Nathan Hale, 1776; biography and memorials (1901)

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Email Print Translate this page. In front of City Hall steps Sculptor: Frederick William MacMonnies Architect: Figure heroic scale on pedestal, bandeau at base Materials: Supervision of the little community was of the parental order. There was a monastic as well as Puritan touch in the moral and religious obligations enjoined — the living of blameless lives, the reading of the Scriptures as the fountain of light and truth, and the attendance on public and private devotions.

Offenses or delinquencies were punishable largely by fines — a survival of the practice in the medieval guilds and corporations — the fines ranging from a penny for absence from morning or evening prayers to eight shillings or suspension or expulsion for repeated and glaring misdemeanors. Those were the days, too, when the most formal outward respect must be shown to the college authorities. All the students were to stand uncovered whenever the President passed along the walks, and all were to bow when he went in or out of the chapel.

There were regular study hours then, when the campus was to be quiet, when singing, loud talking and "all screamings and hollowings" around the buildings were finable. The students boarded in "Commons," managed by steward and butler, and their luxuries included pipes and tobacco, cider and strong beer. The freshmen were a much abused class, their insignificance even being officially recognized. Among other indignities, they were obliged, within limits, to be waiters and messengers to upper-class men.

We have a description of campus customs and college costume in the reminiscences of Oliver Wolcott, Hamilton's successor as Secretary of the Treasury, in the very summer of when Hale was about to graduate. Men in black robes, white wigs and high cocked hats, young men dressed in camblet gowns, passed us in small groups. The men in robes and wigs I was told were professors; the young men in gowns were students. There were young men in black silk gowns, some with bands and others without. These were either tutors in the college or resident graduates to whom the title of 'Sir' was accorded.

When we entered the college yard a new scene was presented.

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There was a class who wore no gowns and who walked but never ran or jumped in the yard. They appeared much in awe or looked surlily after they passed by the young men habited in gowns and staves. Some of the young gownsmen treated those who wore neither hats or gowns in the yard with harshness and what I thought indignity. I give an instance: But behind this exterior could be found that freedom, companionship and communistic enthusiasm which have always made the American student's life one of the happiest of his experiences.

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Those generally robust sons of colonial parents were not likely to spend four years in tame existence. The numerous offenses mentioned in the penal laws of the college show how far their spirits had to be curbed. They had their recreations, sports and occasional wild pranks; and if we read aright, they resented impositions, one instance occurring in Hale's day, when John Brown, of the class of , afterwards a gallant officer who fell in the Revolution, was one of the leaders in a revolt against the quality, it would seem, of college "commons," and left with others until grievances were redressed.

To Hale and his brother college life must have been a constant enjoyment, and in view of their training it could have been no task for them to conform to the regulations. By the fortunate preservation of three letters from their father — plain, homely missives, with the usual distorted spelling, but very uncommon as records and valuable to us just now for their tenderness, injunctions and hard fact — we get a few glimpses of the boys in their new relations.

Whether as freshmen or sophomores, they were addressed as "Dear Children," and reminded of their duties. They had written home on December 7, , two months after entrance, that they were comfortably settled, and on the 26th their parent replies: A year later he wrote in the same vein, and added: As to a student's expenses, then as now, they were always pending, and the bills of the country boys were probably settled irregularly.

Exchange and barter were much out of vogue in the larger towns, and the farmer could not pay his sons' board with the wheat in his barn. In their freshman year Richard Hale tells his children that he will send them some money soon, perhaps by "Mr. Sherman"—Roger Sherman, no doubt — when he returns from his circuit, and he inquires whether it would do to let their account run until he could go to town himself in May and clear it up. In the following year he hopes to forward what cash they need "when Sir-Strong comes to Coventry"—this clearly being their graduate cousin, "Sir" Nathan Strong, who appears to have been continuing his studies at the college before he became tutor.

At vacation times their own horses would be driven down for them, or they could hire some in New Haven. The majority of Connecticut boys wore suits cut from homespun, and the Hales had theirs from Coventry. Toward the end of their sophomore year one of them was called home to be fitted to a suit, if he could obtain leave and if they hoped to have new clothes for the coming Commencement. Hale — to be spared the protest with which the suggestion would be received by the modern sophomore — "I suppose that one measure will do for both of you.

Tallmadge states that in his case he could do little studying during parts of his junior and senior years. Hale made the most of the curriculum, and at the end stood among the best scholars and most popular men of his class. During the first two years there was some grinding study through "the three learned tongues"—Greek, Latin and Hebrew — with logic, rhetoric and geometry interspersed; while in the last two, natural philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, metaphysics and ethics completed the sum of their accomplishments. On Fridays the students, about six at a time, were to declaim before their fellows in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and "in no other language without special leave from the President.

