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Congress overlooks Benedict Arnold for promotion

Congress overlooks Benedict Arnold for promotion



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On February 19, 1777, the Continental Congress votes to promote Thomas Mifflin, Arthur St. Clair, William Alexander, Lord Stirling, Adam Stephen and Benjamin Lincoln to the rank of major general. Although the promotions were intended in part to balance the number of generals from each state, Brigadier General Benedict Arnold felt slighted that five junior officers received promotions ahead of him and, in response, threatened to resign from the Patriot army.

In a letter dated April 3, 1777, General George Washington wrote to Arnold from his headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, and confessed that he was surprised, when I did not see your name in the list of Major Generals. Thinking that the omission of Arnold’s name was an error, Washington discouraged the disappointed Arnold from taking any hasty Step.

To Arnold’s dismay, he soon learned that his commander in chief was wrong, and he submitted his resignation to the Congress in July 1777, but withdrew it at Washington’s urging. Despite having the support of George Washington, Arnold continued to feel unjustly overlooked by his superiors. Finally, in 1780, Arnold betrayed his country by offering to hand over the Patriot-held fort at West Point, New York, to the British. With West Point in their control, the British would have controlled the critical Hudson River Valley and separated New England from the rest of the colonies. His wife, Margaret, was a Loyalist and would not have objected to his plans. However, his plot was foiled, and Arnold, the hero of Ticonderoga and Saratoga, became the most famous traitor in American history. He continued to fight on the side of the British in the Revolution and, after the war, returned to Britain, where he died destitute in London in 1801.

READ MORE: George Washington Warned Against Political Infighting in His Farewell Address


Benedict Arnold

Professor James Kirby Martin explores how George Washington and Benedict Arnold, once brothers in arms, became bitter enemies.

A General in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, Benedict Arnold served with distinction in several battles but was passed over for promotions several times. Arnold was also investigated by the Continental Congress during his service and faced various accusations from opponents. Frustrated by the opposition he encountered, Arnold eventually started working for the British even while continuing to serve in the Continental Army. Ultimately his betrayal was discovered and Arnold fled to New York City, accepting a commission in the British Army. Arnold's name has become synonymous with treasonous behavior and is perhaps one of the most infamous figures in American history.

Benedict Arnold was born in 1741 to a prominent Connecticut family. Arnold lost most of his siblings to yellow fever, calamitous events that triggered alcoholism in his father. As a teenager, Arnold's family faced financial hardship. At the age of sixteen, Arnold enlisted in a militia and served in the French and Indian War in upstate New York. During the 1760s, Arnold started a successful apothecary business.

Arnold's role as a prominent businessman brought him into direct conflict with both the Stamp Act and the Sugar Act, where the British government sought to regulate and tax colonial business transactions. Arnold joined the Sons of Liberty and continued his business in defiance of the British acts, effectively becoming a smuggler. He was elected to the position of captain in the Connecticut militia in 1775, and participated in the siege of Boston, the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, and the Battle of Saratoga where he received a leg wound.

Despite this service, Arnold was the focus of hostility from multiple officers in the Continental Army. Arnold brought complaints against Moses Hazen which led to his court-martial. Afterwards, Hazen leveled counter charges. Arnold also became involved in conflicts with both John Brown and James Easton. Brown in response published a pamphlet that claimed of Arnold, "Money is this man's God, and to get enough of it he would sacrifice his country." 1

After being passed over for promotion to the post of Major General, Arnold tendered his resignation. George Washington, however, refused to accept the withdrawal. Soon after, Arnold participated in the Battle of Saratoga, where he was again wounded in his left leg, the same leg that had been injured previously. Soon after, Washington appointed Arnold military commander of Philadelphia, where his attempts to profit from his position ran afoul of local officials. In 1778 and 1779, Arnold expressed disappointment and pessimism about the prospects of the United States, and evidence mounted that he was conspiring with the British by exchanging sensitive military information for money. Although cleared of a court-martial, Arnold was rebuked by Washington, who called his conduct "imprudent and improper." 2

Valiant Ambition: An Interview with Nathaniel Philbrick

Arnold resigned his post in Philadelphia and eventually gained command at West Point where he entered into secret negotiations with the British. He transferred money to British forces and passed on information that would aid the British in capturing West Point, while weakening the fort's defenses and thinning out its supplies.

John Andre, Arnold's British contact, was captured and ultimately executed for his role in the plot. Arnold narrowly avoided capture by the Americans and eventually fled to England. Arnold served in the British army for the duration of the war, and then engaged in business in Canada and England until his death in 1801. Since then, his name has become synonymous with moral failure, betrayal, and sinister self-interest. His complex legacy, however, is reflected in the unusual memorial to him at the Saratoga National Historic Park. The memorial consists of a statue of a detached leg in a boot, alluding to Arnold's heroism at Saratoga and the leg wound he suffered there. However, the statue does not bear his name.

Katie Uva
The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Notes:
1. Quoted in James Kirby Martin, Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: An American Warrior Reconsidered (New York: NYU Press, 2000), 324.


Congress overlooks Benedict Arnold for promotion - Feb 19, 1777 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

On this day in 1777, the Continental Congress votes to promote Thomas Mifflin Arthur St. Clair William Alexander, Lord Stirling Adam Stephen and Benjamin Lincoln to the rank of major general. Although the promotions were intended in part to balance the number of generals from each state, Brigadier General Benedict Arnold felt slighted that five junior officers received promotions ahead of him and, in response, threatened to resign from the Patriot army.

In a letter dated April 3, 1777, General George Washington wrote to Arnold from his headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, and confessed that he was surprised, when I did not see your name in the list of Major Generals. Thinking that the omission of Arnold’s name was an error, Washington discouraged the disappointed Arnold from taking any hasty Step.

To Arnold’s dismay, he soon learned that his commander in chief was wrong, and he submitted his resignation to the Congress in July 1777, but withdrew it at Washington’s urging. Despite having the support of George Washington, Arnold continued to feel unjustly overlooked by his superiors. Finally, in 1780, Arnold betrayed his country by offering to hand over the Patriot-held fort at West Point, New York, to the British. With West Point in their control, the British would have controlled the critical Hudson River Valley and separated New England from the rest of the colonies. His wife, Margaret, was a Loyalist and would not have objected to his plans. However, his plot was foiled, and Arnold, the hero of Ticonderoga and Saratoga, became the most famous traitor in American history. He continued to fight on the side of the British in the Revolution and, after the war, returned to Britain, where he died destitute in London in 1801.


How did Arnold’s wounds from the Battle of Saratoga factor into his path towards betrayal of the American cause?

The "Boot Monument" on the Saratoga Battlefield. This monument marks the location where Benedict Arnold was wounded at the battle.

Definitely a factor. Seriously wounded in the same leg in which he had taken his first terrible wound at Quebec, Benedict Arnold was angry and peevish during more than four months in a patriot military hospital in Albany, NY. He had plenty of time to think how much suffering he was going through after having been passed over for higher rank, a burning insult to is good name as a virtuous patriot, and in addition to how much he had sacrificed in terms of using his own wealth to support the American cause.

