On 22 September 1776, the British army executed Captain Nathan Hale, Yale College class of 1773, officer of the Continental Army of the United States, and prisoner of war.James Staunton Babcock, Memoir of Captain Nathan Hale (New Haven: S. Babcock, 1844), 12. Babcock's biography of Nathan Hale is the first, and possibly the best, of its kind. Also indispensable is George Dudley Seymour's Documentary Life of Nathan Hale (New Haven: private printing, 1941), which reprints the known primary documents related to Hale's life, providing invaluable means for verifying Babcock's account, as well as a corrective for the enthusiasms of Hale's other biographers. Hale biographies are generally published in New Haven and, as a genre, tend toward fulsome sentimentality and paeans to the undying glory of Yale University, traditions established in Babcock's text. For typical examples of such Hale hagiography, see Henry Phelps Johnson, Nathan Hale, 1776 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1914), and Artemus Jean Haynes, The Story of Nathan Hale (New Haven: n.p., 1907). Hale's espionage stemmed from the Continental Army's disastrous loss at the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776 and subsequent retreat to Manhattan. With his troops demoralized and vulnerable to further attacks, George Washington required intelligence about British troop maneuvers. When Washington asked for a volunteer from his officer corps, Hale's former schoolmate and fellow officer Captain William Hull records that Hale accepted the mission, in spite of his friend Hull's objections that “[h]is nature was too frank and open for deceit and disguise” and that “he was incapable of acting a part equally foreign to his feelings and habits.”William Hull, Revolutionary Services And Civil Life of General William Hull; Prepared From his Manuscripts, by his Daughter, Mrs. Maria Campbell: Together with the History of the Campaign of 1812, And Surrender of the Post of Detroit, By His Grandson, James Freeman Clarke (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1848), 35. Hull's narrative is the principal historical evidence for analysis of Hale's execution. Part, though not all, of his account is also reprinted in Seymour, 307–10. Hale traveled from Washington's encampment on Harlem Heights to Norwalk, Connecticut, before sailing to Huntington, Long Island. There, posing as a loyalist, he was captured while gathering intelligence and hanged.