Early lifeBenedict Arnold was born a British subject, the second of six children of Benedict Arnold (1683–1761) and Hannah Waterman King in , on 14 January 1741. Murphy (2007), pp. 5,8 He was named after his great-grandfather , an early governor of the , as were his father and grandfather and an older brother who died in infancy. Only he and his sister Hannah survived to adulthood; his other siblings succumbed to in childhood. Brandt (1994), pp. 5–6 His siblings were, in order of birth: Benedict (15 August 173830 April 1739), Hannah (9 December 174211 August 1803), Mary (4 June 174510 September 1753), Absolom (4 April 174722 July 1750), and Elizabeth (19 November 174929 September 1755). Arnold was a descendant of John Lothropp through his maternal grandmother, an ancestor of six presidents. Price (1984), pp. 38–39 Arnold's father was a successful businessman, and the family moved in the upper levels of Norwich society. He was enrolled in a private school in nearby , when he was 10, with the expectation that he would eventually attend . However, the deaths of his siblings two years later may have contributed to a decline in the family fortunes, since his father took up drinking. By the time that he was 14, there was no money for private education. His father's alcoholism and ill health kept him from training Arnold in the family mercantile business, but his mother's family connections secured an apprenticeship for him with her cousins Daniel and Joshua Lathrop, who operated a successful apothecary and general merchandise trade in Norwich. Brandt (1994), p. 6 His apprenticeship with the Lathrops lasted seven years. Brandt (1994), p. 7 Arnold was very close to his mother, who died in 1759. His father's alcoholism worsened after her death, and the youth took on the responsibility of supporting his father and younger sister. His father was arrested on several occasions for public drunkenness, was refused communion by his church, and died in 1761.
French and Indian WarIn 1755, Arnold was attracted by the sound of a drummer and attempted to enlist in the provincial militia for service in the , but his mother refused permission. Flexner (1953), p. 7 In 1757 when he was 16, he did enlist in the Connecticut militia, which marched off toward and Lake George. The French had besieged Fort William Henry in northeastern New York, and their Indian allies had committed atrocities after their victory. Word of the siege's disastrous outcome led the company to turn around, and Arnold served for only 13 days. Flexner (1953), p. 8 A commonly accepted story that he deserted from militia service in 1758 Randall (1990), p. 32 is based on uncertain documentary evidence. Murphy (2007), p. 18
Colonial merchantArnold established himself in business in 1762 as a pharmacist and bookseller in , with the help of the Lathrops.Brandt (1994), p. 8 He was hardworking and successful, and was able to rapidly expand his business. In 1763, he repaid money that he had borrowed from the Lathrops,Brandt (1994), p. 10 repurchased the family homestead that his father had sold when deeply in debt, and re-sold it a year later for a substantial profit. In 1764, he formed a partnership with Adam Babcock, another young New Haven merchant. They bought three trading ships, using the profits from the sale of his homestead, and established a lucrative West Indies trade. During this time, Arnold brought his sister Hannah to New Haven and established her in his apothecary to manage the business in his absence. He traveled extensively in the course of his business throughout New England and from to the West Indies, often in command of one of his own ships.Flexner (1953), p. 13 On one of his voyages, he fought a duel in with a British sea captain who had called him a "damned Yankee, destitute of good manners or those of a gentleman".Murphy (2007), p. 38Roth (1995), p. 75 The captain was wounded in the first exchange of gunfire, and he apologized when Arnold threatened to aim to kill on the second.Flexner (1953), p. 17 However, it is unknown whether this encounter actually happened or not. The of 1764 and the severely curtailed mercantile trade in the colonies.Randall (1990), p. 46 The Stamp Act prompted Arnold to join the chorus of voices in opposition, and also led to his joining the , a secret organization which advocated resistance to those and other restrictive Parliamentary measures.Randall (1990), p. 49 Arnold initially took no part in any public demonstrations but, like many merchants, continued to do business openly in defiance of the Parliamentary Acts, which legally amounted to smuggling. He also faced financial ruin, falling £16,000 in debt with creditors spreading rumors of his insolvency, to the point where he took legal action against them.Randall (1990), pp. 52–53 On the night of 28 January 1767, he and members of his