Nathan Hale (colonel)

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Nathan Hale
Born (1743-09-23)September 23, 1743
Hampstead, New Hampshire
Died September 23, 1780(1780-09-23) (aged 37)
Long Island, New York
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1775–1780
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel

American Revolutionary War

Relations Enoch Hale (brother)

Nathan Hale (September 23, 1743 – September 23, 1780) was an American Revolutionary War Officer. He was born in Hampstead, New Hampshire, son of Moses and Elizabeth (Wheeler) Hale. In his teens he moved with his family to Rindge, New Hampshire. He married Abigail Grout, daughter of Col. John and Joanna (Boynton) Grout of Lunenberg, Mass.[1]"At the organization of the town of Rindge in 1768, Nathan was chosen the first constable of the town. He was moderator of the annual town meetings in 1773, 1774 and 1775. As early as 1774 he was captain of a company of 'minutemen' and on the alarm of the battle of Lexington, 19 April 1775, he led his company at once to the field. Four day after he was commissioned major in Col James Reeds regiment, and thenceforward continued in active service until his capture." Hale participated in the American Revolutionary War and fought in the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Battle of Bunker Hill Siege of Fort Ticonderoga, and Battle of Hubbardton. Hale was taken prisoner by the British. He died on September 23, 1780 at the hands of the British at New Utrecht, LI, New York.

Service in the American Revolution[edit]

In 1774, Hale became the captain of a militia company of minute men.[2] Once Hale was told of the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775, he and his fifty men marched to Cambridge, Massachusetts to join the Army of Observation.[3][4]

On June 2, 1775, Hale was commissioned as a captain in the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment.[2] They fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775.[2] The Army of Observation (consisting of militiamen from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island) had about 2,400 men[5] and the British had over 3,000.[6][7] The colonies suffered 450 casualties[8] and the British suffered 1,054 casualties[9] in what has been described as a British Pyrrhic victory.[10]

Hale was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the 2nd New Hampshire Regiment on November 8, 1776.[2]

Achieving success in battle, he was again promoted to colonel on April 2, 1777.[2] In the same year he served under Major General Arthur St. Clair at the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga.[2] The Siege took place from July 2–6, 1777 and was between the United States against the British. Arthur St. Clair led about 3,000 men[11] against John Burgoyne and William Phillips who led 7,000 men[12] as well as about 800 Indians and Canadians[13] It seems General St Clair took over Fort Ticonderoga without much of a fight as the British were not there. Encamped Officers and Men of the Continental Army under St. Clair were increasingly nervous over the opposing hill named Mount Defiance.

If cannon were placed on Mt Defiance by the British, then Ticonderoga would have no defense. Apparently General St Clair did not believe cannon could be placed there as it was nearly impossible to scale. On July 4, 1777 the British managed to place two cannon and soldiers atop Mt. Defiance. It was a checkmate move by British General Burgoyne. General St. Clair met with his officers and decided to escape in the night. The sick and wounded were said to sail by ship further south. But St Clair gave the job of getting the many sick and wounded to safety while evacuating Ticonderoga in the dark to Col Nathan Hale. If the sick and wounded were to survive they had to move fast to escape, but they could not move fast enough as they straggled in a long line towards Hubbardton.

The uncontested surrender of Ticonderoga caused an uproar in the American public and in its military circles, as Ticonderoga was widely believed to be virtually impregnable, and a vital point of defence. General St. Clair and his superior, General Philip Schuyler, were vilified by Congress. Both were eventually exonerated in courts martial, but their careers were adversely affected. Schuyler had already lost his command to Horatio Gates by the time of the court martial, and St. Clair held no more field commands for the remainder of the war.

Not much was done in the battle as Burgoyne took over Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Independence while the Americans sheepishly slipped out in cover of darkness never defending themselves

[14](See Losing's Field book of the Revolution vol. 1 p. 145 for more on the retreat and Col Hale's caution with sick and wounded as they could not move out of harms way during the battle of Hubbardton.)

Just a few days later Hale was still retreating with many sick and wounded as they straggled in Hubbardton. During the Battle of Hubbardton, he and the sick and wounded were discovered and were taken prisoner by the British on July 7, 1777.[15] His surrender there was the subject of controversy.[16] He was later released on limited parole by the British on the condition that Hale was not allowed to serve in the Army and he had to come back to the enemy lines .[15] He returned to Rindge, New Hampshire on July 20, 1777.[15] Since he was not exchanged, Hale returned to prison on June 14, 1779.[15] but hoped to be able to exonerate himself after a prisoner exchange. Hale died on September 23, 1780 in New Utrecht, Brooklyn while in prison.[15]

[17]"Thomas Moore of Chelsea, who was a soldier in his regiment, told me repeatedly in my boyhood that my grandfather was"as brave a man as ever trod shoe-leather" and added always that he "was the finest-looking man I (Moore) ever set eyes on." His wife was a woman of great intelligence, executive ability and energy of character whom I well remember in a wonderfully vigorous old age." After the age of 90 she was still a great reader, interested in the news and politics of the day. In her latter years she drew a pension of $600 per year as widow of a Colonel.

