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Interesting US History
A Website Devoted to Interesting Events in U.S. History





June 8, 2009


One of the more successful officers in the early days of the American Revolution was a man named by the name of Arnold.  Arnold was born January 14, 1741 in Norwich, Connecticut. Although his family financial situation was quite well early on in his younger years, things eventually began to go poorly prompting Arnold's father to turn to the local Taverns.

Arnold’s early attempts in the business world met with mixed success and eventually, his business dealings turned to smuggling.  Before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Arnold became a Captain in the Governor’s Second Company of Guards and when word spread of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Arnold marched off to action against the British.  Although his early success wasn’t greatly appreciated by his immediate superiors, he did gain the attention and trust of George Washington.

One of his first major campaigns was to march to take Quebec, however a combination of bad luck and bad weather doomed the mission. In spite of that, George Washington was impressed with what Arnold had accomplished under the circumstances and promoted him to Brigadier General. Once again Arnold had a way of creating enemies of his immediate superiors.

In the fall of 1777, Arnold found himself under the leadership of General Horatio Gates. Gates was intensely competitive and often felt threatened by those whom we was competing with for advancement. After Gates refused Arnolds requests for reinforcements, removed some of Arnold’s forces without his knowledge and then failed to acknowledge his participation in the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, Arnold had had enough. When Arnold threatened to leave, Gates instead pulled his command for insubordination. Refusing to give in, Arnold, along with Daniel Morgan and his reflemen, lead his men to attack the center of the enemy’s line with great success. This was the famous Battle of Saratoga considered by many to be the turning point in the American Revolutionary War.

Unfortunately for Arnold, his horse was shot in the action and fell on the same leg that had been injured in a previous battle leaving him crippled. His career was not over however. Eventually Washington would appoint him commandant of the city of Philadelphia after the British had evacuated. After a series of questionable business dealings in the late 1770’s, Arnold once again found himself in trouble but this time it resulted in his court-martial in spite of Washington’s continued support.

Arnold’s damaged pride, his shaky financial situation, and the lack of appreciation he felt after everything he had done (including the sacrifice of his leg), finally took its toll and in 1779, Arnold began to make deals with the British. Although Arnold was not that famous at the time, his name is one of the most well known in American history. Arnold was actually his last name. His first name was Benedict.

Mark Bowman

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Benedict Arnold

 Click picture to buy this book 

Every account of the American Revolution mentions Benedict Arnold and brands him—correctly—as a traitor. There’s no question that Arnold, an American army officer, switched his loyalty to the British side. Over the years, however, historians, partisans, and gossips have added to Arnold’s unsavory reputation by distorting, embroidering, or simply ignoring factual details.

In this informed and thoughtful account, Jim Murphy goes in search of the real man behind the “traitor” label, rumors, and folktales that became part of the Benedict Arnold legend. Drawing on Arnold’s few surviving writings and on the letters, memoirs, and political documents of his contemporaries, Murphy builds a fascinating portrait of a brilliant man, consistently undervalued by his peers, who made a choice that continues to reverberate through American history. Dramatic accounts of crucial battles and political maneuvers round out this lively biography of a patriot who could have been a hero.