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Lecture: Spies, Lies and Alibis: Spies & Their Tradecraft in NJ

Sunday, November 12, 2017 at 1 PM – 2:30 PM

Damien Cregeau, a recognized authority of the colonial and revolutionary war, will join us at Dey Mansion for our last lecture of 2017! He will talk about "Spies. Lies, and Alibis: Spies and Their Tradecraft in New Jersey During the Revolutionary War."

George Washington, known as Agent 711, is often heralded as a great "spymaster," and indeed, he was. In November 1778, he charged Major Benjamin Tallmadge with creating a spy ring in New York City, the site of British headquarters. Thereupon, Tallmadge created what came to be called the Culper Spy Ring, recruiting friends to work as his informants. On Washington's watch, several networks of spies were established. The undercover agents were merchants, tailors, farmers, and other ordinary citizens with ordinary jobs. Mr. Cregeau will provide an overview of the spy rings that operated in New Jersey. He'll discuss the Dayton Ring, the influence of the Culper Ring on New Jersey operations, and the roles played by Alexander Hamilton and Lord Stirling.

He'll describe the British agents operating in New Jersey, the couriers and decoders for Benedict Arnold's correspondence with John Andre, and Loyalist spy operations involving Royal Governor William Franklin. Washington is credited with developing numerous innovative military intelligence practices. He was fond of spreading disinformation. He'd send false messages about military movements, via regular post to insure they'd be intercepted. He pioneered new tools for the spy trade.

The tools and tactics his spies employed used a variety of methods to maintain secrecy and communicate intelligence. They included distinctive code names, ciphers, book codes, locations of "dead drops," clothesline codes and ordinary propaganda. His spies used ciphers (a "Z" might replace an "A"); invisible ink where the message could only be discerned by treating the letter with heat or a chemical substance; the use of mask letters (the recipient places a shaped template over the full letter, the message appearing in the openings of the "mask").

So much to learn on November 12th! Please join us! The program includes a tour of the Dey Mansion and light refreshments will be served.

For more information and reservations please contact us at 973-696-1776 or

Due to limited space, reservations are preferred. Walk-ins are accepted, but are not guaranteed.

Presented Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders & Department of Cultural and Historic Affairs