1790 portrait of Major Benjamin Tallmadge with his son William, via Wikipedia.

Agent 355 was a special code name during the American Revolution for an unknown female spy. Although there are well-known spies, Agent 355 was part of the Culper Ring spy network, a Long Island intelligence network. The Culper Spy Network was formed in 1778 with the help of Major Benjamin Tallmadge, the director of Washington’s military intelligence. The 355 in the name Agent 355 was meant to mean “lady,” identifying this specific spy as a woman. She was most likely recruited by Abraham Woodhull who had been recruited by Major Tallmadge to help him gather intelligence in Manhattan. Agent 355 is identified as living in New York. Her work from there evolved into an important role in the American Revolution, helping George Washington win the war in the end.  

A likely woman who could have been Agent 355 might have been Anna Strong, who was Woodhull’s neighbor. Other likely women who could have been Agent 355 were Sarah Horton Townsend or Elizabeth Burgin. While her identity is not fully known, working as a spy was her goal to help the American cause for independence. During the revolution, Agent 355 was arrested in 1780 and was held on a ship named Jersey. Though Agent 355 may be a myth or real, it comes from a surviving letter from the Culper Spy Network referencing a woman. The letter from Woodhull to George Washington helps to uncover the “lady” of the spy network. 

Besides Agent 355, women spies served an important role in the American Revolution. Their roles as cooks, cleaners, nurses, and camp followers helped to secure women spies an advantage in the intelligence network. George Washington recognized the role women could play as spies given their unassuming nature of involvement. Women spies proved to be a valuable asset in winning the war. 

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