Written by Peter Fitzgerald
History of War - Spies
American Revolutionary War who found fame, but for some these reasons are not popular. As you read on you will find out the story behind this complex and interesting man who played an important role during the American Revolutionary War for both sides.Benedict Arnold was a General during the
The Early Years of Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold was born Benedict Arnold V on January 3rd 1740 in Norwich, Connecticut and was the second of six children. The family lineage of Benedict is one of famous Americans with his great-grandfather having been a governor and distant relations having accounted to becoming four presidents.
Although the family was one that carried a great history and was wealthy it is unfortunate that only Benedict and one sister managed to live into adulthood as the other four siblings died in their young years from Yellow fever.
During the young years of his life Benedict was enrolled in private schooling, but when some of his siblings died his father changed his behaviours and started to drink heavily. This drinking took its toll on the family as the business of Benedict’s father declined and the wealth started to dwindle.
Benedict ended up out of schooling and in an apprenticeship in merchandise trade, but this was not what provided the drive for the young Arnold. One day in 1755 when Benedict was 14 he heard the sounds of drums and tried to enlist in the militia of the province, something his mother would not approve so he had to wait until he was 16 and could make the decision for himself.
The move to join the militia is shrouded in questions as it is understood he was part of a company that marched to Fort William Henry. The march was because Fort William Henry was under siege from the French but with the siege failing his company turned back. Here some say that Benedict deserted the militia but there is no confirmed evidence of this, we do know he only served 13 days.
Benedict Moves into Business
By 1962 Benedict started up in business, this move was supported by the Lathrop family. The chosen business was Pharmacy and selling books and was based in his home area of Connecticut.
Through the support of the Lathrops and his own hard work Benedict was able to grow his new business quite rapidly and return fortune to his life. At the age of 24 in 1764 Benedict joined forces with another young entrepreneur called Adam Babcock and they started their own merchant trading businesses with three ships they bought.
Fortune carried on favouring Benedict until the British government put through acts to bring in more revenues from the American colonies, these acts caused many merchants in the American colonies to find trade hard. Many merchants started to vocally disapprove of the British Government and its acts, including Benedict. During this time Benedict found himself fall into financial ruin with many people spreading rumours of these financial issues.
Benedict the General
In 1775 aged 35 Benedict once again joined the militia, this time as a Captain. Benedict marched his men to support the siege of Boston before putting forward his own plans that would see his company of men march on New York to lay siege to the Fort Ticonderoga.
The plan was approved and only two months after joining as a Captain of the militia army Benedict was given a commission as a Colonel.
The siege of Fort Ticonderoga was a resounding success and Benedict then went on to achieve further successes in battle. This caused Benedict to be given a Colonels commission in the Continental Army by September 1755 some six months after enlisting as a Captain.
From winter 1755 through to 1779 Arnold enjoyed some great success and suffered some losses, he was also badly injured in one leg that caused it to end up being two inches shorter than the other.
Mid 1779 saw the huge change in Arnold as he started the plot to change over to the British side, something the Continental army found out about and was to try and Court Marshall him over.
In April 1780 Benedict started his finally plot to surrender his army to the British at west Point, by August that year Benedict started reducing the military capabilities of West Point. Within two months the defection to the British side happened, although his plot to include West Point in the defection never happened as the plot was foiled.
In the British army Benedict was given the rank of Brigadier General and soon repaid the British for taking him in by moving through America causing destruction and gaining victory after victory. Unfortunately some of these victories came at the expense of many British casualties, something the British could not continue.
Benedict Arnold Moves across Seas
In 1781 Arnold and his family moved to London, at this time he was 41 years old of age and was pushing the British government to renew their fight in America and wanted him at the helm. This never came to fruition so over time as his moves to gain some form of high position failed Benedict made another move by taking his family to Canada.
The time was 1785 and Benedict bought his son into business with him as they started to buy land and Benedict started up another merchant business using ships for trade. Unfortunately for Benedict he made some bad business decisions and also alienated himself and his family from the people of the town he lived. This came to a zenith point when the town’s people burned an effigy of him outside his family home.
By 1791 the Arnold family were back in London but still continued their merchant ship trade this was until the French imprisoned him under the guise of him being a British Spy. Benedict managed to bribe his guards and escape; from here he then gained popularity from the British by organizing local skirmishes against the French from small British colonial islands.
This popularity with the British meant that the British gave a land grant of some fifteen thousand acres of land to Benedict and his son in Canada around the Ontario region.
Benedict died in 1801 aged 60 years from gout and complications to his injured leg.