The Culper Ring: George Washington's Real Secret Spy Organization
The British take New York
George Washington may be one of the Founding Fathers of America, but he's also the first member of the U.S. government to take America into the spy game. In 1778, New York City was under siege by the British military. The Redcoats had essentially set up shop in the area and were using it as their own personal base of operations. To get to the bottom of England's plans Washington created a group of spies to infiltrate the city and feed him information. Their name: The Culper Ring.
Through the Culper Ring, Washington and his men were able to shut down a series of British plans that would have cut the Continental Army off at the knees. Most importantly, the group discovered a spy in their own midst: none other than Benedict Arnold. The spy ring was kept a secret until the 1930s. These men and women put their lives in danger to keep the colonies safe and no one was the wiser.d
When the British occupied New York City on August 22, 1776, they filled the area with at least 32,000 soldiers, pushing out Colonists and giving chase to Washington and his men through New Jersey. Washington and his men finally escaped across the Delaware and into Pennsylvania by December. Everyone thought the Revolution was done. Thomas Paine called it "the times that try men's souls."
Washington and the Colonial Army had no plans to stop their fight, but with General Howe kicking his feet up in New York there was no way to know what the British were going to do. Washington, a man of action, asked for volunteers to go behind enemy lines and had a list of men ready to rock. He selected Captain Nathan Hale to slip into New York City under a false name, but Hale was pretty much immediately caught. Washington rethought his methods and decided that civilians would make better spies, although as the war churned on he took on anyone who wanted to be of service.