him a valid reason to visit. He was questioned in a British checkpoint on October thirty one, seventeen seventy eight, which increased his anxiety about the dangerous mission. But he returned to tugget valuable information about the British supply lifeeat fleet. Excuse me, he provided a precise report on November twenty three with the identity of British units and the number of troops and dispositions in New York City, which provided his worth as a spy. Would whole soon recruited its brother in law, amost underhill, to gather intelligence. The letter are in a boarding house in the city with his wife, Mary Under Hill. Those reports were often too vague to be of much value at first. Would all had to return to US tucket to pass measuages to Caleb Brewster, which brewster would take the talmage or receive messages from talnage via brewster. talmage set up courtiers in December who would...

...take messages along the fifty five miles between New York and set up get, initially Jonas Hawkins and mainly Austin row. Beginning in early summer. The courtier's task was to get the letters to brewster, who would pick up messages that one of six secluded coves near the city and take them across long island sound with his rotating whale boat crews to tell me in Che at Fairfield, Connecticut. talmage would then take them to Washington's headquarters. The time consuming task was replaced in January one thousand, seve hundred and seventy nine by the excent assignment of express writers to take the messages from talmage to Washington. Local tradition claims at Anna Strong, a resident of set a tucket in a friend and Nimber of Abraham Wood Hall, help pass along messages from the spir ring by posting bre range signals to indicate when one of the spies was ready to submit intelligence. If she han the black petticoat on our clothesline and meant that brewster had arrived in town and his way help of also, she would hang a number...

...of white handkerchiefs to indicate which of the six hiding places he was in. Would Hole USTER signals to meet brewster or to drop messages at one of the meeting places. The historian Richard Welch rites at the tradition. The clothesline signal is unverifiable, but it is known that the British suspected a woman who fit in his profile of Patriot activities. Brewster occasionally would add his own report to the copra messages. In the January one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine report received by Washington and early February brewster sent some information about naval matters and a boat building in New York City and warn that loyalists were outfitting private ers for operations on Long Island sound. That was delivered with a message from would hold that precisely described the British regiments and commanders at the northern tip of Manhattan. Totally, about eight thousand five hundred men would hole. Also reported on British boat building, confirming Brewster's report TAL mentioned. Washington thought that the boats might be planned for transport for an attack against Connecticut. But Major General William Tryan,...

...who had conducted a raid during the winter wood hole, became increasingly anxious about being discovered and did a little in May, June, Seo, seventeen, seventy nine, John Wolsey was a long island privateer who was captured by the British. To Secure Parole, he told British officers I'm June fifth, that would hole was up to something dubious. Colonel John Grahame Sincoe, the commander of the Queen's Rangers, came to set a kid to look for wood hole, but he was away in New York City. Sin goes man attacked and beat Woodhole's father, Judge Richard Woodhole. Abraham would all escaped to rest because loyalist militia officer Benjamin Floyd Bouch fern floyd was married to a member of the woodhole family. Would all reported that he could not continue to operate in New York City after the visit from simcoe because it's suspicion. But would all had a new agent lined up and would go to New York to finalize arrangements with him. In late June Washington sent a letter to talmage and which he...

...identified George Hig Day as a possible operative to relt to relieve Wood Hall in New York City. The British had intercepted at June thirteenth the liner from Washington that referred to see and telemadge. Under the last second British calvalry, into the command of Colonel Baness banister Tarleton, attacked telemages camp and captured his horse and some papers, including the Lenton later mentioning Haige Day. They were trying to capture telemage himself because they knew he was ahead of Washington's intelligence operation. The second letter confirmed that the agency blank was operating in New York City. At telemadge was a chief intelligence officer for Washington. HIG Day escaped execution, but it was of no use as a spy to Washington or to Clinton, who tried to recruit him as a double agent. In June. One thousand seven hundred and seventy nine would all engaged Robert Townsend together intelligence in New York City by using the alias Samuel Colper and junior. Townsend was involved in business...

...there. His president's presence would arouse less suspicion than woodholes visits. He had access to British officers through several channels, including his own tailoring business. He also wrote a society column in a loyalist newspaper and owned an interest in a coffee house with the newspapers owner, James Rivington. It was also a secret member of the coulporate ring. Once Townsend began his intelligence activities in New York City would hold operated almost exclusively from stead set. It took it apologize for butchering the name and revised a communications network. Townsend would pass into intelligence to a courier, initially hawkins, later Hawkins and row, and exclusively row after September one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine. He would take it to the city and pass it to a Woodhall, usually buy a dead drop in a box hidden in a field that row rented from woodhall. Would all would have value in comment on it. Pass it to brewster, who would occasionally add an intelligence none of his own, take it across all island sound and pass it to tell wage town, which would usually add a cover letter with comments...

...and send and received messages by relay of dragoons. Acting as a as courtiers. Hawkins was bold at first but later became increasingly anxious about British patrols. His role was reduced between April and July. Tell me just signed a code number and in his code directory to row, but not to Hawkins. Would Hole wrote in a coded message on obvious fifteen that Hawkins had to destroy a letter from colpord junior or be captured. He also wrote that Hawkins insisted his next meeting with Townsend being and out of the way location. Townsend did not like taking additional risk was beginning to tell Hawkins reliable right a reliability and regret the destroyed messages. Hawkins finally stopped his courier services for the spy ring in September of Seventeen. Seventy nine is townsend refused to deal with him any longer. would hole acted as a courier on September eleven so that he could explain to townsend the loss of the earlier letters, and row became the sole permanent courier for the ring. Secrecy was so straight that Washington it did not know...

...the identity of all the operatives. Town centers recruited by wood hole was especially insistent that his identity not be revealed, although Austin row and Jones Hawkins needed to know. Among the techniques of the colporate ring used to relay information, coded messages published in newspapers and in visible ink called a sympathetic stain to write between the lines. It would appear to be typical letters. The first months of the rings operations they were forced to rely on crude tactics to conceal on their information before I complex web codes and invisible ink were accessible. So they relied on a small number of codes for memory. Would hole use the codes ten New York, thirty and forty post writers and Twenty S Tucket? In his first letter of correspondence, telement realized realized the significance of creating a codebook to increase their vocabulary. By July se seventeen seventy nine, he had complete completed pocket dictionaries with list of verbs, nouns, people on places with their...

...corresponding code numbers. The dictionaries were given to Washington. Would Hold Townsend intellimage himself to ensure they did not get into enemy hands. But the use of the codes and letters with complex and required much effort to write and comprehend. The codebook helped watching him make sure that the copra ring spies had more support and operated a greater secrecy than previous continental spies. Perhaps Nathan Hail on mine tell Midge Wood all. In Townsend we're given code names and code numbers, along with Washington, brewster, row and Rivington. Washington's Code Number was seven one one. Is it a conspiracy or not? Leave me some comments and messages at CTC podcast one on twitter and let's discuss the topic. There's a topic you want to hear about, let me know and I'll prepare a detailed episode about it without holding you for a longer. Please subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast platform and share us with your friends and fellow podcast fans...

...and we'll see you next time. You've been watching connect the conspiracy with your host, literal lease. Follow us on twitter at CTC podcast one, and on facebookcoms last connect the conspiracy. You can also find us on instagram at connect the conspiracy. If you like, you can support the show by buying us a coffee at buy me a coffeecom CTC podcast. Thank you for joining us.

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