Moreover, he had forsaken his lucrative career as a merchant/trader operating out of New Haven, CT. Congress had restored his rank before Saratoga but not his seniority. When Washington wrote a still suffering Benedict Arnold in Jan. 1778, after the great victory at Saratoga, that Congress had finally restored his seniority, Arnold did not immediately respond. He was furious that Congress had cast a medal to Horatio Gates as the alleged “hero of Saratoga” when Arnold had actually provided the field leadership in both battles leading the Americans to victory.

When Benedict Arnold did respond to Washington, he said that he wished the commander in chief well in his “arduous task” of “seeing peace and happiness restored to your country on the most permanent basis.” In his mounting disillusionment, Arnold was separating himself from a cause in which he was losing his faith. He sent this letter to Washington in March 1778, two and a half years before he gave up completely on the American cause.


From Major General Benedict Arnold

Agreable to your Excellencys advice to me when at Camp, I requested of Congress to appoint a Committe to Examine into the Charges aledg’d against me by the Presdt and Council of this State my request was complied with, the Report of the Committe I have taken the liberty to Inclose, after peruseing it Your Excellency will doubtless be suprised to find Congress have directed a Court Martial to try me (among other Charges) for some of those of which their Committe, have acquitted me in the fullest and Clearest Manner and tho this Conduct may be necessary For the Public Interest, It is hard to reconcile it to the Feelings of an Individual who is thereby Injured.2

Mr Reed has by his Address kept the Affair in suspence for Near two Months, and at last obtained the foregoing Resolution of Congress, and will I make no doubt, Use every Artifice to Delay the proceeding of a Court Martial As it is his Interest the Affair should remain in the dark And tho Congress to avoid a breach with this State, have Declined, Decideing on the Report of their Committe, I have No doubt of obtaining Justice from a Court Martial, as every Officer in the Army must feel himself Injured by the Cruel and unprecedented treatment I have met with from a set of Scoundrils in Office. I must earnestly Intreat Your Excellency that a Court Martial may be directed to sit as soon as posible, If It can be done in this City I shall esteem it as a great favor as my wounds make it extreemly Inconvenient, for me to attend at Camp where it is very difucult to obtain the necessary accomodations for the recovery of them. It will Also be extreemly Difucult if not impracticable to produce at Camp the Evidences, which are all in this City—But should the service make it absolutely necessary that the Court should be held at Camp, I beg that as early a day may be fix’d for it as posible, and that the President and Council of this State may have such Notice, that the Court may not be delayed for want of their Evidence Mine will be ready at the Shortest Notice.

When your Excellency Considers my Sufferings, and the Cruel Situation I am in, your Own Humanity and feelings as a Soldier, will render every thing I can say farther on the Subject unnecessary. I beg my best Respects to Mrs Washington and am with sentiments of perfect Respect & Esteem Dr Sir Your Excellency’s Affectionate & Mo. Obedt Humble Servt

1 . Arnold left the date blank, but the letter was docketed as having been received on 18 April.

2 . Arnold had written to Congress on 8 and 12 Feb. requesting a trial and inquiry into charges that had been brought against him in a letter of 25 Jan. from Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council President Joseph Reed to Congress, and in an act passed by Pennsylvania on 3 February. Congress read Arnold’s letters on 15 Feb. and immediately resolved to ask GW to convene a court-martial to try the general. On 16 Feb., it referred Arnold’s letters to a five-man committee that had already been looking into the charges contained in Reed’s letter of 25 Jan., and it suspended Arnold from command in the army until his fate was determined ( JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 . 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:184, 188–89).

The enclosed copy of “A Report of the Committe of Congress Appointed to Examine into the Charges Exhibited against General Arnold by the President and Council of the State of Pensilvania,” signed by committee chairman William Paca, summarizes the committee’s conclusions, which were presented to Congress on 17 March: “The first, Second, third, and fifth Charges are Offences tryable only in a Court Martial, that the Fourth Charge is an Offence only of a Civil Nature and Triable only in a Common Law Court, that the Sixth Seventh, and Eighth Charges are Offences not triable by a Court Martial or Common Law Court, or Subject to any other Punishment than the Displeasure of Congress and the Consequences of it.

“That the Committe were furnished with Evidence by the Supreme Executive Council on the fifth, and Seventh Charges to which they beg leave to refer, that the Committe of the Said Executive Council tho Repeatedly applied to declined to give any Evidence on the Rest of the Charges after Fruitless applications For three weeks dureing which time several Letters passed between the Supreme Executive Council and Committe, In which Letters the Supreme Executive Council threaten the Committe and Charge them with Partiality.

“Resolved that as to the first and Second Charges No Evidence appears tending to prove the Same, that the said Charges are fully explained and the Appearances they Carry of Criminality fully obviated by Clear unquestionable Evidence.

“The third Charge Admitted by General Arnold in One Instance, to be transmitted to the Commander in Chief.

“Resolved that the Recommendatory Letter in the 6th Charge is not within the Spirit of the Resolve of Congress, or a usurpation of Authority.

“Resolved that the Letter in the 7th Charge tho not in Terms of perfect Civility yet is not Expressed in Terms of Indignity, and that after the Conduct of the Sd Supreeme Executive Council towards the Sd General Arnold, and the unexampled measures they took to obtain satisfaction, totally and absolutely preclude all Right to Concessions or acknowlidgement.

“Resolved on the 8th Charge that there is no Evidence to prove the same. The fourth Charge there appears no Evidence to prove the Same and that it is triable only in a Common Law Court.

“The fifth Charge to be transmitted to the Commander in Chief” (DLC:GW the report is printed in JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 . 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:324–26). Although the committee had found many of the charges against Arnold to be unproven and had criticized Pennsylvania’s lack of cooperation in the inquiry, Congress, seeking to patch a widening breach with Reed and his council, nevertheless resolved on 3 April that “the complaints against General Arnold be transmitted to his excellency the Commander in Chief, in order for trial and that the same be duly notified to the executive council and that they be requested to furnish the Commander in Chief with the evidence thereupon in their possession and that all farther proceedings elsewhere cease, save the collecting and transmitting any further evidence thereupon to the Commander in Chief” in other words, the trial would continue ( JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 . 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:414–16 see also John Jay to GW, 12 April).

GW complied with this resolution on 20 April by ordering a court-martial (see his letters of that date to Arnold, John Jay, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council). To his chagrin, the matter did not end there, but grew into a protracted and sordid dispute that threatened to damage GW’s relations with the Pennsylvania government while at the same time permanently alienating Arnold. On 24 April, Joseph Reed wrote a lengthy letter to GW complaining that he had misconstrued the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council’s role in preferring the charges against Arnold GW’s bemused and equally lengthy reply of 27 April only partially put the misunderstanding to rest (see GW to Reed, 8 and 15 May Reed to GW, 1 May and the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council to GW, 8 May).

