Book Review: The Apache Wars

The Apache WarsI’ve been a little lax in my book reviews, and this isn’t Monday, but nevertheless, I’m going to share my thoughts on the latest book I read, Paul Andrew Hutton’s The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History.  If that seems like a mouthful for a title, it’s because the book is pretty broad in scope.  It basically covers the entire history of the American government’s conflict with the Apaches, starting with the capture of Felix Ward from his stepfather’s ranch in 1861 by Pinal Apaches.  This kidnapping and the subsequent events that transpired led to one of the longest conflicts on American soil in history, and the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

I can’t express how much I loved this book.  I’ve read a lot of Western history (as any reader of this blog can guess, judging by how often I post about the subject), and I can honestly say Hutton’s work is in my top two or three Western history books of all time.  He does a masterful job of introducing a huge cast of characters, each with their own agendas, motivations, and unique traits, while simultaneously balancing the narrative flow and keeping the reader invested in the overarching theme of events.  It’s a wonderful read, and I can’t recommend it enough.

One thing I loved about the book was the way Hutton shows us people.  Some historians have a tendency to paint in black and white, particularly when it comes to controversial figures.  Hutton doesn’t shy away from showing us the good and the bad of people, leaving the reader with a fully developed sense of a person rather than a caricature.  One such person is John Clum.  Clum is introduced as an able, intelligent figure, who does a competent job (initially) in his role as the agent at the San Carlos Reservation.  He treated the Apaches fairly, cut down the graft and corruption, and formed a tribal police force and tribal court. But he also convinced the government to move all the Apaches under his control at San Carlos, which created issues between tribes that historically had not been friendly with each other.  And of course, to say nothing of the inherent immorality of putting an ethnic group onto a reservation in the first place.

Geronimo is another such character.  Legend has often held Geronimo in high esteem,Geronimo the last freedom fighter of a beleaguered people.  The truth, however, is that Geronimo was a much more complex person.  Hutton shows us a man willing to sacrifice Apache children to save his own skin, a man who would leave his family in captivity if it meant being able to continue fighting, a man for which many other Apaches had a deep disdain.

Hutton is at his best sharing the stories of these people.  Without question, the most fascinating character is that of Lozen, the sister of the great Apache chief Victorio.  Lozen, who would not marry, was revered by her tribe as a sort of shamanistic warrior who could foresee the enemy’s movements.  She risked her own life many times over to save women and children, and fought bravely in battle.  Hutton tells the story of how American soldiers attacked a specific village, and when the other Apaches fled, Lozen stayed behind with a pregnant wife.  The woman gave birth in silence while the soldiers passed by their hiding spot, unaware of the presence of Lozen and the mother.

Hutton does a wonderful job with the narrative flow as well, and finds a way to introduce all these characters while telling a more linear story than, say, Evan S. Connell’s Son of the Morning Star.  There was no back and forth, but as he relays the events in time, he also peels back additional layers on the characters so that they slowly become much more well developed than their initial introduction would lead us to believe.

I can’t recommend this book enough.  If you are interested in American history at all, this is a must own.  I listened to it on Audible, and the narration was very solid.  It is not a hard read, but it is relatively long (544 pages, or over 17 hours on Audible).  It does not feel long, however, as the fast paced narrative and unique characters that made up this time period come to life off the page.

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Never Trust a Conquistador

800px-Inca-Spanish_confrontation

Atahualpa at Cajamarca

In the fall of 1532, the Incan emperor Atahualpa was resting at the city of Cajamarca, after the defeat of his brother, Huascar Capac, and the seizure of the Incan empire.  Cajamarca has several natural hot springs that served as a place of relaxation and fulfillment, and Atahualpa was partaking in the natural splendor after the end of a long civil war.  He was awaiting the arrival of some very interesting guests, the company of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who had arrived in Peru only the year before.  Atahualpa did not perceive the Spanish as a threat; Pizarro had about 170 men, and Atahualpa’s army numbered around 80,000.

