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213 JamesKingwasaskedforautobiographicalsketchesonseveraloccasionslaterin life,and he invariably inaugurated his life story by mentioning the Revolutionary War service of his great-grandfather and role model, Benjamin Montanye. On March 29, 1781, Montanye, a Continental Army post rider, guided his horse through Ramapo Pass near the New York–New Jersey border. The messenger, under direct orders from George Washington, was entrusted with a large cache of letters, including many bearing the general’s signature.1 A band of Tories waylaid Montanye. They shot the horse’s leg, seized its rider, and dragged his doomed mount off into the woods. The assailants were led by James Moody,a troublesome loyalist later referred to by General Washingtonas “thatVillainMoody.”Montanyeandhiscaptorsenduredadebilitating journey through forest and swampland in bitter winter weather and with inadequate supplies, but three days later they arrived in New York City.“Another Rebel mail has been intercepted,”declared the British commander in chief Sir Henry Clinton,“which has given me very important information.”Moody was promoted to lieutenant and shared with his companions a 100-guinea reward from the British. Montanye, on the other hand, suffered imprisonment in one of the infamous sugar house prisons in NewYork City.The April 4,1781,issue of the Tory New York Gazette carried the news of his capture along with the text of one of Washington’s intercepted letters,and London’s Political Magazine deemed it all worthy of reprint two months later.2 Yet Montanye may not have suffered in vain. The post rider later affirmed that Washington personally directed him to follow a route upon which he was A ppe n di x B James W. King’s Revolutionary War Ancestry R Appendix B · 215 sure to be captured—indeed,the pass was known to be infested with Tories— implying that the intercepted correspondence was actually intended for British eyes.Some historians have since suggested or asserted that Montanye was part of a ploy Washington described after the war.3 It was determined by me (nearly twelve months beforehand) at all hazards to give out and cause it to be believed by the highest military as well as civil officers that New York was the destined place of attack, for the important purpose of inducing the eastern and middle States to makegreaterexertionsinfurnishingspecificsuppliesthantheyotherwise would have done, as well as for the interesting purpose of rendering the enemy less prepared elsewhere. . . . That much trouble was taken and finesse used to misguide and bewilder Sir Henry Clinton in regard to the real object, by fictitious communications . . . is certain, nor were less pains taken to deceive our own army; for I had always conceived, when the imposition did not completelytakeplaceathome,itcouldneversufficientlysucceedabroad.4 Among the letters captured with Montanye was one in which Washington wrote to inform Benjamin Harrison of Virginia that it was unrealistic for additional reinforcements to be sent south,and that“the most powerful diversion that can be made in favor of the Southern states, will be a respectable force in the neighborhood of NewYork.”Clinton,after scrutinizing this and additional correspondence seized by Moody in May, responded by writing from New York on June 8,“From all the letters I have seen, I am of [the] opinion . . . that the enemy will certainly attack this post.” But that August, the Continentals would slip away from their unsuspecting enemy in NewYork and march south to their decisive victory at Yorktown, Virginia.5 The post rider was eventually freed in a prisoner exchange. He survived the war to raise a family, and to found and preach at a Baptist church in New Vernon,NewYork.Montanye’s daughter Nancy married Samuel King,a fellow New Yorker born shortly before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Samuel was the son of another Samuel King who served as a lieutenant in the New York militia during the Revolution.6 Nancy and Samuel King named their son born in 1806 after his heroic grandfather. Benjamin Montaigne King—James W. King’s father—grew up hearing tales of George Washington and James Moody while seated in his grandfather’s lap.7 ...


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