"There is one evil I dread, and that is, their spies. I could wish, therefore, the most attentive watch be kept... I wish a dozen or more of honest, sensible and diligent men, were employed... in order to question, cross-question etc., all such persons as are unknown, and cannot give an account of themselves in a straight and satisfactory line.... I think it a matter of importance to prevent them from obtaining intelligence of our situation."An example of Washington's covert activities:
8 Miles East of Morris Town July 26: 1777.Washington carefully evaluated his intelligence to sift the truth from the lies. Would that our current president were as careful.
By a Letter received this morning from Lord Stirling of the 22d Inst, I find he intends to pursue his Rout from Peeks Kill, thro Keckyate & Pyramus to the Great Falls -- From thence thro Watsessing -- Springfield & Brunswick or Bound Brook.
The reason of my being thus particular in describing Lord Stirling's Rout, is, Because I wish you to take every possible pains in your power, by sending trusty persons to Staten Island in whom you can confide, to obtain Intelligence of the Enemy's situation & numbers -- what kind of Troops they are, and what Guards they have -- their strength & where posted. -- My view in this, is, that his Lordship, when he arrives, may make an attempt upon the Enemy there with his division, If it should appear from a full consideration of all circumstances and the information you obtain, that it can be done with a strong prospect of Success. -- You will also make some enquiry How many Boats are & may be certainly [used?] to transport the Troops, in case the Enterprize [should?] appear adviseable. You will, after having assured yourself upon these [several?] matters, send a good & faithful Officer to meet Lord Stirling with a distinct and accurate Account of every thing -- As well respecting the numbers & strength of the Enemy -- their situation &c -- As about the Boats, that he may have a General view of the whole, and possessing all the circumstances, may know how to regulate his conduct in the Affair.
The necessity of procuring good Intelligence is apparent & need not be further urged -- All that remains for me to add is, that you keep the whole matter as secret as possible. For upon Secrecy, Success depends in Most Enterprizes of the kind, and for want of it, they are generally defeated, however well planned & promising a favourable issue.
I am Sir
Yr Most Obed Sert
Just a thought.