American Spy: Enoch Crosby Part 6

About the American Spy Enoch Crosby and his places in United States history after James Fenimore Cooper published the book The Spy.

ENOCH CROSBY (1750-1835). American spy.

Soon, Enoch Crosby, posing as one John Smith, "a faithful friend to His Majesty," was manufacturing shoes at a farm 12 mi. beyond the Hudson River and volunteering to join 30 neighbors who were going over to the British. A note was sent posthaste to John Jay. It was acknowledged by the trusty Rangers, who made captive the 30 and Crosby again. Returned to his stone prison, Crosby was rescued by a serving maid named Charity. She drugged the captain of the Rangers, took his keys, intoxicated the prison guard with brandy, opened the cell, and freed Crosby.

After that, as Crosby recollected, he was "hunted like a beast of the forest by one party-suspected and avoided by the other" so that "he felt himself, at times, an outcast in the world-a houseless wanderer, without a country or a home!" Only once, in all his adventures, when trapped by Americans in a tavern, was he forced to display his pass from John Jay. Meanwhile, the British had become suspicious. They realized that wherever the wandering shoemaker appeared, the Rangers followed soon after. Crosby hid out in the Highlands with a brother-in-law who knew of his activity. Someone fired a shot at Crosby through a window. Thereafter, he slept with a loaded musket in his bed. Days later, a gang of assassins broke into the house in search of the spy. One, a "large hideous looking fellow," rushed the awakened Crosby, firing at him and missing. Crosby leaped to his feet, floored his attacker with a punch, before being beaten insensible by 3 others. Crosby's life was saved when neighbors, aroused by the commotion, chased the gang away. James Fenimore Cooper employed this incident when he had Harvey Birch assaulted by a gang known as the Skinners.

Crosby now sought the comparative safety of the Continental Army, where he served as an officer under Lafayette. With the successful end of the Revolution, he retired to his father's farm in Carmel, N.Y. He married twice, had 4 children, and for 28 years served as justice of the peace in the township of Southeast. He had received $250 as his military mustering-out pay. In 1794, at the instigation of John Jay, he was offered a special bonus for his undercover work. He declined the gift, stating, "It was not for gold that I served my country." His simple patriotism, as much as his courage, stimulated Cooper in the creation of the 1st great adventure novel written by an American author.

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