crew roughed up a man suspected of attempting to inform authorities of Arnold's smuggling. He was convicted of disorderly conduct and fined the relatively small amount of 50 shillings; publicity of the case and widespread sympathy for his views probably contributed to the light sentence.Randall (1990), pp. 56–60 On 22 February 1767, Arnold married Margaret Mansfield, daughter of Samuel Mansfield, the sheriff of New Haven and a fellow member in the local . Their son Benedict was born the following yearBrandt (1994), p. 14 and was followed by brothers Richard in 1769 and Henry in 1772.Randall (1990), p. 62 Margaret died on 19 June 1775, while Arnold was at following its capture.Brandt (1994), p. 38 She is buried in the crypt of the Center Church on New Haven Green. The household was dominated by Arnold's sister Hannah, even while Margaret was alive. Arnold benefited from his relationship with Mansfield, who became a partner in his business and used his position as sheriff to shield him from creditors.Randall (1990), p. 64 Arnold was in the West Indies when the took place on 5 March 1770. He wrote that he was "very much shocked" and wondered "good God, are the Americans all asleep and tamely giving up their liberties, or are they all turned philosophers, that they don't take immediate vengeance on such miscreants?"Randall (1990), p. 68
Revolutionary War (American service)
Siege of Boston and Fort TiconderogaArnold began the war as a captain in the Connecticut militia, a position to which he was elected in March 1775. His company marched northeast the following month to assist in the that followed the . He proposed an action to the Massachusetts Committee of Safety to seize Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York, which he knew was poorly defended. They issued him a colonel's commission on 3 May 1775, and he immediately rode off to Castleton in the disputed ( ) in time to participate with and his men in the . He followed up that action with a bold raid on Fort Saint-Jean on the north of . A Connecticut militia force arrived at Ticonderoga in June; Arnold had a dispute with its commander over control of the fort, and resigned his Massachusetts commission. He was on his way home from Ticonderoga when he learned that his wife had died earlier in June. Randall (1990), pp. 78–132
Quebec ExpeditionThe authorized an invasion of Quebec, in part on the urging of Arnold—but he was passed over for command of the expedition. He then went to and suggested to a second expedition to attack via a wilderness route through . He received a colonel's commission in the Continental Army for this expedition and left Cambridge in September 1775 with 1,100 men. He arrived before Quebec City in November, after a difficult passage in which 300 men turned back and another 200 died en route. He and his men were joined by 's small army and participated in the 31 December assault on Quebec City in which Montgomery was killed and Arnold's leg was shattered. His chaplain Rev. carried him to the makeshift hospital at the Hôtel Dieu. Arnold was promoted to brigadier general for his role in reaching Quebec, and he maintained an ineffectual siege of the city until he was replaced by Major General in April 1776. Randall (1990), pp. 131–228 Arnold then traveled to Montreal where he served as military commander of the city until forced to retreat by an advancing British army that had arrived at Quebec in May. He presided over the rear of the Continental Army during its retreat from Saint-Jean, where he was reported by to be the last person to leave before the British arrived. He then directed the construction of a fleet to defend Lake Champlain, which was overmatched and defeated in the October 1776 . However, his actions at Saint-Jean and Valcour Island played a notable role in delaying the British advance against Ticonderoga until 1777. Randall (1990), pp. 228–320 During these actions, Arnold made a number of friends and a larger number of enemies within the army power structure and in Congress. He had established a decent relationship with George Washington, as well as and , both of whom had command of the army's Northern Department during 1775 and 1776. Randall (1990), pp. 318–323 However, an acrimonious dispute with , commander of the 2nd Canadian Regiment, boiled into Hazen's court martial at Ticonderoga during the summer of 1776. Only action by Arnold's superior at Ticonderoga prevented his own arrest on countercharges leveled by Hazen. Randall (1990), pp. 262–264 He also had disagreements with John Brown and James Easton, two lower-level officers with political connections that resulted in ongoing suggestions of improprieties on his part. Brown was particularly vicious, publishing a handbill which claimed of Arnold, "Money is this man's God, and to get enough of it he would sacrifice his country".
