The following documents are from the diary of a man named Elijah. He was a spy for the patriots who ended up enlisting in the British army, got caught spying, and was jailed.
My name is Elijah, and I’m a spy for the rebels, or at least I was. Unfortunately, I'm rotting in a jail cell. It's currently the middle of October in 1781, and the war will hopefully end soon. I just hope I’m not hung before then. I'm gonna be here for a while, so I may as well tell you how I came to be in this situation. Also, if you happen to be a person reading this, I probably am dead.
“Those rebels just can't learn when to quit,” my father said to my mother and I the day this whole story began, “They think they actually have a chance of winning, I can't believe this.”
If you can't tell, my family is full of loyalists, so I obviously had to be the rebel, literally.
That day, when I was just 17 in Philadelphia during 1776, I decided to go into the city. There, I met Jonathan Smith who was an officer in the continental army who had been captured, I soon found out. Since he was high ranking, he actually had some freedom, so he was able to talk to me.
“Hey kid,” was the first thing he had told me “can you run this letter over to my friend over a few streets over near the pub?” He pulled a coin out of his pocket, offering it to me.
That coin lured me in. I never got much spending money although my family was wealthy. My father gave most of our money to the British army these days.
“Of course, sir.” I told the man, taking the coin and inspecting it closely.
While taking the letter to who I found out was another captured officer, named Abraham, curiosity took the better of me and I looked at the note. It contents were something that peaked my curiosity immensely. If I hadn't looked at that note, I wouldn't have been I'm this situation. I'm not saying I regret it, though.
The note had a plan for a sneak attack written on it. It explained it was a plan for attacking the Hessians working for the British army on it. It would take place in Trenton, New Jersey. That was the colony next to mine. It was planned for December 26th, the day after Christmas. The note said the hessians would be drunk, so they would be easy to defeat.
At that moment, I didn't know if I should deliver the note or run to my father and tell him about the plan. I had to think about what I really believed in. I already kind of leaned towards the patriots, if I’m being completely honest. I don't know if it was teenage angst to want to rebel against my family, or if I actually believed in them and their cause. I decided I believed in the rebels. I delivered the note.
Out of the storytelling now, I hear someone outside. I believe that they're trying to get my attention. It must be my friend and colleague, Jonas. I must go now, I will try to finish writing my story tomorrow.
It is now the next day, and I was correct about who was outside. My friend Jonas came to tell me news. The patriots are about to win the war according to him. He says that they are in Yorktown, Virginia. I have hope that I will be set free once this war is over, and I will live.
Back to my story, I delivered the note. The man asked me to to deliver a note back, and offered a coin like the other man. I obviously accepted.
I didn't read the note this time, assuming it was similar to the contents of the first one. I also didn't want to know in case I was questioned for some reason. I couldn't accidentally tell them something if I didn't know it. I eventually got back to Jonathan Smith and gave him the note.
“Thanks son,” he told me, “can you come back here tomorrow, so you can deliver another note?”
“Of course, sir.” I told him back. I'd been using those words a lot now that I look back.
I wondered why the man specifically wanted me to come back, but I shrugged it off. I came back the next day just hoping to get another coin or two. What came in store for me that day changed everything.
Officer Smith told me he knew who I was, that I was part of a wealthy loyalist family, that we were closely associated with the British army. He also told me who he was and I didn't know what to think of that. I knew he was associated with the continental army, obviously, but I didn't know he was a high ranking officer.
“What does it matter who I am?” I asked, quite scared actually, not knowing what him, a rebel officer wanted with me, the son of loyalists.
“I want you to help us.” he told me, as I was fidgeting anxiously “I want you to spy for us. I can tell you're not a loyalist, so it'd be perfect. Spy on your family and any British men in the army.”
That kind of scared me. I obviously didn't like my family's political ideals, but they were my family. I wanted to help the rebels, though. I wanted freedom. I had him agree my family would be in no harm, and all I had to do was tell him and other members of the continental army what they told me. It seemed easy enough, so I agreed.
It’s starting to get late now, I can hardly see any light from my small window in this cell. I will finish tomorrow hopefully. Tomorrow is when I will explain everything went wrong.
Today is the day I will finally be able to finish this story. My friend came again last night after my writing, and we’re even closer to winning the war. The fact that we will win makes this all worth it, even though I'm miserable currently.
Anyways, under officer Smith’s advisory I kept spying on my family and the various members of the British army and reporting to him. That was happening for three years, until 1779.
I was still living with my parents, as I had not been married yet. I was too focused on my work with the army. My parents eventually started suspecting something was going on, since I was never around. They thought I was secretly courting a woman. Hah. They eventually found out the truth, though. They had my younger brother follow me throughout the day, and he found out and told them.
They were my parents, so they obviously didn't want me in any actual trouble, so they decided to do what they found fit. They signed me up for the British army. They told the leader of my unit that I was a “troublemaker,” but didn't go into specifics, obviously. They wanted me to be under close watch.
Since I'm in this position, I kept spying, obviously. I was under very close watch all the time, but I somehow got away with it for a couple years. Being in the army helped me spy better, actually.
Since my parents were hardcore loyalists, they trusted me more than many other people. The men in charge would talk to me while I pretended to like them and played cards. They would talk to me about possible plans, and wondered if my parents would give them the money to go through with their plots. I would sneak off at night and go to wherever the nearest place the continental army was positioned, the guards all knew who I was so it was fine. I would talk to sergeants or anyone else important about what I was told that day.
One day two months ago in August I was introduced to another spy who happened to be at the continental army's encampment. His name was Thomas Jones. About a week later I actually was introduced to Thomas Jones again, in the presence of a sergeant at the British army's encampment. His real name was Gabriel Davis. He was a spy for them, too. Turns out that's who he was loyal to as well, and the continental army had no idea. Gabriel obviously told the British immediately that I was spying. That's where everything went wrong.
I was seized immediately and given no trial. I got thrown in here and this is where I have been. I have hoped to get out, though. My friend Jonas and I are hatching a plan to help me escape for tonight. I will write to hopefully say it is successful.
The plan was not successful. The guards found us and now we are both to be hanged tomorrow morning. It is all my fault, and I will cause my friend to be dead, too. To whoever may reads this, whether some random person in 100 years or a guard who caught me, I have one thing to say. I regret nothing other than putting my friends in this situation. I would do it again millions of times if I had to.
Elijah was hung October 17th, 1781. That was two days before the end of The Battle Of Yorktown, the last major battle that helped the continental army win the war.