After the Battle of Harlem Heights, a Connecticut officer, a former schoolmaster named Nathan Hale, volunteered to conduct espionage behind the British lines to secure intelligence concerning troop movements. He was captured on Long Island, identified as a spy (some sources say that he was fingered by his own cousin, Samuel Hale—but it is also true that he carried incriminating documents on his person), and summarily hanged on September 22, 1776. There is considerable difference of opinion as to the site of his execution, which may have been at the present intersection of 66th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan; at City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan, or at the present location of the Yale Club at 44th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, across from Grand Central Terminal. Frederick Mackenzie, a British captain, recorded the execution in his diary on the day of the event.
Sept. 22. A person named Nathaniel Hales [sic], a lieutenant in the Rebel army and a native of Connecticut, was apprehended as a spy last night upon Long Island; and having this day made a full and free confession to the Commander in Chief of his being employed by Mr Washington in that capacity, he was hanged at 11 o'clock in front of the park of artillery. He was about 24 years of age, and had been educated at the College of Newhaven [Yale College] in Connecticut. He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying 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.