George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution – Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
Have you ever heard of the Culper Spy Ring? Were you aware that they were Patriots who provided key intelligence which enabled George Washington to defeat the British? If not, this book is for you. I love history and was both fascinated and inspired by this account of the original American spy ring.
Outside CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, you will see the statue of Nathan Hale who famously said, “I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country”. He was the first American spy to die for his country, executed by the British for espionage. Inside Langley, new recruits are told about the Culper Spy Ring whose methods and practices are taught to trainees and utilized in spycraft today.
Washington recognized the value of intelligence. He realized it was the one tool that would even his odds against the British who at the time were the most feared fighting force on the planet. They had more men, weapons, and supplies than he could ever hope to match. But the efforts of a small group of Patriots, unafraid to act with the courage of their convictions, turned the tide.
A young cavalry officer, Benjamin Tallmadge, was tasked with creating a homegrown group of spies capable of getting intelligence out of British held New York. Five men and a woman made up this group: A farmer, Abraham Woodhull, a boat Captain, Caleb Brewster, a merchant, Robert Townsend, a tavern keeper, Austin Roe, a printer and coffeehouse owner, James Rivington, and an unidentified lady, Agent 355.
Invisible ink, aliases, dead drops, and true daring in the face of insurmountable odds make this story seem like a work of fiction rather than historical fact. Meticulously researched, I was amazed by how even to this day we know so little about this group of people. They were that good! There are no monuments to their achievements, no accolades, they lived and died in secret, content with the reward of the birth of a new nation founded on the cause of liberty.
Being a romantic, I have to think that the lady spy must have been involved with one of the other members who closely guarded her secret. It’s known that she was captured and likely died on one of the British prison ships, but no true account of her fate has been uncovered. Regardless, she did not betray her fellow operatives. Her efforts, along with the other members of the ring, are the reason we live in a United States of America today.
Would you be willing to risk all you hold dear, even your own life, for a cause you believed in? These people answered yes, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.