A Bit About Me First…
For most to know I LOVE to learn new things about anything. When I was a young girl I would have never imagined that I was enjoy studying. But as everyone does we get older and learn what is important to us. “Who, what, when, where, and why are questions I ask to myself about anything. (Even more so because I have two young boys who are always up to something!) I know everyone does this and they just don’t realize it because it’s done subconsciously. “Who did what to who at the where last when? Why?” I have always been mildly fascinated with learning how people thrived during their era. Before I settled for my studies in business I toyed with the idea of focusing my degree in Elementary Education. (If there is ever one thing in life I can call an accomplishment its teaching a child something and seeing the “light Blub” turn on.) But of course, like most people life happened at the time when I was making the decision of the career path I wanted. Our economy took a turn for the worst people were losing their jobs, homes, and everything they had worked their whole lives for. Ample numbers of educators lost their jobs or took pay cuts. Recent graduates from university could not find employment within their degree focus and was left with large of amounts of student loan debts. I knew I needed a board education focus to act as blanket. Something that I could be an asset to multiple companies of different business types. A business degree felt right, which lead me to the insurance industry. Since I had the desire educate people. Insurance allowed me to educate while also helping my clients with their insurance coverage needs.
As I do my journey of self-education I image what life was like at a certain time. As a woman, man, or a child. In recent days, I’ve been reading and watching documentaries about the Revolutionary war and mainly about the Culper Ring and how it contributed to ending the war against Britain.
FOURTH OF JULY A NATIONAL HOLIDAY
The tradition of patriotic celebration became even more widespread after the War of 1812, in which the United States again faced Great Britain. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees.
Over the years, the political importance of the holiday has declined, but Independence Day remains an important national holiday and a symbol of patriotism.
THE CULPER SPY RING ASSISTANCE IN INDEPENDENCE
When history books praise the heroes of the American Revolution, they seldom include names like Agent 711 and John Bolton along with the likes of George Washington and Patrick Henry. Perhaps, however, they should. These men were part of the most famous spy ring of the era, the Culper Ring, whose identities were kept secret until well after the war ended.
Induction of the Culper Spy Ring
British forces occupied New York in August 1776, and the city would remain a British stronghold and a major naval base for the duration of the Revolutionary War. Though getting information from New York on British troop movements and other plans was critical to General George Washington, commander of the Continental Army, there was simply no reliable intelligence network that existed on the Patriot side at that time.
That changed in 1778, when a young cavalry officer named Benjamin Tallmadge established a small group of trustworthy men and women from his hometown of Setauket, Long Island. Known as the Culper Spy Ring, Tallmadge’s homegrown network would become the most effective of any intelligence-gathering operation on either side during the Revolutionary War.
THE DANGERS OF SPYING
In mid-September 1776, the American officer Nathan Hale was hanged without trial in New York City. British authorities had caught Hale when he was on his way back to his regiment after having penetrated the British lines to gather information. Hale’s death illustrated the grave dangers inherent in spying for the rebels during the Revolutionary War, especially in the British stronghold of New York. Meanwhile, Benjamin Tallmadge, a young cavalry officer from Setauket, had enlisted in the Continental Army when the American Revolution began in 1775 and was soon awarded the rank of major. In mid-1778, General George Washington appointed Tallmadge the head of the Continental Army’s secret service; he was charged with establishing a permanent spy network that would operate behind enemy lines on Long Island.
Tallmadge recruited only those whom he could absolutely trust, beginning with his childhood friend, the farmer Abraham Woodhull, and Caleb Brewster, whose main task during the Revolution was commanding a fleet of whaleboats against British and Tory shipping on Long Island Sound. Brewster, one of the most daring of the group, was also the only member whom the British had identified as a spy. Tallmadge went by the code name John Bolton, while Woodhull went by the name of Samuel Culper.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE CULPER SPY RING
Despite some strained relations within the group and constant pressure from Washington to send more information, the Culper Spy Ring achieved more than any other American or British intelligence network during the war. The information collected and passed on by the ring from 1778 to war’s end in 1783 concerned key British troop movements, fortifications and plans in New York and the surrounding region. Perhaps the group’s greatest achievement came in 1780, when it uncovered British plans to ambush the newly arrived French army in Rhode Island. Without the spy ring’s warnings to Washington, the Franco-American alliance may well have been damaged or destroyed by this surprise attack.
The Culper Spy Ring has also been credited with uncovering information involving the treasonous correspondence between Benedict Arnold and John Andre, chief intelligence officer under General Henry Clinton, commander of the British forces in New York, who were conspiring to give the British control over the army fort at West Point. Major Andre was captured and hung as a spy in October 1780, on Washington’s orders.
Members of the Culper Spy Ring were willing to sacrifice their lives to provide Washington with valuable information to help him defeat the British. The undercover agents were merchants, tailors, farmers, and other extraordinary patriots with ordinary day jobs. Without this foresight, the outcome of the Revolutionary War might have been quite different. The war for independence from Great Britain was not just one of battles and firearms, it was one of intelligence. As one defeated British intelligence officer is often quoted as saying, “Washington did not really outfight the British. He simply out-spied us.”
As I close remember and be grateful for the rights that our founding fathers fought for and have a blessed and fun celebrating our Independence day from the Ashley Apfel Agency!