SPIES: For Two Shillings

The bells sounded the appointed hour of 11 o'clock on June 28, and the snare drums rolled darkly for Sergeant Thomas Hickey. All the buttons had been slashed from his uniform coat, and the red epaulet from his right shoulder. The 80 soldiers in the ceremonial guard stood at attention, bayonets fixed. A crowd of thousands had gathered in a field just off New York's Bowery Lane to watch Sergeant Hickey die on the gallows. The condemned man was "unaffected and obstinate to the last," Artillary Surgeon William Eustis reported later, "except that...

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