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Arnold's Attack - History

Arnold's Attack - History


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Ebenezer Mattoon, a Continental officer, to General Philip Schuyler.

October 7, 1835

. About one o'clock of this day, two signal guns were fired on the left of the British army which indicated a movement. Our troops were immediately put under arms, and the lines manned. At this juncture Gens. Lincoln and Arnold rode with great speed towards the enemy's lines. While they were absent, the picket guards on both sides were engaged near the river. In about half an hour, Generals Lincoln and Arnold returned to headquarters, where many of the officers collected to hear the report, General Gates stand ing at the door.

Gen. Lincoln says, "Gen. Gates, the firing at the river is merely a feint their object is your left. A strong force of 18oo men are marching circutiously, to plant themselves on yonder height. That point must be defend~ or your camp is in danger." ~

Gates replied, "I will send Morgan with his riflemen, and Dearborn's infantry."

Arnold says, "That is nothing; you must send a strong force."

Gates replied, "Gen. Arnold, I have nothing for you to business here.

Arnold's reply was reproachful and severe.

Gen. Lincoln says, "You must send a strong force to support Morgan Dearborn, at least three regiments."

Two regiments from Gen. Lamed's brigade, and one from Gen. Nixons were then ordered to that station and to defend it at all hazards. Generals Lincoln and Arnold immediately left the encampment and proceeded to the enemy s lines.

In a few minutes, Capt. Furnival's company of artillery, in which a lieutenant, was ordered to march towards the fire, which had now opened upon our picket in front, the picket consisting of about 3oo men. While ue were marching, the whole line, up to our picket or front, was engaged. Wt | advanced to a height of ground which brought the enemy in view, and opered our fire. But the enemy's guns, eight in number, and much heavier than ours rendered our position untenable.

We then advanced into the line of infantry. Here Lieutenant M'Lane joined me. In our front there was a field of corn, in which the Hessians were secreted. On our advancing towards the corn field, a number of men rose and fired upon us. M'Lane was severely wounded. While I was removing him from the field, the firing still continued without abatement.

During this time, a tremendous firing was heard on our left. We poured in upon them our canister shot as fast as possible, and the whole line, from lef to right, became engaged. The smoke was very dense, and no movement, could be seen; but as it soon arose, our infantry appeared to be slowly re treating, and the Hessians slowly advancing, their officers urging them on with their hangers....

The troops continuing warmly engaged, Col. Johnson's regiment, coming up threw in a heavy fire and compelled the Hessians to retreat. Upon this advanced with a shout of victory. At the same time Auckland's corps gave way. We proceeded but a short distance before we came upon four pieces of brass cannon, closely surrounded with the dead and dying; at a few yards further we came upon two more. Advancing a little further, we were met by a fire from the British infantry, which proved very fatal to one of Col. Johnson's companies, in which were killed one sergeant, one corporal, fourteen privates—and about twenty were wounded.

They advanced with a quick step, firing as they came on. We returned ~em a brisk fire of canister shot, not allowing ourselves time even to sponge our pieces. In a short time they ceased firing and advanced upon us with trailed arms. At this juncture Arnold came up with a part of Brooks's regiment, and gave them a most deadly fire, which soon caused them to face about and retreat with a quicker step than they advanced.

The firing had now principally ceased on our left, but was brisk in front and on the right. At this moment Arnold says to Col. Brooks (late governor of Massachusetts), "Let us attack Balcarras's works."

Brooks replied, "No. Lord Auckland's detachment has retired there, we can't carry them."

"Well, then, let us attack the Hessian lines."

Brooks replies, "With all my heart."

We all wheeled to the right and advanced. No fire was received, except from the cannon, until we got within about eight rods, when we received a tremendous fire from the whole line. But a few of our men, however, fell. Still advancing, we received a second fire, in which a few men fell, and Gen. Arnold's horse fell under him, and he himself was wounded. He cried out, 'Rush on, my brave boys!" After receiving the third fire, Brooks mounted their works, swung his sword, and the men rushed into their works. When we entered the works, we found Col. Bremen dead, surrounded with a number of his companions, dead or wounded. We still pursued slowly, the fire, in the mean time, decreasing. Nightfall now put an end to this day's bloody contest. During the day we had taken eight cannon and broken the centre of the enemy's lines.

We were ordered to rest until relieved from the camps. The gloom of the night, the groans and shrieks of the wounded and dying, and the horrors of the whole scene baffle all description.


