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Whether you’re into American history in general Tallmadge’s founding father and namesake — Benjamin "Ben" Tallmadge — in particular, then check out the new AMC series “Turn,” the story of the first American spy ring at 9 p.m. Sundays. For more on the show, visit http://www.amctv.com/shows/turn.
ABOUT THE MAN
Benjamin Tallmadge was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His birthdate is alternately listed as Feb. 11 and Feb. 25, 1754. He was the father of New York City Police Commissioner Frederick A. Tallmadge.
The son of a clergyman, Tallmadge was born in Setauket, N.Y., a hamlet in the town of Brookhaven on Long Island. He graduated from Yale college in 1773, and was a classmate of American Revolutionary War spy Nathan Hale.
From 1773 to 1776, Tallmadge was the superintendent of Wethersfield High School.
ROLE IN REVOLUTIONARY WAR
Tallmadge was a major in the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons. He was initially commissioned on June 20, 1776. Eventually, as the chief intelligence officer for George Washington, he was promoted to the rank of colonel. He organized the Culper Spy Ring based out of New York City and Long Island during the American Revolutionary War, using the code name John Bolton. The Culper Ring is thought by some to have revealed the betrayal of Benedict Arnold, though this is disputed. There is actually very little evidence to prove that Tallmadge had heard from a spy in New York City about the Arnold-André plot. However, it would have been easy for Tallmadge to suspect that Arnold was up to no good, since Arnold had arranged to meet Anderson (Maj. John André's alias at the time) and Anderson was carrying military secrets back to New York City. The only thing Tallmadge could do was to persuade Jameson to recall Lt. Allen who was already on his way to deliver the prisoner André into Arnold's custody. However, Tallmadge was unable to dissuade Jameson from informing Arnold of André's arrest. Tallmadge's suspicion of Arnold's treachery may not have been strong enough as Jameson later reported in a letter to Washington that neither Tallmadge nor other officers he consulted raised any objections to sending Allen with a message to Arnold saying André was now in Jameson's custody.
After Arnold's British contact, André, was caught, he was taken to North Castle, where the commander, Jameson, ordered Allen, to take a note and the incriminating documents found with André to their commander, Arnold, at West Point. Tallmadge, suspecting André to be a spy, and Arnold to be his accomplice, tried to have Jameson reverse his orders. He was unsuccessful, but did convince Jameson to send a rider and take Andre to Salem, 8 miles east of the Hudson River and to send the documents to Washington. Allen was still to report to Arnold with Jameson's note outlining the events. Later, Jameson was chastised by Washington for warning Arnold and allowing his escape. André was placed in Tallmadge's custody until André's execution.
On Nov. 21, 1780, Tallmadge and his dragoons rowed across the Long Island Sound from Fairfield, Conn. to Mt. Sinai, N.Y. The next day they proceeded to the south shore where they captured and burned down Manor St. George, which the British turned into a fort, and captured the soldiers within. On their march back to Mt. Sinai, Tallmadge stopped in Coram and ordered the burning of 300 tons of hay which the British had been stockpiling for the winter. Washington, on hearing the news, sent the following letter to Tallmadge:
“I have received with much pleasure the report of your successful enterprise upon fort St. George, and was pleased with the destruction of the hay at Coram, which must be severely felt by the enemy at this time. I beg you to accept my thanks for your spirited execution of this business.”
The Tallmadge Trail is marked along the route Tallmadge and his dragoons took from Mt. Sinai to Mastic Heights.
Tallmadge served at Washington's headquarters from March 1781 until the Continental Army was disbanded in November 1783. He was breveted to the rank of lieutenant colonel on Sept. 30, 1783.
Tallmadge was an Original Member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati.
He died March 7, 1835.
IN POPULAR CULTURE
Benjamin Tallmadge appears in the video game Assassin's Creed III as head of the Culper Ring. In the game, he is the son of a former member of the Assassin Brotherhood and comes seeking the Brotherhood's aid in stopping Thomas Hickey from assassinating General Washington. The game's protagonist Connor follows Tallmadge to New York in order to foil the plot.
Tallmadge is also a main character in the AMC series "Turn" which premiered April 6. He is played by actor Seth Numrich.
Benjamin Tallmadge, Memoir of Col. Benjamin Tallmadge (Reprint Services Corporation, 1858) ISBN 0-7812-8377-9
Charles Swain Hall, Benjamin Tallmadge: Revolutionary Soldier and American Businessman (Columbia University Press, 1943)
Mark Allen Baker, "Spies of Revolutionary Connecticut, From Benedict Arnold to Nathan Hale." (The History Press, 2014) ISBN 978-1-62619-407-6
TALLMADGE AND OHIO
In 1795, when part of the Western Reserve was sold to the Connecticut Land Co. by the State of Connecticut and apportioned, Town 2, Range 10 was formed. It was later subdivided into 16 sections of equal size. The Brace Co. represented a number of buyers and owned a 10-square-mile section of the western section of the township.
Ephraim Starr owned a strip from the north through the center measuring about 3 square miles and Col. Benjamin Tallmadge bought the majority of the remaining parcels, which measured about 11 square miles.
Tallmadge never intended to own land in the Western Reserve, according to Ruth P. Blum’s article “Benjamin Tallmadge, Yankee,” which appeared in the book “A History of Tallmadge, Ohio.”
As the story goes, a mortgagee failed to make payements on Tallmadge’s land and Tallmadge was forced to take possession of the land. Later, he acquired even more land.
The township was named after its largest land owner in a meeting of settlers in 1808.
Source: Tallmadge Today