The Prototype of Harvey Birch

Warren S. Walker * (Blackburn College)

Published in New York History, Vol. XXVII, No. 3 (October, 1956), pp. 399-413.

Placed online with the kind permission of the New York State Historical Association.

[May be reproduced for instructional use by individuals or institutions; commercial use prohibited.]

OF THE many memorable characters created by James Fenimore Cooper, none has been the subject of more controversy than Harvey Birch, hero of The Spy. From the time he was introduced to the public in 1821 until the present, readers have puzzled over his identity. Who was this secret agent of the Revolution whose story had been told to Cooper by his aged friend John Jay? 1 Noting that “since the original publication of The Spy, there have appeared several accounts of different persons who are supposed to have been in the author’s mind while writing the book,” Cooper insisted that he had never been told the agent’s name and, therefore, had not patterned Harvey Birch after anyone known to him. 2 But regardless of how much Cooper knew about his model, or how much he admitted knowing, it now seems likely that there was a real-life original.

Within a few years, most of the “different persons” who pretended to be the prototype of Harvey had abandoned their claims in favor of the most convincing candidate for the honor, one Enoch Crosby. Soon after the novel was published Crosby announced that he was Harvey Birch, and he played the role throughout the remainder of his life, even appearing in New York City on special invitation, he said, to take a bow at the revived stage presentation of The Spy in 1826. 3 He had been a member of the American Secret Service — a sworn deposition to that effect secured a pension for him in 1832 — and aided by Barnum’s cleverly fraudulent biography, he proved to the satisfaction of a majority of his con{400}temporaries that he was the subject of Cooper’s book. 4 Historians of Westchester County, New York, both scholarly and folk, willingly accepted his account, and even into the twentieth century have continued the tradition that Crosby was the anonymous agent of Jay’s tale. 5 Unfortunately for the tradition, a thorough piece of scholarship by Tremaine McDowell proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Crosby was an impostor, 6 And since Crosby was the last recognized pretender, his study necessarily concluded that Harvey Birch was, except perhaps for a few details, entirely a fictitious character. With McDowell’s initial thesis I have no argument: The Crosby story was a hoax perpetrated largely by his biographer, H. L. Barnum, after the success of Cooper’s novel. Evidence has come to light since McDowell’s research, however, that points toward a bigger borrowing by Cooper from fact than from fancy. Whatever features of his character Cooper shaped, whatever motifs incarnate the general myth of the Revolutionary spy, Harvey Birch seems also to have had a flesh-and-blood original.

In its bare outline, the story of Harvey Birch as it appears in The Spy can be quickly sketched. In the year 1780 Harvey is engaged in a program of espionage for General Washington in Westchester County, the so-called “Neutral Ground” of New York State. Because his trade is an itinerant one, it is assumed that his continual movement through the area will not be questioned. It is questioned almost immediately, however, and as a result of the misunderstanding that ensues, Harvey and his dying father are cruelly persecuted. Involvement in the personal affairs of people in both Patriot and Tory camps complicates even further the inherently complex existence of a spy. Ironically, he is hunted by his fellow Continentals as well as by the British; only Washington and his staff, cognizant of his mission, trust him completely. So delicate, in fact, are the relationships he maintains in his espionage and counterespionage that, for the safety of all concerned, his true role may not be revealed even after the war ends, and he lives the rest of his life under the pale stigma of suspicion. In spite of the hardship and suffering he {401} endures, he idealistically refuses the gold Washington offers as payment for his services. Devoid of all specific incident, this is essentially the experience of Harvey Birch which must be matched in the biography of anyone who is to be established as his original.

Failure to take at face value this core of the story as Cooper received it from Jay has hitherto precluded the success of hunters for Harvey’s historical source. If strictly guarded anonymity actually was a peculiar feature of the original — Cooper, in his Preface, speaks of Jay’s “necessarily suppressing the name of his agent” even before a Congressional committee — then it is fruitless to look for him on the lists of the well-known spies. This is a point that cannot be overstressed. Thus, not only Crosby but the ten other Westchester County agents investigated carefully by McDowell should also have been ruled out, almost automatically, as possibilities by virtue of their general recognition. This likewise eliminates John Champe, recently suggested as Harvey’s model, whose war record was published in Henry Lee’s Memoirs in 1812. 7 Paradoxically, to have qualified as the prototype of Harvey Birch was to have gone through life unidentified as such. The search, then, should have been among the shadowy figures of the espionage service, not among those shining in the national limelight.

