Agent 355

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Agent 355 was the code name of a female spy during the American Revolution, part of the Culper Ring. Her real identity is unknown.

Career[edit]

The only direct reference to Agent 355 in any of the Culper Ring's missives was from Abraham Woodhull ("Samuel Culper Sr."), to General George Washington in 1778. Little is known for sure about this mysterious lady, but speculation abounds. What is known is that she was located in New York and at some point had contact with Major John Andre and Benedict Arnold. She is thought to have played a major role in exposing Arnold and the arrest of Andre.[1] It is believed that 355 was a member of a prominent Loyalist family and within easy reach of British commanders.[2] When Andre was in New York, the Culpers' information came fast and furious but, when he was in the southern colonies with Henry Clinton, the information slowed considerably. At this point, Washington complained that the Culpers were a waste of money. This leads historians to believe that 355 was one of the flock of females that surrounded Major Andre.[citation needed]

The identity of the woman known solely as 355 has yet to be discovered. However, several theories have been developed, ranging from claims that 355 must have been the already-known Anna Strong to hypotheses about other relations of identified ring members. Others say that she did not really exist, that 355 was simply just a lady of acquaintance to Abraham Woodhull who was mentioned in passing and really no help to the Culpers at all. However, John Burke and Andrea Meyer have made a case for 355's involvement in the spy ring using circumstantial evidence. Their hypothesis is that 355 was a separate female agent and a great asset to the American bid for independence.[3]

Death[edit]

Agent 355 is believed to have been captured by the British and imprisoned on a ship, the New Jersey. She is rumored to have given birth to a boy while in captivity. Some speculate that Robert Townsend was the boy's father and that she named her son after him. She later died on the prison ship.[4][5]

In popular culture[edit]

Agent 355 has become a part of popular fiction, being cited in Y: The Last Man from Vertigo Comics as an inspiration for a modern spy also called 355, and being included in Assassins Creed 3's in-game database of historical facts, in which her information was critical in helping the protagonist in discovering the British plot to capture.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ [1], McCarthy, Linda. "355." Clandestine Women: The Untold Stories of Women in Espionage. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. National Women's History Museum. 2002. Web.
  2. ^ Intelligence in the War of Independence > Personalities. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.
  3. ^ John A. Burke and Andrea Meyer, "Spies of the Revolution," New York State Archives Magazine, Fall 2009, Vol. 9, no. 2.
  4. ^ [2], Jacobs, David W. "Who Was Agent 355? (Am Rev)." History News Network. N.p., 21 Nov. 2006. Web.
  5. ^ [3], McCarthy, Linda. "355." Clandestine Women: The Untold Stories of Women in Espionage. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. National Women's History Museum. 2002. Web.

Bibliography[edit]