You’ve probably never heard of Agent 355—and maybe that’s because she was so good at her job. An American spy who infiltrated the British enemy during the Revolutionary War, Agent 355’s identity is still unknown today. Her feats, however, are legendary.
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Code Name: Agent 355
Agent 355 worked for the fearsome Culper Ring, which passed information to General George Washington and his allies about the English and their troops. Experts believe her name comes from the Ring’s code system, where 355 meant “lady.” Likely recruited by Ring member Abraham Woodhull, she was one of the first spies for the revolutionary cause, and Woodhull remarked to Washington that she was “one who hath been ever serviceable to this correspondence.”
That’s putting it lightly. There is evidence that whoever Agent 355 was, she was close to many Loyalist families who served the British Crown. She may have even been part of these moneyed clans. Either way, she was able to get extremely high-value information from her sources. When Benedict Arnold infamously defected from the American cause, Agent 355 was instrumental in exposing him as well as arresting Arnold’s British intelligence handler, Major John Andre.
The Woman Behind The Mask
We may not know for sure who she was, but we do have some clues. Most historians believe she was Abraham Woodhull’s neighbor, a woman by the name of Anna Smith Strong. However, other names have come up throughout the years—and some researchers even think she didn’t exist at all. In this case, the term “355” in the Culper Ring’s correspondence might have just referred to a female source, and not to a full-blown agent.
Then again, that’s probably exactly what the wily agent would have wanted you to think. When it comes to her history, we may never know.