Pizarro arrived in Cajamarca on November 15, and sent a delegation to meet with Atahualpa.  Atahualpa claimed that he was engaging in a fast and could not dine with the Spanish, and said that he would meet with Pizarro on the following day.  In the meantime, the Spanish holed up in Cajamarca, while the Incas stayed outside the city.  One of the early historians of this event, William H. Prescott, records in his book A History of the Conquest of Peru, the general feeling among the Spanish when they observed the opulence and sheer numbers of the Incan army:

As they contrasted all this with their own diminutive force, too far advanced, as they now were, for succour to reach them, they felt they had done rashly in throwing themselves into the midst of so formidable an empire, and were filled with gloomy forebodings of the result. Their comrades in the camp soon caught the infectious spirit of despondency, which was not lessened as night came on, and they beheld the watch-fires of the Peruvians lighting up the sides of the mountains, and glittering in the darkness, “as thick,” says one who saw them, “as the stars of heaven.”*

Pizarro saw in the fear of his men an opportunity, and Prescott records that he went to

Pizarro

Francisco Pizarro

each of them, exhorting them not to be afraid, and painting their situation as a crusade. He plotted with his men to capture Atahualpa, reasoning that by capturing the head, the body would whither.  He laid out plans for an ambush, and they waited until Atahualpa came into the city with a large delegation of men.

When the Incan emperor arrived, accompanied by a lot of pomp and circumstance, Pizarro sent out the company chaplain, a Dominican friar named Vicente de Valverde, to speak to Atahualpa.  Valverde used the opportunity to preach to the ruler, attempting to explain the theological underpinnings of the Catholic faith, the concept of the Trinity, and other religious ruminations, as well as suggesting that he was now a vassal of Spanish emperor Charles V.  Atahualpa instinctively understood that he was being asked to surrender his sovereignty, and according to Prescott, replied that he would “…be no man’s tributary.  I am greater than any prince upon earth.”  As he and Valverde argued, Pizarro saw his chance, and signaled his men.

The Spanish rushed the Incas.  They had blocked every exit for Atahualpa’s procession, so there was nowhere to escape, and then they opened fire.  The noise and smoke, as well as the surprise attack, caused a panic, and the Incas began to stampede in their efforts to get away.  Around the emperor, the fighting became hot and heavy as Atahualpa’s guard attempted to protect him, but they were quickly dispatched while not a single Spanish soldier was killed in the melee.  The entire battle lasted less than half an hour, and yet in such a short time span, the fate of the Incas was decided.

Atahualpa, taken captive, recognized the unrelenting greed of the Spanish.  He offered to fill a room for them with gold and jewels, in the hopes of sparing his life.  Over a period of time, Atahualpa kept his word, but the Spanish never gave him his freedom.  Fearing attack from Incan holdouts, they executed Atahualpa on the 29th of August, 1533, by garroting him to death.  He was the last Sapa Inca, or sovereign ruler, of the whole Incan empire.  He would be followed by a series of puppet rulers and then a neo-Incan state in the jungles of Peru, but never again would the Inca empire achieve the glory and independence that it had possessed.

*Prescott, William Hickling. History of the Conquest of Peru (Kindle Locations 3504-3508). . Kindle Edition.
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You’re a Daisy If You Do

Wyatt EarpOn this day, in 1881, the most famous (or infamous, depending on how you want to look at it) gunfight in Western history occurred.  Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, accompanied by their friend John “Doc” Holliday, faced off against Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Billy Claiborne, in a vacant lot behind the O.K. Corral near C.S. Fly’s photography studio.  A long simmering tension had existed between the Earps and the Clanton-McLaury gang for a multiplicity of reasons.  Ike Clanton in particular had begun to make vicious threats against the Earp’s, and things finally came to a head.  Virgil Earp was both a deputy U.S. Marshal as well as the Tombstone city Marshal, and when the Clanton’s and McLaury’s rode into town on October 25, wearing weapons in violation of a town ordinance, Earp decided something must be done.  Wyatt Earp, acting as a deputy marshal, pistol whipped Tom McLaury for wearing a weapon.  In spite of being warned, the Clantons and McLaury’s still continued to wear their weapons in plain site, and finally the Earps and Holliday walked down to the vacant lot to order them to disarm.

According to a later inquest, when Virgil Earp told the cowboys to put up their hands, Doc Hollidayand that he intended to disarm them, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton drew their pistols.  Virgil shouted, “Hold on, I don’t want that!”  It’s not clear who fired first, but within seconds the shooting broke out.  Wyatt Earp testified that he focused first on Frank McLaury, who was noted to be the best shot of the group.  He claimed that Billy Clanton had started firing at him first.  Whatever the case may be, Wyatt shot Frank McLaury in the stomach, and Morgan Earp shot Billy Clanton in the wrist.  Doc Holliday, in the meantime, used a double barreled shotgun at point blank range to dispose of Tom McLaury.  According to Wyatt Earp, Ike Clanton screamed that he was unarmed, at which point Earp told him that the “fight’s commenced, get to fighting or get away!”  Varying accounts of Ike’s activity have surfaced after this.  He ran into Fly’s studio, and some accounts have him shooting from the studio at the Earps, others have him just running away.  Whatever the case, eventually he did flee.

