Benedict Arnold


     No
other American is remembered quite the same as Benedict Arnold. He was a brave
soldier, a patriot- and a traitor. Benedict was born in Norwich, Connecticut, on

January 14, 1741. When he was 14 years old, Benedict ran away from home to fight
in the French and Indian War, but he was brought back by his mother, who
apparently was driven insane later in her life. If I had a son like Benedict, I
might have gone insane too! After his mother insisted that he return home, he
ran away for a second time. After he was finished playing boy hero for awhile,
he learned the apothecary (pharmacy) trade and then in 1762, he opened a book
and drug store in New Haven. Benedict was also involved with trade in the West

Indies. By 1774, he was one of the wealthiest citizens in New Haven. It's a good
thing that he had money, because he was one of those people who like to ride
around in their Mercedes and wear expensive clothes, even if he couldn't afford
them. Benedict then got hooked up with the sheriff's daughter Margaret

Mansfield, and they hit it off. They decided to get married in 1774. But this
marriage was short lived because the next year Margaret caught a disease and
died. When the Revolutionary War began that year Arnold was already an
experienced soldier. He had helped Ethan Allen capture Fort Ticonderoga. Then

Benedict came up with a great idea to capture Quebec. This idea failed, but

Benedict had already proven his bravery. He was then commissioned as a colonel
in the patriot forces. He was one of General George Washington's most trusted
officers. Benedict led his troops to the siege of Boston and Valcour Island and
proved once again to be a bold and skilled officer. At the battle of Valcour

Island he was wounded severely in his leg. His bravery won him the respect of
many people. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. Arnold felt that
his services were not properly rewarded. In 1777, Congress promoted five
officers, who were junior to Benedict, to major general. Only a personal plea
from General George Washington kept him from resigning. He did receive a delayed
promotion to major general, but he was still angered that he was not promoted to
a rank above the junior officers promoted earlier. Then to top things off, a
fellow officer charged Arnold with misconduct, but Congress found the charges
groundless and dismissed them. In late 1777, Benedict fought at Saratoga. Before
the final battle Arnold quarreled with his superior, General Horatio Gates, and
was relieved of his command. Despite his relief of command, Benedict led his
troops into battle. He charged from place to place, rallying Americans and was
again wounded in the leg. He received much of the credit for this American
victory. In 1778 Benedict married Peggy Shippen, the daughter of a wealthy

Loyalist when he was assigned to military commander of Philadelphia. Life in

Philadelphia was pleasant but very costly. Before he knew it, Arnold was deeply
in debt. In 1779 he was charged with using his position for personal profit and
charged with using the soldiers in his command as personal servants. A court
martial cleared him of most of the charges, but had General Washington reprimand
him. Washington issued the reprimand, but softened it with the promise of a high
promotion in the future. But Arnold had already sold his services to the

British. Since May of 1779 he had been supplying them with valuable military
information. He did this because he was still upset with the Continental

Congress for not giving him the promotions that he thought he deserved. He was
also very desperate for money because of his extravagant lifestyle. In 1780

Benedict was given command of the fort at West Point in New York. He decided
that he would give this strategic post to the British. In return he was to be
made brigadier general in the British Army. He was also promised money. On

September 21, Benedict met with Major John Andre of the British army to discuss
and arrange the details. Two days later, Andre was captured when he attempted to
return to the British lines. Some American soldiers stopped and searched him and
found incriminating papers hidden in his stockings and the plot was revealed.

Andre was executed as a spy. Arnold learned this news in time for him to escape.

He fled to a British ship that took him down the Hudson River to New York City.

The British rewarded him with 6,315 pounds although he had asked for 20,000
pounds. They also gave him the rank of brigadier general. As a British officer
he led his troops to Richmond, Virginia and New London Connecticut. In December
of 1781, Benedict moved with his wife and children to England where he was
received warmly by King George lll But others didn't except him so easily. It's
hard to trust a traitor, even if he is betraying the other country. The British
government granted him 13,400 acres in Canada, but that land was of little use
to him. He spent most of his remaining years as a merchant in the West Indies
trade. In his last days Benedict was burdened down with debt and misery. He was
distrusted by everyone who met him-Americans and British. He died in England on

June 14, 1801 an unhappy and discouraged man. Benedict Arnold is considered to
be one of the most famous men in history. Although I'm sure that a lot of people
wouldn't want the kind of fame he received. But without him, our country
wouldn't have won all the battles that we did. Yes, he was a traitor, but he was
also one of the best generals we had. But how do we know that he betrayed our
country just our of anger? The history books say that he was deeply in debt, and
he did have a wife and children. When we think of Benedict we tend to just look
at the worst parts of his life. His first wife died, but he pulled himself out
of grief and got on with his life. He married again and had children. If he was
in debt, then he couldn't pay for the things that his family needed. Maybe he
betrayed our country so that he could use the money that he would get from the

British to pay for the things that he wanted to be able to give his family. We
saw how Paul Revere twisted things around with the Boston Massacre and now most
of us know believe that the firing on an innocent crowd. That's what I believe
the case is with Benedict Arnold. There's more to the story than we know.

Benedict wasn't pure evil, as we make him out to be sometimes. But unfortunately
we can't go back in time and see what really happened, so now we'll just have to
rely on what we believe to be the truth.