Meanwhile, GW’s attempts to fix an early date for the trial, originally set for 1 June, were hindered at every turn by bureaucratic confusion and enemy movements. Although the court met on 1 June just long enough for Arnold to object to the presence of three of its members, a council of war met later that day and decided to postpone the trial indefinitely on account of a British move up the Hudson River (Council of War, 1 June, DLC:GW ). “I cannot,” GW wrote to Timothy Matlack on 2 June, “fix the time when the Court will sit, as it must depend on the Enemy’s operations” (PHi : Dreer Collection). The court did not meet until 20 December 1779 (see GW to Arnold, 4 Dec., DLC:GW , and General Orders, 19 Dec.). It reached a verdict on 26 Jan. 1780, when it acquitted Arnold of most of the charges against him, but found him guilty of dereliction of duty on two relatively minor points (see General Orders, 6 April 1780). Congress confirmed the verdict on 12 Feb. ( JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 . 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 16:161–62), but waited another month before forwarding it to GW, who was required to reprimand Arnold in general orders. He did so on 6 April 1780, but by then the damage had already been done: Arnold, furious at what he regarded as a conspiracy against him, had begun secret contacts with the British in the late spring of 1779. See GW to Arnold, 26 and 28 April, 7 and 15 May, 2 June (DLC:GW ), and 4 Dec. (DLC:GW ) 1779 Arnold to GW, 5, 14, and 18 May, and 13 July (DLC:GW ) 1779 and Samuel Huntington to GW, 11 March 1780 (DLC:GW ).


History of the U.S.: Benedict Arnold: He Coulda Been a Contender

His name instantly summons images of betrayal by candlelight. But what exactly did Benedict Arnold do?

Well, he made contact with spies using his wife’s pro-loyalist friends, he told the British about the locations of rebel troops and supplies he took command of the fort at West Point for the rebels, then secretly did everything he could to cripple it and he sold the fort’s weaknesses to the British. And that’s just for starters. After that last ploy was exposed, Arnold fled on a British ship before he could be hanged. The Brits recognized Arnold’s potential and gave him some pretty potent military positions – he led 1,600 Redcoats and loyalists on a devastating series of raids across Virginia and a fierce assault on the rebel port of New London, Connecticut, which he burned to the ground.

But he could have been an American Hero if his cards had been dealt a little differently. In 1775, Arnold and Ethan Allen were co-commanders of the expedition that captured Fort Ticonderoga. Then in 1777, although outnumbered, Arnold put up a fierce fight for Lake Champlain and then inflicted a lot of damage before withdrawing at the Battle of Ridgefield. And during the climactic Battle of Saratoga, Arnold took two for the team: he was shot in the leg by a British bullet and was then crushed under his falling horse.

While bedridden and in pain, Arnold reflected on how crappy things were going: his accomplishment at Ticonderoga was lost in a political battle over who would take credit for the victory (winner: Ethan Allen), and his heroic efforts at Lake Champlain and Saratoga went unrecognized since they were technically defeats.

In February 1777, the Continental Congress passed over Arnold for promotion, giving it to a junior officer instead. Arnold eventually got promoted, but Congress wouldn’t give him seniority, meaning he was still subordinate to junior officers.

To add insult to injury, Arnold then faced a smear campaign by his enemies in the Continental Congress (the allegations may have been slightly true, but whatever). As military governor of Philadelphia, Arnold made insider business deals that profited from supplying provisions to the rebel armies. When local merchants and politicians protested his corrupt dealings, Arnold demanded a court martial to clear his name. He was cleared of all but two minor charges, but these still drew a rather nasty reprimand from Washington. Not long afterward, accountants of Congress calculated that, after the expenses for his northern campaigns were tallied up, Arnold owed them 1,000 pounds.

And that’s more or less when Arnold turned on them. But Benedict didn’t seem to make friends anywhere he went: he ended up being locked out of important decisions by the British officer elite, then he lost a bunch of money in bad business deals and had a string of alarming run-ins, including dueling with a member of Parliament and being burned in effigy by townsfolk in St. John.

Looking for more fabulous content like this? You’re in luck - The Mental Floss History of the United States hits bookshelves near you on October 5th! If you pre-order, you’ll get three free issues of mental_floss magazine. Get all of the details over here.


Reviews of Turncoat

Turncoat does an excellent job utilizing both published documents and manuscripts to make the case that, while Arnold was a conflicted character whose bravery and charisma were at odds with his vanity and self-serving nature, he did personally believe in the rectitude of his actions from 1779 to 1781 …. The prose is compelling and fast-paced, and this new perspective on the [Revolutionary] war gives the reader much food for thought.” – The Historian

“Brumwell’s conclusions are meticulously buttressed by research … yet Turncoat is not a stuffy academic exercise. Well written, easily accessible to scholar and layman alike, this biography restores humanity to the life of a scoundrel.” – Times Literary Supplement

“Brumwell is a captivating storyteller … this is a splendid, intelligent, articulate book that casual readers and Arnold scholars alike will enjoy.” – Journal of the American Revolution

“Journalist-turned historian Brumwell had plumbed archives hither and yon to produce the most complete and balanced portrait of the American Revolutionary War hero who, at the height of his success and fame, went over to the British, and whose name subsequently became in America an epithet for the blackest treachery and almost inexplicable iniquity.” – The Heythrop Journal

“Turncoat paints a fascinating picture of Arnold … he was clearly a man of many talents and Brumwell, while not excusing his treason, does much to humanize him.” CIA analyst John Ehrman, Studies in Intelligence

“Turncoat offers a new and unique perspective, and insight that makes it an essential book for all readers with a passion for uncovering the true history of the American Revolution.” – Army History

“Brumwell’s careful study, a model of scholarship and human insight (not qualities often found together), provides an altogether convincing revisionist view of the Arnold case. As he analyses it, some half-dozen factors were simultaneously at play, pushing Arnold towards treachery. Ultimately, Brumwell states, Arnold’s behaviour was all too human. With his outstanding analysis of the Arnold case, Brumwell has written a book that puts the notorious American paranoia about treason into perspective.” Frank McLynn, Literary Review

“A cracking good tale… offers new evidence and a compelling argument as to the real reasons behind Arnold’s betrayal of the American independence movement. If you thought it was all about money, Brumwell will make you think again. His recounting of the entirely accidental way in which the planned treason was uncovered, and what happened next, reads like a top-drawer Hollywood screenplay it’s a true cinematic nail-biter. If you’re a fan of American History, this book is an absolute “don’t miss”–and if you like listening to your American History, my audiobook version will give you about 17 hours of immersion in a remarkable true story.” Andrew Sellon, actor & ‘Turncoat’ audiobook narrator

