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"We do not need their laws, their taxes, or their protection. And I will not stop my mission for Washington until the last king's man has set sail back to England."
Abraham Woodhull to Mary Woodhull.[src]

Abraham "Abe" Woodhull, known also by his spy alias of Samuel Culpeper and Samuel Culper, his chosen version of the alias, is a New York farmer that went on to become a spy for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Joining together with childhood friends Caleb Brewster and Benjamin Tallmadge, the three formed what would later become the Culper Ring.

The organization received the aid and assistance of various others, including Abe's former lover, Anna Strong. The organization would report to Commander-in-Chief, George Washington.


Early life

Abraham Woodhull was born to Richard Woodhull and Rebecca Woodhull (1728–1757). He had an older brother, Thomas.

A young Caleb, Abe and Ben.

In his youth, Abe made friends with Caleb Brewster and Benjamin Tallmadge. The three would look out for each other and do many things together.

In 1773, at King's College, Abe placed a Phrygian cap on the Liberty Pole, starting a riot. Thomas was killed while attempting to put down the riot. His body was buried in a graveyard in Setauket. Abe would blame himself for Thomas' death for years to come.

After Thomas' death, Abe broke off his engagement with Anna to fulfill Thomas' engagement to his fiancée, Mary. The two eventually had a son, who they named in his honor.

Culper Ring service

In the autumn of 1776, Abe had speculated to his wife, Mary, that the American Revolutionary War would be over by Christmas.

One day, while tending to his cabbage field, Abe discovered maggots destroying his crop. He visited Strong Tavern to pay off part of his debt to Selah Strong, Anna's husband. During the visit, Anna invited Abe and his family to dinner but Abe declined.

Abe being aimed at by Simcoe.

While the three were talking, John Robeson, a Tory oyster farmer, happily read an account in the Royal Gazette of a retreat by General George Washington to a room full of Redcoats. Selah ordered Robeson to leave and they struggled briefly. During the struggle, beer was spilled on Captain Charles Joyce, who angrily tackled Selah. Abe attempted to intervene but was stopped by Lieutenant John Graves Simcoe, who put a pistol to the back of Abe's head. Joyce then threw Abe to the floor and kicked him in the head.

After the fight, Major Edmund Hewlett orders Joyce to return to England for a court martial on the tavern incident. Judge Richard Woodhull, Abe's father, visited Hewlett to explain his son's role in the bar brawl and revealed that Abe was once engaged to Anna Strong and quoted Shakespeare to illustrate his son's "romantic heart." Hewlett was impressed and the two men bonded over their mutual love of the humanities.

That night, off Major Hewlett's orders, Simcoe released Abe. Selah, however, remained in custody. Later, back at the Woodhull farm, Richard warned Abe to stay away from people like the Strongs and Tallmadges.

Abe visiting Selah in the stockade.

Ignoring his father's warning, Abe later visited Selah in the stockade and advised him to bribe his way off the Jersey prison ship once he's there. Selah told Abe that he could repay his debt by looking after Anna, but Abe insisted that he'll repay in cash.

That night, Abe salvaged some healthy cabbages from his field. He later rowed his boat, loaded with cabbages, across Long Island Sound. When he reached the Connecticut shoreline, he warily looked for a black market trader. To his surprise, he was met by Caleb, who had been away for years on a whaleboat in Greenland. They caught up and then settled on a price for Abe's cabbage.

While rowing back across Long Island Sound, Abe was intercepted by a pirate sloop trolling the waters. That night, Ben visited Abe in jail. A surprised Abe hugged his childhood friend, then pleaded for his help. Ben demanded the name of Abe's illegal trade contact, but Abe stayed mum. Ben then asked Abe to spy for the Continental Army. Abe realized the pirate sloop was a clever ruse to recruit him, but doesn't say no. Ben soon let him go.

Back on Long Island, Abe pulled his boat on shore and immediately buried his money. Pretending he was mugged, he cut himself and approached the road. Seeing Robeson and called for help. A suspicious Robeson ran away. Abe hobbled into town with a fake limp and noticed everyone's eyes on him. Robeson reappeared and brought Simcoe and the Redcoats to Abe.