Rhode Island and PhiladelphiaGeneral Washington assigned Arnold to the defense of following the British seizure of in December 1776, where the militia were too poorly equipped to even consider an attack on the British. Randall (1990), pp. 323–325 He took the opportunity to visit his children while near his home in New Haven, and he spent much of the winter socializing in Boston, where he unsuccessfully courted a young belle named Betsy Deblois. Randall (1990), pp. 324–327 In February 1777, he learned that he had been passed over by Congress for promotion to major general. Washington refused his offer to resign, and wrote to members of Congress in an attempt to correct this, noting that "two or three other very good officers" might be lost if they persisted in making politically motivated promotions. Brandt (1994), p. 118 Arnold was on his way to Philadelphia to discuss his future when he was alerted that a British force was marching toward a supply depot in . He organized the militia response, along with David Wooster and Connecticut militia General Gold Selleck Silliman. He led a small contingent of militia attempting to stop or slow the British return to the coast in the , and was again wounded in his left leg. He then continued on to Philadelphia where he met with members of Congress about his rank. His action at Ridgefield, coupled with the death of Wooster due to wounds sustained in the action, resulted in his promotion to major general, although his seniority was not restored over those who had been promoted before him. Randall (1990), pp. 332–334 Amid negotiations over that issue, Arnold wrote out a letter of resignation on 11 July, the same day that word arrived in Philadelphia that Fort Ticonderoga had fallen to the British. Washington refused his resignation and ordered him north to assist with the defense there. Randall (1990), pp. 339–342
Saratoga CampaignArnold arrived in Schuyler's camp at on 24 July. On 13 August, Schuyler dispatched him with a force of 900 to relieve the , where he succeeded in a ruse to lift the siege. He sent an Indian messenger into the camp of British Brigadier General with news that the approaching force was much larger and closer than it actually was; this convinced St. Leger's Indian allies to abandon him, forcing him to give up the effort. Arnold returned to the Hudson where General Gates had taken over command of the American army, which had retreated to a camp south of Stillwater. Randall (1990), pp. 346–348 He then distinguished himself in both , even though General Gates removed him from field command after the first battle, following a series of escalating disagreements and disputes that culminated in a shouting match. Randall (1990), p. 360 During the fighting in the second battle, Arnold disobeyed Gates' orders and took to the battlefield to lead attacks on the British defenses. He was again severely wounded in the left leg late in the fighting. Arnold said that it would have been better had it been in the chest instead of the leg. Randall (1990), pp. 350–368 Burgoyne surrendered ten days after the second battle on 17 October 1777. Congress restored Arnold's command seniority in response to his valor at Saratoga. Randall (1990), p. 372 However, he interpreted the manner in which they did so as an act of sympathy for his wounds, and not an apology or recognition that they were righting a wrong. Palmer (2006), p. 256 Arnold spent several months recovering from his injuries. He had his leg crudely set, rather than allowing it to be amputated, leaving it shorter than the right. He returned to the army at in May 1778 to the applause of men who had served under him at Saratoga. Brandt (1994), pp. 141–146 There he participated in the first recorded , along with many other soldiers, as a sign of loyalty to the United States. Brandt (1994), p. 147
Residence in PhiladelphiaThe British withdrew from Philadelphia in June 1778, and Washington appointed Arnold military commander of the city. Brandt (1994), p. 146 Historian John Shy states: :Washington then made one of the worst decisions of his career, appointing Arnold as military governor of the rich, politically divided city. No one could have been less qualified for the position. Arnold had amply demonstrated his tendency to become embroiled in disputes, as well as his lack of political sense. Above all, he needed tact, patience, and fairness in dealing with a people deeply marked by months of enemy occupation. Arnold began planning to capitalize financially on the change in power in Philadelphia, even before the Americans reoccupied their city. He engaged in a variety of business deals designed to profit from war-related supply movements and benefiting from the protection of his authority. Brandt (1994), p. 148–149 Such schemes were not uncommon among American officers, but Arnold's schemes were sometimes frustrated by powerful local politicians such as Joseph Reed, who eventually amassed enough evidence to publicly air charges against him. Arnold demanded a court martial to clear the charges, writing to Washington in May 1779: "Having become a cripple in the service of my country, I little expected to meet ungrateful returns". Martin (1997), p. 428 Arnold lived extravagantly in Philadelphia and was a prominent figure on the social scene. During the summer of 1778, he met , the 18-year-old daughter of Judge Edward Shippen (III), a Loyalist sympathizer who had done business with the British while they occupied the city; Randall (1990), p. 420 Peggy had been courted by British Major during the British occupation of Philadelphia. Edward Shippen biography She married Arnold on 8 April 1779. Randall (1990), p. 448 Shippen and her circle of friends had found methods of staying in contact with paramours across the battle lines, despite military bans on communication with the enemy. Randall (1990), p. 455 Some of this communication was effected through the services of Joseph Stansbury, a Philadelphia merchant. Randall (1990), p. 456
Plotting to change sidesHistorians have identified many possible factors contributing to Arnold's treason, while some debate their relative importance. According to W. D. Wetherell, he was: Wetherell says that the shortest explanation for his treason is that he "married the wrong person". Arnold had been badly wounded twice in battle and had lost his business in Connecticut, which made him profoundly bitter. He grew resentful of several rival and younger generals who had been promoted ahead of him and given honors which he thought he deserved. Especially galling was a long feud with the civil authorities in Philadelphia which led to his court-martial. He was also convicted of two minor charges of using his authority to make a profit. General Washington gave him a light reprimand, but it merely heightened Arnold's sense of betrayal; nonetheless, he had already opened negotiations with the British before his court martial even began. He later said in his own defense that he was loyal to his true beliefs, yet he lied at the same time by insisting that Peggy was totally innocent and ignorant of his plans. Arnold had an extremely ambitious and jealous personality. He knew that he was distrusted and disliked by senior military officers on both sides. Washington was one of the few who genuinely liked and admired him, but Arnold thought that Washington had betrayed him. As early as 1778, there were signs that Arnold was unhappy with his situation and pessimistic about the country's future. On 10 November 1778, General wrote to General John Cadwalader, "I am told General Arnold is become very unpopular among you oweing to his associateing too much with the Tories." Showman (1983), p. 3:57 A few days later, Arnold wrote to Greene and lamented over the "deplorable" and "horrid" situation of the country at that particular moment, citing the depreciating currency, disaffection of the army, and internal fighting in Congress, while predicting "impending ruin" if things did not change soon. Biographer argues: Early in May 1779, Arnold met with Philadelphia merchant Joseph Stansbury who then "went secretly to New York with a tender of rnold'sservices to Sir Henry Clinton". Randall (1990), pp. 456–457 Stansbury ignored instructions from Arnold to involve no one else in the plot, and he crossed the British lines and went to see Jonathan Odell in New York. Odell was a Loyalist working with William Franklin, the last colonial governor of Province of New Jersey, New Jersey and the son of Benjamin Franklin. On 9 May, Franklin introduced Stansbury to Major André, who had just been named the British spy chief. Randall (1990), p. 457 This was the beginning of a secret correspondence between Arnold and André, sometimes using his wife Peggy as a willing intermediary, which culminated more than a year later with Arnold's change of sides.
