Friday, October 24, 2014

Espionage & The American Revolution : one Long Island woman's story

Anna Smith Strong, known by her friends as Nancy, appeared to be another Tory sympathizer living in Setauket, Long Island during the American Revolution. In fact she was an American patriot.

Although not a member of Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, she devised a method of signaling the American spies so they knew when it was safe to cross the Long Island Sound and get information to George Washington. 

How? She used her clothesline. Nancy would hang a black petticoat out to dry on the line to indicate that Caleb Brewster, an American spy, was waiting on the Long Island shoreline to take information back to General Washington in Connecticut.  Along with her black petticoat were white handkerchiefs. The number of handkerchiefs indicated which predetermined spot Brewster waited. 

Nancy was married to Selah Strong, a local judge who was later arrested for surreptitious communication with the enemy (meaning the American loyalists). He was taken to a prison hulk called the Jersey in New York Harbor, where hunger and disease were rampant. But Nancy, using her cunning, urged some of her Tory relatives, loyal to the King, to gain permission to visit him. She brought him food and later helped to gain his release so that he could flee to Connecticut. She remained in Setauket. It was until many years later that others learned of her role in aiding the Culper Spy Rig.

No comments:

Post a Comment