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Home » Public Programs » Online Exhibits » Secret Methods and Techniques » Captured Letters

Captured Letters

Rachel Revere Letter to Paul Revere, April/May 1775. Thomas Gage Papers.

George Washington Letter to Benjamin Tallmadge, June 27, 1779. Henry Clinton Papers.

George Washington Letter to Dr. Baker, May 29, 1781. Henry Clinton Papers.

Many of the letters collected by Sir Henry Clinton’s espionage network were captured from the Rebel Army. During the time of the Revolutionary War, couriers on horseback transported letters and documents. Both the British and American armies would routinely intercept riders with saddlebags of mail, demanding to know the loyalties of the dispatch riders and searching the contents of the mail bags. In addition, colonials who supported the Rebel cause also stopped any suspicious mail riders and captured many British letters.

The Library of Congress holds the papers of George Washington, which contain many examples of captured British documents. In order to combat the Rebel Army’s interception of their military plans, Sir Henry Clinton and the other British Army generals used many forms of secret writing to communicate their strategies. Examples of captured letters in this exhibit are Rachel Revere’s letter to her husband, George Washington’s letter to Benjamin Tallmadge, and George Washington’s letter to his dentist.