In 1930, the same year that McDowell wrote his influential article on Harvey Birch, Morton Pennypacker, an historian of New York State, finally identified, with substantial evidence, a mysterious super-spy whose pseudonym appears frequently in the correspondence of Washington. 8 Pennypacker felt that his find threw light on the origins of Birch, and he pointed out: two or three similarities between his subject and the hero of Cooper’s novel. For some unexplainable reason, the findings of Pennypacker have been utterly ignored by literary scholars. None of the three full-length biographies of Cooper that have appeared since 193Q has even mentioned Pennypacker’s discovery when discussing The Spy, and his books appear nowhere in the standard bibliographies of American literature. If some of Penny{402}packer’s statements about André and Arnold are without verification, much of his work with the less colorful figures is well documented. 9 What I wish to do in this brief study is to emphasize the value of Pennypacker’s contribution and to develop his passing references to The Spy.

Perhaps the most important of all Washington’s secret sources of military information in New York State during the Revolutionary War was “Samuel Culper.” Actually, this signature endorsed the letters of not one man but two, Abraham Woodhull and Robert Townsend. 10 Although Woodhull distinguished most of his messages by signing them “Samuel Culper, Sr.”, and Townsend his with “Samuel Culper, Jr.”, both used the same pseudonym for many of their first letters. 11 It is indicative, in a sense, of their very close cooperation, for the Culpers usually functioned as a single espionage unit. They were a competent team, well coordinated and precise in their operation. Time and again in the directives to his staff, Washington refers to one or the other of them, and always in a manner that reveals his confidence in their work and personal integrity. Their service to the American high command was not forgotten after the war by those who knew about it, nor were their melodramatic adventures. It could well have been selected features of the Culpers’ story, passed on by John Jay (perhaps in slightly altered form for security reasons), that Cooper used as a basis for his narrative of Harvey Birch.

In the fall of 1778 General Washington directed Major Benjamin Tallmadge, Second Regiment, Light Dragoons, to make arrangements for securing military intelligence in New York State.

This year (1778) I opened a private correspondence with some persons in New York which lasted through the war. How beneficial it was to the Commander-in-Chief is evidenced by his continuing the same to the close of the war. ... My station was in the country of Westchester, and occasionally along the shores of the Sound. 12

{403} Tallmadge was a native of New York, born at Brookhaven, in Suffolk County, Long Island, and it Is not surprising that when he began selecting agents whom he could trust implicitly, he chose many fellow Long Islanders, among them Abraham Woodhull of Setauket and Robert Townsend of Oyster Bay. To quibble that Setauket and Oyster Bay are not in Westchester County would be to labor the obvious while misunderstanding the organization of the secret service. New York City, Westchester County, and the adjacent shore of Long Island — whale boats plied back and forth across the Sound — were all part of the same territorial unit for espionage, and it was this triangle which was placed under the command of Major Tallmadge, alias John Bolton. In this same triangle occurred nearly all of the intrigue that culminated in the execution of Major André and the desertion of Benedict Arnold, and a novel set anywhere within its confines would acquire, quite gratuitously, a romantic glow. That Cooper shifted the scene slightly within this history-laden area to the site of his new home, acquired by marriage into the DeLancey family, is neither surprising nor particularly significant. When John Jay spoke of “Westchester County” he undoubtedly referred to the whole geographical unit of which Westchester County proper formed the principal part.

