Nathan Hale: Yale 1773 :: Curator: Richard E. Mooney mssa exhibition

Hale's Life in Connecticut  |  The Years At Yale  |  In The Revolutionary War  |  How Sculptors Saw Him  |  George Dudley Seymour  |  Images & Namesakes  

In The Revolutionary War: One year and a fateful final fortnight
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What did he actually say?
It is not certain that Hale said those famous 14 words - "I only regretů" - but it is as hard to disprove as it is to prove. On the afternoon of Hale's hanging Capt. John Montresor, the British army's chief engineer, who was there, reported Hale's final moments and his last words to an American officer, Capt. William Hull. One version, supplied by Hull, was inserted in a history book 23 years later. The exact wording was not published until his posthumous memoirs in 1848. Meanwhile, a news report in 1777 quoted Hale as saying that "if he had ten thousand lives he would lay them all down in defense of his injured, bleeding country," and a British officer's generally reliable daily diary only quoted him saying it was "the duty of every good officer to follow the orders of his commander-in-chief."