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The Culper Ring was a spy ring organized by Benjamin Tallmadge under the orders of General George Washington in the summer of 1778. The Ring’s task was to send messages to General George Washington about the goings-on of the British. The Ring conducted covert operations until the end of the American Revolutionary War, though its heyday was between 1778 and 1781.
After the battle of Monmouth in late June of 1778, British forces under General Sir Henry Clinton retreated to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. From there, they took ship for New York City, which they had already occupied for almost two years (since General Washington’s defeat at the Battle of Fort Washington in September 1776). General Washington was well aware of the need for good intelligence and he asked one of his officers, Major Benjamin Tallmadge, to recruit people who could be trusted to collect it in New York City.
Tallmadge enlisted the services of Abraham Woodhull, a farmer from Setauket (a village on Long Island’s north coast), Robert Townsend, a merchant in Manhattan who agreed to supply much of the information, and a Setauket tavern keeper named Austin Roe who served as the courier. (Jonas Hawkins also served in this role for a short time.) Once Townsend’s reports reached Setauket, whaleboatman Caleb Brewster and his men ferried it across Long Island Sound where Tallmadge’s dragoons were waiting to carry it to Washington’s headquarters. Brewster was in New York years earlier when the British had caught Nathan Hale with drawings of their fortifications and hanged him. Perhaps with Hale in mind, Washington made sure that the Culper Ring spies had more support. Through Tallmadge, he provided them with codes, invisible ink, dead drops, and aliases.
Anna Strong was a resident of Long Island. She helped pass along messages from the spy ring, by posting pre-arranged signals to indicate when one of the spies was ready to submit intelligence data. If Strong hung a black petticoat on her clothesline, it meant that Brewster had arrived in town in his whaleboat. Next to that she would hang a quantity of white handkerchiefs. The specific number of handkerchiefs indicated one of six hiding places where Brewster might be located. Abraham Woodhull, another local resident, used Strong’s signals to go meet Brewster at one of the meeting-places. 
Woodhull was known in dispatches as Samuel Culper Sr., and Townsend was referred to as Samuel Culper Jr. Secrecy was so strict that Washington himself did not know the identity of all the operatives. Townsend’s role was finally determined in 1939 by handwriting analysis and has since been confirmed by other evidence.
One of those who allegedly aided the Culper Ring was an operative known only as “355,” the group’s code for “lady.” Some historians believe that she was the only member of the ring arrested by the British and hanged as a spy. Others claim that she was a prisoner aboard the British hulk, The Jersey, and gave birth to Robert Townsend’s illegitimate child, though that part of the story has been discredited. Robert Townsend did allegedly father a child by another woman after 355′s death.
Nathan Hale and Tallmadge were close friends at Yale, and Tallmadge’s entry into the secret world was not accidental, nor did it begin with the Culper Ring in 1778. As early as 1777, Tallmadge acted as the operative John Clark‘s contact in Connecticut when Clark was based on Long Island. Before that, he worked for the spymaster Nathaniel Sackett, who was later fired.
This is a Wikipedia posting