Secret communicationsAndré conferred with General Clinton, who gave him broad authority to pursue Arnold's offer. André then drafted instructions to Stansbury and Arnold. Randall (1990), p. 463 This initial letter opened a discussion on the types of assistance and intelligence that Arnold might provide, and included instructions for how to communicate in the future. Letters were to be passed through the women's circle that Peggy Arnold was a part of, but only Peggy would be aware that some letters contained instructions that were to be passed on to André, written in both Arnold Cipher, code ''and'' invisible ink, using Stansbury as the courier. Randall (1990), p. 464 By July 1779, Benedict Arnold was providing the British with troop locations and strengths, as well as the locations of supply depots, all the while negotiating over compensation. At first, he asked for indemnification of his losses and £10,000, an amount that the Continental Congress had given Charles Lee (general), Charles Lee for his services in the Continental Army. Randall (1990), p. 474 General Clinton was pursuing a campaign to gain control of the Hudson River Valley, and was interested in plans and information on the defenses of West Point, New York, West Point and other defenses on the Hudson River. He also began to insist on a face-to-face meeting, and suggested to Arnold that he pursue another high-level command. Randall (1990), p. 476 By October 1779, the negotiations had ground to a halt. Randall (1990), p. 477 Furthermore, Patriot mobs were scouring Philadelphia for Loyalists, and Arnold and the Shippen family were being threatened. Arnold was rebuffed by Congress and by local authorities in requests for security details for himself and his in-laws. Randall (1990), pp. 482–483
Court martialArnold's court martial on charges of profiteering began meeting on 1 June 1779, but it was delayed until December 1779 by General Clinton's capture of Stony Point, New York, throwing the army into a flurry of activity to react. Brandt (1994), pp. 181–182 Several members on the panel of judges were ill-disposed toward Arnold over actions and disputes earlier in the war, yet Arnold was cleared of all but two minor charges on 26 January 1780. Randall (1990), pp. 486–492 Arnold worked over the next few months to publicize this fact; however, George Washington published a formal rebuke of his behavior in early April, just one week after he had congratulated Arnold on 19 March birth of his son Edward Shippen Arnold: Randall (1990), pp. 492–494 Shortly after Washington's rebuke, a Congressional inquiry into Arnold's expenditures concluded that he had failed to fully account for his expenditures incurred during the Quebec invasion, and that he owed the Congress some £1,000, largely because he was unable to document them. Randall (1990), p. 497 A significant number of these documents had been lost during the retreat from Quebec. Angry and frustrated, Arnold resigned his military command of Philadelphia in late April. Randall (1990), pp. 497–499
Offer to surrender West PointEarly in April, Philip Schuyler had approached Arnold with the possibility of giving him the command at West Point. Discussions had not borne fruit between Schuyler and Washington by early June. Arnold reopened the secret channels with the British, informing them of Schuyler's proposals and including Schuyler's assessment of conditions at West Point. He also provided information on a proposed French-American invasion of Quebec that was to go up the Connecticut River (Arnold did not know that this proposed invasion was a ruse intended to divert British resources). On 16 June, Arnold inspected West Point while on his way home to Connecticut to take care of personal business, and he sent a highly detailed report through the secret channel. Randall (1990), pp. 503–504 When he reached Connecticut, Arnold arranged to sell his home there and began transferring assets to London through intermediaries in New York. By early July, he was back in Philadelphia, where he wrote another secret message to Clinton on 7 July which implied that his appointment to West Point was assured and that he might even provide a "drawing of the works ... by which you might take [West Point] without loss". Randall (1990), pp. 506–507 Major André returned victorious from the Siege of Charleston on 18 June, and both he and General Clinton were immediately caught up in this news. Clinton was concerned that Washington's army and the French fleet would join in Rhode Island, and he again fixed on West Point as a strategic point to capture. André had spies and informers keeping track of Arnold to verify his movements. Excited by the prospects, Clinton informed his superiors of his intelligence coup, but failed to respond to Arnold's 7 July letter. Randall (1990), pp. 505–508 Benedict Arnold next wrote a series of letters to Clinton, even before he might have expected a response to the 7 July letter. In a 11 July letter, he complained that the British did not appear to trust him, and threatened to break off negotiations unless progress was made. On 12 July, he wrote again, making explicit the offer to surrender West Point, although his price rose to £20,000 (in addition to indemnification for his losses), with a £1,000 down payment to be delivered with the response. These letters were delivered by Samuel Wallis, another Philadelphia businessman who spied for the British, rather than by Stansbury. Randall (1990), pp. 508–509