Fines followed the neglect of all exercises. In the class-rooms Enoch Hale was known as Hale primus, and Nathan, Hale secundus, a practice long continued in New England Latin grammar schools as well. The prayer bell still rings, but not at half-past four A. As a literary diversion the students established debating societies. Two, well known to all Yale graduates, survived—"Linonia," founded in , and "The Brothers in Unity," in After more than a century's existence, both have been dissolved.

Former alumni, distinguished at the bar, in Congress or in the pulpit, owed something of their rhetorical training to these societies. The Hales belonged to Linonia and took an active interest in it, Nathan especially. In his junior year, , he became its secretary or "scribe" and his book of well-kept minutes is still preserved in the university library.

That the members improved and enjoyed themselves the entries fully bear out. Their exercises on different evenings were debates, narrations, addresses, dialogues and a system of mutual questions and answers. To better their conversation and literary style, they could criticize each other's grammar and choice of words. On one occasion they debated the question whether it was right to enslave the African. Nathan's name frequently appears among the speakers, as on December 23, , when another member had succeeded him as scribe, "The meeting was opened with a very entertaining narration by Hale 2nd;" or again, the meeting of August 5, , "closed with a speech delivered by Hale 2d.

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The "West Indian" was announced as a new comedy to be played on the occasion of Linonia's twentieth anniversary, April 3, , at the house of Mr. The entertainment was a pronounced success. The whole received peculiar beauty from the officers appearing dressed in regimentals and the actresses in full and elegant suits of lady's apparel.

The last scene was no sooner closed than the company testified their satisfaction by the clapping of hands. An epilogue made expressly on the occasion and delivered by Hale 2d was received with approbation. That Hale was held in deserved esteem by his fellows is further evidenced by the fact that he was the first chancellor, or president, of Linonia from his class. In later years and doubtless it was so then, this was regarded as among the highest of college honors in the gift of the students. Portions of one of his addresses before the society are given in the Appendix.

Dwight's letter to Hale of February 20, , is doubly interesting as indicating one of the methods by which an author of that day announced his efforts to the public and as hinting at his friend's intellectual bent and qualities of heart. The former was preparing to publish his epic poem, the "Conquest of Canaan," and he sought the good offices of Hale in introducing it to his acquaintances. Hale's character," he wrote him, "motives of friendship apart, one's fondness for the liberal arts would be a sufficient excuse for calling his attention to the work;" and he adds, " I esteem myself happy in reflecting that the person who may confer this obligation is a gentleman, of whose politeness and benevolence I have already experienced so frequent and so undoubted assurances.

Commencement day for the class of fell on September 3. It was the annual grand occasion both for college and the town, when dignitaries of the colony and the lights of its churches, together with numerous citizens, assembled in the meetinghouse on the New Haven green to listen to the graduation exercises.

An all-day function, it was continued as such to quite recent years, though losing its varied character. In the forenoon the salutatory address was delivered by John Palsgrave Wyllys, of Hartford, who, like Hale, early entered into the Revolutionary War and after fourteen years of service fell in action with the Indians on the western frontier. A "syllogistic disputation" followed, and then came a forensic debate by Messrs.

Beckwith, Fairchild, Flint and Mead on the question, "Whether a large metropolis would be of public advantage to the Colony. Alden, Keyes and Marvin—all three to become Revolutionary officers—rendered a dialogue in English on the three learned professions, and Sir Williams delivered an English oration on Prejudice.

In the afternoon Sir Davenport resumed the exercises with an English oration on the state of the private schools in Connecticut. Another syllogistic dispute— this one in Latin — followed, and the Commencement closed with what was evidently the treat of the day — a second forensic debate by Messrs. Hale, Robinson, Sampson and Tallmadge on the then pertinent question, " Whether the Education of Daughters be not, without any just reason, more neglected than that of Sons.

As our young graduate now goes out into the world after a successful course in college, carrying with him all the honors and good wishes he could desire, he is much less the stranger to us that he would have been without this experience. We shall come to know him better during the next three years. Friends and classmates will think too highly of him not to keep up a correspondence, and it is their letters that throw the side-lights we need on his personality.

Not long after his death some one of his contemporaries in New Haven, an acquaintance and probably college companion, remembered him with a eulogy in which, with due allowance for the poetic feeling and license in the case, we doubtless have a more or less faithful picture or impression of Hale.

Nathan Hale, 1776; biography and memorials

He is handed down to us by his Alma Mater, we may say, as a most attractive and superior fellow, a son of whose acquirements within her walls she was proud, and for whom an enviable future might be predicted. Recollections bear out this description. Those who knew him, and others who gathered details and traditions as early as , tell us that he was a noticeably fine-looking youth, nearly six feet in height, broad-chested, ruddy in complexion, with expressive features, a musical voice, and a presence that was at once natural and commanding.

