|“||I know many believe that, Miss Phillips, but every kind of service necessary to the cause of freedom becomes honorable by being necessary.||”|
— Nathan Hale to Sarah regarding his duty as a spy
|Age||21 (at death, September 22, 1776)|
Nathan appears on the beach of Flushing Bay spying on the British. Later, he gets captured and under General Howe's command, and is hanged the next morning. Before doing so he said "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
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Intelligence-Gathering Mission Edit
The Battle of Long Island led to British victory and the capture of New York City. Hale volunteered on September 8, 1776 to go behind enemy lines and report on troop movements––an activity of spying punishable by death by hanging.
An account of Hale's capture was written by Consider Tiffany, a Connecticut shopkeeper and Loyalist. In it, Major Robert Rogers of the Queen's Rangers saw Hale in a tavern and recognized him despite his disguise. After luring Hale into betraying himself by pretending to be a Patriot, Rogers and his Rangers apprehended Hale near Flushing Bay in Queens, New York. Another story was that his Loyalist cousin, Samuel Hale, was the one who revealed his true identity.
British General William Howe had established his headquarters in the Beekman House in a [then] rural part of Manhattan. Hale reportedly was questioned by Howe, and physical evidence was found on him. Rogers provided information about the case. According to tradition, Hale spent the night in a greenhouse at the mansion. He requested a Bible; his request was denied. Sometime later, he requested a clergyman, and again, his request was denied.
According to the standards of the time, spies were hanged as illegal combatants. On the morning of September 22, 1776, Hale was marched along Post Road to the Park of Artillery, which was next to a public house called the Dove Tavern (at modern-day 66th Street and Third Avenue), and hanged.
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- Over the years, there has been speculation as to whether Hale specifically uttered the line: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." The line may be a revision of "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."