Of the pre-Revolutionary lives of Woodhull and Townsend we know no more, nor do we need to for our purpose here, than we do of Harvey Birch’s. The correspondence to, from, and about them which is available concerns almost exclusively their wartime experiences. It is known that both before and after the outbreak of hostilities Townsend was a travelling merchandiser, usually buying rather than selling, for the wholesale grocery, clothing and building supplies business of his father Samuel Townsend. Although he was not actually a pack peddler, like Harvey Birch, he was an itinerant merchant, and his position as such struck Washington as a particularly appropriate one for a spy.It is not my opinion that Culper Junr. should be advised to give up his present employment. I should {404} imagine that with a little industry, he will be able to carry on his intelligence with greater security to himself and greater advantage to us under the cover of his usual business, than if he were to dedicate himself wholly to the giving of information. It may afford him opportunities of collecting intelligence that he could not derive so well in any other manner. It prevents also those suspicions which would become natural should he throw himself out of the line of his present employment. 13 hat Washington’s judgment was sound soon became evident, for most of the information Townsend supplied was picked up under the cloak of “business as usual.” Allowing some slight distortion for disguising the facts, then, Birch’s occupation was sufficiently similar to Townsend’s to be noteworthy. Soon after he was engaged for espionage duty, Townsend was stationed in New York City. There he collected news about British shipping, troop movements, and civilian morale, and relayed this to Woodhull, his partner on Long Island. Woodhull was responsible for sending Townsend’s dispatches, along with whatever intelligence of the Island he himself had gathered, across the Sound to Tallmadge, who then conveyed them to Washington, wherever he happened to be at the time. 14 For Townsend’s reports this route was the longer way around the triangle but, relatively, the safer way, for on a north-south line between the city and American Headquarters on the Hudson lay a heavy concentration of British forces. In The Spy the Americans along the river are referred to as “the party above,” and the British as “the party below.” Woodhull’s job was still an extremely dangerous one, however, for if he did not have to pass through regular British military lines, he did have to operate in predominantly Loyalist territory. The pursuit-and-escape theme of The Spy may well have been taken from the adventures of Woodhull and his aides. He was continually being surprised by patrols and foraging parties from British garrisons, 15 and he was in even more danger from the organized banditry {405} licensed by both sides as land-going privateers to prey on enemy civilian supplies. Of the latter, the “Cowboys” were British partisans, and the “Skinners” sympathizers with the Patriots, but comprised largely of floaters and ne’er-do-wells, they served their own interests more often than those of any cause. Seldom did they legalize their depredations by accounting for them to their superiors, and, worse than that, their forays were as frequently on the stores of friendly civilians as on those of their opponents. Freebooters out of control, they were the scourge of the countryside, hated by everyone. Woodhull, in a letter of October 29, 1779, complained to Washington about useless looting of Tory homes by Skinners.Night before last a most horrid robbery was committed on the houses of Coll. Benj. Floyd and Mr. Seton by three whale boats from your shore. ... From the best judgment I can form, they took to the value in money, household goods, Bonds and Notes of three thousand pounds. They left nothing in the house that was portable. ... I cannot put up with such a wanton waste of property, I know they are the enemy’s [sic] to our cause, but yet their property should not go amongst such villains. I beg you would exert yourself and bring them to justice. 16

Tallmadge added to this observation when he forwarded it to headquarters.

With respect to the robbery lately committed at Setauket, as related by C. Senior, I have additional accounts of the same from others. In addition to the crime of plundering the distressed inhabitants of Long Island, the perpetrators of such villainy never bring their goods before any court for tryal and condemnation, but proceed to vend them at option. This species of Privateering ... is attended with such numberless bad consequences, that to a gentleman of your Excellency’s feelings, I am confident I need not state them. ... 17

{406} Besides the British, the Cowboys, and the Skinners, there was still another potential source of danger: the American regulars. Since most of their activity was in British territory, the Culpers and their assistants pretended sympathy with the Tories, a device which could have boomeranged if they had mistaken their auditors, as one of them once did. Since Harvey wears with convincing ease the mask of a British spy, he does not know the Culpers’ terror of detection by the king’s troops, but the Skinners, the Cowboys, and the Continentals harass him in much the same way as they did his models.In The Spy Harvey Birch is beset by Skinners a number of times. Thinking him a royal spy — as far as the world is concerned, he is one — they eventually rob him of all his savings. 18 The Cowboys he manages to elude until nearly the end of the book when a company of them capture him and a stray Skinner. A pass signed by Sir Henry Clinton frees Harvey, but he is ordered to depart promptly and he is threatened with death if he tries to rescue the Skinner, whom they hang. 19 In the Culper story, Woodhull was molested by irregulars, both British and American. Tallmadge reported, on April 21, 1779, an attack on Woodhull apparently made by Skinners.

