Arnold, Benedict. 1741-1801.
Benedict Arnold was a successful businessman and militia captain in New Haven, Connecticut, when the American Revolution began. He quickly joined the American army and began a career that would make him both a hero and a villain to Americans during the war.
The first act that would make Arnold well known was his participation, along with Ethan Allen, in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga and it's immense store of cannon. Arnold then particpated in the American invasion of Canada. He was wounded at Quebec but made it back to America and was hailed a hero. In recognition of his services in Canada, Arnold was promoted to brigadier general.
Arnold, though well respected as a battlefield general, was not often well like by his subordinates or fellow officers. He constantly argued with these men about the slightest things. These men, in turn, accused Arnold of many improprieties including theft. Arnold was eventually put under arrest for arguing with members of a court who refused to hear a witness against Colonel Moses Hazen, who Arnold had accused of theft. Arnold went on to fight with some distinction at the Battle of Saratoga.
Arnold was promoted to major general in 1777 and given command of the city of Philadelphia. Charges of misconduct again surfaced while he commanded Philadelphia not the least of which was his marriage to a known Loyalist, Peggy Shippen. A combination of debt and his disgust with his perceived American enemies eventually moved Arnold to join the British cause.
Arnold now wanted a post from which he could do the most service to the British cause. Arnold, requested, and received, command of the American post at West Point. Arnold's plan to hand over West Point to the British failed but Arnold escaped to New York.
Arnold was made a brigadier general in the British army. In December 1780, Arnold was given command of British forces sent to raid Virginia. Arnold remained there until July 1781 and then returned to New York. Arnold eventually moved to England where he became a merchant. His ventures met with mixed success. Arnold died in London at the age of 60.
Last updated: February 26, 2015