Culture and Anarchy

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Culture and Anarchy, major work of criticism by Matthew Arnold, published in 1869. In it Arnold contrasts culture, which he defines as “the study of perfection,” with anarchy, the prevalent mood of England’s then new democracy, which lacks standards and a sense of direction. Arnold classified English society into the Barbarians (with their lofty spirit, serenity, and distinguished manners and their inaccessibility to ideas), the Philistines (the stronghold of religious nonconformity, with plenty of energy and morality but insufficient “sweetness and light”), and the Populace (still raw and blind). He saw in the Philistines the key to culture they were the most influential segment of society their strength was the nation’s strength, their crudeness its crudeness it therefore was necessary to educate and humanize the Philistines. Arnold saw in the idea of “the State,” and not in any one class of society, the true organ and repository of the nation’s collective “best self.” No summary can do justice to Culture and Anarchy, however it is written with an inward poise, a serene detachment, and an infusion of subtle humour that make it a masterpiece of ridicule as well as a searching analysis of Victorian society. The same is true of its unduly neglected sequel, Friendship’s Garland (1871).

This article was most recently revised and updated by Kathleen Kuiper, Senior Editor.


Battle of Quebec: December 31, 1775

Facing the year-end expiration of their troops’ enlistment, the American forces advanced on Quebec under the cover of snowfall in the early morning hours of December 31. The British defenders were ready, however, and when Montgomery’s forces approached the fortified city, the British opened fire with a barrage of artillery and musket fire. Montgomery was killed in the first assault, and after several more attempts at penetrating Quebec’s defenses, his men were forced to retreat.

Meanwhile, Arnold’s division suffered a similar fate during their attack on the northern wall of the city. A two-gun battery opened fire on the advancing Americans, killing a number of troops and wounding Arnold in the leg. Patriot Daniel Morgan (1736-1802) assumed command and made progress against the defenders, but halted at the second wall of fortifications to wait for reinforcements. By the time the rest of Arnold’s army finally arrived, the British had reorganized, forcing the Patriots to call off their attack. Of the approximately 1,200 Americans who participated in the battle, more than 400 were captured, wounded or killed. British casualties were minor.

After the defeat at Quebec, the battered and ailing Patriots remained outside the city with the help of additional supplies and reinforcements, carrying out an ineffectual siege. However, with the arrival of a British fleet at Quebec in May 1776, the Americans retreated from the area.


Contents

The American Revolutionary War was approaching the two-year point, and the British changed their plans. They decided to split the Thirteen Colonies and isolate New England from what they believed to be the more Loyalist middle and southern colonies. The British command devised a plan to divide the colonies with a three-way pincer movement in 1777. [10] The western pincer under the command of Barry St. Leger was to progress from Ontario through western New York, following the Mohawk River, [11] and the southern pincer was to progress up the Hudson River valley from New York City. [12] The northern pincer was to proceed southward from Montreal, and the three forces were to meet in the vicinity of Albany, New York, severing New England from the other colonies. [13]

British situation Edit

British General John Burgoyne moved south from the province of Quebec in June 1777 to gain control of the upper Hudson River valley. His campaign had become bogged down in difficulties following a victory at Fort Ticonderoga. [13] Elements of the army had reached the upper Hudson as early as the end of July, but logistical and supply difficulties delayed the main army at Fort Edward. One attempt to alleviate these difficulties failed when nearly 1,000 men were killed or captured at the August 16 Battle of Bennington. [14] Furthermore, news reached Burgoyne on August 28 that St. Leger's expedition down the Mohawk River valley had turned back after the failed Siege of Fort Stanwix. [15]

General William Howe had taken his army from New York City by sea on a campaign to capture Philadelphia instead of moving north to meet Burgoyne. [16] Most of Burgoyne's Indian support had fled following the loss at Bennington, and his situation was becoming difficult. [17] He needed to reach defensible winter quarters, requiring either retreat back to Ticonderoga or advance to Albany, and he decided to advance. He then deliberately cut communications to the north so that he would not need to maintain a chain of heavily fortified outposts between his position and Ticonderoga, and he decided to cross the Hudson River while he was in a relatively strong position. [18] He ordered Baron Riedesel, who commanded the rear of the army, to abandon outposts from Skenesboro south, and then had the army cross the Hudson just north of Saratoga between September 13 and 15. [19]

