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Spies in the American Revolution

The Continental Army didn't fight the war alone: they received information, supplies, and men from allies across the globe. France offered its navy, Spain fought in the southern colonies, and different Native American groups assisted battalions, hoping their alliances would help preserve land and resources in the future. Scroll to learn more about these alliances, and how they changed the outcome of the war. 

James Armistead Lafayette

James Armistead Lafayette was an enslaved individual who spied for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He was a double agent, which meant the British thought Lafayette was spying for the British. Instead, he would take the British secret information and give it to the Continental side.

Learn more about Lafayette

Benjamin Tallmadge

Benjamin Tallmadge was a member of the Culper Spy Ring, a group that gathered intelligence for the Continental Army. He discovered a British plot to stop Continental and French troops from arriving in Rhode Island in 1780 and quickly told George Washington, who changed the plans.

Learn about Tallmadge

The Culper Spy Ring

The Culper Spy Ring was a secret group of people who learned information for the Continental Army. They wrote letters and used code and invisible ink to make sure the British could not read the messages they sent to one another.

Learn more about the Culper Spy Ring

Invisible Ink: Benjamin Thompson to an Unknown Recipient

This letter contains an example of the invisible ink that Washington and other spies used in the American Revolution.

What's the Message?

The Cardan System

This letter uses a "mask," or cipher. It reads like a normal letter, but the true message is hidden in a certain part. The reader would put the "mask" over the letter to reveal its true meaning.

What does it say?

The Culper Code Book

The Culper Spy Ring used secret codes to communicate to one another. They often used numbers, symbols, and abbreviations in place of words so ordinary people - and British leaders - wouldn't understand the message.

Decode the book