Birthday: February 25, 1754
Died At Age: 81
Sun Sign: Pisces
Born in: East Setauket, Brookhaven, New York, United States
Famous as: Military Leader
Spouse/Ex-: Maria Hallett (m. 1808–1835), Mary Floyd (m. 1784–1805)
father: Rev. Benjamin Tallmadge Sr. (1725–1786)
mother: Susannah Smith (1729–1768)
children: Frederick A. Tallmadge, Harriet Wadsworth Tallmadge, Maria Jones Tallmadge
Died on: March 7, 1835
U.S. State: New Yorkers
Benjamin Tallmadge was an American military officer, politician, and spymaster. He is best remembered for his service in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War in which he acted as the leader of the Culper Ring. His management of the Ring offered accurate and timely intellectual advice to Washington and also set a high standard for the future clandestine intelligence operations. Tallmadge also fought in the battles of the White Plains and Long Island. As a dragoon, he participated in battles of the Germantown, Monmouth and Brandywine as well. After the war, he became a Federalist Party associate of United States House of Representatives and represented Connecticut's at-large congressional district. He also became the first ever president of Phoenix Branch Bank as well as an original member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati. A graduate of the Yale University, Tallmadge was first tutored by his father, who was a Congregational minister. He also served as a headmaster of a high school before joining the military. On a personal note, the American military officer married twice in his lifetime and had seven kids. Till date, several buildings, trails, and districts have been named in honor of Tallmadge. He has been featured in many video games, television series, and novel series in the recent years.
Childhood & Early Life
Benjamin Tallmadge was born on February 25, 1754 in Setauket or Brookhaven, Province of New York. His mother was Susannah Smith, who lived until 1768, and his father, Rev. Benjamin Tallmadge Sr., a clergyman, lived until 1786.
Tallmadge attended Yale University where he was a classmate of Nathan Hale, a future American Revolutionary War spy. He graduated from the university in 1773.
From 1773 to 1776, he stayed in Connecticut where he served as the superintendent of the Wethersfield High School.
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Benjamin Tallmadge was initially commissioned as a lieutenant in Col. John Chester’s regiment of Connecticut militia in June 1776. He was given the position of the director of military intelligence after Nathaniel Sackett was relieved of the duties when the latter failed to gain any ground from the enemy. The same year, Tallmadge fought in the battle of Long Island that took place in August. Then in October, he fought in the battle of White Plains.
In 1777, Tallmadge was transferred as a captain to 2nd Continental Light Dragoons regiment and received a promotion to major. That year, Tallmadge also fought in the Battle of Setauket. He led his army to rescue his father who was held in prison in Setauket.
As a dragoon, Tallmadge also participated in the battles of Monmouth, Germantown, and Brandywine as well as in the whaleboat raid on the Fort St. George of Long Island.
In November 1778, General George Washington, a commander of Continental Army, directed him to organize an intelligence service to function in the British-occupied New York City. This service was given the name ‘Culper Spy Ring’ and it offered frequent and accurate intelligence services to Washington about the nature and activities of the British troops in and around the New York City for the remainder of the war.
He continued to serve in the dragoons and managed the Ring throughout the war. Tallmadge managed the service so well that the British never discovered any of the Spy Ring’s members.
Tallmadge ended his military career as a lieutenant colonel in 1783. He then started operating a dry-goods store named ‘B. Tallmadge and Company’ located in Connecticut and speculated in land in Ohio.
In March 1801, he became a Federalist Party member of United States House of Representatives where he represented Connecticut's at-large congressional district. Tallmadge served until March 1817 and was succeeded by Thomas Scott Williams.
In 1829, the former American military official was among a group of Federalists who safeguarded the honor of late Connecticut Senator Uriah Tracy against allegations by William Plumer and John Quincy Adams who claimed that Tracy had once been the head of a conspiracy to divide the New England states into a distinct confederacy.
Tallmadge then went on to become the first ever president of Phoenix Branch Bank and an original member as well as later president of New York Society of the Cincinnati.
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Benjamin Tallmadge led a successful raid across the Long Island. During this daring mission, his men destroyed enemy buildings and enemy supplies before their victorious return to the home base. For these efforts, Tallmadge was thanked by the Congress and received a personal congratulatory note from George Washington.
He served as the leader of the Culper Ring which was a celebrated network of spies. He also established a training school for the Native American and Asian missionaries after retiring from the military.
Personal Life & Legacy
Benjamin Tallmadge married Mary Floyd on March 18, 1784. Floyd, who was the daughter of Maj. Gen. William Floyd, Governor of New York and signer of the Declaration of Independence, died in 1805.
The couple had seven children: William Smith Tallmadge, Henry Floyd Tallmadge, Maria Jones Tallmadge, Benjamin Tallmadge, Frederick Augustus Tallmadge, Harriet Wadsworth Tallmadge and George Washington Tallmadge. Out of these, William and Benjamin died unmarried, in 1822 and 1831 respectively. Frederick A Tallmadge became the New York City’s Police Commissioner.
After the death of his first wife, Tallmadge went on to marry the daughter of his friend, Maria Hallett in 1808.
He died on March 7, 1835, at the age of 81.
The Tallmadge Hall at Fort Huachuca, Arizona is named in honor of Benjamin Tallmadge and his notable leadership role in service of the Continental Army intelligence. Tallmadge, Ohio is named after him as well. The Benjamin Tallmadge District also got its name from Tallmadge.
Benjamin Tallmadge is characterized in a video game titled ‘Assassin's Creed III’. In this game, he is featured as the head of the Culper Ring.
He is also the main character in the AMC program ‘Turn: Washington's Spies’ where his role is played by actor Seth Numrich. In the series, he holds the rank of captain until the 6th episode in which he is promoted to major by General Washington.
Benjamin Tallmadge also appears in the webcomic and graphic novel series titled ‘The Dreamer’.