Nathan Hale

History of War - Spies




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Nathan Hale is an American hero who fought during the American Revolutionary War as a soldier in the Continental Army.

While Nathan Hale was not seen as a hero at the time, but today he is revered as one of America’s all time heroes even though he only lived to 21 years of age.

We are pretty sure you will not have heard of Nathan Hale, but his story is an intriguing one, a defiant one, but also a sad one because of losing his life at a tender age.

Before the American Revolutionary War

Nathan Hale was born on June the 6th in the year 1755. Hale was born and raised in Coventry, Connecticut and enjoyed a good upbringing. Once he turned thirteen however Nathan was sent to study at Yale College with his brother.

While at Yale College Hale became a member of the Yale literary fraternity and by 1773 graduated with first class honours.

After graduating from Yale Nathan Hale became a teacher. His first teaching post took him to East Haddam but he soon moved on to another teaching position in New London

Hale during the American Revolutionary War

At the breakout of the American Revolutionary War Nathan Hale signed up to the Connecticut militia where he was given the rank of first lieutenant. His first action is believed to have been the Siege of Boston, after the siege finished Hale stayed while the rest of the militia went back to their homesteads.

Hale then enrolled in the Continental Army where he was given a promotion to the rank of Captain within 8 months of enlisting. His first action as a Captain came in the defence of New York; this involved taking a ship full of provisions from the British even though it was being guarded by the feared British Man-of-war Navy ship.

After this the Battle of Long Island started and the British won control over New York. This prompted Hale to offer his services as a spy, to go behind enemy lines and report back any movements and knowledge of the British troops.

On September 12th 1776 Hale was taken by boat to the British side of New York. Here it is believed Hale stationed himself in a property close to the British troops and listened in to glean information.

Within 8 days of starting his mission however Yale had gone to a tavern in a disguise but Major Robert Rogers of the Queen's Rangers saw Hale and recognized him. Rogers went to Hale and spoke as a patriot, pretending to be part of the American movement, Hale then gave himself away and Rogers with has men captured him in Queens.

While the story above is the story held as accurate with Hale’s apprehension some say it was his cousin who gave away his identity to the British.

Once captured Hale was taken to Beekman House where British Major General Howe had stationed his self, here he was questioned and they found evidence of his treachery on him. This meant as a spy he was automatically sentenced to death by hanging for treason.

Hale spent his last night in a greenhouse in the grounds of Beekman House.

Hale and Death

On the morning of 22nd September Hale was hanged. The evidence says he was marched from Beekman House to the Park of Artillery, next to the Dove tavern. Here the noose was put round his neck and he was allowed to make a speech before handing.

The stories of the speech made differ somewhat, but the two most common reoccurrences of the speech are: “I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged that my only regret is that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.” Or "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Either way it is this famous line "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." That most see as the reason why he has been made into an American hero today.





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