The O.K. Corral shootout only lasted roughly thirty seconds, and between the bitter political disputes that existed in Cochise County at the time, and the natural inability of participants to recall exactly what happened when and where, it’s hard to say who shot whom when.  When the dust settled, Tom and Frank McLaury as well as Billy Clanton were dead, and Virgil, Morgan, Doc Holliday and Billy Claiborne were wounded. Wyatt Earp was unharmed.  The Earps were later arrested and an inquest was held, but eventually the charges were dropped and it was determined that they had acted within the law.

Doc Holliday Val KilmerThough the Earps had won the day, the fallout from the O.K. Corral was pretty severe.  A few months later Virgil Earp was ambushed, and his left arm was permanently crippled.  In March of 1882, Morgan Earp was assassinated.  Though Wyatt Earp was later responsible for arresting or killing several members of the Clanton-McLaury gang, the encounter with them had cost him dearly.

We know about the O.K. Corral mainly through the lens of popular culture.  There are several great movies about it, my personal favorite being Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer in “Tombstone.”  Most of them draw on popular myth or on Wyatt Earp’s absurd and highly inaccurate biography, but all of them remind us of the swift brutality of frontier justice.

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A Murder in Kiev

Mendel Beilis

Mendel Beiliss

Spoiler alert:  I’m currently working on a series of articles about the Russian Revolution for my ongoing World War 1 series at The Common Reader.  The problem with any topic as broad as this, however, is that there is inevitably some information that will end up on the cutting room floor.  I’ve decided that some of the information that won’t make my articles there, I’d share here on my own personal site.  So over the next few weeks I may be a little “Russia heavy” in some of my posts.  This week, I’m talking about a murder in Kiev that occurred in the years leading up to the First World War.

This particular story was one I read from Orlando Figes book A People’s Tragedy.*  Figes details an incident that occurred in 1911, some six years before the February Revolution of 1917.  In a cave outside of Kiev, some children found the corpse of a schoolboy that had forty-seven stab wounds in the head, neck and torso.  Near the body were some personal effects, which identified the victim as Andrei Yutshinsky, a thirteen year old student of Sofia Ecclesiastical College.

There was a great deal of outrage in Kiev over the murder.  Because of the number of stab wounds, some ultra-nationalist groups in Russia claimed that it was a ritual murder by the Jews.  They based their claims on a document called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which had been forged by tsarist police and published in St. Petersburg, Russia, some nine years before.  The Protocols of the Elders of Zion purported to reveal a dastardly plot by the world’s Jews to bring about global domination, by infiltrating Western Christian societies, corrupting them morally and controlling their media and banking institutions.  It was, of course, antisemitic rubbish that preyed upon the prejudicial fears of those who already loathed and hated Jewish people.  But it was effective.  A copy was even found in the personal effects of Tsar Nicholas II after his murder at the hands of the Bolsheviks.

As rumors spread throughout Kiev in the weeks after the murder, public outrage began to build against Jewish people in the city.  The rumors were repeated in the press, which accused the Jews of engaging in ritualistic murders and tortures and consuming Christian blood.  Even members of the Duma, Russia’s parliamentary body, signed a petition demanding the government bring to justice the “criminal sect of Jews.”  Advisers of Nicholas himself were convinced the Jews were responsible, and finally, the authorities found someone to blame.

The scapegoat was Mendel Beiliss, a clerk in a Jewish-owned factory whose only crime was that his place of employment was near the cave where Andrei’s body had been found.  According to Figes,  Beiliss was not even a particularly devout Jew, only rarely attending synagogue.  But he was arrested and held in prison for two years, awaiting trial for the murder of Andrei.  Witnesses were paid off to testify against him, and the physicians in charge of the autopsy were forced to change their report to reflect the ritualistic murder theory.  The press ran stories accusing Beiliss of drinking Christian blood.