Simcoe then brought Abe to the church, where Richard and Hewlett await. Joyce had been killed after Abe harvested his cabbage. When Hewlett demanded to know where Abe had been since Joyce's death, Abe admitted that he was "with the enemy" and explained that he was mugged by pirates while trading on the black market. Hewlett sent Abe home but asked to meet that evening to discuss his captors' identities.

Outside the church, Simcoe warned Abe that he was still a suspect in Joyce's murder. Later, at Strong Manor, Abe hid in the barn and signaled to Anna. He gave Anna the cabbage money to repay his debt, then told her about Caleb and Ben. He then told her that Ben tried to recruit him as a spy. When he informed her that he had no intention to join them, Anna was upset with him and asked him why not. She then left without taking his money.

That night, Abe dressed for his dinner with Hewlett. While preparing, Mary told him that whatever he was doing, he shouldn't do. During the dinner with his father and Hewlett, Richard proposed that rather than imprisoning Abe, they have him swear a public oath to the crown. Hewlett embraced the idea, then asked Abe for the names of his enemy captors. Abe provided several names. Richard grew suspicious of the names but remained silent. Hewlett then mentioned that Simcoe would be raiding a Connecticut safe house.

After dinner, Abe snuck into Hewlett's room and found a dispatch from John André. Using a Cardan grille he found with the letter, he decipherd a message: "Rebel safe house. Connecticut. Meeg's Harbor. Show no quarter." Abe sprinted over to Strong Tavern and pulled Anna aside in the cellar, away from prying eyes. He asked her to hang a black petticoat from her laundry line as a signal to Ben that he has intel for the Continental Army. Abe then told her that his plan will get rid of Simcoe, who had continued to harass Anna. Abe then scrambles to hide as Simcoe entered the room. Anna distracted Simcoe by flirting with him and they left the room together.

The next day, Anna hung a black petticoat on her peg line. Abe arrived at a designated meeting spot and was surprised to discover that Caleb was Ben's courier. Caleb explained that Abe passed their test when he refused to turn him over to Ben. Abe then insisted that his spying was a one-time deal.

Abe swears allegiance to King George III.

Later, on the Setauket village green, Abe placed his hand on a bible held by his father and publicly swore his allegiance to King George III. Meanwhile, Simcoe lead a squad of Redcoats to the Connecticut safe house. They charged inside, only to find it empty. A moment later, the Continental Army ambushed them.

Afterwards, a wounded Simcoe was kicks unconscious by Caleb and captured. Caleb expressed guilt to Ben over letting Simcoe live, given that Abe's sole request was for them to kill Simcoe. Ben then told Caleb that they would after questioning him, intent on uncovering the mole in their ranks.

After the crowd who witnessed Abe's oath broke up, Richard told Abe that he knew he had lied about the names of his Continental Army captors and told him that he was done protecting him. As Abe watched his father walk off to meet Hewlett, Abe's son, Thomas, took his first steps before he steadied himself by grabbing Abe's leg.

Two months after the Battle of Setauket, Abe began fully assisting in the cause, using the root cellar of his ruined home as his spycraft hideaway.

Confrontation with Simcoe in Virginia

Arnold and his American Legion later march down a war-torn street in Virginia, engulfed in battle with rebels. Abe was forced to fire on the rebel combatants.

Arnold later summoned Abe to his quarters to ask for help selling goods that he’d looted in Virginia. Simcoe then walked in and asked about the powder. He counseled Arnold against marching further south and expressed disapproval over Arnold’s looting. Arnold then ordered Abe to find suitable ports to funnel his profits through. Arnold then dismissed them both.

Abe and Simcoe encounter each other in Virginia.

Walking away from Arnold’s office, Simcoe threatened to kill Abe on the battlefield. After their encounter, Abe walked into Champe’s tent and convinced him that they need to flee the camp before they'd be forced to kill their own. Sturridge overheard their conversation.

Later, inside their tent, Champe told Abe that they should escape amid the commotion of Cornwallis’s army’s arrival. He then gave Abe a gun and proposed that they seek refuge with the French, who had a ship nearby. Sturridge then entered the tent and revealed that he knew that Abe and Champe were rebel spies. Abe restrained Champe from killing Sturridge, who explained that all he wanted was to leave with them to get away from the war.

