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Baron von Ottendorf Letter about the Deposition of "Miss Jenny," August 15, 1781

Letter from Baron Ottendorf containing deposition of "Miss Jenny"

Letter from Baron Ottendorf containing deposition of "Miss Jenny"

Other, Clements_Clinton_001
 
Document Description
Baron von Ottendorf Letter about the Deposition of "Miss Jenny," August 15, 1781
 
Transcription
While Monsieur Smidt and Cooper questioned her, she was asked several times whether she knew me, (was told) that I was responsible for the desertion of the French and that I would be the first one hanged if York were ever taken. After all that, she was sent back (to the French camp). Upon arrival at the French camp, she was handed over to the Provost; nevertheless, she was treated well enough. The Chief Provost questioned her several times over the course of two days, and insisted that she must know me, using guile and intimidation to make her talk. Seeing that nothing was able to be got from her, the order arrived late in the evening on Tuesday the 14th for her to depart on Wednesday at daybreak, and beforehand, to have her hair cut in such a fashion that what was done be acknowledged yet again; then (for her) to be set on a horse with neither bonnet nor hair covering, sitting on a cloak between two soldiers and (for her) to be led in this manner outside of the lines with the order not to return unless she wants to run the risk of being severely punished. She says that everything is ready with them for advancing and that the general opinion is that he (Washington) wants to come and attack in two places as soon as their fleet arrives. She saw your Jagers arrive yesterday, around 4 or 5. They were not retained; they were sent immediately to Philadelphia. When these Jagers arrived at Washington’s quarters, he had them given something to drink and eat, informing them that soon all of your people will come, and that in a short while he will be in York.
The Chief Provost told her that if she wished to confess that it is Hend who sent her, that he would give her 12 twenty-franc pieces, and if she wished to dissemble, that he wants to send to her mother to see if she speaks the truth. All that did not make her change her story. She persisted (in saying) that she does not know me.
 
 
Questions
Why did Jenny threaten that her captor would be ‘hanged’ and insist that she didn’t know him?
What was the reason behind the following action? “have her hair cut in such a fashion that what was done be acknowledged yet again”
To whom and why, did Jenny give valuable information about the ‘Jagers’ and potential battle at York?
Demonstrate text based evidence that proves Jenny was a beguiling and successful spy?
 
Historical Challenges
What happened to a number of female spies that were caught aiding the enemy with intelligence?
 

Historical Context
Miss Jenny was a female spy for the British who infiltrated a camp of French soldiers who were fighting for the Americans. Miss Jenny gathered intelligence about the Americans’ plans to attack New York City. Because of this information, the British decided to keep their troops in New York, leaving Yorktown with too few men to defend it. When the Americans decided to attack Yorktown instead of New York City, the British surrendered the battle, leading to their disgrace and the eventual end of the war.
The role of intelligence and counterintelligence had a significant impact on how George Washington’s Continental Army won the war. Spies and counterspies, invisible ink, codes and ciphers contained covert missions within secret messages and all were used to help fight the war. Members of the Culper Ring, the "mole" in the Sons of Liberty, and women spies fighting secretly behind Patriot and Loyalist battle lines contributed to the gathering and transferring of information.
 
 
Essential Question
How did female spies manipulate soldiers to share information?
 
Check for Understanding
Divide the class into two groups representing Loyalist and Patriot armies.  Each group will create a diversion or, spy scenario allowing the opposing army to “intercept” a spy and try to infiltrate enemy battle strategies. (For more about battle strategy, see Military Aspects…)