Auction for Revolutionary War letter with LI link

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One of three known letters written by Gen. George Washington about his Long Island spy network in the American Revolution is scheduled to be auctioned in Manhattan next week.

Stony Brook University, which already owns one of the historically important letters about the Setauket Spy Ring, is hoping to add a second to its colonial document collection at the Feb. 12 sale by Christie's.

The 1780 letter, owned by an unnamed private collector, was written by the commander of the Continental Army to Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge, his head of intelligence, about giving recognition after the war to Oyster Bay resident Robert Townsend, aka Culper Jr., his chief spy.

Christie's estimates the letter will sell for $25,000 to $35,000. Manuscript specialist Pat McGrath said the estimate would be much higher if not for the economic downturn.

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