George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. Sentinel HC, 2013. $27.95 256 pages.
July 4, 1776. It’s been more than a year since the American Revolution began, and Congress has just ratified the Declaration of Independence. The United States of America may have just taken its first steps as an independent nation, but it will be another seven long years until the country, and most significantly, New York City, is no longer under British occupation.
When General George Washington withdrew his troops as he ceded New York to the British, he knew that such an important strategic location was certain to become the center of the British campaign, the hub from which all major decisions regarding troop movements, invasions, and covert operations would be made. And if the young nation had any hope at all of winning the war, Washington must have spies embedded in the heart of the city, able to pass on information without suspicion from the British.
Tasked with setting up the network of spies that would become known as the ‘Culper Spy Ring’ was American Major Benjamin Tallmadge. He set about finding brave, trustworthy, dependable individuals who could uncover and deliver the information that Washington so sorely needed.
The first recruit was a young farmer from Long Island, Abraham Woodhull who was responsible for most of the spy ring’s codes, methods of correspondence, pseudonyms, and insistence on absolute secrecy. He was well aware of what was at stake; not only for himself and the other members of the Culper Spy Ring should they be caught, but also for his country.
The Culper Spy Ring was one of the most successful spy networks during the American Revolution. The information that they uncovered thwarted several plots from the British including one of the most traitorous schemes ever conceived in this country, and without their assistance, the American Revolution might never have succeeded.
With their unique methods still being utilized by clandestine agencies today, the Culper Spy Ring was ahead of its time and is still recognized today as one of the most effective networks of its kind.
“George Washington’s Secret Six” is a thoroughly readable and entertaining history. Kilmeade (Fox News Anchor) and Yaeger have provided readers with a fascinating look at our country’s beginnings, and whether you’re interested in history, spies or just enjoy a good read, you’re certain to find “George Washington’s Secret Six” a captivating tale.
Rebekah Scott is a reference librarian at May Memorial Public Library. Visit us on the web at www.alamancelibraries.org.