“Mr. Brumwell, a military historian and biographer of George Washington, centers ‘Turncoat’ on the 1780 conspiracy – in which Arnold played a key role – to give West Point to the British and possibly enable George Washington’s capture. Deftly weaving that story into the larger military history of the American Revolution, Mr. Brumwell vividly sketches characters and recounts pivotal episodes. He argues that Arnold thought of himself as someone working to mend relations between Britain and America, welcoming terms that removed the grounds of the original quarrel. In short, he was moved by something more rational than pique and less petty than resentment.” William Anthony Hay, Wall Street Journal

“This story has it all: There are spies and counterspies, suspense and close calls, a beautiful woman, a handsome and charming British major, and Alexander Hamilton. It’s amazing that Hollywood hasn’t made a serious effort to adapt it for the screen.” Prof. Gordon S. Wood, The Weekly Standard

“Lucidly written and rich in detail, Brumwell’s narrative explains Benedict Arnold’s treason by taking him at his word— that the Revolution’s arch-traitor turned his coat to save America from a bloody civil war and a patriot cause gone astray. Brumwell’s conclusions are as provocative as Arnold was controversial. A gripping read.” Mark Edward Lender, co-author of the award-winning Fatal Sunday

“The most balanced and insightful assessment of Benedict Arnold to date. Utilizing fresh manuscript sources, Brumwell reasserts the crucial importance of human agency in history.” Edward G. Lengel, author of General George Washington, and editor of the Papers of George Washington

“Gripping … This fine book situates Benedict Arnold within several contexts: issues of loyalty and disloyalty treason as a political concept and a crime relationships among honor, reputation, politics, and war and the ordeal of 1780 for everyone embroiled in the Revolutionary War. At a time when charges of treason and disloyalty intrude into our daily politics, Turncoat is essential reading.” R. B. Bernstein, City College of New York

“Written with grace and flair by a leading military historian, Turncoat examines Benedict Arnold’s career as a soldier on both sides during the War of Independence. In so doing, Brumwell has written an incisive study of the war and the very meaning of the American Revolution itself.” Francis D. Cogliano, author of Revolutionary America

Historian Brumwell (George Washington: Gentleman Warrior) offers a provocative explanation for one of the enduring mysteries of the American Revolution: why did Benedict Arnold, one of “Washington’s most celebrated and valued subordinates,” become a traitor in 1780? Brumwell rejects the most common theories: that Arnold felt disrespected by the Continental Congress, which passed him over for promotion despite his impressive track record as a military commander, or that greed was his primary motivator. Instead, Brumwell credits Arnold’s own statements that he felt that offers to the rebels to end the fighting were both genuine and satisfactory, and that his defection was intended to reunite the fractured British Empire. Supporting his case with evidence such as the writings of British officer John Simcoe, Brumwell makes plausible the counterintuitive notion that Arnold’s position was not a fringe one, but actually “symptomatic of a far wider discontent” among the colonials. He also narrates the arc of Arnold’s life and reminds nonspecialists that the Americans’ eventual victory was far from inevitable. Open-minded readers will appreciate his dissenting view that Arnold may have “genuinely had his country’s well-being at heart,” a view that Brumwell believes “merits careful consideration within any balanced re-examination of America’s most infamous traitor.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Contents

Benedict Arnold was born in 1741 into a well-to-do family in the port city of Norwich in the British colony of Connecticut. [1] He was interested in military affairs from an early age, serving briefly (without seeing action) in the colonial militia during the French and Indian War in 1757. [2] He embarked on a career as a businessman, first opening a shop in New Haven, and then engaging in overseas trade. He owned and operated ships, sailing to the West Indies, Quebec and Europe. [3] When the British Parliament began to impose taxes on its colonies, Arnold's businesses began to be affected by them and the activities of colonists opposed to the taxes, a cause he eventually joined. [4] In 1767 he married Margaret Mansfield, with whom he had three children, one of whom died in infancy. [5] [6]

In March 1775, a group of 65 New Haven residents formed the Governor's Second Company of Connecticut Guards. Arnold was chosen as their captain, and he organized training and exercises in preparation for war. [7] On April 21, 1775, news reached New Haven of the opening battles of the revolution at Lexington and Concord. Arnold's company formed up to march to Boston the next day, but the town council would not release any gunpowder to them. In a confrontation between Arnold and David Wooster that is reenacted in New Haven every Powder House Day, Arnold successfully argued with the older man that he would take the powder one way or another. The magazine was opened, Arnold's company was armed, and they marched off to Boston. [8]

During the march, Arnold encountered Connecticut legislator and militia Colonel Samuel Holden Parsons. They discussed the shortage of cannons in the revolutionary forces and, knowing of the large number of cannons at Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain, agreed that an expedition should be sent to capture the fort. [9] Parsons continued on to Hartford, where he raised funds to establish a force under the command of Captain Edward Mott. Mott was instructed to link up with Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys at Bennington in the disputed New Hampshire Grants territory (now Vermont). [10] Meanwhile, Arnold and his Connecticut militia continued on to Cambridge, where Arnold convinced the Massachusetts Committee of Safety to fund an expedition to take the fort. On May 3, the committee appointed him a colonel in the Massachusetts militia and dispatched him, and several captains under his command, to raise an army in Massachusetts. [11] As his captains recruited troops Arnold rode west. When he reached Williamstown he learned of the activities of Mott and Allen. Turning north, he reached Castleton on May 9, where Allen's forces were already gathering. Arnold attempted to gain control over the expedition by asserting the legitimacy of his commission, but Allen's Green Mountain Boys, by far the largest part of the force, refused to act under the command of anyone other than Allen. [12] In a compromise negotiated privately between Allen and Arnold, the two appeared to jointly lead the expedition. [a]

On May 10, 1775, Fort Ticonderoga was assaulted in a dawn attack and taken without a battle, the colonial forces having surprised the outnumbered British garrison. [13] They also captured nearby Fort Crown Point and Fort George, which were occupied by even smaller garrisons. [14] Following these captures, Allen's men broke into the liquor stored at the fort, and became somewhat unruly. Arnold, who wanted to inventory the fort's military assets for possible transport to Boston, was incensed, but powerless to stop them. [15] With the arrival of men his captains had recruited, and of a schooner they had captured, Arnold then executed a daring raid on Fort Saint-Jean, not far from Montreal. He took more prisoners, and also captured the largest military vessel on Lake Champlain, giving the Americans complete military control of the lake. [16]

After returning to Ticonderoga, Arnold began to exert more authority over the place as Allen's men drifted away. However, a Connecticut force of 1,000 men under Colonel Benjamin Hinman arrived in June with orders placing him in command with Arnold as his subordinate. This act angered Arnold, who felt his efforts on behalf of the revolution were not being recognized he resigned his commission and headed for his home in Connecticut. [17] Arnold's angry response to the loss of command led some members of Congress to dislike him in spite of his military contributions. [18] Congressional opinion of Arnold was also negatively affected by reports circulated by two men that Arnold came to consider enemies. John Brown and James Easton were two of Allen's lieutenants who had traveled to Massachusetts and Philadelphia to report on the action. While their characterizations of Arnold's behavior were accurate, he apparently came to believe that they had probably slandered him, and later interactions with both men were marked by conflict. [19] In an encounter between Arnold and Easton in June, Easton slighted Arnold's authority, to which Arnold responded by challenging the other man to a duel. Easton demurred, and Arnold, in his account of the affair, "took the Liberty of Breaking his head". [20] After Arnold resigned his Massachusetts commission, the state's Committee of Safety appointed Easton to take over the Massachusetts troops at Ticonderoga. [21]

