J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

Subscribe thru Follow.it


Saturday, January 29, 2011

“Washington’s First Spy Ring” in Cambridge, 17 March

To finish off this week of postings about events at the mansion now officially called Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking there on 17 March, to commemorate the British evacuation that ended the siege of Boston.

My talk will be titled “Washington’s First Spy Ring.” I’ll tell various stories about Gen. George Washington’s intelligence and counterintelligence efforts during his first months as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Those tales include:

  • intelligence reports passed on by Col. Loammi Baldwin in Chelsea.
  • the discovery of Dr. Benjamin Church as a British spy.
  • [for the first time anywhere!] the name and subsequent career of the deserter who brought Washington plans of the British fortifications in July 1775.
Depending on time and what I discover between now and then, I may also tackle such questions as: How did intelligence from New Hampshire lead to the Battle of Bunker Hill? Did Henry Knox’s military career rest on his untold activities as a spy? And why did one of the cipher experts who helped unmask Church take a horse from Washington’s stable?

My talk is scheduled to begin at 6:00 P.M. It’s free, but because of limited seating, the site asks people to make reservations by phone or through this webpage.


John L. Smith said...

J.L. - your topic is so interesting, I've registered for this event and will be coming from Florida to hear you. I've been to the house last year in April, but it wasn't open yet for the season, so I'm looking forward very much to this. I've studied Knox very much and would like to hear about his spying time - was that while he had his pre-war book-store open to both loyalists and suspected insurgents as Revere? This will be great! :)

J. L. Bell said...

Way to increase the pressure, John L.!

Yes, the period in which Knox might have been passing intelligence to the Patriots was while running his London Bookshop and being married to Lucy Flucker, daughter of the royally appointed Secretary of Massachusetts.

Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters N.H.S. will have free tours that afternoon on the hours. I’m also moderating a panel at Old South Meeting House in the middle of the day; announcement to come.

Todd Andrlik said...

Any plans to create a video or audio podcast of your talk? As much as I'd love to be in the audience, I don't think I'll be able to make it.

J. L. Bell said...

This venue doesn’t really have an infrastructure for recording, but I’ll be drawing from a study that will be in the public domain when I finally finish.

Johnny Monsarrat said...

I'll be featuring this in Events INSIDER, the most popular blog in New England! Please put me on your mailing list so I can write more about your other historical lectures and re-enactment events. Just click "Contact"