Benedict Arnold Essay, Research Paper
No other American is remembered quite the same as Benedict Arnold.
He was a brave soldier, a patriot- and a traitor. Benedict was born in
Norwich, Connecticut, on January 14, 1741. When he was 14 years old,
Benedict ran away from home to fight in the French and Indian War, but he
was brought back by his mother, who apparently was driven insane later in
her life. If I had a son like Benedict, I might have gone insane too!
After his mother insisted that he return home, he ran away for a second
time. After he was finished playing boy hero for awhile, he learned the
apothecary (pharmacy) trade and then in 1762, he opened a book and drug
store in New Haven. Benedict was also involved with trade in the West
Indies. By 1774, he was one of the wealthiest citizens in New Haven.
It’s a good thing that he had money, because he was one of those people
who like to ride around in their Mercedes and wear expensive clothes, even
if he couldn’t afford them. Benedict then got hooked up with the
sheriff’s daughter Margaret Mansfield, and they hit it off. They decided
to get married in 1774. But this marriage was short lived because the
next year Margaret caught a disease and died. When the Revolutionary War
began that year Arnold was already an experienced soldier. He had helped
Ethan Allen capture Fort Ticonderoga. Then Benedict came up with a great
idea to capture Quebec. This idea failed, but Benedict had already proven
his bravery. He was then commissioned as a colonel in the patriot forces.
He was one of General George Washington’s most trusted officers.
Benedict led his troops to the siege of Boston and Valcour Island
and proved once again to be a bold and skilled officer. At the battle of
Valcour Island he was wounded severely in his leg. His bravery won him
the respect of many people. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier
general. Arnold felt that his services were not properly rewarded. In
1777, Congress promoted five officers, who were junior to Benedict, to
major general. Only a personal plea from General George Washington kept
him from resigning. He did receive a delayed promotion to major general,
but he was still angered that he was not promoted to a rank above the
junior officers promoted earlier. Then to top things off, a fellow
officer charged Arnold with misconduct, but Congress found the charges
groundless and dismissed them. In late 1777, Benedict fought at Saratoga.
Before the final battle Arnold quarreled with his superior, General
Horatio Gates, and was relieved of his command. Despite his relief of
command, Benedict led his troops into battle. He charged from place to
place, rallying Americans and was again wounded in the leg. He received
much of the credit for this American victory.
In 1778 Benedict married Peggy Shippen, the daughter of a wealthy
Loyalist when he was assigned to military commander of Philadelphia. Life
in Philadelphia was pleasant but very costly. Before he knew it, Arnold
was deeply in debt. In 1779 he was charged with using his position for
personal profit and charged with using the soldiers in his command as
personal servants. A court martial cleared him of most of the charges,
but had General Washington reprimand him. Washington issued the
reprimand, but softened it with the promise of a high promotion in the
future. But Arnold had already sold his services to the British. Since
May of 1779 he had been supplying them with valuable military information.
He did this because he was still upset with the Continental Congress for
not giving him the promotions that he thought he deserved. He was also
very desperate for money because of his extravagant lifestyle. In 1780
Benedict was given command of the fort at West Point in New York. He
decided that he would give this strategic post to the British. In return
he was to be made brigadier general in the British Army. He was also
promised money. On September 21, Benedict met with Major John Andre of
the British army to discuss and arrange the details. Two days later,
Andre was captured when he attempted to return to the British lines. Some
American soldiers stopped and searched him and found incriminating papers
hidden in his stockings and the plot was revealed. Andre was executed as
a spy. Arnold learned this news in time for him to escape. He fled to a
British ship that took him down the Hudson River to New York City.
The British rewarded him with 6,315 pounds although he had asked
for 20,000 pounds. They also gave him the rank of brigadier general. As
a British officer he led his troops to Richmond, Virginia and New London
Connecticut. In December of 1781, Benedict moved with his wife and
children to England where he was received warmly by King George lll But
others didn’t except him so easily. It’s hard to trust a traitor, even if
he is betraying the other country. The British government granted him
13,400 acres in Canada, but that land was of little use to him. He spent
most of his remaining years as a merchant in the West Indies trade. In
his last days Benedict was burdened down with debt and misery. He was
distrusted by everyone who met him-Americans and British. He died in
England on June 14, 1801 an unhappy and discouraged man.
Benedict Arnold is considered to be one of the most famous men in
history. Although I’m sure that a lot of people wouldn’t want the kind of
fame he received. But without him, our country wouldn’t have won all the
battles that we did. Yes, he was a traitor, but he was also one of the
best generals we had. But how do we know that he betrayed our country
just our of anger? The history books say that he was deeply in debt, and
he did have a wife and children. When we think of Benedict we tend to
just look at the worst parts of his life. His first wife died, but he
pulled himself out of grief and got on with his life. He married again
and had children. If he was in debt, then he couldn’t pay for the things
that his family needed. Maybe he betrayed our country so that he could
use the money that he would get from the British to pay for the things
that he wanted to be able to give his family. We saw how Paul Revere
twisted things around with the Boston Massacre and now most of us know
believe that the firing on an innocent crowd. That’s what I believe the
case is with Benedict Arnold. There’s more to the story than we know.
Benedict wasn’t pure evil, as we make him out to be sometimes. But
unfortunately we can’t go back in time and see what really happened, so
now we’ll just have to rely on what we believe to be the truth.