There are some men on this side of the Sound who conduct most villionously [sic] toward the inhabitants of Long Island by lying on the road and robbing the inhabitants as they pass. C [ulpe] r was the other day robbed of all his money near Huntington, and was glad to escape with his life. 21 he following April Woodhull was growing increasingly fearful of violence from Cowboys. 21 In the novel Skinners loot and burn “The Locusts,” the residence of Harvey’s pro-British friends, the Whartons. 22 In the account of the real-life spy, it was Skinners, according to Woodhull’s letter quoted above, who stole a small fortune in personal property from the home of his Loyalist neighbors, the Floyds. The fire, with the opportunity it created for rescuing trapped maidens, was simply a fictional maneuver by Cooper to further the love plot of his romantic leads and did not occur in {407} the historical episode. Another similarity, perhaps coincidental but certainly worthy of mention, exists between the historical Floyds and their counterparts, the Whartons, at this juncture. In each of these families one member is a British officer held prisoner by the Americans but home when the raid occurs. Henry Wharton, secretly home on furlough, is detected and captured by Continental dragoons who keep him under guard. 23 Benjamin Floyd, although allowed more freedom of movement, was also a prisoner of war. “One of the gentlemen who was plundered was Col. Floyd, who not long since was brot. over a Prisoner, and is now on Parole.” 24

The general attitude of the American regulars toward Harvey is well expressed by Captain Lawton’s command, “Harvey Birch — take him, dead or alive!” 25 Because he feels it is his duty to conceal his identity permanently, even though Washington has issued him a pass for emergencies, it is his lot to be “hunted like a beast in the forest,” as he says. 26 He falls twice into the hands of American dragoons — he was delivered to them once for a reward of £50 — and twice he manages to escape by trickery. Since no one among the Culpers and their assistants ever posed as a royal agent, the ironic situation of having a Patriot mistakenly persecuted by other Patriots did not continually recur. It happened just once when the inexperienced James Townsend, carrying a message for his cousin Robert, overstressed in his anxiety his feigned Tory sympathy. Captured by the ardently American family with whom he was staying at the time, he was delivered to the nearest company of American troops who detained him until his loyalty to their cause was couched f the Commander-in-Chief himself. 27 It must be admitted that where the relationship with the American army is concerned, the analogy between history and fiction is not as close as it is elsewhere.

The Wharton family includes two attractive daughters, Frances and Sarah, and it is they who constitute the female side for the love conflict in the novel. Frances, a Patriot, eventually marries Major Dunwoodie who commands a {408} company of American dragoons. Sarah, like her father and captive brother, is at first a Loyalist, and her affection is directed toward British Colonel Wellmere who stays temporarily at “The Locusts.” Their nuptials are cancelled at the altar, however, when Harvey Birch reveals that Wellmere is already married and that his wife has followed him to America. Sarah, disappointed and distracted, receives little attention after this from the omniscient narrator until the very last chapter of the book, thirty-three years later, when her name is brought up by Captain Wharton Dunwoodie (son of Frances) and his friend, Lieutenant Tom Mason. Her unfortunate affair is alluded to, and then we learn that since the War her hand has been sought, unsuccessfully, each year on Valentine’s Day by Colonel Singleton. The Colonel — he was a Captain during the Revolution — was a secondary figure during the main action of the story, and he is probably employed here as Sarah’s perennial suitor simply for purposes of character economy. The important point is that Sarah indulges a broken heart for the rest of her life, never marrying. 28 It is more than likely that when Cooper drew his picture of Sarah Wharton he had in mind another Sarah. When British officers were quartered in the home of Robert Townsend at Oyster Bay, it was his two lovely sisters, Audrey and Sarah, who kept peace between them and the rest of the family. The more winsome of the two was Sarah Townsend whose charms were so effective that they drew several romantic tributes, scratched permanently on the window panes with a diamond, from the officers. Significantly, the Colonel in charge, John Graves Simcoe, openly declared his esteem in a lengthy Valentine verse, still preserved and always an item of interest among the Townsends and their friends. 29 Simcoe, unmarried at the time, was not; like Wellmere, an attempted bigamist, though in the minds of Long Island Patriots he was even more of a villain, for the foraging parties of his Queen’s Rangers stripped the countryside of its cattle and crops. Like her reincarnation in Cooper’s world, Sarah Townsend, cherishing the memory of her lost Redcoat lover, never married. 31 (A tradition, very strong but not fully substantiated, {409} credits Sarah with supplying Robert with information: she overheard about British plans to capture West Point, information which eventually through Tallmadge’s agents, contributed to the capture of André.) 31 It is difficult to believe that the similarities between the two Sarahs are entirely coincidental.If able spies are such immanently elusive beings that they escape most dangers, their more accessible families are often victimized, especially if they are not protected by the influence of a Sarah Townsend. A number of times in their attempt to capture Harvey, the Patriots keep his home under closest surveillance, much to the discomfort of the elder Birch.

