Under Tallmadge’s Command: The Last Surviving Culper Connection

Under Tallmadge’s Command: The Last Surviving Culper Connection

by -
0 1133

The “Culper Spy Adventure,” a special presentation by TBR News Media, is an immersive digital attraction that will allow locals and tourists alike to be recruited into the ranks of General Washington’s secret Setauket spy ring. Accessed by scanning a special QR code on a panel of the Three Village map or visiting www.TBRNewsMedia.com/Culper, you will begin an interactive 45-minute journey that puts you into the starring role of your very own secret spy adventure!

Become a time traveler as you arrive in the year 1780, crossing paths with legends and heroes: Abraham Woodhull, Anna Smith Strong, Caleb Brewster, George Washington himself! Enjoy interactive games between each episode that are filled to the brim with intrigue, action and fun! Created with the whole family in mind, the “Culper Spy Adventure” is great for all ages.

Jonathan Trumbull captures a member of Tallmadge’s dragoons in excerpt from painting.
Jonathan Trumbull captures a member of Tallmadge’s dragoons in excerpt from painting.

Lemuel Cook, one of the last surviving veterans of the American Revolution, died at 106 years old in 1866. He served under the command of Lt. Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, a Setauket native, Culper spy and member of the House of Representatives. He was born in the British Colony of Connecticut in 1759, just two or three years apart from Alexander Hamilton and died in the State of New York as a citizen of the United States of America.

Cook was a cavalryman who rode alongside the 2nd Light Continental Dragoons. He enlisted when he was just 16 years old. His military career took him from the Battle of Brandywine to the war’s end at Yorktown. He was witness to the surrender of General Cornwallis and given an honorable discharge by General George Washington. At the time of his enlistment in 1775, there were just 13 British colonies. By the time of his death there were 36 American states. This centenarian saw his national flag change many times and watched our founders’ dream of American democracy come to fruition.

 Lemuel Cook, American Revolutionary War veteran. Photo from Michael Tessler
Lemuel Cook, American Revolutionary War veteran. Photo from Michael Tessler

He lived through the War of 1812, a conflict his generation called “the Second American Revolution.” He saw his countrymen settle westward achieving new frontiers, and in 1861 he saw our young republic descend into a brutal civil war. By that time he was one of five remaining veterans of the War for Independence. He died five years later but lived to see the Civil War’s conclusion. He lived to see the abolishment of slavery, and we can only hope with it he experienced a great comfort that our American experiment would endure.

Seeing Cook for the first time was an overwhelming experience. In all of my research and love for history, I’ve never seen a real photograph of someone who lived through that extraordinary time in our national story. His eyes look tired but tell such an important story. They witnessed so much: watched as Benjamin Tallmadge led charges against British soldiers, watched as Caleb Brewster carried secret messages to camp, watched the sword of General Cornwallis be offered to George Washington. He was the last direct connection to Setauket’s secret revolutionary history and perhaps to our nation’s first commander-in-chief.

In our textbooks we often forget about men like Cook. His name, like so many others, has fallen into obscurity. His story near forgotten. Yet his bravery and sacrifice remain just as profound and real as they were some 240 years ago. We should not forget them, those brave Continentals and militiamen who risked everything for a dream of a nation that did not yet exist. They epitomized what it means to be American, heck, they defined it.

My greatest honor in life has been paying homage to them by telling their stories some two and a half centuries later. Honor their sacrifice by witnessing it first-hand. See Cook’s unit come to life in our recently released “Culper Spy Adventure” series now available for free at: www.TBRNewsMedia.com/Culper.