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jeudi 23 octobre 2014

No 9

Philip Long: a spy?
Could Philip Long have been a « spy » behind enemy lines for the benefit of the British army? Once in Canada, he did admit freely that he had stolen a bag of mail from the Continentals and that he brought it to the British officers. If you surf the Web you will find a few stories resembling the event reported by Philip. This gesture sure was important to him, because it has been passed on from generation to the next. Here is a screen capture from the Deane & Kavanagh report:
About Philip Long, they wrote….
Deane and Kavanagh Report on the inhabitants of Madawaska Settlements, July-August, 1831. North Bank of the St. John River from St. Francis River to what is today Hamlin.

Are we sure that this event was passed along through family oral tradition starting with Philip himself? Mgr Ernest Lang talked about it in his book in 1976. Is it possible that he mentioned it because he got the information through the Deane & Kananaugh report in 1831? One thing is sure: he found the Deane & Kavanaugh report at some point during his 50 years of research.

The answer to this question will never be answered unequivocally and, maybe, this answer is irrelevant at this point in time. What’s important is that he reported it, a decision on his part that would help us understand the history of our family up to this very day. I qualify his find as one of the major ones in the last 90 years. I give him credit for many more documents, a whole lot more.

Capturing military mail or spying was highly valued because the information brought back to commanding officers could change a regiment plan of attack, hence the issue of a battle. Some of these acts of bravery were, generally, well rewarded, depending on the nature of the information. But, there was a risk attached to such an endeavor. Here is an astonishing story that will, at the same time, give you a glimpse of the day-to-day life of these daring soldiers.

« On this day in 1776, General George Washington asks for a volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission: to gather intelligence behind enemy lines before the coming Battle of Harlem Heights. Captain Nathan Hale of the 19th Regiment of the Continental Army stepped forward and subsequently become one of the first known American spies of the Revolutionary War.

Disguised as a Dutch schoolmaster, the Yale University-educated Hale slipped behind British lines on Long Island and then successfully gathered information about British troop movements for the next several weeks. While Hale was behind enemy lines, the British invaded the island of Manhattan; they took control of the city on September 15, 1776. When the city was set on fire on September 20, 1776, British soldiers were put on high alert for sympathizers to the Patriot cause. The following evening, on September 21, 1776, Hale was captured while sailing Long Island Sound, trying to cross back into American-controlled territory.

Hale was interrogated by British General William Howe and, when it was discovered that he was carrying incriminating documents, General Howe ordered his execution for spying, which was set for the following morning. After being led to the gallows, legend holds that Hale was asked if he had any last words and that he replied with these now-famous words, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." There is no historical record to prove that Hale actually made this statement, but, if he did, he may have been inspired by these lines in English author Joseph Addison's 1713 play Cato: "What a pity it is/That we can die but once to serve our country."

The British hanged patriot spy Nathan Hale on the morning of September 22, 1776. He was just 21 years old. Although rumors later surfaced that Hale’s capture was the result of a betrayal by his first cousin and British Loyalist Samuel Hale, the exact circumstances leading to Hale’s arrest have never been discovered. »

You can read about spying in the ARW on the Web. Here is an excerpt of such a website.

« 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 ».

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