American situation Edit

The Continental Army had been in a slow retreat since Burgoyne's capture of Ticonderoga early in July, under the command of Major General Philip Schuyler, and was encamped south of Stillwater, New York. On August 19, Major General Horatio Gates assumed command from Schuyler, whose political fortunes had fallen over the loss of Ticonderoga and the ensuing retreat. [20] Gates and Schuyler were from very different backgrounds and did not get along with each other they had previously argued over command issues in the army's Northern Department. [21] The army was growing in size because of increased militia turnout following calls by state governors, the success at Bennington, and widespread outrage over the slaying of Jane McCrea, the fiancée of a Loyalist in Burgoyne's army by Indians under Burgoyne's command. [22]

General George Washington's strategic decisions also improved the situation for Gates' army. Washington was most concerned about the movements of General Howe. He was aware that Burgoyne was also moving, and he took some risks in July. He sent aid north in the form of Major General Benedict Arnold, his most aggressive field commander, and Major General Benjamin Lincoln, a Massachusetts man noted for his influence with the New England militia. [23] He ordered 750 men from Israel Putnam's forces defending the New York highlands to join Gates' army in August, before he was certain that Howe had indeed sailed south. He also sent some of the best forces from his own army: Colonel Daniel Morgan and the newly formed Provisional Rifle Corps, which comprised about 500 specially selected riflemen from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, chosen for their sharpshooting ability. [24] This unit came to be known as Morgan's Riflemen.

On September 7, Gates ordered his army to march north. A site was selected for its defensive potential that was known as Bemis Heights, just north of Stillwater and about 10 miles (16 km) south of Saratoga the army spent about a week constructing defensive works designed by Polish engineer Tadeusz Kościuszko. The heights had a clear view of the area and commanded the only road to Albany, where it passed through a defile between the heights and the Hudson River. To the west of the heights lay more heavily forested bluffs that would present a significant challenge to any heavily equipped army. [25]

Prelude Edit

Moving cautiously, since the departure of his Native American support had deprived him of reliable reports on the American position, Burgoyne advanced to the south after crossing the Hudson. [26] On September 18 the vanguard of his army had reached a position just north of Saratoga, about 4 miles (6.4 km) from the American defensive line, and skirmishes occurred between American scouting parties and the leading elements of his army. [27]

The American camp had become a bed of festering intrigue ever since Arnold's return from Fort Stanwix. While he and Gates had previously been on reasonably good terms in spite of their prickly egos, Arnold managed to turn Gates against him by taking on officers friendly to Schuyler as staff, dragging him into the ongoing feud between the two. [28] These conditions had not yet reached a boil on September 19, but the day's events contributed to the situation. Gates had assigned the left wing of the defenses to Arnold, and assumed command himself of the right, which was nominally assigned to General Lincoln, whom Gates had detached in August with some troops to harass the British positions behind Burgoyne's army. [29]

Both Burgoyne and Arnold understood the importance of the American left, and the need to control the heights there. After the morning fog lifted around 10 am, Burgoyne ordered the army to advance in three columns. Baron Riedesel led the left column, consisting of the German troops and the 47th Foot, on the river road, bringing the main artillery and guarding supplies and the boats on the river. General James Inglis Hamilton commanded the center column, consisting of the 9th, 20th, 21st, and 62nd regiments, which would attack the heights, and General Simon Fraser led the right wing with the 24th Regiment and the light infantry and grenadier companies, to turn the American left flank by negotiating the heavily wooded high ground north and west of Bemis Heights. [30]

Arnold also realized such a flanking maneuver was likely, and petitioned Gates for permission to move his forces from the heights to meet potential movements, where the American skill at woodlands combat would be at an advantage. [31] Gates, whose preferred strategy was to sit and wait for the expected frontal assault, grudgingly permitted a reconnaissance in force consisting of Daniel Morgan's men and Henry Dearborn's light infantry. [32] When Morgan's men reached an open field northwest of Bemis Heights belonging to Loyalist John Freeman, they spotted British advance troops in the field. Fraser's column was slightly delayed and had not yet reached the field, while Hamilton's column had also made its way across a ravine and was approaching the field from the east through dense forest and difficult terrain. Riedesel's force, while it was on the road, was delayed by obstacles thrown down by the Americans. The sound of gunfire to the west prompted Riedesel to send some of his artillery down a track in that direction. The troops Morgan's men saw were an advance company from Hamilton's column. [33]

