23 March 2014

Ann Bates (1748-1801)

Mrs. Barnes

Ann Bates was a loyalist American school teacher from Philadelphia who acted as an agent for British forces. She and her husband, a field artillery repairman for the British army, accompanied the British when they departed Philadelphia for New York City in 1778. In New York, she was asked by Major John Andre' to spy on American forces in New York and report her findings to General Henry Clinton.

She traveled a number of times disguised as a peddler into the American camp at White Plains, NY. Soldiers at the encampment allowed her to move about freely to sell her wares, as most military camps were populated by female peddlers. Because of her husband's artillery repair background, she readily identified the types of guns, cannons, ammunition and soldiers, and accurately relayed this information to General Clinton. On one occasion, she infiltrated General George Washington's headquarters, and overhear military intelligence discussions concerning troop movements and future maneuvers.

Ann typically would spend a week in the military camps, gathering any information she could. Then traveling by way of a series of Loyalist safe houses, she made her way back to New York to report to General Clinton. These cunning expeditions into the American camps ultimately led Britain to send reinforcements to Rhode Island, forcing the Americans from Newport and allowing Britain to maintain control of the coastal state.

In 1780, Ann journeyed with her husband and British troops to Charleston, SC. Her missions ended there. They secured permission to travel to England in March 1781. Later, abandoned by her husband, she appealed to the government and received a pension for her successful espionage work in the United States.

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