'Turn: Washington's Spies' finale: What became of all the characters?

The shooting stopped with the Battle of Yorktown last week on AMC’s Turn: Washington’s Spies and on Saturday, AMC period drama spent its final hour showing viewers what happened to all of the characters after the Revolutionary War ended.

You know what George Washington and Alexander Hamilton did after the war; here’s what became of the others:

Abe Woodhull (Jamie Bell)

On the show: Everyone’s favorite cabbage-farming spy fell on hard times in the immediate aftermath of the war. He’d already signed over his late father’s estate to Major Hewlett (Burn Gorman)  in exchange for remaining silent about the whole “I am Culper” thing. Making matters worse, he had never been reimbursed for the travel expenses he ran up traveling back and forth (not to mention risking his life) during the war. He was working at the tavern formerly owned by the Strongs, the site of a reunion dinner for the main characters, including General Washington (Ian Kahn). So Abe asked for his back pay and he got it, from Washington’s own coffers. 

“It’s a very hard lesson that I’ve learned well,” the future president told Abe, referencing how unreimbursed expenses helped to push Benedict Arnold to defect. “Failure to settle accounts can turn friend to foe. The payment of a debt is a freedom felt by all.” (By the way, Washington did tour Long Island and visit Setauket but it wasn’t until 1790, when he was already president.)

In real life: Woodhull didn’t actually wed his wife Mary until after the war. They had three kids together. In 1824, nearly two decades after her 1806 death, he remarried but died two years later at age 75. He is buried in Setauket.

Benjamin Tallmadge (Seth Numrich)

On the show:  During the reunion dinner in Setauket, Tallmadge, who served as Washington’s right-hand man during the war, announced he was engaged to marry Mary Floyd, the daughter of a general who signed the Declaration of Independence.

In real life: After marrying his wife in 1784, the former intelligence officer went into politics. He was elected to Congress in 1801, where he represented Connecticut for 16 years . He had seven children, the youngest of whom bore the name of the man he served throughout the war: George Washington. He died in 1835 at age 81. He remained tight-lipped about the Culper ring in his memoir, published 23 years later. 

Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall)

On the show: Thankfully, Caleb got his axe-throwing groove back in time for Yorktown, recovering from the post-traumatic stress disorder that plagued him after his time as Simcoe’s prisoner. He arrived looking happy and almost clean-shaven for the reunion dinner, where he, too, announced he was engaged, to Anne Lewis, a woman who impressed him by drinking him under the table.  

In real life: Brewster, who’d been a whale boat captain before the war, worked as a blacksmith. About a decade after the war, he was a commander in Internal Revenue Cutter Service (the forerunner of the Coast Guard), founded by his colleague, Alexander Hamilton, who became the country’s first treasury secretary. He served in the War of 1812. He had eight children and died in 1827 at age 79. His correspondence with George Washington is preserved online.

Anna Strong (Heather Lind)

On the show: The first female member of the Culper Ring (who used laundry to signal Caleb Brewster and Abe Woodhull that the other was ready to leave or receive messages) reunited with her husband Selah, a member of Congress whom she had lobbied for more resources for the cash-strapped Continental Army. They announced they were selling their Setauket home and were moving to Connecticut.

In real life: History didn’t do a very good job tracking Anna after the war. We know she lived in Setauket until her death at age 72 on Aug. 12, 1812 (coincidentally exactly 205 years before the Turn series finale). She and Selah, who served in New York politics (but not Congress), had nine kids, seven of whom survived to adulthood. Like Tallmadge, she named one of her sons after George Washington. 

Peggy Shippen Arnold (Ksenia Solo)

On the show: Peggy relocated to London after the war with husband Benedict Arnold and was last seen visiting the grave of her one true love, Major John André, in Westminster Abbey (though, in reality, his remains weren’t transferred from New York to England until 1828, 24 years after her death).

In real life: Peggy was welcomed at the court of King George III and London society upon arriving in England in 1782. She got a much colder response from her hometown when she visited her family in Philadelphia five years later. She died of cancer in London in 1804, three years after her husband, at the relatively young age of 44. She left behind five children who survived to adulthood. 

