Special Sub-Topic: Benedict Arnold: Soldier, Hero, Traitor I
|Benedict Arnold V was born in Connecticut in 1741 to a famous colonial family. Why was his great-grandfather, also named Benedict, famous in Rhode Island?|
Longtime provincial governor. Benedict Arnold I served ten one-year terms as governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations between 1663 and 1678. He was the first governor elected after the two formerly-independent colonies (Roger Williams' Providence Plantations and Anne Hutchinson's Rhode Island) were merged into one by a new charter from King Charles II in 1663.
Although William Arnold, Benedict's father, had been one of Williams' original settlers in Providence Plantations, as governor Benedict supported the more progressive policies followed by Rhode Island (such as universal religious freedom and an end to both slavery and witchcraft trials).
|When Benedict Arnold was 13, bad investments made by his father plunged the Arnold family deeply into debt. As a result, Arnold had to drop out of school and take a job working for his mother's cousins. What business were they in?|
apothecary. Daniel and John Lathrop operated a successful apothecary shop in Norwich, Connecticut. An apothecary was part pharmacist, part doctor, and part drugstore owner. Although some sources claim that Arnold was an indentured servant (little better than a slave) to the Lathrops, it seems much more likely that the Lathrops' cousin was their apprentice: a young man being trained for a skilled trade.
After his father's bankruptcy, Arnold always worried about money. Historians still debate how much of a role that played in his later actions.
|With the help of his cousins, 21-year-old Benedict Arnold started his own successful business in 1762, then became a ship owner. Arnold became anti-British due to the high taxes imposed by England, but he was still a businessman in 1775 when he heard about the battles in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. What idea did Arnold have to benefit Boston that caused him to become an active participant in the insurrection?|
Capturing Fort Ticonderoga. Arnold had become leader of the New Haven company of Connecticut Guards, and his troops decided to march to Boston and offer their help if the insurrection became general. However, they soon met another Connecticut officer on his way back from Boston, who told them that the shortage of cannon among the rebels prevented them from driving the British out of Boston, so the volunteers from other colonies were being sent home. Arnold realized that there was an easy way to overcome that: capture Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain, which had lots of cannon left from the French and Indian Wars, and he and his men continued to Massachusetts to present this plan.
By the way, mass-producing muskets was a postwar idea of Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton gin.
|With whom did Benedict Arnold have to share credit for the rebels' military victories on Lake Champlain in 1775?|
Ethan Allen. During colonial times, the territory of Vermont was disputed among New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, with Connecticut supporting Vermont separatism. Arnold took his idea of attacking Fort Ticonderoga to Boston, where Massachusetts appointed him to lead such an expedition. A Connecticut officer returning from Boston met Arnold and then took Arnold's idea to Hartford, where Connecticut appointed Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys from Bennington, Vermont, who favored a separate Vermont, to lead an identical expedition and prevent Massachusetts from gaining an advantage along Lake Champlain.
The relationship between Arnold and Allen was tense once they learned of each other's presence and mission. Although Arnold's rank and orders placed him in command of the joint force, and he led the combined troops in the actual battle at Ticonderoga, as well as in solo battles at Crown Point and St. John's (all of which were rebel victories), Massachusetts eventually conceded that Connecticut should be in charge of any campaign in Vermont, in order to win Connecticut's support for the insurrection. As a result, Arnold resigned his Massachusetts commission. The cannon from Ticonderoga were taken to the hills around Boston, and, as Arnold had foreseen, the British immediately abandoned the city. However, upon his return, Arnold learned that his wife had died while he was gone, and that his children had had to move in with his sister.
|After Benedict Arnold returned to Boston in the summer of 1775, he was appointed to command an expedition to attack Quebec City in a manner that many considered impossible. However, his expedition accomplished it. What manner was it?|
Up a river in Maine, over the Appalachian Mountains, then down a river in Quebec. Arnold proposed to the Continental Congress a plan to attack Montreal and Quebec City via Lake Champlain and the Richelieu and St. Lawrence Rivers, using the forts Arnold had just captured. Congress approved this plan but gave Arnold no role in it. Arnold then proposed to General George Washington that a second force be sent up the Kennebec River in Maine and then down the Chaudiere River to Quebec City, giving the Americans a two-pronged attack on Quebec City. The problem: the ground between the Kennebec and the Chaudiere, known as the Height of Land (a spur of the Appalachian Mountains), was considered impassible -- although Arnold insisted it could be crossed.
