American Revolutionary War Spy. He was a spy for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, who was captured by British troops and executed 2 days later. He graduated with honors from Yale University in 1773. He had joined a Connecticut militia unit in 1775, reaching the rank of first lieutenant within five months. He was a member of Knowlton's Rangers, a reconnaissance and espionage detachment of the Continental Army established by General George Washington. When little more than twenty-one years old, he was hanged by order of General William Howe, as a spy in the City of New York on September 22, 1776. Nathan Hale's father was Richard Hale, who had relocated to Coventry from Newbury, Massachusetts in 1746. His father had married Elizabeth Strong. He was the sixth of his parents' children. On September 14, 1775 his military unit was ordered by General George Washington to Cambridge. They were placed on the left wing of his army and made their camp at the foot of Winter Hill. He stepped forward when Washington asked for a volunteer to go behind enemy lines before the coming Battle of Harlem Heights. With little to no training in espionage, he was successful in gathering information about British troop movements for a week. While returning from an assignment on September 21st, Hale was seized and examined. Hidden in the sole of his shoe was an incriminating document, written in Latin. Upon finding this document, he was carried on board a frigate and sent to New York City the same day, well-guarded. To his terror, New York City had been burnt to the ground the day before. Without a trial, General Howe ordered his execution for spying, which was set for the following morning. Hale was confined for the night in the greenhouse of the garden of Howe's head-quarters. The next morning, Hale was marched out by a guard and hanged upon an apple tree in Rutger's orchard. At the gallows, he was asked to make his dying "speech and confession," but uttered "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." In various sources, the present-day location of the execution is listed in different locations. Hale's body was buried in an unmarked grave but a cenotaph was placed in his family's cemetery. Hale is considered America's first spy. An eight-foot-tall bronze statue of Hale on a five-foot-tall pink granite base was erected on November 25, 1893 by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York in City Hall Park. This statue was made in France and was the first statue created by an American sculptor to place in the 1891 Salon competitions in Paris. A statue by another sculptor was erected in 1914 at Yale University and replicas of that statue are located at Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia, and the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. On October 1, 1985, Nathan Hale was made the official state hero of Connecticut.
Bio by: Linda Davis
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