In 1778, Benjamin Tallmadge set up a network of spies on Manhattan and on Long Island to gather intelligence on the British occupation of New York City. Eventually known as the “Culper Ring” Abraham Woodhull, and Robert Townsend, using the aliases of “Samuel Culper Sr.”, and “Samuel Culper Jr.”, gathered and communicated information on British troops and their plans from late October 1778, until the British evacuation of New York in 1783. The information they supplied included details of a surprise attack on the newly arrived French forces under Lieutenant General Rochambeau at Newport, Rhode Island, British plans to counterfeit American currency on the actual paper used for the Continental dollars, that the intent of Governor Tryon’s raid into Connecticut in July 1779 was to divide Continential forces, and , most importantly, they identified that Benedict Arnold, was plotting with British Major John André to turn over the vitally important American fort at West Point, New York on the Hudson River and surrender its garrison to the British forces.
On Saturday, August 22, join us at Fort Mifflin as we explore some of the techniques used by the Culper Spies including:
- Sending secret messages using cyphers and codes like:
- Pigpen cypher
- Caesar cypher (including Jefferson’s “Perfect Cypher”)
- Polybus cypher
- Culper Ring Codes
- Invisible Inks
- Hiding messages in plain sight using steganography
- Securing your messages with Letter-locks and seals
- Getting your messages through the lines by using
- Dead Drops
- Hides and Secret Compartments
- Confusing the enemy with disinformation and propaganda, and
- Recruiting Turncoats
Within the limits of social distancing, this will be a hands on activity so bring your mask.