In the meantime, two junior policeman found the real murderer.  It was the mother of a

Vera Cheberyak

Vera Cheberiak

playmate of Andrei’s, a woman named Vera Cheberiak.  Vera was a member of a criminal gang responsible for a string of robberies in Kiev, and the stolen loot was stored at her house.  Andrei was playing with her son Yevgeny, when they discovered the stolen goods.  During a fight with Yevgeny, Andrei threatened to tell the police about the robberies.  Yevgeny told his mother, who told the gang, who in turn murdered Andrei and dumped his body in the cave.  In a shocking twist, Vera even testified at his trial that she had seen Beiliss kidnap Andrei.  She also poisoned Yevgeny, her own son, because he was the one person who could verify who really killed Andrei.

In 1913, Beiliss was put on trial.  The trial was a farce, and it was later revealed that even though Russia’s own Minister of Justice and Tsar Nicholas himself knew who was responsible, they still allowed Beiliss to stand trial because they thought it would prove the existence of Jewish ritualized murder.  But by the time Beiliss stood trial, some publications had already revealed who really killed Andrei, and the word had begun to spread.  Still, the tsarist regime persisted, even arresting and sending into exile a number of defense witnesses, and the judge was given a gold watch by the Tsar and promised a promotion in the event of a conviction.  In spite of all this, the government’s case was revealed to be fraudulent and fell apart, and Beiliss was acquitted.

No one was ever held responsible for what happened to Mendel Beiliss.  The gang who really killed Andrei were never tried, and the government officials who tried Beiliss were never punished.  In fact, some even received promotions.  The Russian government did receive a lot of international criticism, and eventually, a form of justice caught up to Vera Cheberiak, who was arrested and shot by the Bolsheviks in 1918 during the Red Terror.  Beiliss emigrated to Palestine and eventually the United States, where he died in 1934.  Only one year before his death, another government had risen to power in Europe, a government who also used The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to poison their citizens against the Jewish people.  This time, however, it was happening in Germany, and the antisemitism there would lead to the genocide of millions of Jewish people.

*Figes account of this story is on pages 241-244 of his book.

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A Fatal Failure to Listen

Cochise

Cochise

The little ranch on Sonoita Creek did not seem significant, given its remote location.  The main house was adobe with a grass roof and a packed earth floor, similar to others of its type in the territory.  The area, while certainly beautiful, did not hold any special significance.  The owner, John Ward, was an Irishman who had migrated to the Arizona Territory, where he settled on the ranch and was soon joined by a Mexican woman named Jesus Maria Martinez.  Jesus had two children by a previous relationship, Felix and Teodora, and she soon had another child by Ward named Mary. Felix would soon become the focal point of one of the longest and most cruel wars of attrition ever to occur on U.S. soil.  It wasn’t his fault, however.  The blame was primarily due to one man who was unwilling to listen.

On January 27, 1861, Pinal Apaches led by a one-eyed warrior named Beto raided the ranch, intending on stealing a few cattle and moving on.  Johnny Ward was away at the time.  The only one in sight was young Felix Ward, who was old enough that he normally would have been killed rather than captured by the Apaches.   Felix had also lost an eye in a hunting accident recently, which could account for Beto’s mercy; whatever the reason, the Apache leader took him captive rather than kill him.

When Johnny Ward came home, he immediately petitioned the army to find his stepson and return him.  The commanding officer in the area appointed a young lieutenant named George Bascom to carry out this task.  Bascom, along with Ward and 54 soldiers, headed out.  Ward said the Apaches had headed east to the Chiricahua Mountains, so it was assumed that Felix’s kidnappers were among the famed Chiricahua Apaches.  The Bascom party traveled to a place called Apache Pass, where he sent word to a local Chiricahua leader named Cochise that he wished to speak with him.  Cochise agreed to meet, bringing along several family members, including his brother, his wife, and two children.

Cochise was the son-in-law of the famous Apache leader

Apache Pass

Apache Pass

Mangas Coloradas.  He was described as a tall, fine looking man, although the local stationmaster in Apache Pass thought him untrustworthy, claiming that he was “the biggest liar in the territory!  And would kill an American for any trifle, provided he thought it wouldn’t be found out.”[i]  This general attitude of mistrust by the whites toward Cochise and the Apaches would prove to be a fatal undoing.

