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The Sly Spy 

& The Slippery Soldier


We think we've heard all the stories about "The Father of Our Country" until we hear one more!


Who can call up a any pictures of George Washington, other than as an old and worn out man, who surely never had a spark of enthusiasm in his whole life?  And, yet, his life was full of daring adventure and vibrant trust in God.  Is the picture we are used to one you would like to hold in your memory of this great man?  Certainly he deserves to be remembered as he really was most of his life and as Dr. Henry A. Brown, in his Valley Forge Oration, described him: 


(A) soldier subordinating the military to the civil power; a dictator, as mindful of the rights of Tories as of the wrongs of Whigs; a statesman, commanding a revolutionary army; a patriot, forgetful of nothing but himself; this is he whose extraordinary virtues only have kept the army from disbanding, and saved his country's cause.  Modest in the midst of Pride; Wise in the midst of Folly; Calm in the midst of Passion; Cheerful in the midst of Gloom; Steadfast among the Wavering; Hopeful among the Despondent; Bold among the Timid; Prudent among the Rash; Generous, among the Selfish; True among the Faithless; Greatest among good men, and Best among the Great-such was George Washington at Valley Forge.  With apologies to the author of the following, we present (edited) his account of a series of actions of Washington during December, 1776, that corroborates Mr. Brown's description.  For really exciting adventures read on.


The first year of the Revolutionary War was filled with victories - victories for the British.  And they thought the war would end by the next summer!   What a surprise they had coming!  It came through a butcher, John Honeyman. Honeyman roamed throughout the British camp, that is, until he was caught by some of Washington's soldiers. 


Honeyman, moving with impunity among the British advance units near the Delaware, fraternized with the Hessians....(until some) American soldiers on picket duty near Trenton came upon (him) apparently looking for cattle, and, remembering Washington's stern order to take him alive, captured him without much trouble.  They never guessed that the thing he wanted most was to be caught.  The pickets took Honeyman (the butcher) across the river to the general's headquarters...and were directed to leave the spy alone with the commander for questioning.  Washington and Honeyman were closeted together for at least an hour.  Not even the aide-de-camp was permitted to listen.  Then the general...told the guards to put the spy in a log guardhouse and keep watch carefully.  In the small hours of the morning a fire broke out across the encampment and sentries at the guardhouse hurried to put it out....  In the morning Honeyman was gone,...


Washington was at last getting reliable secret information from inside the British lines....  During the French and Indian War a Scotch-Irish soldier....was given a chance in the patriot army.  He came to the attention of Washington, who asked him, because of his accent, knowledge of British military life, and bravery, to undertake a secret mission."  His name?  John Honeyman.  With the information about the Hessian soldiers Washington now plotted an attack on these British mercenaries.  His famous crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Eve when the Hessians were "celebrating" is well known.  "The Delaware was high in its banks, the swift current carrying great chunks of ice that made rowing hazardous."  But the surprise was complete (and the Hessians lost).


Then Washington called in his officers and planned another brilliant stroke.  He would re-cross the Delaware and attack again.... Washington's army... marched into Trenton again, ... and dug entrenchments.  At dusk... Cornwallis reached the stream below Trenton to find the quarry waiting behind stout earthen walls.  Cornwallis (the British general, decided)..., "We've got the old fox safe now.  We'll go over and bag him in the morning." 


All through that night the British watched the Americans marching and countermarching in the light of campfires, and tossing logs on the fires to keep them high, never dreaming that these men were a small rearguard left to deceive their enemy.


In the (morning) in the rolling fog... (the two armies) came face to face near the bridge. (Reinforcements arrived and as) the raw militia took heart... the commander-in-chief rode ahead of his line and called out: "Follow me! Hold your fire." 


(Then) there was a surge forward, a deadening sound of musketry and Washington, between the forces, was lost in a towering pall of smoke.  When the smoke lifted the general was still astride his horse, unhurt, and calling to his aides: "Bring up the troops.  The day is ours." 


So God used a slippery spy and a sly soldier to outsmart and out shoot the British. 


There's more but I've no room.  This was brought to you by Allan Keller, American History Illustrated-February, '72 (editing mine)


E-mail me and I'll send the whole ten pages (unedited!) as an attachment.


Posted 04/28/2005 by William D. Schwartz II

I would just like to say I'm ecstatic about stumbling upon your website!!!!  I love everything I have read so far and I really enjoyed "The Sly Spy & The Slippery Soldier" especially being that it was written almost 35 years ago.  It's a piece of history written decades ago without all of today's spin.  Keep up the good work! 

William D. Schwartz II


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