Monday, September 28, 2009

Traitor -- But a Connecticut Hero

Just about everyone today is familiar with Benedict Arnold, the American general of Revolutionary days, and how his very name has become synonymous with the word “traitor.”

But not everyone is aware of Arnold's record of true heroism in the history of my state, Connecticut.

After his heroic service at the Battle of Ridgefield, he was made a major general; no officer in the American army had a better record of courage and leadership.

History cannot tell us the exact moment when Arnold later turned against the United States (and tried to sell West Point to the British), but it is clear that over time he had developed a deep hatred for things American. His attack on New London in 1781 was astonishing: that was his home – he was born and raised there – and he put the entire region to the torch in an attack that was a notoriously cruel and vicious operation.

Benedict Arnold is no longer a hero in the Nutmeg State, but there's no question that he was a giant of a man and a fascinating figure of Connecticut history.


Jeanne Estridge said...

Did he attend West Point? Perhaps it was the hazing that got him started down that road....

Everyday Goddess said...

It does make one wonder.
Personality disorder? Chemical imbalance?
Have I mentioned that I live in CT too?

Berowne said...

Oh, My Goddess: Have I mentioned that I live in CT too?

Ah, that explains your interesting and intelligent posts. :-)

Berowne said...

Jeanne said: Did he attend West Point?

Well, sort of. In spite of various accusations of malfeasance and dishonest financial dealings, Washington could not bring himself to get rid of Arnold; the man was an incredible soldier.

So when Benedict A. requested the post of commandant of West Point, George W. agreed.

Berowne said...

Perhaps I could add a word about Ben A. and West Point. As commandant, Arnold realized that this was a great way to pick up some loose change.

He wrote a letter to the British High Command offering to turn West Point over to them for 20,000 pounds, a huge sum in those days.

A British spy, John Andre, came to West Point and Arnold gave him the plans to the fort. Andre was captured in Tarrytown and later hanged.

The story of Benedict Arnold and John Andre is fascinating and deserves a post of its own, which I will get around to one of these days.

Matty said...

As a student of American history, with a particular interest in the Revolutionary War era, I was well aware of Arnold's stellar career before he sold his soul.

Berowne said...

Good. Not every American is as well informed about that era.

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