Stories are told of his athletic skill. A happy manner, generous disposition and social aptitude graced the stronger side of his character. He was evidently mature for his years — maturer than his companions—and though not yet twenty, was about to enter active life with much of a man's equipment. Among his New Haven friends Hale counted Dr. Eneas Munson, long a well-known physician of the place. In his son, also Dr. Eneas Munson, still remembered by old residents, wrote to the magazine referred to above: His own remarks and the remarks of my father left at that period an indelible impression on my mind.

He is a gentleman and a scholar, and last, though not least of his qualifications, a Christian. This was his father's brother—already mentioned — a graduate of Harvard College, who was the well-known head of the leading school in that colony, and was addressed as "Major" on account of his rank and services at Cape Breton and the siege of Louisburg.

What Hale had to say of this trip and his own affairs appears in the interesting letter he afterwards wrote to Portsmouth, and from which we shall have occasion to quote. Returning to Connecticut, he followed his uncle's lines and became schoolmaster. This was the usual step before entering upon a calling.

Professional departments and labyrinthine postgraduate courses, in which the "Sirs" could continue their studies to an advanced point, were yet to be evolved as the crown of the higher education. About the most dignified position to which the teacher of that day could aspire was a tutorship at the college, and there places were not permanent.

Few could look beyond the pedagogue's desk either for temporary or lifelong occupation. What Hale's future plans were beyond his schoolmaster's round is not indicated. He must have thought of the ministry and may have intended to enter it. Two works on the subject which he once owned have recently come to light.

One bears the title: David Fordyce, London, The other, which he had in college, is entitled: By Peter Van Mastricht, D. Extracted from his System of Divinity called Theologia theoreticapractica," etc. Its preface states that Cotton Mather, in his directions for a candidate for the ministry, thought there was "no human composure equal to it. It is clear that a year later — September, — Hale had not yet decided upon his future course, for at that date he was seeking his uncle's advice regarding his acceptance of a permanent position as teacher.

Havemeyer, of New York, from the famous George Brinley collection. For the time being there were schools enough for the newly fledged graduates. In that same year — —Governor Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut, in reply to inquiries from one of the Secretaries of State, London, reported that the colony taxes amounted annually to about six thousand pounds, "somewhat more than one third part" of which — a good proportion — was raised by the several towns for the support of their schools. The schools they taught were of three descriptions. First, the common schools supported by the towns, generally through the machinery of the ecclesiastical societies.

These were the district or parish schools, which children of all ages could attend. Second, the grammar or higher schools, which a few of the larger towns were required to maintain. Third, the private schools or academies, then slowly increasing in number. One of these was opened by Daniel Humphrey at New Haven, in , for the purpose of teaching writing, arithmetic and grammar. Emphasis was to be laid on the English classics, and the pupils trained "to write their mother tongue with eloquence. The school Hale taught was probably one of the first description—a parish or district school of East Haddam, with the school-house near the ferry or "landing," as it is called to-day.

Possibly it was a private school. The house has recently passed into the hands of a patriotic society and been moved to another site on the river bank. East Haddam was also known by the contracted Indian name of Moodus, which now distinguishes the flourishing village above it. Hale calls it " East Haddam alias Modos. Of this, his first experience, we know almost nothing. The school could have differed little from the one in which he was taught himself at Coventry, nor did the work vary greatly from what we find him doing in his next school at New London, save that he probably taught less Latin, if any at all.

His pupils were of the same grades as elsewhere, from primary children to young persons of his own age, and all learning the usual English branches. Within the schoolroom it was not an uncommon arrangement to have the scholars seated on long benches fronting flat desks fastened in the walls.

School-books were rarities then, Dilworth's or some other author's spelling-lessons and the Psalter being about the only ones in general use in the country districts. Blackboards and globes were almost unknown. Noah Webster tells us that before the Revolution all writing exercises and operations in arithmetic were worked out on paper. The teacher wrote the "copies" and read off the sums. Frequently the entire school studied aloud; and thus, with other primitive methods and simple exercises, the early required education was instilled.

More than one of Hale's boys is doubtless pictured to the life in Trumbull's "Progress of Dulness" quarter, at the rate of two hundred and twenty dollars per annum. The Union School at New London, of which Hale now took charge—" about the middle of March," when Tracy's term closed—may have been modeled upon the older and quite famous academy at Lebanon, Connecticut, which Master Nathan Tisdale, a graduate of Harvard College, had been long and successfully conducting.

The proprietors of the latter included twelve well-to-do residents of the town, with Governor Trumbull as one of their number, who wished to give their own children, and such others as might join them, the advantages of a select and superior schooling. In their agreement we read that "A Latin scholar is to be computed at 35s. The artist Trumbull, who attended it, tells us that it offered no vacations, "in the long idleness and dissipations of which the labors of preceding months might be half forgotten.

