The conditions of the American Revolutionary War were unlike that of any previous eighteenth century European military conflict. Both the Continental and British armies were faced with logistical and tactical disadvantages that hindered their effectiveness. These disadvantages created a need for sophisticated military intelligence operations which could make up for shortcomings by providing each army with valuable information about enemy troop strengths, supplies, and intentions. The lack of value placed on intelligence during eighteenth century European warfare paired with the scarcity of written methodology on how to engage in intelligence gathering and espionage operations forced Patriot General George Washington and British General Sir Henry Clinton to innovate new techniques to gather and communicate intelligence more effectively. The conditions of the war would help change the views and values each man placed on intelligence. By the end of the war, both Washington and Clinton had created effective intelligence systems far superior to those previously seen in eighteenth century Europe. These men changed the way intelligence operations were viewed and conducted during times of war. This essay examines how the conditions of the Revolutionary War increased the need for intelligence operations and led to new techniques to gather and communicate intelligence, as well as how the views Clinton and Washington had towards intelligence changed throughout the course of the war.


Ng, Margaret




United States History

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 John T. Battaglia