Nathan Hale, the Culper Ring, & the Setauket Ring


Included here:

1. Nathan Hale

2. Benjamin Tallmadge

3. The Culper and Setauket Rings

1. Nathan Hale

See "Nathan Hale's One Life" at the Huachuca History Program under "Masters of the Intelligence Art": http://huachuca-www.army.mil/files/History_MHALE.PDF.

Bass, Streeter. "Nathan Hale's Mission." Studies in Intelligence 17, no. 4 (Winter 1973): 67-74.

It is ironic that the fact that we know Hale's story "at all is due solely to the presence at his execution of one British officer who was sufficiently sensitive to his demeanor and impressed by the character of his motivation to have ... heard what he said on the gallows, and to have passed it on to his friends." The author suggests that Cory Ford's A Peculiar Service (1965) is probably the best reconstruction of Hale's largely unknown movements on his mission.

Ford, Corey. A Peculiar Service: A Narrative of Espionage in and Around New York during the American Revolution. Boston: Little, Brown, 1965.

Constantinides: This work covers "the cases of Nathan Hale, Major André, and Benedict Arnold and the work of the Culper Ring"; therefore, it is not a complete history of U.S. intelligence during the Revolutionary War.

Hagman, Harlan L. Nathan Hale and John André: Reluctant Heroes of the American Revolution. Interlaken, NY: Empire State Books, 1992.

Lossing, Benson J. The Two Spies: Nathan Hale and John André. New York: Appleton, 1904. [Petersen]

Pennypacker, Morton. The Two Spies: Nathan Hale and Robert Townsend. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1930.

The author uses handwriting analysis to identify Townsend as the agent "Samuel Culper, Jr."

Phelps, M. William. Nathan Hale: The Life and Death of America's First Spy. New York: St. Martin's, 2008.

Peake, Studies 53.4 (Dec. 2009) and Intelligencer 54.1 (Winter-Spring 2010), says that the author "has formed a more complete account in one book than any other of Hale's life.... His treatment of the espionage mission dismisses claims that Hale was captured in New York City and presents a well-documented account of the circumstances that led to his capture just before he was due to return to his unit after having acquired the intelligence he set out to collect."

2. Benjamin Tallmadge

Tallmadge was a Continental Army officer who in 1778 recruited Abraham Woodhall of Setauket and thereby established the Culper Spy Ring. He ran the Culper ring until the end of the war.

Hall, Charles S. Benjamin Tallmadge: Revolutionary Soldier and American Businessman. New York: Columbia University Press, 1943.

Constantinides notes that this work does not "add any new material" on Tallmadge's role in the New York network or on the Arnold-André case.

Johnston, Henry P., ed. Memoir of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge. New York: The Society of Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York, 1904.

Pennypacker, Morton.

1. General Washington's Spies on Long Island and in New York. Brooklyn, NY: Long Island Historical Society, 1939.

Constantinides notes that this work is based on correspondence between George Washington and Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge, who ran the Culper ring. There is a great deal here on clandestine operations of the time. Washington's "flair for and use of deception based on reliable intelligence are well brought out and illustrated."

2. General Washington's Spies on Long Island and in New York. Vol. 2. Supp. East Hampton, NY: Pennypacker Long Island Collection, East Hampton Free Library, 1948.

This is a slim (42 pages) addition to the materials and story presented by the author in his 1939 publication (see above).

Tallmadge, Benjamin. Memoir of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge. New York: Thomas Holman, 1858. [Reprinted] New York: New York Times, 1967.

3. The Culper Ring & the Setauket Ring

Currie, Catherin. Anna Smith Strong and the Setauket Spy Ring. Port Jefferson Station, NY: C.W. Currie, 1992.

Surveillant 3.4/5: "Biography of New York State Spies in Setauket. Anna Smith Strong was born in 1740 and worked as a spy in the American Revolution."

Groh, Lynn. The Culper Spy Ring. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1969. [Petersen]

Kilmeade, Brian, and Don Yaeger. George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution. New York: Penguin, 2013.

For Peake, Studies 58.2 (Jun. 2014), the use of "imaginary dialogue between principals" may make this book on the Culper Ring "easy reading" but it also makes "troubling history." The reviewer's conclusion: "[T]his is Revolutionary War history lite. Read with care." Goulden, Washington Times, 3 Dec. 2013, and Intelligencer 20.2 (Fall-Winter 2013), points to two "major problems": "long stretches of [fictional] dialogue" and "the authors' mind reading at the distance of two centuries."

Pennypacker, Morton. The Two Spies: Nathan Hale and Robert Townsend. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1930.

The author uses handwriting analysis to identify Townsend as the agent "Samuel Culper, Jr."

Rose, Alexander. Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring. New York: Bantam, 2006.

According to Peake, Studies 51.1 (Mar. 2007), the main topic of this book is the Culper Ring. The author's "documentation is exemplary," and the book "is well written, eminently readable and the best account of the Culper Ring to date." Zeman, I&NS 22.3 (Jun. 2007), finds that "[a]ll the elements of a great cloak-and-dagger story are present" in this "most interesting and engaging" book. The author "gives a comprehensive overview" of the Culper Ring.

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[1. Image from: https://www.cia.gov/cia/ciakids/history/nathan.html]