Here was an opportunity for a young schoolmaster to set a new enterprise on its feet, and Hale succeeded. In their petition for incorporation, the proprietors of the academy state that they "have at great cost erected a school-house for the advancement of learning," and hired and paid teachers, and they were anxious to get the right man for master and retain him. Not six months had elapsed before they were offering Hale increased wages and a permanent position. The school was incorporated in October, , and one of the most interesting memorials presented in these pages is the facsimile of a call issued through Hale for one of the early meetings of its proprietors, a complete list of whose names we have here for the first time.

They were twenty-four in all, and represented the wealth and intelligence of New London—the Saltonstalls, Winthrops, Laws, Mumfords, Coits, Shaws, Richards, Greens, and others of influence. Their children formed the body of the school, and Hale found his time fully occupied in their instruction. We know something about it from his own pen. On September 24, , he wrote to his uncle at Portsmouth: I have a school of thirty-two boys, about half Latin, the rest English.

The salary allowed me is 70 per annum. In addition to this I have kept during the summer, a morning school, between the hours of five and seven, of about twenty young ladies; for which I have received 6s. The people with whom I live are free and generous — many of them gentlemen of sense and merit. They are desirous that I would continue and settle in the school; and propose a considerable increase in wages.

I am much at a loss whether to accept their proposals. Your advice in the matter coming from an Uncle, and from a man who has spent his life in the business, would, I think, be the best I could possibly receive. Munson, at New Haven, he wrote two months later: I love my employment; find many friends among strangers; have time for scientific study, and seem to fill the place assigned me with satisfaction.

Such works as Pope's "Iliad" and the "History of the Seven Years' War," in five volumes, were to be sent him, his brother Enoch writes, from "among the books" at his home. Hale's occupation was clearly congenial to him, as it seems not to have been to his classmate Alden, who disliked being confined to particular hours, or have his morning reading interrupted by the discovery that it was "just fifty-nine minutes after eight o'clock.

Of the impression Hale made as a teacher some recollections remain. One or two of his old pupils were living when Stuart wrote. The venerable Colonel Samuel Green, of Hartford, could recall his tact and amiability, his wonderful control over boys without severity of manner, and his universal popularity.

Elizabeth Poole, who lived in the same family with Hale in New London, testified in to his abilities, successful methods, fine appearance and manners, and superior mold. A letter from one of his young boys, Robert Latimer, written to Hale while he was in camp, has been preserved. Though I have been so happy as to be favored with your instructions, you can't, Sir, expect a finished letter from one who has as yet practiced but very little this way, especially with persons of your nice discernment;" and he adds, with the unconscious humor of his years, "I am sure, was my Mammy willing, I think I should prefer being with you to all the pleasures which the company of my relations can afford me.

Babcock, who published a pamphlet on Hale in , may not be too fulsome in his pen picture of the young schoolmaster where he says: Hale reengaged to remain where he was until the middle of July, His subsequent course would be determined by circumstances. He might continue with the Union Academy and succeed to Tisdale's or his own uncle's reputation as a notable New England schoolmaster; or, like Nathan Strong, Timothy Dwight and his classmate William Robinson, he might be invited to become a tutor at Yale and under its influences conclude to enter the ministry.

In such case we might have known him thereafter as one of Connecticut's leading parish pastors or divines. His brother Enoch, who was greatly attached to him, entered the profession and settled at Westhampton, Massachusetts, where he maintained "an energetic and useful" charge for more than fifty-seven years. Nathan's last schoolhouse still stands. Like the one at East Haddam, it has recently been restored, removed to a new site and placed in the care of a patriotic society, to be used as a library and depository of colonial and Revolutionary relics.

At New London, Hale made many good friends. The families of the school proprietors alone would form a large and homelike circle. In Gilbert Saltonstall, a graduate of Harvard, son of Colonel Gurdon Saltonstall, part of whose correspondence is included in these pages, he seems to have found a kindred spirit. The town was a port of entry, and among its residents were ship-builders, ship-masters, importers and whalers, some of them rough and ready men, full of adventure, and not a few of whom, including four or five of the proprietors referred to, were to do good service during the Revolution as owners and captains of privateers.

Here Hale met a new element whose acquaintance was to prove important to him when the war broke out, and which he must have enjoyed in itself. Scholar as he was and refined in his tastes, he loved companionship and could mingle heartily with the world as he found it. Those who were to become his subordinate officers and soldiers recognized in him, as their letters show, a sympathetic heart as responsive to their own rugged, honest natures as they were appreciative of his talents and open character.

His experience in this town was valuable to him in more ways than one. It broadened his range of observation and matured capacities in which others would be called upon and were willing to confide. With Hale's college and later days it is usual to associate a bit of romance which seems to be gathering into a chapter of courtship and engagement. To the few circumstances, however, as they were understood fifty years ago and noticed elsewhere in these pages,1 there is little to add. The handsome and affable youth no doubt made an impression in the circle of his young lady friends and was equally susceptible to their attractions.

