Book Review: General Washington's Commando: Benjamin Tallmadge in the Revolutionary War


by Richard F. Welch

Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2014. Pp. x, 194. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $35.00 paper. ISBN: 0786479639

Revolutionary War Master of Special Ops

Long Island native Tallmadge (1754-1835) was superintendent of a secondary school when the Revolution broke out. Commissioned in the Continental Dragoons in mid-1775, following the Battle of Long Island he began directing intelligence operations for Washington. He ran the Culper Spy Ring in the New York City-Long Island area. Recently the subject of the fictionalized television series Turn: Washington's Spies, the work of the ring was largely unknown, even among historians, until the 1930sTallmadge and his agents, which included men and women, both slave and free, many of whom still remain unknown, gathered information, conducted occasional commando raids, had a hand in the capture of John Andre, and so forth in support of the Revolutionary cause. 

Postwar a founding member of the Society of the Cincinnati, Tallmadge prospered and died a highly respected citizen in Connecticut. Nevertheless, today he is largely unknown to the general public. 

Dr. Welch’s highly readable and often lively book, which is the first life of Tallmadge in nearly 70 years, helps rescue this very interesting officer from obscurity, while throwing fresh light on some of the work of the Culper Ring. We not only get a look at Tallmadge’s actions and adventures during the war, but also some insights into military service and the spycraft of the times, Patriot life under British occupation, and more, not to mention a reminder that the Revolutionary War was not something that only happened in Massachusetts, the Carolinas, and Virginia. 

General Washington’s Commando is not only worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the Revolutionary War, but also for students of special operations and intelligence.


Note:  George Washington’s Commando is also available in e-Pub form.


Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close