Continental Army Intelligence

July 24, 2018

 

Benjamin Tallmadge was the leader and organizer of the Culper Ring. He successfully led many raids across Long Island under the code name John Bolton. Commissioned by General George Washington in 1778, the Culper Ring informed Washington of the British Army’s activities in New York City.

 

While Washington directed the Ring’s operations, Tallmadge controlled it. The Culper Ring was a spy network, and code names were used to prevent agents from being caught and killed for their actions.* The main agents were Abraham Woodhull and Robert Townsend (Codenamed Samuel Culper, Sr. and Samuel Culper, Jr.) In the early days, Culper Sr. traveled to New York every few weeks to gather intel. By 1779, Culper Jr. began to gather intel in New York as he ran a tailoring business, wrote for a newspaper, and ran a coffee shop that all promoted the British.

 

Tallmadge was, without a doubt, a vital asset during the Revolution. If his Culper Ring had not existed, the British would have defeated the Colonists. While many agents, missions, and details are still unknown, the Ring’s overall mission was a success.

 

After the war, Tallmadge succeeded William Edmond in the House of Representatives as a member of the Federalist Party. He served until March 3, 1817. Tallmadge lived to be 81 years old before he died in Litchfield, Connecticut on March 7, 1835. At Fort Huachuca in Arizona, Tallmadge Hall is named in honor of his “distinguished leadership role in the service of Continental Army intelligence.”

* Tallmadge gave everyone a number with their codename. This went along perfectly with the new cipher he created, which relied on a system of words each associated with a number. His code can be viewed here: http://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-revolutionary-war/spying-and-espionage/the-culper-code-book/

 

Sources:

https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/benjamin-tallmadge/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Benjamin-Tallmadge

 

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