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Spy Tactics Of The American Revolution

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During the American Revolution both the British and the Americans used spy tactics to help boost their side. America had overall more people working on their side than the British and the success of the American spied was a major reason that the colonies won the revolution.. The British also had many tactics and ways to get information from the colonies but they were also good at confusing the Americian army with the wrong information. Overall, American spy tactics were better during the revolution than British spy tactics.

During the revolution, there were many ways that Americans got information. “Spycraft during the American Revolution consisted of a complicated system of hidden networks, interpersonal relationships, scientific knowledge, personal cunning, guile and risk taking” (“Spy Techniques of the Revolutionary War”). Many different techniques were used in order to make if more complicated and harder for the British to figure out. The Culper spy ring was the most successful of the spy tactics. The code that they would use would be all numbers, every word would be given a number, names, places and very ordinary words would have a number. When the letter got to its destination it was decoded using a code sheet. If this fell into the British they would not be able to crack the code because they did not know what the numbers meant.

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Having the Culper spy ring helped Washington send information to his other troops and members of the army, but when it came to getting information it was a hit or miss. British troops would make fake letters and hope that they would get intercepted by the Americans to throw them off and make them believe something else would be happening. British would also hide letters in hidden pockets or little silver balls but that did not work very well and those letters were mostly found and taken to washington. The British had tactics that helped them during the revolution but overall, the American army made better use of their resources and it helped fuel them in the revolution.

America also used women as spies which made a big impact considering that women were thought as useless during the revolution. When men in the army were around women they would openly talk about stop secrete things knowing that the women can not doing anything, little did they know that some of the woman who housed British soldiers were spies for the American army and would report back to the Contential Army and report what they heard. There were many women who were very successful in getting information and actually “women spies were more successful and better at hiding than their male counterparts” (Howat). One women Anna Smith Strong would hang clothes on a clothesline in her backyard and the order and colors of the items would mean different things. Nobody would suspect that clothes drying would mean anything. Lydia Barrington Darragh also helped by spying on the British that were being quartered in her house. She would bring them drinks or put wood on the fire and overhear what the British were talking about, she then would report to a patriot soldier and he would report to higher authority. The women who were American spies were rarely caught and made tremendous contributions to the American army.

In conclusion, the Americans were more successful as spies than the British. They used their recourses and were able to successfully get British information to help them prepare for the future. The British tactics had some success but the American army overall had more success.

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Spy Tactics Of The American Revolution. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from
“Spy Tactics Of The American Revolution.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
Spy Tactics Of The American Revolution. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2023].
Spy Tactics Of The American Revolution [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Nov 29]. Available from:
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