The father of Harvey had been greatly molested in consequence of the suspicious character of the son. But notwithstanding the most minute scrutiny into the conduct of the old man, no fact could be substantiated against him to his injury, and his property was too small to keep alive the zeal of patriots by profession. 32

But the Skinners are not as scrupulous as the regulars. After the American guard is lifted, they invade the house, rob Harvey of his life’s savings, and hasten by their disturbance the death of his ailing father. In the Culper parallel an unsuccessful attempt was made to ambush Woodhull at his home in Setauket, and here, as in the novel, robbery and abuse of the spy’s parent was involved.

On the 24 of April John Wolsey returned from Connecticut, being Paroled ... and lodged information against me before Coll. Simcoe of the Queen’s Rangers, who thinking of finding me at Setauket came down, but happily I set out for N. York the day before his arrival, and to make some compensation for his voige he fell upon my father and plundered him in a most shocking manner. 33 t the war’s end, when he concludes his secret mission, Harvey Birch resolutely refuses to accept from Washington any financial compensation. Serving the Patriot cause has been its own reward. 34 The same idealism may have {410} motivated Culper Junior, for though Woodhull was belatedly remunerated in 1790, there is no evidence that Townsend ever received for his work more than a small amount occasionally to pay part of his living expenses in New York City. 35 He had been promised, among other things, post-war preferment for public office, if he desired it. 36 Townsend was probably one of those referred to by Washington when he made the following note in his account book in 1785: Before these acc [ount] s are finally closed, justice and propriety call upon me to signify that there are persons within the British lines — if they are not dead or removed, who have a claim upon the Public under the strongest assurances of compensation from me for their services in conveying me private intelligence; and which when exhibited I shall think myself in honor bound to pay. Why these claims have not made their appearance ere this ... I know not. — But I have thought it an incumbent duty upon me to bring the matter to view that it may be held in remembrance in case such claims should hereafter appear. G. W ------. n. 37 f it was not idealism that motivated Townsend, the only other logical explanation is that he resolved to preserve forever his anonymity — and such an explanation would not, of course, weaken his resemblance to Harvey Birch.

But granting that mere chance could not have caused so close a parallel in so many instances, one might still object to borrowing by Cooper on the grounds that the Culper drama was not general information until recently. There is reason to think, however, that Cooper was permitted to know a good bit more about his models than he conceded in his preface of 1831, a preface admittedly written in defense and in annoyance at such opportunistic claimants to glory as Enoch Crosby. Cooper was a very intimate friend of the Jay family: he had known them all his life; he and William Jay had been two of the small group of boys in the private academy of the Reverend William Ellison, Rector of St. Peter’s, {411} Albany; he and the Jays were Westchester County neighbors at the time The Spy was written. If old Judge Jay, reminiscing in his retirement about the great war that had passed were to confide some of its secrets to anyone, what more likely recipient could he have selected than James Fenimore Cooper? Nor was John Jay Cooper’s only possible source of data about these Revolutionary figures. Cooper’s wife was first cousin once removed of Mary Floyd who married one of the principals in the Culper story, Major Benjamin Tallmadge himself. Having handled all communications between Washington’s headquarters and the Culpers, Tallmadge knew about them and about their adventures in far greater detail than did even John Jay, and it is not unlikely that whispered tales of these exploits formed a family tradition to which Cooper fell heir when he married Susan DeLancey in 1811. If so, the “in group,” recognizing the carefully veiled parallel, must have enjoyed the novel as a tour de force of disguise equal to any achieved by either its hero or his models.

