Lafayette, James Armistead (1760-1832)
While pretending to be a British spy, Armistead gained the confidence of General Benedict Arnold and General Cornwallis. Arnold was so convinced of Armistead's pose as a runaway slave that he used him to guide British troops through local roads. Armistead often traveled between camps, spying on British officers, who spoke openly about their strategies in front of him. Armistead documented this information in written reports, delivered them to other American spies, and then return to General Cornwallis's camp.
In the summer of 1781, General George Washington sent a message to General Lafayette, instructing him to keep his forces strong and to inform him of Cornwallis's equipment, military personnel, and future strategies. Lafayette sent several spies to infiltrate Cornwallis's camp, yet none proved able to produce valuable information for him until he received Armistead's reports dated July 31, 1781. The information in these reports helped Lafayette trap the British at Hampton. Later that summer Armistead's reports helped the Americans win the battle at Yorktown, prompting the British to surrender.
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