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The mystery that shrouds Agent 355

by Sarah Morris - Copy Editor
Tue, Apr 3rd 2018 10:00 pm

From 1778 to 1780, a clandestine group of spies, who referred to themselves as the Culper Spy Ring. The group operated in an intricate network from then-British-occupied New York City, Setauket and Newburgh. 

The spies worked and gathered intel from the British, who the United States were fighting against in the Revolutionary War and sent the information to then-President George Washington. They used a set of codes only the Culper Spy Ring could decode. One of the female spies in Washington’s Culper Spy Ring went by the alias Agent 355 and her identity still remains unknown to today.

No one is really sure what kind of life 355 lived or where she came from, but some believe she was an elite woman from the New York society. 

This would explain why she was able to be taken seriously and able to enter the Culper Spy Ring. Speculation is that she was able to get information sent to Washington by flirting with British men.

Other conspiracies suggest that she was a maid who was able to get the information by eavesdropping on conversations between British soldiers. She also had several opportunities to go through their bags or paperwork and gather intel that way.

Agent 355 is credited for passing along critical information that led to the exposition of the famous American traitor, Benedict Arnold. She also assisted in the arrest of John Andre, who helped Arnold attempt the surrender of the army fort, West Point, in New York.

Rumor has it that her and Robert Townsend, the head of the Culper Spy Rings, were married and that she soon got impregnated. Though it is not confirmed that it was her, a pregnant female spy was captured and incarcerated on a prison ship, HMS Jersey, and delivered the child on board. The woman died during childbirth and traced her lineage through Robert Townsend Jr., her son.

The story of Agent 355 was adopted by DC Comics and turned into a comic book series along with the rest of the Culper Spy Ring. 

 

smorr11@u.brockport.edu