Command at West PointOn 3 August 1780, Arnold obtained command of West Point. On 15 August, he received a coded letter from André with Clinton's final offer: £20,000 and no indemnification for his losses. Neither side knew for some days that the other was in agreement with that offer, due to difficulties in getting the messages across the lines. Arnold's letters continued to detail Washington's troop movements and provide information about French reinforcements that were being organized. On 25 August, Peggy finally delivered to him Clinton's agreement to the terms. Randall (1990), pp. 511–512 Arnold's command at West Point also gave him authority over the entire American-controlled Hudson River, from Albany down to the British lines outside New York City. While en route to West Point, Arnold renewed an acquaintance with Joshua Hett Smith, who had spied for both sides and who owned a house near the western bank of the Hudson about 15 miles south of West Point. Randall (1990), p. 517–518 Once Arnold established himself at West Point, he began systematically weakening its defenses and military strength. Needed repairs were never ordered on the Hudson River Chain, chain across the Hudson. Troops were liberally distributed within Arnold's command area (but only minimally at West Point itself) or furnished to Washington on request. He also peppered Washington with complaints about the lack of supplies, writing, "Everything is wanting." At the same time, he tried to drain West Point's supplies so that a siege would be more likely to succeed. His subordinates, some long-time associates, grumbled about Arnold's unnecessary distribution of supplies and eventually concluded that he was selling them on the black market for personal gain. Randall (1990), pp. 522–523 On 30 August, Arnold sent a letter accepting Clinton's terms and proposing a meeting to André through yet another intermediary: William Heron, a member of the Connecticut Assembly whom he thought he could trust. In an ironic twist, Heron went into New York unaware of the significance of the letter and offered his own services to the British as a spy. He then took the letter back to Connecticut, suspicious of Arnold's actions, where he delivered it to the head of the Connecticut militia. General Parsons laid it aside, seeing a letter written as a coded business discussion. Four days later, Arnold sent a ciphered letter with similar content into New York through the services of the wife of a prisoner of war. Randall (1990), pp. 524–526 Eventually, a meeting was set for 11 September near Dobb's Ferry. This meeting was thwarted when British gunboats in the river fired on his boat, not being informed of his impending arrival. Randall (1990), p. 533
Plot exposedArnold and André finally met on 21 September at the Joshua Hett Smith House. On the morning of 22 September, from their position at Teller's Point, two American rebels, Jack Peterson Memorial, John "Jack" Peterson and Moses Sherwood, under the command of Col. James Livingston (American Revolution), James Livingston fired on HMS Vulture (1776), HMS ''Vulture'', the ship that was intended to carry André back to New York. This action did little damage besides giving the captain, Andrew Sutherland, a splinter in his nose – but the splinter prompted the ''Vulture'' to retreat, forcing André to return to New York overland. Arnold wrote out passes for André so that he would be able to pass through the lines, and he also gave him plans for West Point.#Lossing, Lossing (1852), pp. 151–156 André was captured near Tarrytown, New York on Saturday, 23 September by three Westchester militiamen. They found the papers exposing the plot to capture West Point and passed them on to their superiors,Lossing (1852), pp. 187–189 but André convinced the unsuspecting Colonel John Jameson (soldier), John Jameson, to whom he was delivered, to send him back to Arnold at West Point—but he never reached West Point. Major Benjamin Tallmadge was a member of the Continental Army's Culper Ring, a network of spies established under Washington's orders, and he insisted that Jameson order the prisoner to be intercepted and brought back. Jameson reluctantly recalled the lieutenant who had been delivering André into Arnold's custody, but he then sent the same lieutenant as a messenger to notify Arnold of André's arrest. Arnold learned of André's capture the morning of 24 September while waiting for Washington, with whom he was going to have breakfast at his headquarters in British Col. Beverley Robinson's former summer house on the east bank of the Hudson.Brandt (1994), p. 220 Upon receiving Jameson's message, however, he learned that Jameson had sent Washington the papers which André was carrying. Arnold immediately hastened to the shore and ordered bargemen to row him downriver to where HMS ''Vulture'' was anchored, fleeing on it to New York City.Lossing (1852), p. 159 From the ship, he wrote a letter to Washington#ArnoldToGW, Arnold to Washington, 25 September 1780 requesting that Peggy be given safe passage to her family in Philadelphia—which Washington granted. Washington remained calm when he was presented with evidence of Arnold's treason. He did, however, investigate its extent, and suggested that he was willing to exchange André for Arnold during negotiations with General Clinton concerning André's fate. Clinton refused this suggestion; after a military tribunal, André was hanged at Tappan, New York on 2 October. Washington also infiltrated men into New York City in an attempt to capture Arnold. This plan very nearly succeeded, but Arnold changed living quarters prior to sailing for Virginia in December and thus avoided capture.#Lossing, Lossing (1852), pp. 160, 197–210 He justified his actions in an open letter titled "To the Inhabitants of America", published in newspapers in October 1780.#Carso, Carso (2006), p. 153 He also wrote in the letter to Washington requesting safe passage for Peggy: "Love to my country actuates my present conduct, however it may appear inconsistent to the world, who very seldom judge right of any man's actions."