Battle Edit

Morgan placed marksmen at strategic positions, who then picked off virtually every officer in the advance company. Morgan and his men then charged, unaware that they were headed directly for Burgoyne's main army. While they succeeded in driving back the advance company, Fraser's leading edge arrived just in time to attack Morgan's left, scattering his men back into the woods. [34] James Wilkinson, who had ridden forward to observe the fire, returned to the American camp for reinforcements. As the British company fell back toward the main column, the leading edge of that column opened fire, killing a number of their own men. [35]

There was then a lull in the fighting around 1:00 pm as Hamilton's men began to form up on the north side of the field, and American reinforcements began to arrive from the south. Learning that Morgan was in trouble, Gates ordered out two more regiments (1st and 3rd New Hampshire) to support him, [36] with additional regiments (2nd New York, 4th New York, the 1st Canadian, and Connecticut militia) from the brigade of Enoch Poor to follow. [37] Burgoyne arrayed Hamilton's men with the 21st on the right, the 20th on the left, and the 62nd in the center, with the 9th held in reserve. [38]

The battle then went through phases alternating between intense fighting and breaks in the action. Morgan's men had regrouped in the woods, and picked off officers and artillerymen. They were so effective at reducing the latter that the Americans several times gained brief control of British field pieces, only to lose them in the next British charge. At one point it was believed that Burgoyne himself had been taken down by a sharpshooter it was instead one of Burgoyne's aides, riding a richly dressed horse, who was the victim. The center of the British line was very nearly broken at one point, and only the intervention of General Phillips, leading the 20th, made it possible for the 62nd to reform. [39] In the memoir of Roger Lamb, a British soldier present at the battle, he wrote ''In this battle an unusual number of officers fell, as our army abounded with young men of respectability at this time, who after several years of general peace anterior to the American revolution, were attracted to the profession of arms. Three subalterns (officers) of the 20th regiment on this occasion, the oldest of whom did not exceed the age of seventeen years, were buried together'' [40]

The final stroke of the battle belonged to the British. Around 3 pm, Riedesel sent a messenger to Burgoyne for instructions. He returned two hours later with orders to guard the baggage train, but also to send as many men as he could spare toward the American right flank. In a calculated risk, Riedesel left 500 men to guard the vital supply train and marched off toward the action with the rest of his column. Two of his companies advanced on the double and opened vicious fire on the American right, [41] and Fraser's force threatened to turn the American left flank. In response to the latter threat, Arnold requested more forces, and Gates allowed him to dispatch Ebenezer Learned's brigade (2nd, 8th and 9th Massachusetts). (If Arnold had been on the field, these forces might have instead faced the larger danger posed by Riedesel's force.) [42] Fortunately for the American right, darkness set in, bringing an end to the battle. The Americans retreated back to their defenses, leaving the British on the field. [7]

Burgoyne had gained the field of battle, but suffered nearly 600 casualties. Most of these were to Hamilton's center column, where the 62nd was reduced to the size of a single company, and three quarters of the artillerymen were killed or wounded. [43] American losses were nearly 300 killed and seriously wounded. [44]

It has been widely recounted in histories of this battle that General Arnold was on the field, directing some of the action. However, John Luzader, a former park historian at the Saratoga National Historical Park, carefully documents the evolution of this story and believes it is without foundation in contemporary materials, and that Arnold remained at Gates' headquarters, receiving news and dispatching orders through messengers. [45] [46] Arnold biographer James Kirby Martin, however, disagrees with Luzader, arguing that Arnold played a more active role at Freeman's Farm by directing patriot troops into position and possibly leading some charges before being ordered back to headquarters by Gates. [47]

Burgoyne to Clinton, September 23, 1777 [48]

Burgoyne's council discussed whether to attack the next day, and a decision was reached to delay further action at least one day, to September 21. The army moved to consolidate the position closer to the American line while some men collected their dead. The attack on the 21st was called off when Burgoyne received a letter dated September 12 from Henry Clinton, who was commanding the British garrison in New York City. Clinton suggested that he could "make a push at [Fort] Montgomery in about ten days." (Fort Montgomery was an American post on the Hudson River, in the New York Highlands south of West Point). If Clinton left New York on September 22, "about ten days" after he wrote the letter, he still could not hope to arrive in the vicinity of Saratoga before the end of the month. Burgoyne, running low on men and food, was still in a very difficult position, but he decided to wait in the hope that Clinton would arrive to save his army. [49] Burgoyne wrote to Clinton on September 23, requesting some sort of assistance or diversion to draw Gates' army away. [48] Clinton sailed from New York on October 3, and captured Forts Montgomery and Clinton on October 6. [50] The furthest north any of his troops reached was Clermont, where they raided the estate of the prominent Patriot Livingston family on October 16. [51]

