To trick the British, James pretended to be an escaped slave. The British believed him and allowed him to stay in their camp. His knowledge of the Virginia terrain would be useful to them.
James would listen in as British leaders talked about secret battle plans. Then James would sneak back and tell Lafayette what he had learned.
Soon James got the British to trust him even more. They asked him to spy on the Americans for them. James was now a double agent.
James only pretended to spy for the British. General Lafayette told him what to pass along. Most of it was lies about the size of the American army meant to confuse the British.
If James were caught by the British for lying, he would be killed.
“Spying is very dangerous,” says historian Ken Daigler. “James must have been a very brave and smart person.”
Information provided by James helped America win the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. This was the last major battle with the British, and America won the war.