When he reached Albany, Arnold received a letter informing him that his wife had died. [18] He also met with Major General Philip Schuyler, newly in command of the Continental Army's Northern Department, [22] with whom he established a cordial relationship. Arnold returned to New Haven, where he visited his children (now in the care of his sister Hannah) and took care of business dealings. While in New Haven he suffered his first attacks of gout, which plagued him for the rest of his life. [23]

While at Ticonderoga, both Arnold and Allen lobbied Congress with the idea of taking Quebec from the British, as it was lightly defended. [24] General Schuyler was eventually assigned the task of developing a plan to invade Quebec via Lake Champlain in July. The objective was to deprive the British of an important base from which they could attack upper New York. [25] Schuyler intended to lead this force, but due to illness he turned command over to Brigadier General Richard Montgomery early in the expedition, which left in late August. [26]

Arnold, deprived of the opportunity to lead that expedition, went to Cambridge and proposed to George Washington that a second force, in concert with Schuyler's, attack by traveling through the wilderness of what is now Maine to Quebec City. [27] Washington and Schuyler approved the idea, and Washington gave Arnold a colonel's commission in the Continental Army and leadership of the expedition. [28] Arnold used as a guide for the expedition a map and journal he had acquired that were made by John Montresor, a British engineer who mapped the route in 1761. The journal was vague in some details, and, unknown to Arnold, the map contained deliberate omissions to reduce its value to military opponents. [29] [30]

The force of 1,100 recruits embarked from Newburyport, Massachusetts on September 19, 1775, arriving at Gardinerston, Maine, where Arnold had made prior arrangements with Major Reuben Colburn to construct 200 shallow-draft boats known as bateaux, on September 22. [31] [32] These were to be used to transport the troops up the Kennebec and Dead rivers, then down the Chaudière River to Quebec City. The expedition had numerous difficulties that slowed its progress, including several lengthy and difficult portages, bad weather, inaccurate maps, and troops inexperienced in handling the boats. As a result, the expedition took much longer than expected, 500 men either died or turned back, and the remnants were near starvation when they reached the Saint Lawrence River in November. [33]

The British had been alerted to Arnold's approach and had destroyed all of the boats on the river's southern banks. Although two warships, the frigate Lizard (26 guns) and the sloop-of-war Hunter (16 guns), kept up a constant patrol to prevent a river crossing, Arnold was able to procure sufficient watercraft for his men, and crossed to the Quebec City side on November 11. [34] He then realized his force was not strong enough to capture the city, so he retreated several miles and waited for Montgomery. [35]

In late August, Montgomery sailed north from Fort Ticonderoga with about 1,200 men. [36] After successfully besieging Fort Saint-Jean, he captured Montreal on November 13. The two men joined forces in early December, and with their combined force of about 1,200 soldiers, they attacked Quebec on December 31, 1775. [37] The colonial forces suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of General Guy Carleton, governor of Quebec and commander of the British forces. Montgomery was killed leading an assault along with all but one of his officers his men never got close to the walls. Arnold's force made a descent into the lower town. Early in the battle, Arnold was wounded in the leg, but stayed on the battlefield encouraging his troops on. Daniel Morgan's rifle company, the most successful of the American troops, fought inside the city until Morgan was cornered and forced to surrender. Many others were killed or wounded, and hundreds were taken prisoner. [38]

The remnants of the army, reduced by the battle and by expiring enlistments to some 600 men, now came under Arnold's command. Instead of retreating, Arnold maintained a minimally effective siege around the city. [39] In this time Arnold learned that he had been promoted to brigadier general in January for his success in reaching Quebec City. [40] He also had a run-in with John Brown, who was now a major and had come north with Montgomery. Montgomery had apparently promised Brown a promotion, which he then applied to Arnold to receive. Arnold, apparently still smarting over the perceived slights at Ticonderoga, denied the promotion, which Brown promptly appealed directly to Congress. Arnold's response to this threat to his authority was to accuse Brown, and also Easton, who had been present when Montgomery took Montreal but had returned south, of improperly plundering the bags of British officers. When Brown insisted on a court martial to clear his name, Arnold again refused, attempting to further smear the two men through the use of intermediaries. (Brown never received a formal hearing on Arnold's charges.) [41]

Arnold maintained the siege until the spring of 1776, when reinforcements under Brigadier General David Wooster arrived. Arnold traveled to Montreal to take up military command of that city. [42]

In May 1776, while a delegation of the Continental Congress was visiting Montreal, a large British fleet began arriving in Quebec, precipitating the retreat of the Continental Army from Quebec City. [43] Arnold's administration of Montreal became complicated by a British-Indian force's attack on an American fort at The Cedars, upriver from Montreal, in May that began to unfold while he was attending a war council with the retreating army's command and the Congressional delegation at Sorel. He returned to Montreal to organize a response, and, with the assistance of timely reinforcements, reached an agreement for a prisoner exchange with the British, who were holding the garrison from the fort. [44] In a war council discussing how to respond to the incident, Arnold had a heated exchange with Moses Hazen, the commander of the 2nd Canadian Regiment, that was the beginning of a series of disputes between them that eventually resulted in courts martial of both men. [45]

Arnold then began preparing to evacuate the American garrison from Montreal. Pursuant to instructions from the Congressmen he began seizing supplies from local merchants, issuing receipts for the goods that the merchants could use in compensation claims later. These goods, which were marked to identify the supplying merchant, were shipped to Fort Chambly in early June. [46] Hazen, who owned property in the area and was in command at Chambly, refused to store the goods, believing them to be goods seized improperly from merchants he knew. [47]

Arnold's anger at Hazen's act needed to be held back the British advance up the St. Lawrence almost caught him by surprise. He was alerted that British ships were approaching the city by a messenger he sent toward Sorel for news. [48] Upon departure from the city, he ordered fires to be set in an attempt to burn the city before the British arrived, and then went to Saint-Jean, where he joined the rear of the retreating army. Arnold directed his forces to destroy by burning or sinking any ships the British could use on Lake Champlain, and set fire to the fort and nearby works. [49] Arnold is reported to have waited until the vanguard of the British army came into musket range before shooting his own horse dead and pushing off from Saint-Jean and departing up the Richelieu to Champlain. [50]