Revolutionary War (British service)
Raids in Virginia and Connecticut coloniesThe British gave Arnold a brigadier general's commission with an annual income of several hundred pounds, but they paid him only £6,315 plus an annual pension of £360 for his defection because his plot had failed.#Fahey, Fahey In December 1780, he led a force of 1,600 troops into Virginia under orders from Clinton, where he Raid of Richmond, captured Richmond by surprise and then went on a rampage through Virginia, destroying supply houses, foundries, and mills.Randall (1990), pp. 582–583 This activity brought out Virginia's militia led by Colonel Sampson Mathews, and Arnold eventually retreated to Portsmouth, Virginia, Portsmouth to be reinforced or to evacuate. The pursuing American army included the Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, Marquis de Lafayette, who was under orders from Washington to hang Arnold summarily if he was captured. British reinforcements arrived in late March led by William Phillips (British Army officer), William Phillips who served under Burgoyne at Saratoga. Phillips led further raids across Virginia, including a defeat of Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, Baron von Steuben at Battle of Blanford, Petersburg, but he died of fever on 12 May 1781. Arnold commanded the army only until 20 May, when Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, Lord Cornwallis arrived with the southern army and took over. One colonel wrote to Clinton concerning Arnold: "There are many officers who must wish some other general in command."Randall (1990) Cornwallis ignored Arnold's advice to locate a permanent base away from the coast, advice that might have averted his Siege of Yorktown, surrender at Yorktown. On his return to New York in June, Arnold made a variety of proposals for attacks on economic targets to force the Americans to end the war. Clinton was uninterested in most of his aggressive ideas, but finally authorized him to raid the port of . He led a force of more than 1,700 men which burned most of New London to the ground on 4 September, causing damage estimated at $500,000.Randall (1990), pp. 585–591 They also attacked and captured Fort Griswold across the river in Groton, Connecticut, slaughtering the Americans after they surrendered following the —and all these deeds were done just a few miles down the Thames River from Norwich, where Arnold grew up. However, British casualties were high; nearly one quarter of the force was killed or wounded, and Clinton declared that he could ill afford any more such victories.Randall (1990), p. 589
British surrender and exile in EnglandEven before Cornwallis's surrender in October, Arnold had requested permission from Clinton to go to England to give George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville, Lord George Germain his thoughts on the war in person.Brandt (1994), p. 252 He renewed that request when he learned of the surrender, which Clinton then granted. On 8 December 1781, Arnold and his family left New York for England. Brandt (1994), p. 253 In London, Arnold aligned himself with the British Tory Party, Tories, advising Germain and King George III to renew the fight against the Americans. In the House of Commons, Edmund Burke expressed the hope that the government would not put Arnold "at the head of a part of a British army" lest "the sentiments of true honour, which every British officer [holds] dearer than life, should be afflicted". The anti-war British Whig Party, Whigs had gained the upper hand in Parliament, and Germain was forced to resign, with the government of Frederick North, Lord North, Lord North falling not long after.Brandt (1994), p. 255 Arnold then applied to accompany Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, General Carleton, who was going to New York to replace Clinton as commander-in-chief, but the request went nowhere. Other attempts all failed to gain positions within the government or the British East India Company over the next few years, and he was forced to subsist on the reduced pay of non-wartime service.Brandt (1994), pp. 257–259 His reputation also came under criticism in the British press, especially when compared to Major André who was celebrated for his patriotism. One critic said that he was a "mean mercenary, who, having adopted a cause for the sake of plunder, quits it when convicted of that charge". George Johnstone (Royal Navy officer), George Johnstone turned him down for a position in the East India Company and explained: "Although I am satisfied with the purity of your conduct, the generality do not think so. While this is the case, no power in this country could suddenly place you in the situation you aim at under the East India Company."Brandt (1994), p. 257
New businesses, new controversiesIn 1785, Arnold and his son Richard moved to Saint John, New Brunswick, where they speculated in land and established a business doing trade with the West Indies. Arnold purchased large tracts of land in the Maugerville, New Brunswick, Maugerville area, and acquired city lots in Saint John and Fredericton, New Brunswick, Fredericton. Delivery of his first ship the ''Lord Sheffield'' was accompanied by accusations from the builder that Arnold had cheated him; Arnold claimed that he had merely deducted the contractually agreed amount when the ship was delivered late. Brandt (1994), p. 261 After her first voyage, Arnold returned to London in 1786 to bring his family to Saint John. While there, he disentangled himself from a lawsuit over an unpaid debt that Peggy had been fighting while he was away, paying £900 to settle a £12,000 loan that he had taken while living in Philadelphia. Brandt (1994), p. 262 The family moved to Saint John in 1787, where Arnold created an uproar with a series of bad business deals and petty lawsuits. The most serious of these was a slander suit which he won against a former business partner; and following this, townspeople burned him in effigy in front