Skip to content

Chapter 11

Remember Liss Banner


The Reluctant Spy

In 1779 Robert Townsend was recruited to gather intelligence in Manhattan. He was well suited for the task, since he had worked as a merchant in Manhattan for many years, starting when he was a teenaged apprentice at an auction house. Robert began using the code name “Samuel Culper, Jr.,” passing information out of New York City and onto Long Island, where the rest of the “Culper Spy Ring” took over, shuttling messages across Long Island Sound to Benjamin Talmadge, Washington’s spy master, who was waiting in Connecticut. It was dangerous work that came with a death sentence if you were caught, but Robert persisted. Just as Liss began living in New York City, now re-enslaved by a British officer, a Culper spy letter mentioned a new operative who was a “355” – or “lady.” Could Liss be the female spy who had just joined the group?