Benedict Arnold Essay

2221 words - 9 pages

One of the most notorious names in history is Benedict Arnold, an American Revolutionary War leader, who is known for being the “traitor to his country.” Yet, without his courageous and heroic deeds in the fight against the British, the Americans may have not gained freedom. In Saratoga, New York, a monument is dedicated to Arnold’s contribution to the victory of the Battle of Saratoga; however, there is no name on the monument. Biographer James Kirby Martin once said, “The tragedy of Benedict Arnold is that his incredible acts … have been washed away and basically forgotten.” Although Benedict Arnold was once a respected and admirable leader of the Americans, he was branded as a selfish ...view middle of the document...

In 1774, Arnold organized a local militia and was later elected as the colonel of the New Haven Militia. He gathered men and while on their way to Boston, Arnold suggested leading a raid on Fort Ticonderoga, a lightly guarded British fort with large amounts of ammunition. Arnold soon discovered that another colonel, Ethan Allen, and his Green Mountain Boys were also planning a raid on Ticonderoga. Arnold reluctantly agreed to share leadership with Allen and the two colonels captured the fort on May 10. Although Arnold expected to take command of the fort after Allen left, congress sent Colonel Benjamin Hinman to replace Allen and sent a committee from Massachusetts to settle the commander controversy and the problem of Arnold spending ten times the amount of money Congress had authorized him.
In September 1775, Arnold led 1,000 men through Maine after he was put in charge of attacking Quebec, a British-controlled Canadian city, by General George Washington. He and his troops reached Quebec after six weeks and attacked during a New Year’s Eve blizzard. Arnold was shot in his left leg and two-thirds of his troops were either killed or captured. Despite this, Arnold and his small army continued to besiege Quebec for months. Arnold was promoted to Brigadier General and he used his own money to support his troops. However, the British sent 15,000 men to Quebec in the spring and Arnold was forced to retreat.
In October 1776, Arnold had warships on the Hudson River, which stalled the British advance on Lake Champlain. However, the colonists were outnumbered and so Arnold commanded the Americans to escape. He set fire to the ships to prevent the British from taking them. However, General William Maxwell blamed Arnold for destroying the fleet and Congress repeatedly questioned Arnold about his expenses. After a victory in April 1777, Arnold was finally named major general. In late 1777, the British were approaching Saratoga, New York. General Horatio Gates, Arnold’s superior, wanted to fight from behind the fort’s walls. However, Arnold wanted the colonists to rush out and fight. When a battle broke out on October 7, 1777, Gates instructed Arnold to stay in his tent and to watch from a distance. However, Arnold ignored his instructions and charged into battle, leading the soldiers into the fight where more than 600 British soldiers were either wounded, captured, or killed. The British retreated and surrendered ten days later on October 17, 1777. This victory proved to be a turning point of the war in the Americans’ favor. It not only gave the colonists the hope of success, but also convinced France to provide aid to the colonists. Despite Arnold’s heroic actions that led to their victory, Gates did not mention Arnold’s name in the reports he sent to Congress and Gates received a medal while Arnold received nothing.
As a result of being shot in the leg during the Battle of Saratoga, Arnold spent the next five months recovering. During this...

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