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George Washington: Spies, Intelligence and the WarESPIONAGE/COUNTERESPIONAGEINTL 412
Espionage is neither a new idea nor a new trade in America. The father of espionagewithin the United States was George Washington, General and President of the United States. While the nature of Washington’s espionage practices against the British before and during the Revolutionary War cannot compare to the exploits of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Cold War, the birth of such a practice was no small feat. George Washington is considered the first true American spymaster, as he understood the importance of espionage and counterespionage. It is a fact that the British Empire was far more sophisticated, far better equipped and better prepared to wage a war. However, as George Washington understood the importance of counterespionage, he was able to balance the war efforts and eventually turn the tide of the war in the favor of the American Colonists.The Early Years as A SpyGeorge Washington got his beginning as a spy early on before the beginning of the French an Indian Wars of 1750’s. [Andrew, pgs. 6-29]] At this time, Major Washington in the Virginia militia worked for the Governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie a loyalist to theKing of England. Governor Dinwiddie received communications that the French colonist and armies had pushed further down into what was considered British owner territory, in the Ohio region. Major Washington volunteered his services to go out and determine if these communications were true and factual. Additionally, Governor Dinwiddie ordered Major Washington to conduct intelligence-gathering operations while on his mission to determine French Army strengths and to determine why so many Indian tribes were siding with the French. [Allen, pgs. 1-14]
Major Washington set out on this mission with only a crew of six men, all of whom he hand selected, to gather intelligence, to provide a detailed report back to Governor Dinwiddie, and to instruct the French invaders to politely return to French soil. This wouldbe the first of many such missions that would later turn Major Washington into an ideal spymaster, first for the British Crown and later against it.The Revolutionary YearsSome twenty years later in the year 1775, General George Washington took command of the Continental Army at the bequest of the Continental Congress. This is the beginning of the Revolutionary War and the beginning of what would become one of America’s first intelligence networks, directed by General Washington. General Washington understood the importance of intelligence and it’s place in the war effort. General Washington’s many different experiences during the French and IndianWar had prepared him to be better knowledgeable of his enemy and far more cautious.