During the Revolutionary War American forces suffered a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Long Island. George Washington and his army had to escape from the battle to Manhattan at night under cover of fog. The British army meanwhile took control of Long Island and Huntington. They remained here for the duration of the war.
During this occupation Nathan Hale volunteered to gather intelligence on the British forces in New York. He began his mission on the shores of Huntington Bay. He was later captured—it is unclear where, perhaps in Huntington or perhaps closer to the city—and hanged in New York City.
The Nathan Hale Monument honors his sacrifice.