Unknown to either side at Saratoga, General Lincoln and Colonel John Brown had staged an attack against the British position at Fort Ticonderoga. Lincoln had collected 2,000 men at Bennington by early September. [52] Brown and a detachment of 500 men captured poorly defended positions between Ticonderoga and Lake George, and then spent several days ineffectually bombarding the fort. These men, and some of the prisoners they freed along the way, were back in the American camp by September 29. [53] [54]

In the American camp, the mutual resentment between Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold finally exploded into open hostility. Gates quickly reported the action of September 19 to the Congress and Governor George Clinton of New York, but he failed to mention Arnold at all. The field commanders and men universally credited Arnold for their success. Almost all the troops involved were from Arnold's command and Arnold was the one directing the battle while Gates sat in his tent. Arnold protested, and the dispute escalated into a shouting match that ended with Gates relieving Arnold of his command and giving it to Benjamin Lincoln. Arnold asked for a transfer to Washington's command, which Gates granted, but instead of leaving he remained in his tent. [55] There is no documentary evidence for a commonly recounted anecdote that a petition signed by line officers convinced Arnold to stay in camp. [56]

During this period there were almost daily clashes between pickets and patrols of the two armies. Morgan's sharpshooters, familiar with the strategy and tactics of woodland warfare, constantly harassed British patrols on the western flank. [57]

As September passed into October it became clear that Clinton was not coming to help Burgoyne, who put the army on short rations on October 3. [58] The next day, Burgoyne called a war council in which several options were discussed, but no conclusive decisions were made. When the council resumed the next day, Riedesel proposed retreat, in which he was supported by Fraser. Burgoyne refused to consider it, insisting that retreat would be disgraceful. They finally agreed to conduct an assault on the American left flank with two thousand men, more than one-third of the army, on October 7. [59] The army he was attacking, however, had grown in the interval. In addition to the return of Lincoln's detachment, militiamen and supplies continued to pour into the American camp, including critical increases in ammunition, which had been severely depleted in the first battle. [60] The army Burgoyne faced on October 7 was more than 12,000 men strong [2] and was led by a man who knew how much trouble Burgoyne was in. Gates had received consistent intelligence from the stream of deserters leaving the British lines and had also intercepted Clinton's response to Burgoyne's plea for help. [61]

British foray Edit

While Burgoyne's troop strength was nominally higher, he likely had only about 5,000 effective, battle-ready troops on October 7, as losses from the earlier battles in the campaign and desertions following the September 19 battle had reduced his forces. [62] General Riedesel advised that the army retreat. Burgoyne decided to reconnoiter the American left flank to see if an attack was possible. As an escort, the generals took Fraser's Advanced Corps, with light troops and the 24th Foot on the right and the combined British grenadiers on the left, and a force drawn from all the German regiments in the army in the center. There were eight British cannon under Major Williams and two Hesse-Hanau cannon under Captain Pausch. [63] Leaving their camp between 10 and 11 am, they advanced about three-quarters of a mile (1 km) to Barber's wheat field on a rise above Mill Brook, where they stopped to observe the American position. While the field afforded some room for artillery to work, the flanks were dangerously close to the surrounding woods. [64]

Gates, following the removal of Arnold from the field command, assumed command of the American left and gave the right to General Lincoln. When American scouts brought news of Burgoyne's movement to Gates, he ordered Morgan's riflemen out to the far left, with Poor's men (1st, 2nd, and 3rd New Hampshire) on the left the 2nd and 4th New York Regiments on the right, and Learned's 1st New York, 1st Canadian, 2nd, 8th and 9th Massachusetts Regiments, plus militia companies, in the center. A force of 1,200 New York militia under Brigadier General Abraham Ten Broeck was held in reserve behind Learned's line. [65] In all, more than 8,000 Americans took the field that day, [66] including about 1,400 men from Lincoln ' s command that were deployed when the action became particularly fierce. [67]