Bascom invited Cochise and his family into his tent, offering them dinner and a chance to talk.  He made sure to give orders to his men that none of the Apaches were allowed to leave without his permission, effectively making them prisoners rather than guests.  He then proceeded to interrogate Cochise about the capture of Felix Ward. Cochise truthfully insisted that he had nothing to do with it.  However, he offered to find the boy if Bascom would give him time.  Bascom responded that until Felix Ward was returned, he was holding Cochise and all his people hostage.

At this response, Cochise and his brother sprang to their feet and lunged to the door of the tent.  Finding the way blocked, Cochise whipped around and ran to the back of the tent.  Pulling out a knife, he cut the tent open and leaped out the back just as Bascom gave the order to fire.  He was wounded in the leg, but still managed to make it up the side of the canyon wall.

Things quickly went south at Apache Pass.  Cochise returned a few days later to surround the soldiers with hundreds of Apache warriors, including his father-in-law and another warrior named Goyahkla, who would later become the famous Apache leader Geronimo.  Cochise asked Bascom to return his family, again stating he had nothing to do with the capture of Felix Ward, and that he would try to find him if given time.  Bascom again refused to listen.

In retaliation, Cochise and his warriors hijacked a group of teamsters, killing nine Mexicans and capturing three Americans, whom he offered to Bascom in exchange for his family.  Bascom again refused, at which point the Apaches attacked the soldiers.  The attack was unsuccessful, and Cochise and his men were soon forced to flee to Mexico, outside U.S. jurisdiction. He left behind the dead bodies of the teamsters as a warning to Bascom.  A few days later, the army hanged Cochise’s brother and two of his nephews.  This ugly sequence of events ignited the Apache Wars, a long, drawn out affair in which many people were killed.  It cost the life of Mangas Coloradas, and both Cochise and Geronimo would eventually die on reservations.  Many white soldiers and settlers were killed by the Apaches, some in horrific ways.

The Bascom Affair, as this came to be known, is in some respects representative of part of the human experience.  In almost every conceivable way, it could have been avoided.  But the innate mistrust Bascom had for the Apaches compelled him to act rashly and foolishly.  The unwillingness to listen, to consider options, ended up costing a far heftier price in human lives.  It’s a lesson I don’t think we’ve mastered yet.  We still rush to judgment, trusting our preconceptions over common sense.  We act rashly based on limited information and our own biases, unwilling to sit at the table of peace and hear what other people have to say.  Until we learn from this mistake, we aren’t all that different from George Bascom.

 

[i] Hutton, Paul.  The Apache Wars.  (New York: Crown Publishing, 2016). Pg. 40

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Monday Book Review: Washington’s Spies

Washington's Spies coverIt took me a while to get into Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring, but once I did I was not disappointed.  I had initially become interested in this book after viewing the first season of AMC’s television show, TURN, which is based on the book.  Knowing only a little of the history behind the show, I was curious how much it veered from the truth (short answer: frequently), as well as a general curiosity about this little explored episode in American history.

Washington’s Spies is about the Culper spy ring, a group of Americans during the Revolutionary War who supplied intelligence to George Washington.  Several of the members actually lived in British occupied territory, so their contributions to the Continental Army came at significant risk to themselves and their families, as a spy would almost assuredly be executed if caught.  In fact, the book starts out by recounting the story of Nathan Hale, who was one of the first attempts by the Americans to go behind enemy lines to supply Washington with information.  Hale’s attempt was an unsophisticated and disastrous foray into military intelligence, and as I wrote about last week, ended with him being hanged.

The primary members of the ring were Benjamin Tallmadge, who ran the entire operation; Abraham Woodhull, a Setauket farmer who was the initial spy behind enemy lines and who recruited the ring’s other major member, Robert Townsend.  Also involved were Caleb Brewster, Anna Strong, and a number of other native Long Islanders who fulfilled various roles within the ring.  The book does a good job of trying to understand why these people were willing to be involved, as unlike a later generation of spies who acted largely as mercenaries, most of the members of the Culper Ring did so out of a sense of patriotism and/or a hatred of the British.  It also details their terror at being caught, the means by which they operated, and the maturity and sophistication that the ring developed as the war progressed.

The book had several thrilling and intense moments when it recounted the perils of Turn Castspying and how close members of the ring came to being caught.  There were also several other things the book did a great job in covering; it deals in depth with a British plan to destroy American currency through a counterfeiting operation, which was exposed by American intelligence.  It also covers the saga of Benedict Arnold, including an American plot devised by Washington to kidnap him from the British and bring him back to face justice.  Little details like this were scattered throughout the book and made each chapter a real delight, giving me information I didn’t previously know and keeping my attention in the way it was relayed.

