In this unscripted episode of the 18th Century Podcast, listen to me stumble reading 3 of the Culper Letters from the American Revolution. The Culper Spy Ring was the first American Spy ring.
Samuel Culper to Major Benjamin Tallmadge
Jany 22. 1779
Your No. 4 came to hand, And observed the Contents. Your approbation of my Intelligence is highly pleasing to me. I Shall use my best endevours to Serve you and think I am under good advantages to do it. I cannot give you any Incouragement about makeing any Incursion on L. Island with Small parties. I know not of any Officer So detached from his Corps that a Small Party might Surprise him, I must Informe you that Continentall Money will not Serve me; It is much lower here now than it was Some time ago, It now Sells for 15 p. C., Priced current See Separate The danger I apprehended of miscairage mentiond in my last was owing to my freinds fear (the Enemy lately being very Strict) but hath bene no disservice, As nothing Material transpired in the Interim, Except the Storme did Some damge to the Shiping. The Mail that arived mentioned in my last brought nothing Material that I Could lerne. Within few days have had an opportunity of Safely Visiting allmost every Quarter of the Enemy have had two agreeable Tours with good Company to Kings Brige Spent Some time at Genl Tryons Quarters and treated with respect, Tryon Said the War was almost at an end, and that Peace Would be made in Urope. I do not in the leas doubt it but in two Month Amarican Independence will be Acknowledged by Britan; I Could not discover any thing different from what I have heretofore informed you of except the 44 Regn. is there and think now you have Certainly got an account of every Regn. on the Two Islands I Shall betwixt now and the Midle of march give you a new account of the Genl and Regn. on the three Islands—the Cork Fleet Consisted of 28 Ships, Sailed under Convoy of the Maria Friget & the Notinham East Indiaman and about Christmas they were Separated by a violent Gale of Wind and have bene ever Since the 10 Instant Continualy droping in togather with Some Ships from Hallifax and Some Comeing up from Staten Island that made it So difficult although upon the Spot I Cannot Certainly determin how hath arived but fully beleive their Missing Perhaps Eight or ten. They have Such a Supply of Provision now that they Will not Suffer their is a Fleet from Engld dayly expected with near 5000 Barrels of flour Mostly Private Property which will all help to Serve them that you need not have any hopes of Starveing them out now the English Papers Say the French & Spanish Fleets hath Joyned and gone against Gibralter amounting to Seventy five Sail of the line and many other Such favourable accounts their is about 40 or 50 Troops With baggage and Woman that was left as gards at Hempsteed & Jerico on their March to South Hampton—It is Suspectd their is an expedition on foot Perhaps to make Some little Incursion into the Country for to plunder We dayly now expect the kings Speech Shall forward it asson as it arives and wish it may be favourable in the mean time I remain your most Obt Hl. Servt
Samuel Culper to Major Benjamin Tallmadge
20 July 9. 1779
It is now, a long time Since I have heard from you—And wheather you mean to Continue the coresspondence—I Cannot tell or your Coast So Interupted thats impractible nevertheless I have not neglected my duty and determined to be Prepared exactly at every appointment that 40, may not be detaind here—I yesterday had an Opportunity of Seeing Mr Culper Junr And repeated—again all my instructions ever received from you have keep no Secret from him—And have Consulted every thing and hes determined to Pursue every Step that he may Judge for advantage and is determined asson as I can comunicate to him your authority for my engageing him, he will disengage himself from every other buisiness which at Present affords him a handsom liveing—hes Aloued to be a person of good Sence and Judgment And his firmeness and friendship towards our Country I do assure you need not doubt I have known him Several years, and Confident he is a Sincere freind. And will be frugal of all Moneys he may receive And hath undertaken it Solely for to be Some advantage to our distressed Country—And have determined to forward you for the future Weekly Intelligence if Possible. As I have Concluded to remain here as long as I Possible Can (Although I look upon my Self all the time in danger) for the Sole Purpos of advantage to our Corespondence.
Below is what Intelligene I Could gain from C. Jur, it is but trifeling but he assured thers nothing more worthy of notice on the 4 10 Sail arrived from Hallifax under Convoy of the Romulus of 44 guns with about one hundred of the new raised Scotch beleive the Duck of Athols. Same day 10 Sail Sailed for Cork on the 6 10 Sail of Merchantmen from the West Indes but Brought nothing new only that Adml Byron was a Cruseing for a reinforcement that was expected to Joyne Count De Estang. on the 4 a Packet arrived from Georgia With an Account of Genl Prevosst being with his Army 16 Miles South of C Town on St Johns Island, hardly any thing is said about the enemy in that Quarter. he tells me the Spirits of the Enemy in Genl are much Lower than heretofore or Some time gone and that he hrd a very Noted Refugee Say there Would certainly be a Peace or a Spanish war in four weeks. the times groes worse within the Enemys lines and Protection for those Called rebels is allmost Banished, in fact Refugees they are let loss to Punder within and without their lines Parties of them are hideing in the Woods and laying Wait for the unwary and Ignorant to deceive them puting on the Charecter of Peopele from your Shore and have Succeeded in there design too well, carried of 10 or 12 Men and Striped their houses lately from about 20, the Roads from here to 10 is infested by them, and likewise the Shores that Maks our Corespondence very dangerous and requires great Cair and a Strict observance of the before mentioned Charecters and circumstances that may tend to discover the Scheam of raising a Regmt of Men by a Draughft of the Millita of L. Island is not Dropt nor Put in Practice. I With Sorrow beheld the Smock of your Towns. And very desereous to here the event. from the report of guns it is Judged you made a desparate defence, Freinds are all in health And Wish for their deliverans. and in the Interim am yours Sincerely
N.B.—Culper Jur Should now be furnished With Some Money I gave him 4 Joes on the 8 Instant.
Samuel Culper to Major Benjamin Tallmadge
20 July 15 1779
Mr C. Junr informed me at our Intervew that Christofer Dycink Sail Maker of 10 formerly Chairman of the Committee of Mechanicks is amongst you and is positively an agent for David Mathews Mayor of 10, under the direction of Tryon. he assisted Mathews John Rome—and others in effecting their escape Mr C. Junr Wishes for Some of that Ink or Stain that he may Paint out his Charecter to you—dont fail to forward it Imediately. And When you receive the History of his Conduct be very Causious how you handle it for if it Should get to the above Mentioned Persons ears Cu. Junr tells me They would imediately Suspect him—In the mean Time I Would advise and is approved on by Culper Junr Obtain the Mayors Signature and let a Letter be wrote Sutable for deception—and let it be handed him by Some Person of good address Praying his assistance to escape from the Tiranny of Congress which is the terme used by the Mayor—or Sometheng like this Plan I do not doubt will have the desireed effect John Rome is Secretary to M. Genl Jones—it is not in my Power to favour you with the Mayors Signature at Present. I am your &c.
“Enclosure: Samuel Culper to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 22 January 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed September 29, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-19-02-0092-0002. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 19, 15 January–7 April 1779, ed. Philander D. Chase and William M. Ferraro. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, pp. 100–102.]
“Enclosure: Samuel Culper to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 9 July 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed September 29, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-21-02-0576-0002. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 21, 1 June–31 July 1779, ed. William M. Ferraro. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, pp. 710–712.]
“Enclosure: Samuel Culper to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 15 July 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed September 29, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-21-02-0576-0003. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 21, 1 June–31 July 1779, ed. William M. Ferraro. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, pp. 712–713.]