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Spies and Spycraft in the American Revolution

A Bibliography of Materials from the Rockefeller Library

Ever since James Fenimore Cooper published The Spy in 1821, the life of the patriotic spy has captured our imaginations. In 2011 Colonial Williamsburg launched its first in a series of alternate reality spy games called RevQuest: Save the Revolution!™, in which players complete tasks online and around the Revolutionary City in order to "save the revolution." A television series based on the real-life "Culper Ring" of spies in revolutionary New York launched in 2014 and is also gaining popularity.

To learn more about spies and spycraft in the revolutionary period, look for some of the resources listed below. An asterisk (*) denotes materials related to the Culper Ring.

General Sources

  • * Allen, Thomas B. and Cheryl Harness. George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War. Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2004.
  • Bakeless, John. Turncoats, Traitors and Heroes: Espionage in the American Revolution. Philadelphia, PA: Lippencott, 1960.
  • Central Intelligence Agency. "Intelligence in the War of Independence."
  • Crews, Ed. "Spies and Scouts, Secret Writing, and Sympathetic Citizens." Colonial Williamsburg Journal, Summer 2004, p 20–26.
  • * Kilmeade, Brian, and Don Yaeger. George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution. Sentinel, 2013.
  • Lovelace, Daniel Dudley. Tory Spy: A New York Frontier Family's War Against the American Revolution. Westminster, MD: Heritage Books, 2009.
  • Mahoney, Harry Thayer. Gallantry in Action: A Biographic Dictionary of Espionage in the American Revolutionary War. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1999.
  • Nagy, John A. Invisible Ink: Spycraft of the American Revolution. Yardley, PA: Westholme, 2011.
  • Nagy, John A. Spies in the Continental Capital: Espionage Across Pennsylvania During the American Revolution. Yardley, PA: Westholme, 2011.
  • * Rose, Alexander. Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 2006.


  • Davis, Burke. "James Armistead Lafayette," Black Heroes of the American Revolution. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992.
  • * Flexner, James Thomas. The Traitor and the Spy: Benedict Arnold and John André. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1975.
  • * Fryer, Mary Beacock and Christopher Dracott. John Graves Simcoe, 1752–1806: A Biography. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1998.
  • Linklater, Andro. An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary Double Life of General James Wilkinson. New York, NY: Walker, 2009.
  • * Lossing, Benson John. The Two Spies: Nathan Hale and John André. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Co., 1886.
  • Phelps, M. William. Nathan Hale: The Life and Death of America's First Spy. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2008.
  • Schaeper, Thomas J. Edward Bancroft: Scientist, Author, Spy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
  • * Walsh, John Evangelist. The Execution of Major André. New York, NY: Palgrave, 2001.
  • Ward, Harry M. "James Armistead Lafayette," For Virginia and for Independence: Twenty-Eight Revolutionary War soldiers from the Old Dominion. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2011.

Primary Sources

  • * André, John. Cornélis De Witt Wilcox, ed. Major André's Journal. New York, NY: New York Times 1968.
  • Collins, James Potter. John M. Roberts, ed. A Revolutionary Soldier. New York, NY: Arno Press, 1979.
  • Franklin, Benjamin. Yale University. Franklin Papers.
  • * Library of Congress. "Papers of George Washington." Tallmadge Cypher.
  • * Simcoe, John Graves. Simcoe's Military Journal: A History of the Operations of a Partisan Corps, called the Queen's Rangers. New York, NY: Bartlett & Welford, 1844.
  • Spy Letters of the American Revolution Collection. Clements Library, University of Michigan.
  • Founders Online: Papers of George Washington.

Colonial Williamsburg Media

  • In the General's Secret Service. 2002. Electronic Field Trip.
  • Women of the Revolution. Electronic Field Trip. 2013 (Emily Geiger segment).

Updated 5/2015.