of his house, as Peggy and the children watched. Brandt (1994), p. 263 The family left Saint John to return to London in December 1791. Brandt (1994), p. 264 In July 1792, Arnold fought a bloodless duel with the James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale, Earl of Lauderdale after the Earl impugned his honor in the House of Lords. With the outbreak of the French Revolution, Arnold outfitted a privateer, while continuing to do business in the West Indies, even though the hostilities increased the risk. He was imprisoned by French authorities on Guadeloupe amid accusations of spying for the British, and narrowly eluded hanging by escaping to Invasion of Guadeloupe (1794), the blockading British fleet after bribing his guards. He helped organize militia forces on British-held islands, receiving praise from the landowners for his efforts on their behalf. He hoped that this work would earn him wider respect and a new command; instead, it earned him and his sons a land-grant of in Upper Canada, near present-day Renfrew, Ontario.#Wilson, Wilson (2001), p. 223
Death and afterwardIn January 1801, Benedict Arnold's health began to decline. He had suffered from gout since 1775, Brandt (1994), p. 42 and the condition attacked his unwounded leg to the point where he was unable to go to sea. The other leg ached constantly, and he walked only with a cane. His physicians diagnosed him as having edema, dropsy, and a visit to the countryside only temporarily improved his condition. He died after four days of delirium on 14 June 1801, at the age of 60.#Lomask, Lomask (1967) Legend has it that, when he was on his deathbed, he said, "Let me die in this old uniform in which I fought my battles. May God forgive me for ever having put on another," but this story may be apocryphal. Arnold was buried at St. Mary's Church, Battersea in London, England. As a result of a clerical error in the parish records, his remains were removed to an unmarked mass grave during church renovations a century later. Randall (1990), pp. 612–613 His funeral procession boasted "seven mourning coaches and four state carriages"; the funeral was without military honors. Randall (1990), p. 613 Arnold left a small estate, reduced in size by his debts, which Peggy undertook to clear. Among his bequests were considerable gifts to one John Sage, perhaps an illegitimate son or grandson.
LegacyBenedict Arnold's name became synonymous with "traitor" soon after his betrayal became public, and biblical themes were often invoked. Benjamin Franklin wrote that "Judas Iscariot, Judas sold only one man, Arnold three millions", and Alexander Scammell described his actions as "black as hell".#Carso, Carso (2006), p. 154 In Arnold's home town of Norwich, Connecticut, someone scrawled "the traitor" next to his record of birth at city hall, and all of his family's gravestones have been destroyed except his mother's. Arnold was aware of his reputation in his home country, and French statesman Talleyrand described meeting him in Falmouth, Cornwall in 1794: Talleyrand continued, "I must confess that I felt much pity for him, for which political puritans will perhaps blame me, but with which I do not reproach myself, for I witnessed his agony". Early biographers attempted to describe Arnold's entire life in terms of treacherous or morally questionable behavior. The first major biography of his life was ''The Life and Treason of Benedict Arnold'', published in 1832 by historian Jared Sparks; it was particularly harsh in showing how Arnold's treacherous character was formed out of childhood experiences. George Canning Hill authored a series of moralistic biographies in the mid-19th century and began his 1865 biography of Arnold: "Benedict, the Traitor, was born…".Hill (1865), p. 10 Social historian Brian Carso notes that, as the 19th century progressed, the story of Arnold's betrayal was portrayed with near-mythical proportions as a part of the national history. It was invoked again as sectional conflicts increased in the years before the American Civil War. Washington Irving used it as part of an argument against dismemberment of the union in his 1857 ''Life of George Washington'', pointing out that the unity of New England and the southern states which led to independence was made possible in part by holding West Point.Carso (2006), pp. 168–170 Jefferson Davis and other southern secessionist leaders were unfavorably compared to Arnold, implicitly and explicitly likening the idea of secession to treason. ''Harper's Weekly'' published an article in 1861 describing Confederate leaders as "a few men directing this colossal treason, by whose side Benedict Arnold shines white as a saint".Carso (2006), p. 201 Fictional invocations of Benedict Arnold's name carry strongly negative overtones. A moralistic children's tale entitled "The Cruel Boy" was widely circulated in the 19th century. It described a boy who stole eggs from birds' nests, pulled wings off insects, and engaged in other sorts of wanton cruelty, who then grew up to become a traitor to his country. The boy is not identified until the end of the story, when his place of birth is given as Norwich, Connecticut, and his name is given as Benedict Arnold.#Carso, Carso (2006), pp. 157–159 However, not all depictions of Arnold were so negative. Some theatrical treatments of the 19th century explored his duplicity, seeking to understand rather than demonize it.#Carso, Carso (2006), pp. 170–171 Canadian historians have treated Arnold as a relatively minor figure. His difficult time in New Brunswick led historians to summarize it as full of "controversy, resentment, and legal entanglements" and to conclude that he was disliked by both Americans and Loyalists living there. Historian Barry Wilson points out that Arnold's descendants established deep roots in Canada, becoming leading settlers in Upper Canada and Saskatchewan. His descendants are spread across Canada, most of all those of John Sage, who adopted the Arnold surname.