We have an intimation of his tastes in one case from a line his classmate Robinson wrote to him while he was teaching at East Haddam. Whether he satisfied their curiosity, or whether there was any foundation for it at all, does not appear. It is certain that the young lady in question was not the one to whom Hale was engaged at the time of his death.

The latter is best known as Alice, or Alicia, Adams, whom domestic changes introduced into his father's family while he was in college. They became betrothed apparently while he was in the service, and it is pleasant to know that she also was a person "worthy the esteem of every one. William Lawrence, of Hartford, to the ripe age of eighty-eight, and is still remembered by persons living as a sweet, benign, intellectual woman — a character that is stamped in the lines of her portrait which has recently been added to the Athensum collection in that city.

While Hale was teaching school the war opened. The nineteenth of April, , had the effect of a surprise. The phase of affairs had been regarded as critical, men felt that a struggle was upon them, but the actual hostilities, the firing of the first gun, stirred them all with a new and profound sensation. It was so in our Civil War. While the conflict with the mother-country had been openly predicted and anticipated, the sudden mustering of the farmers, the volleys along the roads and from behind the walls, the slaughter of the red-coats, the fall of neighbors and the grief of families intensified their mingled forebodings and enthusiasm.

Nothing had come so near to these people since the days when King Philip or the Pequots had threatened the homes of their grandfathers. The pitch of their emotion and patriotism is represented by this outburst in a letter of the day: They dropped into their militia organizations or, forming impromptu companies, pushed on, in many cases without waiting for orders. In its records of the Revolutionary War, published by the State, the names of these volunteers, with the days of their service, are classified by localities and together present the appearance of an honor-roll of the emergency.

The young schoolmaster watched the tendencies of the times with eager interest. In the second letter that we have from his pen, dated September 8, , he writes that no liberty-pole had yet been erected in New London, "but the people seem much more spirited than they were before the alarm. Several thousand armed men in Massachusetts and Connecticut immediately headed for the threatened points.

The reports proved false, but the colonists realized through this demonstration that the right spirit would prevail when reports proved true. His treatment and the concessions he made I have not yet heard. Samuel Peters, one of the few clergymen in the colony who threw their influence against the rising sentiment of the country. Finding the liberty men too much in earnest to give them occasion for a third visit, he quickly left for England.

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From this date the movement grew rapidly. In October the lately assembled first Continental Congress took decisive action in favor of commercial non-intercourse with Great Britain as long as the tax measures were in force.

Nathan Hale

Its stand was applauded and toasted by the patriotic element. A wider interchange of views and freer expression of them followed. New London was one of the few Connecticut towns that could boast the luxury of a newspaper, and its weekly Gazette, like the others elsewhere, served as a pulse of opinion through the items it circulated.

If Hale read it carefully, as no doubt he did, he saw that his friends and neighbors in Coventry held a legal town meeting on September 13,— Phineas Strong, moderator,— at which they expressed alarm at the gloomy aspect, but at the same time gratefully acknowledged "the favorable omens of Providence in that happy unity, propitious plenty, sympathetic charity, noble fortitude and manly resistance to despotism, universal throughout America. To this crisis, O Americans, our affairs are wrought up that the alternative, the serious alternative, is this — either submit and take the yoke upon you or prepare, and that instantly, to resist in the same style in which you have hitherto professed to reason and to act.

Long and labored speeches and harangues, when the enemy are in sight, carry with them strong implication of cowardice. Therefore, as it has been for some time sounded as our alarm-bell that we must unite or die — our motto being 'United we stand, divided we fall'—so in one word let this be added, Resist and be free or submit and be slaves.

Need men be urged to arm when the enemy is at the door? Immediately beneath this appears the report of a meeting in Fairfax County, Virginia, in favor of organization of companies and drilling for service, with the heading, "Colonel George Washington in the Chair. Independence was at that date something of a prohibited sentiment so far as its public expression was concerned, but in private it was avowed, if not urged, in certain quarters; and when the New London paper found a pointed reference to it in the Boston Post, it seems to have been happy to quote it without assuming the responsibility of its appearance.

In effect the writer said that if England continued to spurn her colonies, the latter would be compelled by the great law of nature to rise in their might and, following the example of the united provinces of Holland, publish a manifesto to the world, showing the necessity of dissolving their connection with a nation whose ministers were aiming at their ruin. With this they must offer free trade to all and an asylum to the oppressed throughout the world. From what we know of Hale he could heartily have said "Amen" to the sentiment.

There was also a poets' corner in the Gazette in which the local muse was permitted at intervals to fan the flame. Rule Britannia, rule the waves. But rule us justly — not like slaves. Rule Britannia, rule the waves, But never make your children slaves. To Hale such atmosphere must have proved a tonic, and we are the better prepared to accept the traditions which represent him as making a spirited speech at a public meeting held in New London on the reception of the news from Lexington. This was obvious to every one who had watched events and understood the temper of the home administration.