Abigail (Idara Victor)

On the show: The maid for the late John André and, later, Peggy Arnold, Abigail begged her new boss, Gen. Arnold, to pay the ransom for the return of her son Cicero (Darren Alford), who’d been kidnapped by rebel militia men while serving as his valet in the field. She sought a pass to cross the lines from Major Hewlett (Burn Gorman),  who advised the freed slave against going into rebel territory, lest she be captured herself. She followed his advice and boarded a ship of black loyalists bound for Nova Scotia. He promised to get her message to Washington’s camp via Woodhull to demand the release of Cicero and her boyfriend, Akinbode (Aldis Hodge), as well as where they should meet her.

In real life: The Abigail character was invented for the show. It’s never been proven who Agent 355 (the code name assigned to her on the show) actually was.

Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman)

On the show: The most famous traitor in American history made arrangements to high-tail it back to London with Gen. Cornwallis, where he advises King George III on colonial policy. Later, as he’s making his midnight outhouse run, he’s ambushed by a homeless Robert Rogers, who tries to persuade him to kill the king. Doing so, he tells Arnold, would bring redemption for the turncoat and revenge for himself. And when the mad king went on a tangent about the amazing André, Arnold briefly considered going through with it. (We later see Rogers, now an alcoholic, keel over.)

In real life:Arnold left for England in late 1781, before the official surrender, in an unsuccessful bid to persuade  the Crown to keep the war going in America. Unable to find a new military or government post, he relocated to the New Brunswick colony in 1785 but developed a bad reputation there as well. He returned to England in 1792 and died in 1801  at age 60.  In one final blow to his fragile ego, he did not get the military funeral he wanted.

John Graves Simcoe (Samuel Roukin)

On the show: In the penultimate episode, Simcoe, badly injured in his last encounter with Abe, experienced something of a quasi-deathbed conversion. He told his Queen’s Rangers to disband and return to their old units rather than making a last stand, effectively saving their lives — and his own, since Hewlett decided not to kill him after all, believing the show’s biggest baddie was a changed man. The finale found Simcoe back in England, somewhat adrift. He sought a new, post-war job from Gen. Clinton (Ralph Brown), who suggested he consider Upper Canada, where he could build rather than kill.  

In real life: He did return to England after the war, where he recovered from his injuries, married, had five daughters and served in Parliament for two years. In 1792, he began his post of Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. He founded the city of Toronto and was a key player in creating the colony’s legal system and the 1793 Act Against Slavery, the first such legislation in the British Empire. Three years later, poor health forced him to return to England. He was later appointed to succeed Gen. Cornwallis as commander-in-chief in India but died in 1806 before he could assume the post. He was 54.

Edmund Hewlett (Burn Gorman)

On the show: Hewlett, who’d filled the intelligence post left vacant after André’s death, returned to Setauket one last time to pick up the deed to Whitehall, the house Abe Woodhull had promised him in return for not exposing him as the spy codenamed Samuel Culper. He then promptly sold the property to Martin De Young, who’d bought the Strongs’ tavern and vowed to “leave this forsaken country forever.”

In real life: The Hewlett we’ve come to know didn’t exist. While there was an officer on the British side named Richard Hewlett who was garrisoned in Setauket, he was actually a loyalist from Long Island. 

Robert Townsend (Nick Westrate)

On the show: Robert Townsend, who moved back to Long Island after the war, traveled to Setauket to visit with Woodhull. The conservatively-dressed Quaker loosened up and showed skin for the very first time, appearing in an unbuttoned shirt and rolled up sleeves. After seeing him so buttoned up for four seasons, the sight of his bare neck and forearms was positively scandalous.

In real life:  Townsend never married, living out his days in his family home in Oyster Bay (now a museum) with his sister. He died in 1838 at the age of 84, never having divulged his wartime spying. It would remain a secret for nearly a century until the information was ferreted out by a New York historian in 1930.

James Rivington (John Carroll Lynch)

On the show: The Royal Gazette publisher, who was cranking out fake news 200 years before that was a thing, got a surprise visit from General Washington, who called him out for that ridiculous “Rebel rabble routed at Monmouth” headline. Washington also shocked a tearful Rivington (who’d lost his printing press and his house to attacks by the Sons of Liberty) by showing he was serious about the need for a free press. He put men there to guard him from future reprisals rather than haul him off to prison.

In real life: In a storyline that never made it into the show, Rivington eventually changed sides, becoming a Continental spy, like his business partner, Robert Townsend, sealing messages inside the covers of the books he published. His fortunes declined after the war, as he was still presumed to be a loyalist. He died in 1802, at approximately age 78.

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