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Arnold, Benedict,1741–1801, American Revolutionary general and traitor, b. Norwich, Conn. As a youth he served for a time in the colonial militia in the French and Indian WarsFrench and Indian Wars,
1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. . He later became a prosperous trader. Early in the Revolution, his expedition against Fort Ticonderoga joined that of Ethan AllenAllen, Ethan,
1738–89, hero of the American Revolution, leader of the Green Mountain Boys, and promoter of the independence and statehood of Vermont, b. Litchfield (?), Conn.
..... Click the link for more information. , and the joint command took the fort. Arnold pushed on to the northern end of Lake Champlain, where he destroyed a number of ships and a British fort. In the Quebec campaignQuebec campaign,
1775–76, of the American Revolution. The Continental Congress decided to send an expedition to Canada to protect the northern frontier from British attack and to persuade Canada to join the revolt against England. Late in Aug., 1775, Gen.
..... Click the link for more information. , he invaded Canada (1775) by way of the Maine forests. After a grueling march, the exhausted force reached Quebec. Richard MontgomeryMontgomery, Richard,
1738?–1775, American Revolutionary general, b. Swords, Co. Dublin, Ireland. After entering the British army, he was sent (1757) to Canada in the French and Indian Wars and saw action at Louisburg, Ticonderoga, and Montreal before participating in
..... Click the link for more information. arrived from Montreal, and the two small armies launched an unsuccessful assault on Dec. 31, 1775. Arnold was wounded but continued the siege until spring, when Sir Guy Carleton forced him back to Lake Champlain. There he built a small fleet that, although defeated, halted the British advance.
In Feb., 1777, Congress, despite General Washington's protests, promoted five brigadier generals of junior rank to major generalships over Arnold's head. This and subsequent slights by Congress embittered Arnold and may in part have motivated his later treason. Although he soon won promotion by his spectacular defense (1777) against William Tryon in Connecticut, his seniority was not restored. In the Saratoga campaignSaratoga campaign,
June–Oct., 1777, of the American Revolution. Lord George Germain and John Burgoyne were the chief authors of a plan to end the American Revolution by splitting the colonies along the Hudson River.
..... Click the link for more information. , his relief of Fort Stanwix and his brilliant campaigning under Horatio Gates played a decisive part in the American victory. He became (1778) commander of Philadelphia, after the British evacuation, and there married Peggy Shippen, whose family had Loyalist sympathies.
In 1779 he was court-martialed because of disputes with civil authorities. He was cleared of all except minor charges and was reprimanded by Washington; nevertheless he was given (1780) command of West Point. He had already begun a treasonable correspondence with Sir Henry ClintonClinton, Sir Henry,
1738?–1795, British general in the American Revolution, b. Newfoundland; son of George Clinton (1686?–1761). He was an officer in the New York militia and then in the Coldstream Guards.
..... Click the link for more information. in New York City, and now arranged to betray West Point in exchange for a British commission and money. The plot was discovered with the capture of John AndréAndré, John
, 1751–80, British spy in the American Revolution. He was captured (1775) by Gen. Richard Montgomery in the Quebec campaign but was exchanged and became adjutant general under Sir Henry Clinton.
..... Click the link for more information. , but Arnold escaped. In 1781, in the British service, he led two savage raids—against Virginia and against New London, Conn.—before going into exile in England and Canada, where he was generally scorned and unrewarded.
See biographies by O. Sherwin (1931), M. Decker (1932, repr. 1969), C. Brandt (1994), and J. K. Martin (1998); C. Van Doren, Secret History of the American Revolution (1941, repr. 1968); J. T. Flexner, The Traitor and the Spy (1953); W. M. Wallace, Traitorous Hero (1954, repr. 1970).