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Benjamin Tallmadge Autographed Signed Letter: July 8, 1781

Collection Number
SC 381

OCLC Number

Benjamin Tallmadge, 1754-1835

Acquired by purchase in 2003.

Extent,Scope, and Content Note 
This original manuscript letter was authored and signed by Benjamin Tallmadge on July 8, 1781. Written from Wethersfield, Connecticut, it is directed to Colonel John Broome (1738-1810) and signed "Benj Tallmadge." The scope is the delivery of goods for the Second Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons, also known as Tallmadge's Dragoons.
1 leaf, 14 cm. x 21 cm.

Arrangement and Processing Note
The letter is housed in frame with a copy of a portrait of Tallmadge (1790)  by Ralph Earle and the "Dragoon" head and shoulders pencil sketch of Tallmadge by Colonel John Trumbull.
Processed by Kristen J. Nyitray in August 2004. Finding aid updated in April 2019.

Special Note: This letter can be viewed online at:


Restrictions on Access

The collection is open to researchers without restriction.

Rights and Permissions 

Stony Brook University Libraries' consent to access as the physical owner of the collection does not address copyright issues that may affect publication rights. It is the sole responsibility of the user of Special Collections and University Archives materials to investigate the copyright status of any given work and to seek and obtain permission where needed prior to publication.

Benjamin Tallmadge Autographed Signed Letter, July 8, 1781, Special Collections and University Archives, Stony Brook University Libraries.

Historical Note   
Benjamin Tallmadge (1754-1835) acted as principal director of George Washington's secret service from 1778-1783, after the death of Nathan Hale. He won distinction as a field officer, notably at the capture of Fort St. George, Long Island, in 1780. With his leadership, Washington was able to create a strong and successful chain of spies throughout the New York area, beginning the secret service in America. These agents, primarily the Culper Spy Ring, gathered information for Washington, which greatly aided in winning the war.

Tallmadge was born in Setauket, Long Island. He was extremely bright and attended Yale University at the age of fifteen. He embarked on a career in education and soon became a headmaster of a school in Wethersfield, CT. When war broke out, Tallmadge became interested and decided to join. He began his army career as 1st lieutenant in Colonel John Chester's Regiment of Wadsworth's Connecticut Brigade, and eventually rose up the ladder to become Brigade Major and then captain of a troop in the 2nd Continental Light Dragoon Regiment. In the summer of 1778, his dragoons were assigned under Brigadier General Charles Scott, who was Washington's intelligence chief. Tallmadge's new job was to recruit intelligence sources throughout the Connecticut and New York area. He contacted old friends from Long Island and New York City, gradually forming the Culper ring. When Charles Scott had to go home because of family problems in the fall of 1778, Tallmadge was promoted once again and began to report directly to Washington.

Tallmadge is now remembered as one of the founders of the first organized espionage operations in America. He developed a numerical substitution code that effectively withstood British attempts to decipher it. After his successful career during the war, he was elected to Congress, where he served eight terms. (Biographical source: Spy Letters of the American Revolution from the Collections of the Clements Library)

Tallmadge, Benjamin, -- 1754-1835.
Tallmadge, Benjamin, -- 1754-1835 -- Correspondence.
United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Sources.
Long Island (N.Y.) -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Sources.
New York (State) -- Long Island.
United States.
Broome, John, -- 1738-1810.