Nathan Hale

A historical novel

Nathan Hale

The story opens with a rider galloping into the colonial town of New London, Connecticut. Twenty-one year old schoolmaster Nathan Hale listens with excitement to the rider as he tells the townspeople of recent battles in Lexington and Concord. Hale volunteers for the Continental Army in a personal effort to contribute to the cause of independence, and is shortly thereafter appointed as an officer.

When, over the next several months, the Continental Army continues to encounter resistance and defeat from the British, General George Washington expresses his great concern about the war and the dwindling chances of American victory and independence. He realizes that more information about British movements and plans is critical to the survival of his Army, so he calls for a volunteer to travel behind enemy lines and return with the needed information.

Hale volunteers for the assignment, ignoring the pleas of his friends and fellow officers, and soon becomes one of the first patriot spies in the Revolutionary War, as well as an American hero. Assuming the disguise of a Dutch schoolmaster, he moves quietly and quickly behind enemy lines on Long Island and Manhattan Island, recording maps and other strategic information on a piece of paper that he keeps in his shoe. The excitement mounts as he has several close encounters with the British; interspersed with details of Hale’s activities are descriptions of battles in and around New York City.

As Hale makes his last strides toward the American lines in northern Manhattan, he is sighted by a squad of British soldiers, captured, and taken to British General William Howe. Under interrogation by Howe, Hale admits to his role as spy, and to his role in starting a fire which has consumed the lower part of Manhattan. Howe sentences Hale to death without a trial; the final scenes culminate in Hale’s immortal last words.