G. Washington, and spying.

Discussion in 'Revolutionary War' started by Basecat, Feb 28, 2007.

  1. Basecat

    Basecat New Member

    Was reading a edition of the Time Life CW Series on Spies and such, and came across an item on G. Washington, that I did not know.  During the campaign here in the NYC area, he paid out $17,000 to spies to get info. on what the British were doing in the City, and that information turned up the real truth of Benedict Arnold. 

    $17,000 back then was a lot of money, and while no math scholar, I'd imagine in today's funds that would be some huge coinage he forked over.  Not to fret for G.Washington though, as he was reimbursed, and no truth to the thought I had was that he was paid in Quarters. :)

    Hope all are well.

    Regards from the Garden State,

    Steve Basic
  2. markpeters

    markpeters New Member


    I don't understand that. ??? I believed that Washington only became aware of Arnold's correspondence, with Clinton, at the time of Andre's capture. Indeed, the Nathan Hale episode only confirms Washington's weakness at gaining information from New York.

    I hope you can shed some light on my confusion. 8)

    Best wishes,

  3. Basecat

    Basecat New Member


    I should have clarified it more succinctly. You are most correct that he came across that stuff about Arnold when Andre was captured. Gist of my post was that I had no clue he spent that kind of money for spying. By paying the amount, that led to his knowledge of what Arnold was doing. And you are right about Hale as well, as he was a better martyr for the cause than he was as a spy for the cause.

    Regards from the Garden State,

  4. markpeters

    markpeters New Member


    Thanks for the clarification.

    Like you, I think the sum quoted is remarkable for it's time. In my mind it raises the question; why was this necessary. I suppose that there are three, or possibly four, answers.

    1) Washington was inept at setting up a spy network.
    2) New York, despite the hardship, remained pretty much loyal to the Crown.
    3) The British held good positions around the city, preventing the flow of information in and out of the city.
    4) Elements of some/all of the above.

    I'd agree about Hale's effectiveness. It is perhaps unfortunate that the execution was handed over to Cunningham, as Hale's treatment, in my opinion, led to the treatment of Andre on his later capture.

    Best wishes,

  5. AmandaLynn

    AmandaLynn New Member

    Washington was anything but inept at running a spy ring once the war got underway.  ;) Unfortunately his initial attempts were a bit hasty and resulted in the death of Nathan Hale. And unfortunately Hale's treatment did have an impact on the way Major Andre was treated.


    Indeed, that $17,000 was an amazing sum of money for the day! I would imagine that a good portion of it also went toward "hush money" and bribes.

  6. Maryland Line

    Maryland Line New Member

    There is a book on this. It was informative but a real snoozer. I'm a huge Washington fan so I pushed through and made myself finish. If you can deal with the boredom(it's a serious talent to make historical spy book boring), then give it a read.
    I can't remember which book I read that included a bit about Hale, but it seem to put the blame on Hale, not Washington. Hale blabbed about his assignment and got busted.
  7. Going back to the original topic of the amount of money spent by Washington to pay spies, it costs a lot of money to make the risk worth it to potential informants. There's only so much information that can be gained without getting someone's eyes to bug out at the amount of money you'll pay to have them turn up something for you.
  8. Alexander

    Alexander Member

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