The Tale Of Agent 355: An Elusive And Mysterious Female Spy Who Aided The Culper Spy Ring During The American Revolution

Tallmadge himself was known as John Bolton. Woodhull took on the name of Samuel Culper, and Townsend called himself Samuel Culper, Jr.

On top of the names, though, Tallmadge also took it upon himself to create an extensive code that substituted numbers for various words.

There were 763 words given distinct numerical codes. Plus, an alphanumeric key was also provided in the event spies needed to spell out a word that was not assigned a number.

Anyway, by August 15, 1977, Tallmadge had received a letter from Woodhull that detailed how the British were opening and reading all of the mail that passed through New York. Moreover, it was revealed that the British had found out about the Culper Ring’s courier route.

“I intend to visit 727 before long and think by the assistance of a 355 of my acquaintance, shall be able to outwit them all,” Woodhull also said in the letter.

“727” was the code term for “New York,” and “355” actually meant “lady.” So, in essence, Woodhull planned to travel to New York City again, where he would gain the help of a female confidante in hopes of evading enemy surveillance.

Interestingly, though, this mention of “355” was the only time this number sequence was ever found within surviving historical correspondence. Thus, the legend of “Agent 355” was born.

Now, many history buffs have jumped to the conclusion that this female confidante was an agent herself.

However, if we reference the codebook and look at Woodhull’s letter– which references “a 355” instead of just “355”– it appears that the mystery woman was not an official agent at all.

And despite “355” not appearing in the rest of surviving correspondence, some historians have correlated this mystery woman to the use of other terms throughout the communication. Most notably, the code “701,” which meant “lady” in a high societal sense.

This would make a lot of tactical sense, too, since a woman of high social standing would have been the perfect eavesdropping ear to pick up on British leader gossip and relay the intel.

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