February 21, 2014

When Pound Ridge was Washington’s intelligence center

As we celebrate President’s Day, we’d like to look back to the days of George Washington in Westchester. Our nation’s first president, whose birthday falls on Feb. 22, was encamped in the region in 1779 as local rebels gathered. British raids took place throughout Westchester, with its heavy concentration of rebels, and fighting centered on the area. The British army’s primary goal was to draw out Gen. George Washington, who had been fighting against British Gen. William Howe in Westchester since the Battle of White Plains in late October 1776.

In 1778, Gen. Washington turned to Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge, stationed in Pound Ridge, to recruit trusted intelligence officers. Among them, he chose local resident Maj. Ebenezer Lockwood. Together Maj. Tallmadge, Maj. Lockwood and other valiant rebels played a key role in 1778 in what was known as the Culper Ring, a group whose task was to send messages to Gen. Washington about the activities of the British in New York in “the best cloak and dagger tradition.” The name of the group was derived from the aliases of its main members, Abraham Woodhull and Robert Townsend, known as “Samuel Culper Sr.” and “Samuel Culper Jr.” respectively. Secrecy was so strict that even Gen. Washington did not know the names of many of the group’s members.

To bypass enemy lines in lower Westchester and Connecticut, communiqués were shared between Revolutionary war soldiers on Long Island and in northern Westchester. Messages written in invisible ink were picked up by mounted couriers, who transmitted them by whaleboat across the Long Island Sound. Couriers then delivered the missives to Maj. Tallmadge, who subsequently dispatched them to Washington’s headquarters. In his memoirs, Maj. Tallmadge recorded that he kept “one or more boats continually employed to cross the Sound on this business.”

The rebels were ultimately discovered and arrested by the British, but not before coded messages, said to be responsible “for almost destroying British trade across the Sound,” were transmitted.

British retaliation led to violent repercussions — the plundering of homes, hand-to-hand combat and the burning of Bedford. Among the properties destroyed by the Tories was the home of Maj. Ebenezer Lockwood, who risked his life for Gen. Washington and the cause of the American Revolution.

Truckin’ through the winter

No homeowner has ever complained about being awakened by a plow clearing their driveway or a highway truck laying salt and sand. This winter of our snowy discontent has tested our emergency services mightily, and from our point of view they have come through so far with flying colors.

Even NYSEG, a year ago the butt of utility jokes and public service complaints, generally kept the lights on throughout the town, except for a few exceptions in which vehicles or winds pulled down wires.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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