Arnold then spent the summer of 1776 coordinating the construction of a flotilla of small warships and gunboats at Skenesborough, to delay the British further by denying them free access to the lake. The British responded by building a much larger lake flotilla at Saint-Jean, which they launched in early October. The British destroyed Arnold's flotilla at the Battle of Valcour Island in mid-October, and advanced as far as Crown Point. However, winter was setting in, so General Carleton called off the advance. [17]

During the fleet's construction, Arnold ordered the arrest and trial of Hazen for dereliction of his duty with respect to the incident at Chambly. [51] Hazen, a politically well-connected figure (his commission to lead the 2nd Canadian came after appearing before Congress following the Battle of Quebec), turned the proceeding on its head, countercharging that Arnold had stolen the goods in question, [52] and that the officer responsible for transporting them, a Major Scott, had damaged them in transit. [53] Major Scott's testimony was questioned and eventually rejected by the court martial, [54] which acquitted Hazen and ordered Arnold's arrest. General Horatio Gates, then in command at Ticonderoga, dissolved the arrest warrant, citing the desperate need for Arnold's services against the expected British attack. [52] Arnold's silence in response to Hazen's accusation probably confirmed and deepened the opinions people already held of him those favorably disposed to him perceived it as a dignified non-response to a ridiculous accusation, while those who disliked him saw it as the reaction of a man whose hand had been caught in the till. Historians continue to debate whether Arnold was actually engaged in anything illegal. [55] In the aftermath of these incidents, Congressman Samuel Chase warned Arnold that "your best friends are not your countrymen". [56]

Much of the army at Ticonderoga was ordered to march south in November, to reinforce Washington's army in the defense of New Jersey. In Albany, Arnold was again made to face formal charges. Brown and Hazen had each drawn up charges relating to earlier actions. Hazen charged defamation of character over the accusations Arnold had earlier levelled against him, and Brown accused him of a variety of minor charges, but also two peculiar ones: first, that Arnold had deliberately spread smallpox throughout the army in Quebec, and second, that Arnold had, during the raid on Saint-Jean, made "a treasonable attempt to make his escape . to the enemy." [57] General Gates refused a hearing of Brown's charges, and a court martial, although it determined that Arnold's accusation against Hazen constituted "an aspersion of Colonel Hazen's character", imposed no punishment. [57] In the winter of 1776–77, Brown published a handbill that claimed of Arnold, "Money is this man's God, and to get enough of it he would sacrifice his country". [58]

Washington assigned Arnold to the army's Eastern Department in December 1776 to assist in the defense of Rhode Island, where the British had occupied Newport. [59] In February 1777, Arnold was passed over for promotion to major general by Congress, prompting him to consider resigning. [60] He was visiting his family in New Haven when word arrived of a British action against an army supply depot in Danbury. Arnold and General Wooster helped to marshal militia response to this action, which culminated in the Battle of Ridgefield, where Wooster was killed and Arnold was again wounded in the leg. Arnold distinguished himself by continuing to regroup the militia companies and harrying the British forces all the way to the coast. He received promotion to major general for this action, [61] although his seniority over the earlier appointments would not be restored until after his valiant leadership in the decisive battles of Saratoga in fall 1777. [62]

While recovering from wounds incurred at Saratoga, Arnold was given military command of Philadelphia following the British withdrawal from that city. [63] There he became embroiled in political and legal disputes that apparently convinced him to change sides in 1779. [64] [65] Negotiating with British Major John André for more than one year, his plot to surrender West Point failed in 1780 with André's capture and eventual hanging. [66] His British military service began with an expedition to raid American supply depots in Virginia in 1781, during which the only major action was the Battle of Blandford. He was then sent on a raid against New London, Connecticut in early September in a fruitless attempt to divert Washington's march to face Cornwallis in Virginia. [67] He sailed for London at the end of 1781, on a ship that also carried Lord Cornwallis, who had been released on parole after his surrender at Yorktown. [68] Despite repeated attempts to gain command positions in the British Army or with the British East India Company, he was given no more military commands. He resumed business activities, engaging in trade while based at first in Saint John, New Brunswick and then London. On June 14, 1801 Benedict Arnold slipped into a coma and died. [69] [70]


Did the Continental Congress Prolong the War

Been doing a lot of research about the Generals during the American Revolutionary War, in particular Benedict Arnold.

After Benedict Arnold was first passed over for a Major General promotion he sent in his resignation to Washington to which Washington would not accept and told Congress that they should stop playing politics as many of their best generals would resign because of it.

Benedict Arnold, Nathanael Greene and Daniel Morgan were each passed over for men like Charles Lee, Horatio Gates and Benjamin Lincoln.

Arnold, Greene and Morgan all knew how to fight the British by using guerrilla tactics.

Just an observation that I wanted to throw out there. Would the American Revolutionary War have ended quicker and France gotten involved sooner if these three men would have been elevated instead of the others. I don't believe Arnold would have committed Treason if he had been given the rank he deserved. that does not excuse his actions and he should have been hanged.

Buflineks

Been doing a lot of research about the Generals during the American Revolutionary War, in particular Benedict Arnold.

After Benedict Arnold was first passed over for a Major General promotion he sent in his resignation to Washington to which Washington would not accept and told Congress that they should stop playing politics as many of their best generals would resign because of it.

Benedict Arnold, Nathanael Greene and Daniel Morgan were each passed over for men like Charles Lee, Horatio Gates and Benjamin Lincoln.

Arnold, Greene and Morgan all knew how to fight the British by using guerrilla tactics.

Just an observation that I wanted to throw out there. Would the American Revolutionary War have ended quicker and France gotten involved sooner if these three men would have been elevated instead of the others. I don't believe Arnold would have committed Treason if he had been given the rank he deserved. that does not excuse his actions and he should have been hanged.

Greene was not a Guerilla tactian, he was a "Line General". But he did recognize the benefit of unorthodox tactics and proper use of certian militia. Same goes for Morgan.

France came in after Saratoga, and most historians I think will agree that the success of that campaign wasn't so much due to Gates, as it was to Arnold and some small extent Morgan.

The problem with the Continental Congress was the Articles of Confederation. It showed the deficieny then as well as later and led to the Consitutional Convention.

To be honest, I and others think that C. Lee and Gates for lack of better descriptions were "tools". They wanted overall command and were disgruntled that an "Upstart" Virginian was given command over them.

Yakmatt

Green was a civilian before the war. He won promotion quickly but made major mistakes at Ft Washington. He learned on the job and was considered one of the top US commanders by the end of the war. Arnold was a daring leader but was involved in controversy and on the wrong side of political battles. Morgan was poorly educated and enjoyed drinking and gambling. Morgan had served as a civilian teamster during the French and Indian War. After returning from the advance on Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh) by General Braddock's command, he was punished with 499 lashes (a usually fatal sentence) for punching his superior officer. Morgan thus acquired a hatred for the British Army. [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Morgan]Daniel Morgan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]


Both Lee and Gates had command experience in the as Majors British Army. Lee was responsible for stopping the British invasion of Charleston and was with Washington at Boston. He also served in the polish army. Gates was a major during the 7 years war. So both had a pedigree that would earn them top command spots.

