Black History Month – double agent James Armistead

By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger

For the last day of Black History month we’re playing tribute to double agent, James Armistead. Born into slavery James Armistead was owned by William Armistead, who granted him permission to join the American Continental Army where the Marquis de Lafayette urged him to pose as a runaway slave so he could join the British army and gather enemy intelligence.

After securing the trust of British officer’s Benedict Arnold and British General Charles Cornwallis, Armistead guided British troops through the Virginia thoroughfares he’d grown up navigating, while listening in on officer discussions regarding upcoming raids and battle plans. Most of the time he actually listened in plain view of British officers –who didn’t regard him as a threat– and then delivered intelligence reports to Lafayette before returning to British headquarters to gather more intelligence.

One of Armistead’s detailed reports, dated July 31, 1781, provided the intelligence that Washington and Lafayette used to — More—


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