There was no half-way outcome. War meant complete independence for the colonies, or, in case of defeat, a more irritating dependence on Great Britain. Whatever Hale may have said at the meeting, it is hardly probable, as usually represented, that he bade farewell to his school on the following morning and marched with Captain Coit's company for Boston. Parts of four companies went from New London.

His name does not appear on the official list of any of them, and from the tenor of his letter to the proprietors of the school, July 7th following, we gather that he had not been absent from it in April. He was under engagement for a year, and just before its expiration he requested as a special favor that they would release him two weeks in advance. Nothing, he says, could have persuaded him to ask for it but the fact that he had received a commission in the army and that closing a fortnight earlier would probably not subject them to inconvenience. Had he marched on the alarm and been away as long as Coit's company, the school would have been broken up for the term.

He was well aware that if the war had then opened in earnest, the systematic mustering of troops would be necessary and that he could enter for permanent service in ample time a few weeks later. Connecticut made her first regular call for volunteers soon after the uprising of the 19th and organized six regiments, one from each county, to serve for seven months. As these troops were dispatched into fields outside of the State, some to participate in the siege of Boston, others to invade Canada, the Assembly at an extra session in July organized two more regiments for the special defense of the colony, to be known as the "Seventh" and "Eighth" and to serve until about the 1st of December.

Long terms of service, winter quarters— anything suggestive of a regular army — would have been intolerable to the colonists at that date, and in consequence the country during the first two years suffered from lack of discipline and cohesion in its defensive force. It was not until that a Continental army was enlisted to serve for "three years or during the war.

On the 1st of July the Connecticut Assembly appointed, and on the 6th the Governor commissioned, the officers of the new "Seventh" regiment. Hale's name was on the list. He appeared as first lieutenant of the third, or major's, company. The appointment doubtless came about in the usual way. The Assembly, through committees, made out the list from applications and recommendations received from the delegates or leading men of the towns. Expressing his wish to enter the service, Hale could receive ample endorsement from friends in New London.

It is quite possible that the major, Jonathan Latimer, who came from that place and whose son Robert was one of Hale's pupils, applied to have him appointed his lieutenant. The first lieutenants of the three field officers' companies were practically captains, as they had full charge of the men.

It contained, as Hale himself says, many skippers and sailors. The lieutenant-colonel's first lieutenant was William Hull, of Derby, one of Hale's college acquaintances whose friendship was to be strengthened in their camp associations. As he left his school to begin recruiting, Hale wrote to the proprietors his appreciative letter of July 7th. I have thought much of never quitting it but with life, but at present there seems an opportunity of more extended public service. The kindness expressed to me by the people of the place, but especially the proprietors of the school, will always be very gratefully remembered.

It may have been at this" interval, when he had occasion to ride around the country that he called on old friends in New Haven. It was at Dr. Munson's, as we are told, that, while speaking of the new field he was about to enter, he exclaimed with a youth's enthusiasm, "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori! Hale appears to have recruited men in and around New London, while his lieutenant and ensign, Belcher and Hilliard, went to work at Stonington. In this connection we have a brief but rare letter preserved, in which Belcher writes to Hale that by the 27th of July he had enrolled twenty-two men, whom he expected to increase to thirty, and inquires "what progress you have made in the enlisting way.

Several were stationed at New Haven under the colonel, while the major and three companies went on with the fortifications at New London. The daily routine was drill, guard and picket duty along the shore. Once, in August, the enemy's ships fired into Stonington and the major and his men — Hale with them, no doubt — hurried over to defend the place.

The alarm subsided and they were soon ordered to another field. Washington had not been in command of the gathering provincial army around Boston more than a month before he called for reinforcements. On September 8th, he made a demand on Governor Trumbull for the two new Connecticut regiments and about the 20th the companies were on the march. It is here that the preserved portions of Hale's army diary begin. Brief, abbreviated, hurriedly written and intended, probably, only for personal reference, it is still a valuable record—the only existing record, indeed, which gives the movements of his regiment.

For biographical purposes its value lies in the lively interest it shows him to have taken in his new duties as an officer and in the progress of the war. From it we learn that from New London his part of the regiment marched to Providence and beyond through the Massachusetts towns of Rehoboth, Attleborough, Wrentham, Walpole, Dedham and Roxbury to Cambridge, headquarters of the American force besieging the British in Boston. On arrival the Seventh was assigned to General Sullivan's brigade at Winter Hill, on the extreme left of the semicircular line of investment, not far from Medford.

The other Connecticut regiments were stationed on the right, at Roxbury. Five months had now passed since Lexington and Concord, and three since the battle of Bunker Hill. These opening successes had greatly elated the country and seemed to foreshadow the final result. The gathering, around Boston, of the farmers and citizens in their own clothes, and many of them with their own arms, indicated the character and extent of the first uprising.