Even before Pennypacker unmasked the Culpers, the historical account of these men, found in the Washington papers, corresponded closely enough with the fable of The Spy to justify the hypothesis that Cooper was indebted to something more specific than the general body of floating legend about Revolutionary espionage in the Neutral Ground. With the support of the biographical evidence that became available upon identification of Woodhull and Townsend, it is possible to move beyond hypothesis and offer a definite theory that “Samuel Culper” provided Cooper with the prototype of Harvey Birch.


1 “In the discharge of the novel duties which now devolved on him, Mr. [Jay] had occasion to employ an agent whose services differed but little from those of a common spy. ... He was poor, ignorant, so far as the usual instruction was concerned; but cool, shrewd, and fearless by nature. It was his office to learn in what part of the country the agents of the crown were making their efforts to embody men, to repair to the place, enlist, appear zealous in the cause he affected to serve, and otherwise to get possession of as many of the secrets of the enemy as possible. The last he of course communicated to his employer, who took all the means in their power to counteract the plans of the English, and frequently with success.

“It will readily be conceived that a service like this was attended with great personal hazard. In addition to the danger of discovery, there was the daily risk of falling into the hands of the Americans themselves. ... In fact, the agent of Mr. [Jay] was several times arrested by the local authorities; and, in one instance, he was actually condemned by his exasperated countrymen to the gallows. Speedy and private orders to his gaoler alone saved him from an ignominious death. He was permitted to escape; and this seeming, and indeed actual, peril was of great aid in supporting his assumed character among the English. By the Americans in this little sphere, he was denounced as a bold and inveterate Tory. In this manner he continued to serve his country in secret during the early years of the struggle, hourly environed by danger and the constant subject of unmerited opprobrium.

“In the year 1779 Mr. [Jay] was named to a high and honorable employment at a European court. Before vacating his seat in Congress, he reported to that body an outline of the circumstances related, necessarily suppressing the name of his agent, and demanding an appropriation in behalf of a man who had been of so much use, at so great a risk. A suitable sum was voted, and its delivery was confided to the chairman of the secret committee.

“Mr. [Jay] took the necessary means to summon his agent to a personal interview. They met in a wood at midnight. Here Mr. [Jay] complimented his companion on his fidelity and adroitness; explained the necessity of their communications being closed; and finally tendered the money. The other drew back, and declined receiving it. ‘The company has need of all its means,’ he said; ‘as for myself, I can work, or gain a livelihood in various ways.’ Persuasion was useless, for patriotism was uppermost in the heart of this remarkable individual; and Mr. [Jay] departed, bearing with him the gold he had brought, and a deep respect for the man who had so long hazarded his life, unrequited, for the cause they served in common.” — The Spy (New York, 1859), pp. vii-ix.

Although Cooper does not name his informant, it was clearly John Jay. Susan Cooper corroborates this in “Small Family Memories” in Correspondence of James Fenimore Cooper (New Haven, 1922), p. 43.

2 The Spy, p. x.

3 H. L. Barnum, The Spy Unmasked; or, Memoirs of Enoch Crosby, Alias Harvey Birch, the Hero of Mr. Cooper’s Tale of the Neutral Ground ... (New York, 1828), p. 55. See also George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage (New York, 1928), II, 446.

4 James Grossman, James Fenimore Cooper (New York, 1949), p. 26n.

5 See Frederic Shonnard and Walter W. Spooner, A History of Westchester County (New York, 1900), p. 420; Robert Bolton, History of the County of Westchester (New York, 1905), vol. I, p. 75; also, in Cornell University Folklore Archives studies by Betsey Eisele (1948) and Elane Hinsey (1949).

6 “The Identity of Harvey Birch,” AL II (May, 1930), 111-120.

