Connecticut Ranger Thomas Knowlton, who had gone out in a blaze of glory, had earlier selected another earnest and dashing young Connecticut man, Capt. Nathanael hale. Hale was a 21 year old former schoolmaster turned captain. Knowlton had selected him to command a company of Continental Army rangers.
When Gen. George Washington asked for a volunteer to spy behind the British lines shortly before the battle of Harlem Heights, Hale stepped up. "I wish to be useful," he explained to a friend, "and every kind of service, necessary to the public good, becomes honorable by being necessary."
Hale became far more famous for what he said on September 22, after he was captured by the British Army and sentenced to death by execution. He had been collecting information on British troop disposition since September 12. It is said that His Tory cousin, Samuel hale, betrayed him to the british commanders. Perhaps, but to the courageous hale was not a very good spy. Tall, plump, and pocky, and with flaming red hair, he stood out in a crowd. Even less discreet was his practice of writing down the information that he had collected and carrying the papers with him in his coat.
Hale was captured on September 21. He was not given a trial but condemned to be hanged on Sunday. At least he was given the opportunity to speak some stirring last words: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country!" After this, he was hung in front of the British troops.