HonoursThe Boot Monument at Saratoga National Historical Park pays tribute to Arnold but does not mention his name. It was donated by American Civil War, Civil War General John Watts DePeyster, and its inscription reads: "In memory of the most brilliant soldier of the Continental army, who was desperately wounded on this spot, winning for his countrymen the decisive battle of the American Revolution, and for himself the rank of Major General."Saratoga National Historical Park – Tour Stop 7 The Saratoga Battle Monument, victory monument at Saratoga has four niches, three of which are occupied by statues of Generals Gates, Schuyler, and Morgan. The fourth niche is pointedly empty. There are plaques on the grounds of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York commemorating all of the generals who served in the Revolution. One plaque bears only a rank and a date but no name: "major general… born 1740".Arnold's birth records indicate that he was born 3 January 1740 (Vital Records of Norwich (1913)). His date of birth is recorded in the Gregorian calendar as 14 January 1741 because of the change from Julian to Gregorian calendar and the change of the beginning of the year from 25 March to 1 January.Carso (2006), p. 155 A historical marker in Danvers, Massachusetts commemorates Arnold's 1775 expedition to Quebec. There are also historical markers bearing his name at Wyman Lake Rest Area on US-201 north of Moscow, Maine, on the western bank of , New York, and two in Skowhegan, Maine. The house where Arnold lived at 62 Gloucester Place in central London bears a plaque describing him as an "American Patriot".Blue and Green Plaques He was buried at St Mary's Church, Battersea, England which has a commemorative stained glass window. The faculty club at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Fredericton has a Benedict Arnold Room in which letters written by Arnold hang on the walls.
Marriages and childrenArnold had three sons with Margaret Mansfield:Randall (1990), p. 610The New England Register 1880, pp. 196–197 * Benedict Arnold (1768–1795) (Captain, British Army in Jamaica) * Richard Arnold (1769–1847) (Lieutenant, cavalry) * Henry Arnold (1772–1826) (Lieutenant, American Legion cavalry) He had five children with Peggy Shippen: * Edward Shippen Arnold (1780–1813) (Lieutenant, British Army in India; see Bengal Army) * James Robertson Arnold (1781–1854) (Lieutenant General, Royal Engineers) * George Arnold (1787–1828) (Lieutenant Colonel, 2nd (or 7th) Bengal Cavalry) * Sophia Matilda Arnold (1785–1828) * William Fitch Arnold (1794–1846) (Captain, 9th Queen's Royal Lancers)
In popular culture* ''Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor'', a 2003 TV film directed by Mikael Salomon * ''Washington (miniseries), Washington'', 2020 miniseries in which Ciarán Owens portrays Arnold * Benedict Arnold, played by Owain Yeoman, is a major character in the TV series ''Turn: Washington's Spies''
See also* List of Freemasons (A–D), List of Freemasons * List of people from Connecticut
Bibliography* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Shy, John. "Arnold, Benedict," ''American National Biography'' (1999
Further reading* ; Very old and outdated * Burt, Daniel S. ''The Biography Book: A Reader's Guide To Nonfiction, Fictional, and Film Biographies of More Than 500 of the Most Fascinating Individuals of all Time'' (2001) pp 12–13; annotates 26 books and 2 films. * Case, Stephen and Mark Jacob. ''Treacherous Beauty: Peggy Shippen, The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold's Plot To Betray America'' (2012), popular biography * Courtwright, Julie. "Whom Can We Trust Now? The Portrayal of Benedict Arnold in American History" ''Fairmont Folio: Journal of History'' (Wichita State University) v. 2 (1998