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In our last issue we covered General Benedict Arnold's early life. We were up to the Battle of Lake Champlain and followed with his trouble getting the government to settle the debts he incurred during that campaign.

 

For about five years after returning from Lake Champlain, Arnold served under Washington. He distinguished himself in every battle. In fact, during the critical fight at Saratoga, in New York, he led a daring assault against the main center of the British line, earning his second leg wound in the war. Washington praised him during this period as being imaginative, daring, and courageous.

 

Arnold was promoted to Brigadier General in January 1776.  At this time he marched to Lake Champlain against Sir Guy Carleton who commanded a superior force. Although exhibiting great leadership and personal effort, the campaign failed in the end. In defiance, he is said to have displayed the American colors even in retreat and was recognized for his valorous conduct.

 

General Arnold faced two thousand British Troops under General Tryon in April 1777 when they were marching to Danbury, in Connecticut. Leading his men to within feet of the enemy, Arnold’s horse was shot under him. Mounting another horse and using his pistols, he continued to fight the enemy troops.

 

A month later he was promoted to Major General and ordered to oppose British General St. Leger at Fort Stanwix, near present day Rome, New York, at the end of the summer. St. Leger was so alarmed at the speed and power of General Arnold’s men that he abandoned his works and retreated before Arnold’s arrival. After heated conflict with General Gates in late 1777, Arnold asked to be discharged from his command. A valorous and oft wounded Arnold left the war-field to report to General Washington.

 

General Washington appointed Arnold to be military commander of Philadelphia after the British army evacuated in June 1778, as he was deemed unfit for field commission due to his injuries. During this time he battled with Congress again and again over aid and support for veterans and their families. This began the slow grudge against Congress and the leaders of the Revolution.


=====September 1, 2015=========


Brigadier General Benedict Arnold was born in Norwich, Connecticut in 1741. A great grandson of the governor of Rhode Island, he was blessed to have been born into a wealthy and prominent New England family. The material blessings of his birth, however, were not predestined to survive his youth. Tragedy struck while he was attending school in Canterbury, Connecticut. Poor financial decisions culminated in the loss of his mother’s fortune. This led his father to turn to alcohol for solace while several of his siblings succumbed to yellow fever. Now without financial backing, young Benedict had no choice but to withdraw from school.


With no immediate prospects, but copious ambition, Arnold accepted the offer of an apprenticeship to his mother’s cousins as an apothecary. Energetic and proud, this intervention may well have preserved the young gentleman from an ignoble demise.


Although he remained in the cousins’ employ, Benedict did absent himself a couple of times to serve the British cause in the French and Indian war. After the death of his mother and father around 1760, Arnold traveled to England, purchased supplies, and returned to New Haven to hang out his own shingle as an apothecary. He employed his sister and only surviving next of kin, Hannah, as his assistant. His enterprise was successful but not sufficient for his taste. Leaving the shop in the care of Hannah, Benedict Arnold took to the sea as a smuggler, avoiding Crown taxes and becoming a wealthy man in the process. This was the path to many fortunes in the colonial days of New England.


At the outset of the Revolution, Arnold volunteered and was commissioned to capture artillery from Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain. Even though the mission was successful, he was vexed at having to share the credit with Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys.


After an unsuccessful foray into Canada, General Arnold returned to Lake Champlain where he engaged in a shipbuilding race with the British. While his fleet was ultimately defeated and largely destroyed, his vast maritime experience in his prior smuggling enterprise proved very advantageous. This experience allowed him to successfully prevent a British invasion down the lake and into New York, which would have cut the new United States of America in half.


Having born much of the military expense of the past two years from his personal fortune, he returned to Cambridge to settle accounts with the Massachusetts Committee of Safety. He was left with a bitter feeling when the State returned only a few cents to every dollar he expended. Ultimately, with the aid of Silas Deane, he received fair reimbursement from Congress.


Suppose we leave the remainder of the story for another time! 


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