Author Topic: Women's History Month 2021 - Agent 355  (Read 104 times)

Offline Mrs. Smith

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Women's History Month 2021 - Agent 355
« on: March 17, 2021, 07:49:36 PM »
Good morning and welcome back to Project Appleseed's Women's History Month series on Revolutionary War Heroines! This week we are remembering a mysterious spy.

During the Revolutionary War, women were recruited as cooks and maids.  Most of these women were considered to be innocent and non-threatening, and therefore were able to easily eavesdrop on soldiers’ conversations and provide the critical intelligence they gathered to military and civilian leaders.  More and more records are beginning to surface that suggest something of what these “patriots in petticoats” endured and contributed to the American Revolution.  One of these patriots is known as only Agent 355.

So, who was Agent 355?  No one knows – she was so good at hiding her identity, that still to this day, no one knows for sure who she was. She is even held up in modern intelligence circles as an example of a perfectly maintained cover.   What we DO know is that George Washington relied heavily upon Agent 355 for she was known to deliver timely and accurate information.  In fact, she is known to have assisted in exposing Benedict Arnold’s treasonous role in the surrender of West Point and neighboring military outposts as well as the arrest and hanging of Major John Andrés. 

Agent 355 was a member of a spy ring known as the Culper Ring – they used a secret code written in invisible ink to send messages.  They would write a seemingly ordinary letter, and in between the lines write their invisible message which could be later recovered by applying heat or chemicals.  Could this practice be where we got the saying “read between the lines?”  “355” was the Culper code for Lady, thus the name Agent 355. 

One known member of the Culper Spy Ring was a woman by the name of Anna Strong.  She used her laundry line to send coded messages to other members of the spy ring.  For instance, she would hang a certain combination of petticoats and handkerchiefs, notifying spy ring members that a message was for delivery.  Was she agent 355?  Some historians think so.  Others believe that Agent 355 was the common-law wife of one of the principal agents for the Culper Ring and was captured, birthed a son, and died aboard a prison ship. 

We will probably never know for sure which perspective is correct, but what we do know is that Agent 355, and other women like her, fought for freedom in dangerous and creative ways.  There were many unsung heroes of the American Revolution.  Without them and their courageous acts, America might never have gained her freedom.

Women’s Museum of California: https://womensmuseum.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/agent-unknown/

History of American Women: https://www.womenhistoryblog.com/2011/12/agent-355.html

Ross, Tara. 2019. She Fought, Too, Stories of Revolutionary War Heroines. Dallas, TX: Colonial Press, L.P.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2021, 09:18:33 PM by Mrs. Smith »
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Offline Black Knight

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Re: Women's History Month 2021 - Agent 355
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2021, 01:28:24 AM »
Right on, Mrs. Smith!!  Keep 'em coming! ^:)^ ^:)^
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