Of course both men caused problems for the American side. Gates was incompetent. And Lee worked to undermine Washington, got captured, and disgraced himself at Monmouth.

MattV

This is the key point. When Congress was picking who to promote they went to the men with the most experience. Lee and Gates had the experience, Greene, Arnold, and Morgan did not. Considering how inexperienced the Continental Army was Congress was definitely going to pick men with experience over men with little or no experience. We have the benefit of hindsight so we know that these were poor choices but at the time you can't blame Congress for thinking Lee and Gates were better choices.

You asked if France would have gotten involved sooner if Greene, Arnold and Morgan were promoted over Gates and Lee, and I think the answer is definitely no. France was waiting for a decisive victory to get involved in the war, and if Congress was promoting men with no experience over men with experience that would have caused some raised eyebrows and more hesitation at the least. Remember even though neither was the commanding general at Saratoga both Arnold and Morgan were there and played significant roles in the victory.

Knarly Dan

Betgo

This is the key point. When Congress was picking who to promote they went to the men with the most experience. Lee and Gates had the experience, Greene, Arnold, and Morgan did not. Considering how inexperienced the Continental Army was Congress was definitely going to pick men with experience over men with little or no experience. We have the benefit of hindsight so we know that these were poor choices but at the time you can't blame Congress for thinking Lee and Gates were better choices.

You asked if France would have gotten involved sooner if Greene, Arnold and Morgan were promoted over Gates and Lee, and I think the answer is definitely no. France was waiting for a decisive victory to get involved in the war, and if Congress was promoting men with no experience over men with experience that would have caused some raised eyebrows and more hesitation at the least. Remember even though neither was the commanding general at Saratoga both Arnold and Morgan were there and played significant roles in the victory.

It wasn't like the Civil War with all the West Point graduates. That is why they brought in so many European officers. Washington had been a militia officer and aide de camp in the French and Indian War, but was not a professional soldier.

Greene was of middle class background and not much military experience. Morgan was from a poor background. Arnold was a businessman before the war and a militia officer.

Mangekyou

Greene was not a good field commander. In the southern theatre he lost every battle. What he do was keep his continental army in existence and in companionship with units of the guerillas. This enabled him to adopt a flexible strategy, which eventually cornered the British in Yorktown. This was also a case early in the war. Howe failed to destroy the field army of Washington, despite having numerous chances to do so. As a result, it was able to drill itself and survive Valley Forge, and pick decisive moments to strike at Trenton and Princeton.

Both Morgan and Arnold were valuable assets. Morgan was a pugnacious leader, and his sharpshooters proved their worth during the battles at Saratoga and later on at Cowpens, where he developed a flexible "spring" like formation to defeat Tarleton who was rather impulsive in his direct charge as was his style Speed and penetration.

Arnold also proved himself at Saratoga, and in Canada. both times his influence was decisive. In Canade he built a matchbox fleet that even though destroyed at Valcour island, was able to delay the southern thrust of Carleton by a year and forced him into winter quarters. He coul'dve destroyed the navy a year earlier than Valcour, but as stated above, Arnolds quick and decisive thinking made him take to winter quarters. He was also the single most decisive figure at Saratoga, where without his defiance at Gates, the Americans surely would have been broken by the tenacity of the British troops.


Both of these two men exhiibted excellent thinking and leadership abilities, probably the best two American generals of the war, yet the had something in common they were both unorthodox and not afraid to disobey command. As such they were bypassed for commands at times, and Arnold later defected.

The History Junkie

Greene was not a good field commander. In the southern theatre he lost every battle. What he do was keep his continental army in existence and in companionship with units of the guerillas. This enabled him to adopt a flexible strategy, which eventually cornered the British in Yorktown. This was also a case early in the war. Howe failed to destroy the field army of Washington, despite having numerous chances to do so. As a result, it was able to drill itself and survive Valley Forge, and pick decisive moments to strike at Trenton and Princeton.

Both Morgan and Arnold were valuable assets. Morgan was a pugnacious leader, and his sharpshooters proved their worth during the battles at Saratoga and later on at Cowpens, where he developed a flexible "spring" like formation to defeat Tarleton who was rather impulsive in his direct charge as was his style Speed and penetration.

Arnold also proved himself at Saratoga, and in Canada. both times his influence was decisive. In Canade he built a matchbox fleet that even though destroyed at Valcour island, was able to delay the southern thrust of Carleton by a year and forced him into winter quarters. He coul'dve destroyed the navy a year earlier than Valcour, but as stated above, Arnolds quick and decisive thinking made him take to winter quarters. He was also the single most decisive figure at Saratoga, where without his defiance at Gates, the Americans surely would have been broken by the tenacity of the British troops.


Both of these two men exhiibted excellent thinking and leadership abilities, probably the best two American generals of the war, yet the had something in common they were both unorthodox and not afraid to disobey command. As such they were bypassed for commands at times, and Arnold later defected.

While I agree about Arnold and Morgan, I have to disagree with Greene. He did something very similar to Morgan at Guilford Courthouse and although he did not technically win it stopped Cornwallis and made him retreat back to Yorktown. It is hard to look over the words of Washington when he said that if he were to die in battle that he wanted Nathanael Greene to take over his command. While I don't believe that Greene was a better field commander than Morgan or Arnold he was certainly better than Gates, Lee and Lincoln. Also Greene was better at logistics than any General in the war which is often overlooked.

When Congress was looking for another commander in the South they chose Gates, although Washington wanted Greene. Throughout history I never understand when bureaucrats decide military decisions like that rather than listen to their commanders in the field, especially the commander-in-chief. If Greene and Morgan would have been put in that position instead of Gates I believe that Camden would have never happened.

Arnold was such a fighter and great battle commander that I don't know what he would have done after Saratoga. The same goes for Morgan. By the time Cowpens happened Morgan's sciatica was so bad he had to resign after.

Gates = incompetent and saved by Arnold and Morgan at Saratoga.
Lincoln = Incompetent
Lee = Average, but was a traiter before Arnold ever was.


Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor

Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor is a 2003 American television film directed by Mikael Salomon and starring Aidan Quinn, Kelsey Grammer, Flora Montgomery and John Light. It portrays the career of Benedict Arnold in the American Revolutionary War and his dramatic switch in 1780 from fighting for American Independence to being a Loyalist trying to preserve British rule in America. Arnold's relationships with his wife Peggy Shippen and the British officer John André are focused on. The friction between Arnold and General Horatio Gates, portrayed near the beginning of the film (for example, in one scene when Arnold derisively refers to him as "Granny Gates"), was historically accurate. The movie points out that, before his treason, Arnold was considered a patriot and a hero. A letter from General Washington is read at the beginning where he enthusiastically recommends Arnold for promotion saying that there is no general in the army more deserving and even comparing him to Hannibal. The movie briefly documents Arnold's final years of exile in England in which he laments his treasonous acts, realizing that he is despised and that people compare him with Judas and Lucifer.

