Ksenia Solo portrays Peggy Shippen in Turn.
Ksenia Solo portrays Peggy Shippen in Turn.
Photo: Antony Platt, AMC.
Not unlike the American Revolution, Turn, Washington’s Spies, has always been a long-shot proposition.

    Based upon the Culper spy ring, which operated out of Setauket, Long Island, during the Revolutionary War, the show ended its first two seasons with both critical acclaim and frantic nail biting over whether it would be renewed. Now in its third season, Turn continues to offer a compelling mix of history and plausible fiction. From time to time, our website will offer resources that will help fans sort one from the other.
    Here are a couple examples:

PEGGY SHIPPEN AND JOHN ANDRE:  Known to history as the wife of Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman), in Turn, Shippen (Ksenia Solo) is in love with Maj. John Andre (JJ Feild), British spymaster. As depicted in the show, Shippen appears to be repulsed by Arnold.
    But is the Shippen-Andre relationship accurately portrayed? Perhaps.
    Shippen’s name “had once been linked with Andre's own during the hedonistic winter Andre spent in British-occupied Philadelphia after a prisoner exchange had liberated him,” according to the CIA library’s website.  

ROBERT ROGERS: In the season opener April 25, Robert Rogers (Angus MacFadyen), former leader of the Queen’s Rangers and now an unemployed ruthless villain, skulks about plotting revenge upon Andre, his former boss. In an attempt to use sought-after American spy Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell) to trap Andre, Rogers pops up in Setauket and forms an unanticipated alliance with Woodhull.
   In life, Rogers was a noted soldier who made a name for himself during the French and Indian War, when he commanded a militia force known for using Indian techniques. (See the Encyclopedia article.) This latest plot turn involving Rogers and Woodhull is apparently fictional.

THE LADIES: During the season premiere, Woodhull’s former lover, Anna Strong (Heather Lind), distracts an English officer quartered with the Woodhull family. This gives Woodhull’s wife, Mary (Meegan Warner), a chance to rummage through the officer’s desk.
    As our website pointed out in an article about the show last year, Woodhull didn’t marry until later in the war.  
    Anna Smith Strong was the name of a woman thought to have been an accomplice in the ring. The U.S. National Security Agency’s website describes her as the signal agent -- she reportedly hung a black petticoat on a clothesline to alert a courier in the ring that information could be delivered. While some sources describe this story as folklore, there was a female agent who played an important role in the revolution. (See the article, Clandestine Women: Spies in American History, on the website of the National Women’s History Museum.)



     'Turn' serves up revolutionary history

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