It was a new ex- perience — not yet, and never to become, a camp of soldiers so much as an extended muster of the townsmen. These people were still appealing, in , to their king to protect them against the legislation of their Parliament, and they raised no common flag of disloyalty. They floated their provincial or special regimental colors. Our schoolmaster of the Seventh Connecticut marched under a blue banner. Next year, with their protests and attitude unheeded, they will run the white stripes of colonial integrity through the broad red field of the British standard, and at a later date replace the Union Jack with a cluster of stars.

Apart from the gratification of being in his country's service, he found camp life more or less agreeable. He seems at one time or another to have visited nearly every part of the American lines, examined the forts and familiarized himself with the country about. The doings of the enemy, who at points were in plain sight, would of course be noted. No damage done as we hear "— is his first entry the morning after arrival in quarters.

Some days later he rides several miles around to the right or Dorchester end of the line to have a look at British Boston from that side. Now and again he commands the picket-guard on Ploughed Hill, in advance of Winter Hill, and hears the regulars at work with their pickaxes. While the enemy were landing, we gave them a constant cannonade from Prospect Hill. Our party, having got on to the Point, marched in two columns, one on each side of ye hill, with a view to surround ye enemy, but upon the first appearance of them, they made their boats as fast as possible.

His head was not in it. A shell and a shot from Bunker Hill. The shell breaking in the air, one piece fell and touched a man's hat, but did no harm. The siege of Boston presented no thrilling or desperate episodes. On the part of the Americans it was mainly a blockade of the roads running out of the town, with an attempt to crowd the enemy at given points. The lack of powder prevented a continued and concentrated bombardment of Boston, while the British believed their own force to be insufficient to break up the siege and seemed to dread the repetition of such stone-wall fighting as the minute-men of April 19th had indulged in.

As the winter drew on, both armies kept more closely to their lines and contented themselves with irregular cannonading. From the nature of the position, attack and sortie were seldom attempted. In the meantime Captain Hale was perfecting himself in a soldier's and officer's duties. He drilled his company, looked after clothes, provisions, pay and equipments and mastered the minute directions for guards and pickets.

Resolution and activity marked his daily routine. A man ought never to lose a moment's time. If he put off a thing from one minute to the next his reluctance is but increased. It is of the utmost importance that an officer should be anxious to know his duty, but of greater that he should carefully perform what he does know. The present irregular state of the army is owing to a capital neglect in both of these. With the freedom and familiarity permitted in the provincial forces, where in many cases men and officers had been friends and neighbors at home, we find him dining twice at General Putnam's, visiting Generals Lee, Greene, Spencer and Sullivan and sharing in entertainments.

On these occasions Hull was frequently his companion.

Henry Phelps Johnston

Hale and his comrades, however, must have been able to witness much of the fighting, and on the night of the retreat, with the sailors in the companies to distribute among the boats, they probably had their hands full. Fortunately, we have an expression of his views in the case, and know what considerations moved him. Our schoolmaster captain was hardly a veteran as yet, but fourteen months with the army had made him something of a seasoned soldier who understood his duties and impressed his superiors. He was to become a quite famous major of dragoons, and be taken into Washington's confidence in the management of important secret services during the war. A "syllogistic disputation" followed, and then came a forensic debate by Messrs. Henry Phelps Johnston Publisher: To learn more about Copies Direct watch this short online video.

They were both promoted to be captains, or more properly captains lieutenant, during this fall — Hale on September 1st — but were not allowed a full captain's pay until the reorganization to be noticed. At times Hale joined in camp diversions, played football and checkers, watched wrestling matches — evening prayers, he tells us, being omitted on the occasion when Winter Hill was "stumped" by Prospect Hill — read what books he could pick up, went to hear the several chaplains preach, drank a bottle of wine at Brown's, cider at Stone's, wrote letters to father, brothers, friends and pupils, and—what is significant of his faith and temperament—throughout his diary never entered a despondent line or reflection.

As we would expect, however, he tells her: In his Connecticut circles Hale was not forgotten. Among his New London acquaintances, Gilbert Saltonstall, already referred to, kept him informed of all matters of interest, and to Hale's care in preserving his letters we are indebted for additions of some value to local history.

Hearing from the captain that he was at Winter Hill, Saltonstall replied: I look upon your situation as more perilous than any other in camp. I proposed going with Dudley [his brother] who is appointed to command a twenty-Gun ship in the Continental Navy, but my father is not willing, and I can't persuade myself to leave him in the eve of life against his consent. In a postscript he adds: Belden [Hale's pupils] have frequently desired their Compliments to Master, but I've never thought of mentioning it till now. You must write something in your next by way of P.


