A soldier and a spy, Bissell was a hero on the battlefield and lived every day as a spy with the risk of being found and hanged. Bissell joined the army as a corporal and fought with Washington. He was present at the battles of White Plains, Trenton, and Monmouth.
Practically every soldier under Washington at the Battle of Trenton deserved a medal; the march to the battle claimed the lives of two men and left others with frostbite. Two years later, Bissell fought in nearly opposite conditions at Monmouth. Over 100-degree weather had men dying from heat stroke during the brutal, but inconclusive, battle. During the battle, Bissell was shot in the face, sustaining a serious scar to his cheek but still surviving to fight again.
But Bissell did not fight again, instead, he was given the far more dangerous job of being a spy in New York. Of all the British forces to join as a spy, Bissell joined Benedict Arnold’s loyalist army. Initially planned as a shorter stay, Bissell became seriously ill and lost his opportunity to desert back to American forces. For over a year, Bissell served as a quartermaster for the British and kept track of everything he could think of.
When he was finally able to make his escape, Bissell was arrested by American forces as only Washington and a few others had knowledge of Bissell’s espionage. After pleading his captors to contact Washington, Bissell was recognized and freed. Bissell spent days redrawing maps of British positions from memory and writing down every last important detail he could think of.
For risking his life on the battlefield and within the enemy’s armies, Bissell was awarded the Badge of Military Merit by George Washington. Bissell continued to serve throughout the war and in the American Indian wars after the revolution. A true patriot, Bissell never thought to stay with the British despite serving with them for 13 long months.