Benedict Arnold (January 14, 1741 – June 14, 1801) was a general during the American Revolutionary War who originally fought for the American Continental Army but defected to the British Army. While a general on the American side, he obtained command of the fort at West Point, New York, and plotted to surrender it to the British forces.
his treason became his final service to the American cause. By 1780, Americans had grown frustrated with the slow progress toward independence and their numerous battlefield defeats. However, word of Arnold's treachery re-energized the Patriots' sagging morale.
Andre was sent on foot back to British lines with a pass from Arnold as well as documents for Clinton in his sock. He was captured and placed into American custody when the documents were found. Arnold heard of his capture and was able to make his escape
He systematically weakened West Point by sending out detachments of soldiers on missions. He ensured that it would be at its weakest when the British attacked.
Personally hurt by Congress's treatment and badly in need of money, he had begun to pass information on American troop movements and strength of units to the British in exchange for money as early as May or June of 1779.
"Having made every sacrifice of fortune and blood, and become a cripple in the service of my country, I little expected to meet the ungrateful returns I have received from my countrymen," he wrote to Washington.
He was certainly angry and hurt over the many slights he received over the years. He probably felt unappreciated by his country and those he fought with, even sacrificing his own leg for the cause.
"How can Congress allow this army to starve in a land of plenty?" he penned indignantly. With popular support for the American cause waning, Arnold felt that the country was worse off than it had been before the Revolution.
Arnold was the object of conspiracies against him by politicians and military colleagues. They resented his brilliance and his often intolerant personality. Arnold wanted to do things his way and, if he couldn’t, he was not above rebelling against authority.
Arnold's greatest success came later on land, at the Battle of Saratoga, considered the turning point in the war to the patriot cause. Saratoga was also the turning point in Arnold's career for the worse, Mr. Stanley says.
Despite helping stem the British advance in the first Saratoga battle and getting wounded while charging enemy lines during the second, Arnold was given little official credit at the time for the American victory many historians consider the turning point of the war.
Arnold felt he did not receive the recognition he deserved. He resigned from the Continental Army in 1777 after Congress promoted five junior officers above him. General George Washington (1732-99), the commander in chief of the Continental Army, urged Arnold to reconsider.
Arnold took charge of three army regiments and ultimately forced a British surrender. This victory convinced the French that the American cause was not lost and they threw support to the Americans.
Benedict Arnold had already established a reputation of bravery and being in the thick of any action. His capture (with Ethan Allen) of Fort Ticonderoga, the epic march up the Kennebec river to Quebec and the naval engagement at Valcour Island were already legendary in the new country.
Arnold's brilliance on the lake saved the colonies from an early loss to the stronger British forces.
In the 1760s he traded with Canada and the West Indies as a merchant and a sea captain. He took his hot-headed nature to sea with him, fighting at least two duels while on trading voyages.
the man should have gotten more credit for what he did prior to switching sides. “He saved America, before he betrayed it,”
But most Americans know Arnold as the man who betrayed his nation by trying to turn over the American fortifications at West Point to the British, then joining the redcoats when the plot was uncovered.