His letters in the Appendix only add to the regret that Hale's answers, and his replies to others, have not been preserved. John Hallam wrote October 9th: Fosdick applied for a position in the army, "under you in particular"—a wish that was to be gratified in the following year. Among his classmates Elihu Marvin, at Norwich, took Hale to task for not remembering him: Polly hears of one and another at New London who have letters from Mr.

Hale, but none comes to me, Polly says. After you have thought over all this tell yourself that no one loves you more than Roger Alden. With the approach of winter the enlistment of a new army engrossed the attention of Congress and camp. The terms of most of the troops would expire in December, and the danger was foreseen that during that and the following month the investment might be seriously weakened.

Washington's anxiety in the case is expressed in his letters of that date. To meet the emergency it was determined to recruit new regiments, as far as possible from the old ones in camp, to serve through the year This was known as the new establishment, and Connecticut's quota was to be five battalions.

Colonel Webb and all his captains, including Hale, reentered the service, first for the emergency until January 1st, and then for the following year. The nucleus of their regiment thus remained, and they proceeded to fill up its companies. In the new army for it was designated as the " Nineteenth Foot in the service of the United Colonies," otherwise in the army of the English colonies on the continent of North America, and hence the "Continental" army.

Hale refers to this reorganization, and we find him cooperating heart and soul in the work. To tide over December, the men were urged by officers of all grades, including Generals Lee and Sullivan, to remain a few weeks longer, and the militia were called out to fill the gaps. In a single sentence in Hale's diary we may read how earnestly he put the case before his own company: Many soldiers volunteered to remain, and the siege was maintained.

One army was disappearing and another organizing in the face and with the knowledge of the enemy. Hale's term in the old Seventh expired December 6th, and on the 10th he was mustered out; but under the new arrangement he continued his duties without interruption. He reenlisted men for his new company who were given furloughs for a few weeks, while his lieutenant and ensign went back to Connecticut to recruit more. It took time to accomplish the business in the winter season, and it was well into January before the second army took shape.

From New London John Hallam wrote to Hale, December 10th, that in view of the many demands for men, recruiting for his command went on slowly. Captain Dudley Saltonstall was beating up seamen for his Continental frigate, and a dozen craft were fitting out in port which needed sailors. During these army changes Washington permitted officers and men to visit their homes, and Hale took his turn with the rest.

On the 23d of December he left camp for a month's leave, reaching his father's house at Coventry on the 26th. Of this visit we know little, as a break occurs in his diary from the 29th until his return to Winter Hill, and we will leave him at the firesides of those he loved and whom he was never again to see. It is known that he spent part of the time at New London looking after enlistments. Here he missed his ensign, George Hurlbut, who had returned to camp and who wrote him on the 28th: I was very much disappointed in not seeing you here. I am how a going to set out for Bunker Hill [on picket].

I shan't go with so much pleasure as if you was to be with me. If we can but have a bridge we shall make a push to try our brave courage.

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His new commission as a full Continental captain, dated January 1, , and signed by John Hancock, is still preserved. Presently the military situation changed. Finding themselves locked in at Boston, unable to utilize either their army or their navy effectively, the British determined to abandon the contracted base for a wider field. They proposed to make New York the center of operations in , and with powerful reinforcements control the line of the Hudson and thus isolate New England, with its large population and resources, from the other colonies.

From that vantage-point the rebellion was to be quelled north and south. Washington and his officers fathomed the enemy's intentions, and in January General Lee was dispatched to New York City to forestall Lord Howe and put the place in a state of defense. On March 17, , came the first step postscript he adds: On March 17, , came the first step.

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The Boston army marched to New York by brigades following each other at brief intervals. The first to start was a specially organized command under General Heath and included Hale's regiment, Webb's "Nineteenth. Leaving Roxbury March 18th with five days' cooked rations, the troops were to proceed by way of Mann's to Providence and thence by way of Green's and Burnham's—well-known inns—to Norwich, a distance of ninety-three miles, which Heath reports, the condition of the roads considered, they covered "with great expedition.

But there was little time for greeting or reminiscence, as the local Gazette states that on the following day they all "embarked in high spirits on board 15 transports and sailed for New York. As Hale stepped lightly ashore with his company and casually took in the surroundings, he saw near by an old powder-house and beyond it perhaps the remains of a former garrison camp, while just above stood attractively James Beekman's handsome mansion and cultivated grounds. Little did he dream that the shifting events of the next five months and a half would force this scene upon his view again with a sudden and pitiless reality!

From that mansion he was to receive his death sentence, and not far from where he was then standing, with enemies instead of friends about him, he was to meet his tragic fate. In the course of two weeks the other brigades arrived. Washington, not trusting to transports, rode down the shore road from New London and reached the city April 13th.

From this time until the battle of Long Island in August the business in hand for the American forces was to fortify their new position. The military problem presented more complications than at Boston. There the object had been to drive the enemy out of a city; here the effort must be made to prevent them from occupying one.