At night, Abe, Champe and Sturridge snuck out of the camp. While jumping the camp fence, Sturridge stumbled and accidentally shot himself. Soldiers in camp heard the gunshot.

"Come on, on your feet."
"I wish I could have been brave once in my life."
"Come on, get up."
"Catch me."
"No, no, no, no, I can't. I can't, we have to hide."
"No. Catch. Me. Just do it."
Abraham Woodhull and Joseph Sturridge.[src]

Abe then told Champe to run. As British soldiers descended on their location, Sturridge implored Abe to “catch him.” When the soldiers arrived, Abe told them that he caught Sturridge trying to desert. A Ranger then shot Sturridge dead. Afterwards, Arnold doubled the guard so that no more deserters could escape.

Cicero later visited Abe in his tent. Abe then told Cicero that he planned to kill Simcoe the following day and asked Cicero to tell his family that it was his choice.

Arnold soon summoned Abe and asked for his sales contacts before he headed to Yorktown. Arnold then showed Abe a map that he drew for Cornwallis that illustrated the British weakness and complained that no one was heeding his advice, and that they only had enough powder and rations for a march, not a siege. Abe then quietly stole the map.

The next morning at Blandford, Abe and the American Legion shot at rebels from inside the upper levels of a parapet. Abe tried to make excuses to break away, Arnold’s map still in his pocket, but Dowling ordered him to stay.

"Culper. Culper. It'll all be over soon. No more hiding. No more lying. Regards to your father."
―John Graves Simcoe to Abraham Woodhull.[src]

Dowling soon ordered the regiment to follow him outside, and Abe took the opportunity to break off from the group. While outside, Abe saw Simcoe and they locked eyes across the courtyard. Abe then turned around and hustled away, and Simcoe followed him back into the building with the parapet. Abe then shot at Simcoe but missed. He then ran down a level on the parapet, with Simcoe coolly taunting him.

From the ground, Caleb had arrived at the battle and saw Simcoe pursuing Abe on the parapet wall. As Simcoe raised his gun to shoot Abe at point-blank range, Caleb shot Simcoe in the stomach. Abe rushed at Simcoe and threw him over the walkway railing onto a pile of bricks below. Simcoe then gasped for air, indicating that he was still alive, and Abe rushed downstairs. On the next level, he saw that Simcoe’s body was missing and followed a trail of blood, picking up Simcoe’s gun and Arnold’s map that he had dropped.

Abe considers shooting Simcoe.

British soldiers soon found Simcoe dragging himself across the floor, gravely wounded and covered in blood, and called for help. While the soldiers were distracted trying to sustain Simcoe, Abe leveled his gun at Simcoe from across the room but decided not to shoot, choosing instead to get Arnold’s map to Washington. Abe then left.

Abe later spotted Lafayette’s ship on the river and surrendered to French soldiers on shore. Abe then gave Arnold’s map to Lafayette and explained that he was Ben’s spy, Samuel Culper. Lafayette questioned Abe’s claim and his men restrained Abe and took him away.

Siege of Yorktown

"It's ain't him."
"Shut up."
"Definitely ain't him."
"You bastard."
―Caleb Brewster and Abraham Woodhull.[src]

Abe reuniting with Caleb.

Abe later sat in a cell with British prisoners aboard Lafayette’s ship. Later, French soldiers delivered Abe to the Captain’s quarters, where Lafayette was waiting with Caleb. Caleb and Abe embraced, and Caleb revealed that he’d been the one who shot Simcoe in Blandford. Abe then said that he left Simcoe alive to deliver Arnold’s intelligence about Yorktown’s vulnerabilities. Lafayette then confirmed that Washington had heeded the letter and was sending the army to Yorktown.

In the Allied camp at Yorktown, Abe reunited with Mary and Thomas. Anna, Caleb and Ben joined them. “So much for Samuel Culper,” said Ben, now that Abe’s identity had been revealed. Abe then asked for a moment alone with Mary. Abe urged her to return to Setauket with Thomas but she refused to leave his side.

Later, in Ben’s tent, Abe debriefed Ben on the British army’s supply inventory, which he gleaned from Arnold’s ledger. He informed Ben that the British were low on munitions powder.

General Washington is seen by Abe for the first time.

