This Week's Story

Finding spies for the Culper Spy Ring was a risky intelligence operation.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Find the Men, part two from Revolutionary War Spies

Washington spoke quietly to himself, “The needs are obvious. The British have captured Long Island and Manhattan. Those places must be retaken.”

“We need a ring of spies who can get helpful intelligence and pass it to me safely and swiftly. The British soldiers now in the Thirteen Colonies far out-number our soldiers. Their soldiers have better training and equipment. Our spying needs to be superior to theirs.

“We need someone who knows routes in and out of New York City and knows locals who can be trusted to be spies--someone who will give himself to make the ring successful.”

Washington knew the man--Major Benjamin Tallmadge. He was in his twenties, brilliant, imaginative, well-educated, energetic, and well-liked. His father and grandfather were ministers.

Benjamin had been superintendent of a high school for three years and resigned honorably to be in the American military in 1776. He

wrote after seeing his first battle, “…very hardly could I bring my mind to be willing to attempt the life of a fellow-creature.”

Benjamin became a spymaster for General Washington on Long Island. Soon Benjamin chose Abraham Woodhull. Like Benjamin his desire for liberty was strong.

Abraham was too independent to seek anyone’s orders. That included King George of England or officers of the American military. When his two older brothers died, he became a landowner. He had no interest in being a well-educated gentleman landowner. Before that blow fell, he explored the outdoors. He knew the topography of Long Island. Could soldiers move rapidly on the flat sandy beaches of the South Shore? Abraham would know.

Abraham became a farmer and businessman. He smuggled fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and cheese, and milk and eggs from his farm on Long Island to sell in Manhattan. He bought tea, spices, trinkets, and foreign wines to sell when he returned home, always making profits.

Crime and population were soaring in Manhattan, New York City. British soldiers were reported to be attacking women. Abraham’s sister ran a boardinghouse in the city. There Abraham would stay on his trips. He had access to gossip as he sold to all likely buyers and travelled by boat.

Tallmadge and Abraham met. “Abraham, you have access to information that could help us win the war. You hear gossip from British soldiers.”

Abraham asked, “Can I hire the men I want and handle our business the way I think best?”

“Yes.”

“Who will know what I am doing”

“Only you, General Washington, and I need to know what you are doing.”

“I don’t want any fancy gentlemen telling me what to do.”

“Abraham, that is the kind of thing that started this war.”

Soon routes for passing messages were in place, subject to rapid changes. Abraham enlisted Caleb Brewster, a smuggler who knew the waterways.

Each spy was, with his unique skills, valuable and trusted in the growing Culper Spy Ring.

Finding team members was a test for each of the Ring. Bigger tests came.

Return for part three, www.thisweeksstory.com.

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