The book is not a rigorous read, nor was it overly long.  I listened to it on Audible, where it was just shy of 13 hours, which for a history book is a pretty reasonable length of time.  If you are buying the print version, it’s less than 400 pages, so even if you aren’t a history buff it shouldn’t be too difficult to read.  It is not overly academic, and the anecdotal tales sprinkled through the book are more than enough to keep your attention.  I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the Revolutionary War, early American history, or if you are interested in the history of spying and military intelligence.

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I Spy: The American Revolution Version

Nathan Hale hanging

The hanging of Nathan Hale

Yesterday, I wrote about American Judas, Benedict Arnold, and his betrayal of the Continental Army.  While Arnold never paid the ultimate price for his treachery, his collaborator, British officer John Andre, was hanged for his part in the plot.  Even though the British government tried to bargain for his life, the Americans were unwilling to listen unless Arnold was part of the bargain.  One of the reasons for their intransigence was what had happened to one of their own spies, four years previously.

On September 22, 1776, Nathan Hale, an officer in the Continental Army, was hanged by the British for spying.  Hale, a graduate of Yale University (and, ironically, a classmate and friend of Benjamin Tallmadge, who would later become the chief American intelligence officer and head of the Culper spy ring), volunteered for the dangerous task of crossing behind enemy lines in New York, and reporting to George Washington on troop movements.  Spying was generally looked upon with disdain by respectable military men, and it was also highly dangerous, as it was well known that the punishment for spying was death.  Nevertheless, Hale readily agreed to go.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t very good at it, and it didn’t take long for his cover to be blown.

Robert Rogers

Robert Rogers

Hale was observed by a British colonel, who had made a name for himself during the French and Indian War, named Robert Rogers.  Rogers had commanded a group of scouts and fighters known as Rogers Rangers, and had been widely respected as a frontiersman and a soldier, but had since fallen out of favor with the Americans and so had offered his services to the British.  Rogers was on the lookout for Continental spies in Long Island, and put Hale under observation.  An account of it was written about by a man named Consider Tiffany (great band name, by the way):

Colonel Rogers having for some days, observed Captain Hale, and suspected that he was an enemy in disguise; and to convince himself, Rogers thought of trying the same method, he quickly altered his own habit, with which he Made Capt Hale a visit at his quarters, where the Colonel fell into some discourse concerning the war, intimating the trouble of his mind, in his being detained on an island, where the inhabitants sided with the Britains against the American Colonies, intimating withal, that he himself was upon the business of spying out the inclination of the people and motion of the British troops. This intrigue, not being suspected by the Capt, made him believe that he had found a good friend, and one that could be trusted with the secrecy of the business he was engaged in; and after the Colonel’s drinking a health to the Congress: informs Rogers of the business and intent. The Colonel, finding out the truth of the matter, invited Captain Hale to dine with him the next day at his quarters, unto which he agreed. The time being come, Capt Hale repaired to the place agreed on, where he met his pretended friend, with three or four men of the same stamp, and after being refreshed, began the same conversation as hath been already mentioned. But in the height of their conversation, a company of soldiers surrounded the house, and by orders from the commander, seized Capt Hale in an instant.

Even though Hale denied being a spy, he was positively identified by several people, and he was found with several incriminating documents.  The investigation did not take long, and Hale was immediately convicted by British general William Howe, and locked up in the guardhouse.  The next morning, he was taken out to be hanged.

Nathan Hale’s last words were not, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”  Those words were put into his mouth later by friends who would not have been aware of what he said at the time.  In Alexander Rose’s book, Washington’s Spies (spoiler alert, I will be reviewing this next Monday), he quotes a British officer named Frederick Mackenzie, who was present and said that Hale behaved with “great composure and resolution,” and that Hale told spectators “he thought it the duty of every good officer to obey any orders given him by his commander in chief; and desired the spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.”  Hale, having finished, was hanged, and his body left swinging on the gallows for several days after as a warning to other spies.

Hale is remembered as an America hero, and a symbol of the American struggle for freedom.  His death also served as a notice to Washington that if information was to be gathered, a much more sophisticated system needed to be set in place.  It changed the American outlook on military intelligence during the Revolutionary War.

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