A Letter from Col Hale to his wife from Battle at Breeds Hill/Winter Hill indicative of his bravery and leadership for America and his belief in God's providence. The letter now in private ownership:

Winter Hill in Charlestown July ye 5 1775

Mrs. Hale, I would inform you that I am in good Health as I hope these lines will find you and all our children & all friends. We are in building forts and entrenchments as fast as we can on all the Large hills that are convenient near Bofton & Charlestowne in order to defend the Country as well as well as possible. We expect the Regulars out every day, but how soon we cannot tell. But we are ready for to give them battle if they come today. We have two Generals come this week from Virginia to take Command of our army (vis) General Washington Commander in Chief of our army & General Lee the third in command General Ward is the second in command. He was commander before Washington came. We think Washington & Lee are very able Generals indeed and think the army will be regulated very soon. I am very much Confined at present so that I can't hardly leave the army one minute. But am very well contented knowing that the Whole Salvation of our country under God depends on our industry and being faithful. Our men seem to be very anxious to go home; many of them to see their friends. But it is for want of consideration as it is a great damage to have our men dispersed over the country. But General Washington hath forbid any furloughs to be given at present. I Should be glad to come home if the circumstances of our army would admit, but at present it will not. It is insane for any one to pretend to go to defend their country and to be absent when most wanted. I am determined to make myself contented if I have to stay six months; as long as there is the least probability of gaining the victory. I think it is much better for to be confined a little while here, than for the whole country to be involved in utter ruin. The Regulars have had sum recruits come in lately. According to the best intelligence we can get from Bofton we killed in the Battle at Charlestowne of the Regular.

Officers 93

Sergeants & Corpls. 200

Privates 736

in the whole 1029

and wounded about Eight hundred more. We have some intelligence from a number of men of character that were in Boston at that time which have since made their escape out of that town.had killed & wounded of own men a(bout) in the whole. I would have all the care taken of our affairs that can be, and would have the haying done as soon as conveniently may be. If you have not sold all the rum, I think you may as well save to value of 1/2 a barrel as there will not be any to be bought in a short time as the harbors are all stopped up. I shall buy 1 of sugar for our use and 2 hogshead of salt for our use and send up as soon as I can or a part of the way. If you have sold all the rum I would have you send word so that I may buy some. Would have our oxen a fating as fast as may be. They are not to do any work but to get in the hay and some small chores about home. Likewise would have the calves weaned so that the cow may be a fatting as fast as possible. You may inform the Town that I think they had best send down and buy the town stock of salt as soon as they can for there will not be any to be bought in a very short time. If nothing should be done in a short time and all things rest as they be, it is likely I may get a furlough to come home, but how that will be I can't say I believe. Give my duty to mothers and my respects to all enquiring friends. I understand that the people in the country are very uneasy with the Army and think there is treachery in it because they don't rush on. I should be very glad those persons would come and make one trial and then I think they would be satisfied. It is my opinion that there never was an army of so large number that was more faithful and true to their country than this is. There is some cowards no doubt. If it had not been so at the battle in Charlestown there is no doubt but we should have gained a complete victory but old Gorist and Calender were afraid to show their heads. It is said some of our cowards have been confined to their tents ever since. I would have you send me a letter by the first opportunity to inform how you do. You may depend I shall come home as soon as I can with honor and to leave the Regiment in safety. My Lieut. Colo. Gilman is very sick at this time and my duty is harder than common.

I am in haste your husband,

Nathan Hale


Nathan is a descendant of Thomas Hale, Newbury Mass. who arrived in 1637 from Watton-At-Stone, Hertfordshire, England as the latter part of the Winthrop Fleet and Great Migration. See Book "Descendants of Thomas Hale" by Judge Robert Safford Hale in 1889. Some articles suggest that Nathan is direct kin to Captain Nathan Hale the martyr spy. This is false. Further that his genealogy is linked to sons of Hertfordshire's " Kings Walden" is also proven false ( see page 6 of the book). There are many Hale's (folks who lived in a nook or valley) all over Hertfordshire, England yet not directly related. The name Hale is of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning that Anglo-Saxons of England who came to England from northern Germany's (near Denmark) Anglia/Angelyn and Saxonia/ Saxony after the Romans left in the 5th century.


  1. ^ "Genealogy of descendants of Thomas Hale of Walton, England, and of Newbury, Mass. p.199". Retrieved 2016-04-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Hadden et al., p. 484.
  3. ^ Digby, p. 216.
  4. ^ Fischer, pp. 275–276
  5. ^ Chidsey p. 122.
  6. ^ Chidsey p. 90.
  7. ^ Frothingham p. 137.
  8. ^ Chidsey, p. 104.
  9. ^ Frothingham pp. 191, 194.
  10. ^ Clinton, p. 19.
  11. ^ Ketchum, p. 172.
  12. ^ Ketchum, p. 137.
  13. ^ .Pancake, p. 116.
  14. ^ Lossing, Benson. "Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution p. 145" (PDF). 
  15. ^ a b c d e New England Historic Genealogical Society, p. 90.
  16. ^ Hadden et al., pp. 488–489.
  17. ^ Hale, Robert. "Descendants of Thomas Hale pp.200".