7 See James S. Diemer, “A Model for Harvey Birch,” AL XXVI (May, 1954), 242-247. 8 The Two Spies, Nathan Hale and Robert Townsend (Boston, 193O); this work was expanded to include more correspondence and reappeared as General Washington’s spies on Long Island and in New York (Brooklyn, 1939. It is to the second and more complete study that reference is made in this article.

9 See Thomas Robson Hay’s favorable review of General Washington’s Spies in Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXVII (June, 1940), 132-133.

10 Pennypacker, General Washington’s Spies, passim; Carl Van Doren, Secret History of the American Revolution (New York, 1941), p. 238.

11 The Papers of George Washington: Letters to Washington (Library of Congress), especially vols. XXIX to XXXIV.

12 Memoirs of Col. Benjamin Tallmadge Prepared by Himself at the Request of His Children (New York, 1858), pp. 49-50.

13 Letter to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, Headquarters, West Point, September 24, 1739, in The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799: Prepared under the Direction of the United States George Washington Bicentennial Commission , ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington, 1931-44), vol. XVI, pp. 330-331.

14 “C ------. Senior’s Station to be upon Long Island to receive and transmit the intelligence of C ------. Junr. ... ” ------ Washington, Writings, vol. XVI, p. 466. Perhaps the most notable of his assistants in this work was Caleb Brewster, ” ... wounded in December, 1782, in an encounter with British armed boats on Long Island Sound. Captain-Lieutenant Brewster received and conveyed intelligence from the Culpers to Major Tallmadge,” ------ Washington, Writings, veal. XXIV, p. 319n. Prior to this, Brewster bad been a security officer in this part of the state. See Minutes of the First Commission for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York December I776-September 1778 , Studies of the New York Historical Society (New York, 1924) XLVII, 154-155.

15 See, in the Washington Papers, his letters of October 31, 1778 (Letters, XXVIII, 285, August 12, 1779 (Letters, XXXIV, 12), August 15, 1779 (Letters, XXXIV, 17), November 13, 1779 (Letters, XXXIV, 271), December 12, 1779 (Letters, XXXIV, 359).

16 Washington Papers, Letters, XXXIV, 148. The numerous Floyd family of Long Island was split by the Revolution. Benjamin Floyd, a Loyalist, was distantly related to the William Floyd who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

17 Washington Papers, Letters, XXXIV, 158.

18 The Spy, pp. 149-150.

19 Ibid., p. 72.

20 Washington Papers, Letters, XXXI, 370.

21 See his anxious letter of April 5, 1780, Washington Papers, Miscellaneous (arranged chronologically).

22 The Spy, pp. 301-306.

23 Ibid., p. 72.

24 Washington Papers, Letters, XXXIV, 158.

25 The Spy, p. 131.

26 Ibid.

27 See the letter of March 23, 1780, to Washington from John Deausenberry reporting James Townsend’s supposed affiliation with the British. ------ Washington Papers, Letters, XXXVI, 240.

28 The Spy, Chapters XXII and XXXV, passim.

29 For a brief account of Simcoe’s flirtation with Sarah, see James Flexner, The Traitor and The Spy (New York, 1955), pp. 269-270; Simcoe’s Valentine verse has been reported in Pennypacker’s Washington’s Spies, p. 282.

30 Flexner, op. cit., p. 269.

31 Pennypacker, op. cit., pp. 113-116; New York Sunday Times, February 24, 1952, p. 47; Flexner, op. cit., p. 415.

32 The Spy, p. 142.

33 Letter of June 5, 1779, from Woodhull to Washington. ------ Washington Papers, Letters, XXXIII, 203.

34 The Spy, pp. 451-454. 35 Pennypacker, Washington’s Spies, p. 98.

36 See Washington’s letter of September 16, 1780, to Tallmadge. ------ Washington Papers, Series B, XXI, pt. 1, 577.

37 George Washington, Accounts, George Washington with The United States, Commencing June, 2775, end Ending June 1783, Comprehending a Space of 8 Years (New York, 1833), p. 50.

* Dr. Walker, Professor of English and Chairman of the Humanities Division, Blackburn College, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Folklore Society, holds his doctorate from Cornell University and will be remembered for a paper on “Elements of Folk Culture in Cooper’s Novels” delivered at the Cooper centennial meeting of the Association at Cooperstown in 1951.