Washington gave Arnold the rank of colonel in the Continental Army and appointed him to command this second attack. Arnold's approximately 1100 troops started on the trip in September 1775, expecting that it would take about 20 days. It took 45. The Vermont colonel in command of the rear third of the troops gave up halfway through, taking his troops and most of the expedition's remaining food with him. Some of the remaining soldiers were reduced to eating their pets at one point. Despite that, Arnold still managed to make it to Quebec City with about 600 troops by mid-November. However, the Lake Champlain force still wasn't there, having conducted a 45-day siege on the way.
|For leading his troops during this "impossible" attack on Quebec in 1775, Benedict Arnold was compared to what legendary military leader?|
Hannibal. The difficulty of the route taken by the Arnold Expedition was compared to Hannibal's march over the Alps, and Arnold became known as "America's Hannibal." In total, Arnold's troops marched and boated over 350 miles for a journey that their inaccurate maps placed at about 180 miles, and yet almost all but the Vermont troops made it.
The Vermont colonel who abandoned the Arnold Expedition halfway through became one of Arnold's arch-enemies in the Colonial Army, perhaps as a result of the damage that Arnold's success did to his reputation.
|On December 31, 1775, the Colonial armies under General Richard Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold staged a surprise New Year's Eve attack on Quebec City but failed to seize it. What happened to Arnold?|
He was shot in the leg by the British but escaped capture. The Americans hoped to catch the British off-guard by attacking from two directions, but a local spy had warned the British. On one side of Quebec City, the last shot fired by the British guards before they abandoned their posts killed Montgomery, and his troops broke and ran. On the other side, Arnold was shot in the leg during the attack and had to stop for medical attention, but his troops, now under Daniel Morgan, continued and captured the lower town of Quebec. Morgan then learned that the upper town was undefended and open to rebel capture. However, Morgan's fellow officers pressed Morgan to stop and wait for Montgomery's troops. By the time Morgan decided to press on, the British had filled in their defenses, and Morgan and about 500 rebel troops were encircled and captured.
A patched-up Arnold managed to round up the injured and some of Montgomery's troops and beat back a tentative British counterattack outside the walls. Arnold was subsequently promoted to Brigadier General. However, Major General David Wooster, who disliked Arnold, then took command at Quebec, and Arnold received permission to move his headquarters to Montreal.
|Ultimately, the American invasion of Canada in 1775 and 1776 collapsed, in large part due to illness among the troops. What illness befell the American troops in huge numbers during the spring of 1776?|
smallpox. Smallpox was rife in Quebec, and much of the American army came down with it. Malaria also made an appearance among the troops in this swamp-ridden area. Although fresh American troops came to Canada, the overconfidence of their commanders led to military disaster after disaster, and the combination of illness (the army's camp on Isle aux Noix in the Richelieu River became known as the "smallpox camp") and inept leadership finally forced the Americans to withdraw from Canada.
Benedict Arnold and many of his troops in Montreal had controversially self-inoculated against smallpox and remained generally healthy, so they served as the rear guard. Arnold himself became the last American to leave mainland Canada and head back to Crown Point and safety.
|Although the ships that Brigadier General Benedict Arnold had seized for the rebels in 1775 controlled Lake Champlain during the spring and early summer of 1776, Arnold realized that the British would build their own ships. Ultimately control of the lake would rest on a naval battle. Unfortunately, the British had better sailors and more men and materials. What type of ship did Arnold's army build in an effort to overcome this disadvantage?|
row-galley. Row-galleys had been dominant in navies at the time of "Ben Hur" (with men in the bottom of the boat rowing) but had largely become obsolete by the late 1700s due to advances in sailing technology. However, row-galleys had some advantages in conditions of limited maneuverability and were still being used by the Barbary Pirates at the time. They also needed less rigging and were easier for non-sailors to handle. Arnold had four row-galleys built as the main vessels of his fleet, although only three were ready for the key battle in October.
The Battle of Valcour Island in October 1776 was the only naval battle in North America in which row-galleys played a leading role.
|Although the British won a solid victory in the Battle of Valcour Island in October 1776, largely destroying the American fleet under Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, historians generally consider the battle a major success for Arnold. Why?|
The British took so long to get ready that they had to camp for winter after it. Once the British saw Arnold's row-galleys, they realized that they didn't have enough ships or powerful enough ordnance on their newly-built ships to ensure victory. Therefore, the British built a three-masted ship-of-war, which would be the dominant vessel on Lake Champlain; there was nothing Arnold could do to compete with it due to his limited resources. However, by the time the British boat was ready, it was October. Despite their overwhelming edge in both manpower and naval power after they won the battle, the British had to make camp for the winter, giving the rebels another crucial six months to prepare.
At the time, though, Congress saw Arnold's loss as devastating and removed him from command in the north. Ultimately, he had to travel to Congress in Philadelphia to argue for his own reinstatement.
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