Benedict Arnold


Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold V was born in Connecticut, and he shared a name with his great-grandfather, his father, and his elder brother, who died in infancy. He had at one point planned to attend Yale College, but after the deaths of his siblings, his father took up drinking and the family fortunes declined. Instead, Arnold took up a job at an apothecary, where he worked until 1757, when he enlisted in the local militia and fought against the French. He left the militia in 1758, shortly before the death of his mother, and after the passing of both parents he began a successful career as a businessman, which lasted until the breakout of the Revolutionary War in 1775.

During the war, Arnold served on the side of the colonists, distinguishing himself during the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga, the Battles of Saratoga and Ridgefield, and the Siege of Fort Stanwix. Yet despite his success, others claimed credit for his accomplishments and he was denied promotion when charges of corruption were brought against him by jealous rivals. Aggravated and resentful, Arnold decided to change sides, and he began secret communication with the British forces in 1779. One year later, he obtained command of West Point with the goal of surrendering it to his new allies. Before his plan could be completed, however, it was found out; a British major, John André, was apprehended while carrying notes that detailed the plot. After André’s arrest, Arnold fled, narrowly avoiding capture by George Washington’s troops, and boarded the British Vulture.

Arnold received a commission as a brigadier general and an annual pension for his efforts, and he continued to lead the British on raids across New England until the conclusion of the war. In 1782, Arnold and his second wife, Peggy Shippen, moved to London, where they were welcomed by King George III. After remaining in England for a few years, he and his sons sailed to New Brunswick, where they worked as merchants for a short time. Arnold returned to London in 1791, and there he stayed until his death in 1801. Because of his actions during the Revolutionary War, the name “Benedict Arnold” has since become synonymous with betrayal or treason.

Key events during the life of Benedict Arnold:

Married Margaret Mansfield.
Commisioned as colonel after battle of Lexington.
  Death of Margaret.
Gained reputation for skill and courage while in command of a small fleet on Lake Champlain.
Participated in battle of Saratoga.
Commander of Philadelphia, where he lived extravagantly and dishonestly.
Received reprimand from George Washington for behavior.
  Married Margaret Shippen, daughter of a Loyalist sympathizer.
  Plotted vindictively to turn West Point over to the British; the plot was discovered.
  Joined the British; retired to live in London.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Execution of Major Andre  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans
The Spy  in  Story of the Thirteen Colonies  by  H. A. Guerber
First Thrust—The Battle of Bunker Hill  in  This Country of Ours  by  H. E. Marshall
War in Canada  in  This Country of Ours  by  H. E. Marshall
Story of a Great Crime  in  This Country of Ours  by  H. E. Marshall
Siege of Fort Schuyler  in  Historical Tales, Vol I: American  by  Charles Morris
On the Track of a Traitor  in  Historical Tales, Vol I: American  by  Charles Morris
March to Quebec  in  American History Stories, Volume II  by  Mara L. Pratt
Arnold the Traitor and André the Spy  in  American History Stories, Volume II  by  Mara L. Pratt
Saratoga  in  The Boy's Book of Battles  by  Eric Wood

Image Links

Benedict Arnold
 in Indian History for Young Folks

The Benedict Arnold Mansion
 in Historical Tales, Vol I: American

Short Biography
George Washington Leader of the Continental Army of the U.S. during the Revolutionary War, and first President.
Margaret Shippen Wife of Benedict Arnold.