The movie opens with these words:

The American Revolution bitterly divided the people:
A third calling themselves Patriots fought for a free and independent nation.
A third called themselves Loyalists remaining loyal to Great Britain.
A third remained neutral.
Against the world's greatest power, the patriots suffered many defeats.
Thousands gave their lives for an ideal:
The United States of America.

In a letter to the Continental Congress, George Washington recommends Brigadier General Benedict Arnold for promotion to Major General for the numerous acts of heroism he made as an ardent Patriot. Washington first cites Arnold's invasion of Canada through the Maine wilderness, a feat he compares to Hannibal's march over the Alps. Washington notes that if Arnold hadn't been wounded during the Battle of Quebec, Canada would now be the 14th State. He then notes Arnold's victory in the Battle of Valcour Island in which that although Arnold lost all his ships, he succeeded in stopping an invasion from the north by the British. He also reveals that he is now helping General Horatio Gates stave off another invasion from the north.

At Saratoga, Gates has called Arnold off the battlefield. Gates tells him that he has ordered a retreat. Arnold reminds him that they have a joint command of the Northern Army and that he therefore cannot order a retreat without consulting with him first. Gates reveals that thanks to his political connections Congress has elevated him to First in Command of the Northern Army and restates his order. Arnold refuses to comply and instead leads the Northern Army to victory, at the cost of being shot in his leg. Arnold's victory forces British General Burgoyne to surrender to Gates. Gates claims all the credit for the victory while Arnold undergoes treatment for his leg after he refuses to have it amputated. Gates goes on to command the Continental Army's Southern Army while Arnold goes home after the treatment is over.

Months later, Arnold is invited by Washington to join him at Valley Forge were his is made a ranking Major General. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the British are about to evacuate the city for New York City. Captain John André promises his girlfriend Peggy Shippen he will return for her. Sometime later, Arnold arrives in the city due to being appointed by Washington as Military Governor with his aide de camp Major David Franks. Joseph Reed, Pennsylvania's Governor, tries to intimidate him but Arnold faces the Pennsylvania Militia down in a way that makes them stand down. Peggy, who was watching, is impressed. Later, Arnold makes a deal with a merchant to supply army wagons that will bring his goods to Philadelphia in return for fifty percent of the profits. He then hosts a party to celebrate the second Independence Day. At the party, he meets Peggy and falls in love with her. Reed, who is attending, again tries to intimidate Arnold but again Arnold makes him back down.

Arnold courts Peggy and eventually proposes marriage to her. Peggy's father Judge Shippen objects to the marriage because of Arnold's self-righteous Puritanism, his lowly circumstances, his reputation as a "thin-skinned hothead", Reed's attacks on his character in newspapers, and his being a cripple because of his injury at Saratoga. Arnold’s honor would not let him marry Peggy unless he agrees to a court-martial in order to clear his name. Arnold goes to Washington to request a court-martial. He then goes back and marries Peggy. That night, Mount Pleasant, Arnold's Pennsylvanian home, is besieged by an angry mob over his marriage. Arnold sends Franks to Washington to send Continental soldiers to protect his house, his sister Hannah Arnold, his sons Benedict Arnold VI, Richard Arnold and Henry Arnold, and Peggy. However, when Franks returns he informs Arnold that Washington will send no troops and instead presents Arnold with a bill from the Continental Congress for the use of the army wagons. Peggy convinces her husband that Congress and Washington do not value him and do not appreciate his sacrifices and to defect to the British army. Peggy sends a letter to André, who has long since become a Major and the Adjunct General in the British Army. Major André informs Sir Henry Clinton, the Commander in Chief of the British Army, that Arnold wants to defect and offer his services to the Crown. Sir Henry tells Andre to send a letter back to demand that the "American Achilles" deliver up West Point to them to test Arnold. Arnold sends back terms to them. He then attends his court marshal. Meanwhile, it's revealed that the reason Washington did not send troops is because the Continental Army is in a state of mutiny. Arnold is reprimanded by Washington for being a war profiteer on Congress's orders. It quickly becomes clear to Arnold that he is now held in contempt when a soldier who once praised him mouths off to him. Washington offers Arnold command of the Left Wing of the Main Continental Army so he can return to active service and regain the esteem of the Continentals. This makes Arnold have second thought about his decision to defect as this will make him second in command of the entire Continental Army. Peggy tells him it is too late as Sir Henry has already agreed to the deal he offered. Arnold goes back to Washington to beg him for command of West Point. Washington grants him his request.

Six months later, Arnold and Peggy are living right beside West Point with their infant son Edward Arnold. Arnold meets with Joshua Smith who informs him that André will meet with him aboard the HMS Vulture. However the ship opens fire on him. Peggy informs him that it was a gunboat that opened fire on him not the Vulture. Arnold informs her Washington and his General Staff are coming. Peggy tells Benedict that if he delivers them up to the British as well he will no doubt be made a Lord and Viceroy of British America. Arnold sends a message to André offering this and demanding that André meet him on land. Sir Henry agrees to this and tells André he will be given a knighthood when he returns. Franks confronts Arnold about his business with Smith and Arnold tells him Smith is part of a plan to end the war.

André arrives and they work out the plan to take West Point and the Continental General Staff. However, cannons open fire on the Vulture and André is forced to return on land. However, he's caught by skinners and turned over to Colonel John Jameson. Jameson sends news of "Anderson's" capture to Arnold and the plans to West Point to Washington. Upon getting the message, Arnold thanks Franks for his devotion and flees to the Vulture which he escapes on. Washington arrives to find the Fort and men unarmed and the sentries missing and demands to know what's going on. The messenger with the plans for West Point arrives and delivers them and a letter to His Excellency General Washington. Washington tells everyone "Arnold has betrayed us! Apparently, he was about to deliver up West Point to the enemy with all of us! If our greatest warrior is a traitor can anyone be trusted?!" Franks, Smith, and Joseph Calhoon are arrested. The men at West are called back to the Fort where they are told to put down the picks and shovels Arnold ordered them to carry around and pick up their muskets. The cannons are soon put back in place. West Point is soon prepared for a British attack. Arnold now a British Brigadier General offers himself up for André. Sir Henry refuses on the ground a deserter is never given up. Arnold replies he does not consider himself a deserter to which Sir Henry tells him "What you think you are and what the world assigns will always be at odds." André is hung.

Eighteen years later, Arnold and Peggy are living in the United Kingdom. Arnold is forced to realize that he is hated as a man whose name will be ranked in granite amongst the betrayers. The epilogue announces that Arnold died three years later and that his only monument at Saratoga does not bear his name but merely reads "In memory of the most brilliant soldier of the Continental Army who was desperately wounded in this spot winning the most decisive battle of the Revolution and for himself the rank of Major General."


Watch the video: Lueken Benedict Arnold (August 2022).