Arnold, Benedict

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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.
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. He later became a prosperous merchant. An early supporter of the Revolution, he proved to be a resourceful and energetic officer. 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.
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, 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.
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, 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
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 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 CarletonCarleton, Guy, 1st Baron Dorchester,
1724–1808, governor of Quebec and British commander during the American Revolution.
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 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 TryonTryon, William,
1729–88, English colonial governor in North America. After a distinguished army career he was appointed (1764) lieutenant governor of North Carolina and succeeded (1765) Arthur Dobbs as governor.
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 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.
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, his relief of Fort Stanwix and his brilliant campaigning under Horatio GatesGates, Horatio,
c.1727–1806, American Revolutionary general, b. Maldon, Essex, England. Entering the British army at an early age, he fought in America in the French and Indian War and served in the expedition against Martinique.
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 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 the government of Pennsylvania, led by Joseph ReedReed, Joseph,
1741–85, American Revolutionary political leader and army officer, b. Trenton, N.J. He studied law, was admitted (1763) to the bar, and then went to London to study at the Middle Temple.
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. He was cleared of all except minor charges and was reprimanded by Washington, who subsequently gave (1780) Arnold 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.
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 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.
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, 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); N. Philbrick, Valiant Ambition (2016); S. Brumwell, Turncoat (2018).

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Arnold, Benedict

(1741–1801) American Revolutionary general who plotted surrender of West Point to British. [Am. Hist.: Benét, 52]
See: Treason
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Arnold, Benedict

(1741–1801) soldier, patriot, traitor; born in Norwich, Conn. Prior to the American Revolution he was a prosperous trader. He was an outstanding leader in military situations. He captured Fort Ticonderoga (1775)—in conjunction with Ethan Allen—and nearly captured Quebec City, where he was wounded in his leg. In 1776, he delayed a possible British invasion of New York by means of a makeshift fleet on Lake Champlain. In 1777, he inspired American troops and led them to the victory that brought about Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga (he was again wounded in his leg). He became bitter due to Congressional slights, and he moved into traitorous correspondence with British leaders. In 1780, he attempted to betray vital West Point to the British. Failing in this, he remained in the British camp, conducted raids against both Virginia, and his native Connecticut, and then retired to England where he received some money but no honor for having changed sides. He spent his last years as a not very successful trader in Canada and the West Indies.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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