The battle at Yorktown had begun and on October 9th. Abe helped fortify the trenches amid heavy gunfire while Anna brought water to soldiers. Abe glimpsed Washington giving orders nearby. When Anna was nearly shot, Abe ran towards her, but he was shot and fell to the ground. Caleb then carries him off the battlefield.

Caleb carried Abe to the medical tent. Thomas saw him, and told Mary that his father was there. Mary rushed to Abe and sewed up his wound. Thomas held Abe’s hand as Mary helped him.

Characters met



Caleb Brewster

Anna Strong

Benjamin Tallmadge

Robert Townsend


Mary Woodhull

Rebecca Woodhull

Richard Wooodhull

Thomas "Sprout" Woodhull"

Thomas Woodhull


Edmund Hewlett

John Graves Simcoe

Abe met Simcoe in 1776.

Behind the Scenes

"The stakes are going to get very, very high for him."
Abraham Woodhull, as described by Jamie Bell.

Abraham Woodhull was portrayed by Jamie Bell in Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 and by Dale G. Gattis in Season 4 of Turn: Washington's Spies.




Season 1

"Abe is the true face of the Revolutionary war -- a man who is at war with himself, torn between his ideals and his desires. A young farmer with a wife he was arranged to marry and a one-year-old son he will sacrifice anything for, Abe is the everyman who wanted to keep his head down and plow his field. Instead, he gets pulled deeper into the conflict against his will. Caught between loyalty to his Tory judge father and respect for childhood friends who fight for the Patriot cause, Abe will risk everything to fight for what he believes in and to protect what he loves."
Official description

Season 2

"Abe is one of the true faces of the Revolutionary War -- a man at war with himself and torn between his ideals and his desires. In season one, he risked everything to fight for what he believed in by joining with his friends to form the Culper Ring. His attempts to keep the war far away from his own doorstep proved impossible when his wife Mary discovered his secret and Abe was forced to take the life of the Redcoat soldier quartered in his home. To cover up the murder, he conspired with Mary to burn down the farmhouse he spent years building, a symbol of the last shred of his independence from his father."
Official description

Season 3

"Abe is George Washington's most important spy, the centerpiece of the Culper Ring. Codenamed "Samuel Culper" by none other than Washington himself, Abe operates behind enemy lines on Long Island, gathering intelligence from the British headquarters in New York City. In Season One, Abe transformed from a humble cabbage farmer reluctant to get involved in the war to a dedicated patriot who murdered a kindly Redcoat to preserve his cover. Season Two saw Abe harden into an experienced double agent, one who expanded his activities but needed more lies to cover them.Though his loyalist father learned he was a spy and tried to block him, Abe was able to cultivate a source in New York. The season ended with a cliffhanger, as Abe was captured by the mercenary Robert Rogers. Rogers intends to use him as bait to gain revenge on John André, the head of British intelligence. Abe's new challenge will be keeping both himself and the Culper Ring alive while navigating a host of enemies, several of whom want to see him hanged."
Official description

Season 4

"Abe is George Washington's most important spy, the centerpiece of the Culper Ring. Codenamed "Samuel Culper" by none other than Washington himself, Abe operates behind enemy lines on Long Island, gathering intelligence from the British headquarters in New York City. In Season 1, Abe transformed from a cabbage farmer, reluctant to get involved in the war, into a dedicated Patriot spy forced to kill a kindly Redcoat to preserve his cover. Season 2 saw Abe harden into an experienced double agent. Though his Loyalist father learned he was a spy, Abe was able to cultivate a source in New York, but was captured by the mercenary Robert Rogers. Season 3 found Rogers threatening to expose him as Culper. Abe cast off Rogers, only to fall into the crosshairs of his old nemesis, Captain Simcoe, conducting a witch-hunt to root out traitors in Setauket. Abe tried to rally the town against Simcoe but was, instead, strung up to be hanged -- until his father cleverly orchestrated his rescue by Colonel Cooke. Now in Season 4, Abe is at the top of his game, orchestrating a raid to deprive the British of necessary supplies. Every action has a consequence, however, and one fateful act leaves Abe reeling. In the end, Abe must choose between fighting for his country or for himself on a final mission that changes the course of the war."
Official description

Links and references

External links