The opening fire came between 2 and 2:30 pm from the British grenadiers. Poor's men held their fire, and the terrain made the British shooting largely ineffective. When Major Acland led the British grenadiers in a bayonet charge, the Americans finally began shooting at close range. Acland fell, shot in both legs, and many of the grenadiers also went down. Their column was a total rout, and Poor's men advanced to take Acland and Williams prisoner and capture their artillery. [68] On the American left, things were also not going well for the British. Morgan's men swept aside the Canadians and Native Americans to engage Fraser's regulars. Although slightly outnumbered, Morgan managed to break up several British attempts to move west. [68] While General Fraser was mortally wounded in this phase of the battle, [69] a frequently told story claiming it to be the work of Timothy Murphy, one of Morgan's men, appears to be a 19th-century fabrication. [70] The fall of Fraser and the arrival of Ten Broeck's large militia brigade (which roughly equaled the entire British reconnaissance force in size), broke the British will, and they began a disorganized retreat toward their entrenchments. Burgoyne was also very nearly killed by one of Morgan's marksmen three shots hit his horse, hat, and waistcoat. [71]

The first phase of the battle lasted about one hour and cost Burgoyne nearly 400 men, including the capture of most of the grenadiers' command, and six of the ten field pieces brought to the action. [71]

American attack Edit

At this point, the Americans were joined by an unexpected participant. General Arnold, who was "betraying great agitation and wrath" in the American camp, and may have been drinking, rode out to join the action. [73] [74] Gates immediately sent Major Armstrong after him with orders to return Armstrong did not catch up with Arnold until the action was effectively over. [74] (A letter, written by a witness to proceedings in the camp, suggests that Arnold did in fact have authorization from Gates to engage in this action.) [75]

The defenses on the right side of the British camp were anchored by two redoubts. The outermost one was defended by about 300 men under the command of the Hessian Heinrich von Breymann, while the other was under the command of Lord Balcarres. A small contingent of Canadians occupied the ground between these two fortifications. Most of the retreating force headed for Balcarres' position, as Breymann's was slightly north and further away from the early action. [76]

Arnold led the American chase, and then led Poor's men in an attack on the Balcarres redoubt. Balcarres had set up his defenses well, and the redoubt was held, in action so fierce that Burgoyne afterwards wrote, "A more determined perseverance than they showed … is not in any officer's experience". [77] Seeing that the advance was checked, and that Learned was preparing to attack the Breymann redoubt, Arnold moved toward that action, recklessly riding between the lines and remarkably emerging unhurt. He led the charge of Learned's men through the gap between the redoubts, which exposed the rear of Breymann's position, where Morgan's men had circled around from the far side. [78] In furious battle, the redoubt was taken and Breymann was killed. [79] Arnold's horse was hit in one of the final volleys, and Arnold's leg was broken by both shot and the falling horse. Major Armstrong finally caught up with Arnold to officially order him back to headquarters he was carried back in a litter. [80]

The capture of Breymann's redoubt exposed the British camp, but darkness was setting in. An attempt by some Germans to retake the redoubt ended in capture as darkness fell and an unreliable guide led them to the American line. [81]

Burgoyne had lost 1,000 men in the two battles, leaving him outnumbered by roughly 3 to 1 American losses came to about 500 killed and wounded. Burgoyne had also lost several of his most effective leaders, his attempts to capture the American position had failed, and his forward line was now breached. After the second battle, Burgoyne lit fires at his remaining forward positions and withdrew under the cover of darkness. He withdrew his men 10–15 miles north, near present-day Schuylerville, New York. By the morning of October 8, he was back in the fortified positions he had held on September 16.

On October 13, with his army surrounded, Burgoyne held a council of war to propose terms of surrender. Riedesel suggested that they be paroled and allowed to march back to Canada without their weapons. Burgoyne felt that Gates would not even consider such terms, asking instead to be conveyed to Boston, where they would sail back to Europe. After several days of negotiations, the two sides signed the capitulation. [82]

On October 17, Burgoyne surrendered his army to Gates. The British and German troops were accorded the traditional honors of war as they marched out to surrender. The troops formed the Convention Army, named after the convention that granted them safe passage back to Europe. However, the Continental Congress revoked the convention, and the Convention Army was kept in captivity until the end of the war. [83]

Burgoyne's failed campaign marked a major turning point in the war. [84] General Burgoyne returned to England and was never given another commanding position in the British Army. [85] The British learned that the Americans would fight bravely and effectively. One British officer said:

The courage and obstinacy with which the Americans fought were the astonishment of everyone, and we now became fully convinced that they are not that contemptible enemy we had hitherto imagined them, incapable of standing a regular engagement and that they would only fight behind strong and powerful works. [86]

In recognition of his contribution to the battles at Saratoga, General Arnold had his seniority restored (he had lost it after being passed over for promotion earlier in 1777). [87] However, Arnold's leg wound left him bedridden for five months. [88] Later, while still unfit for field service but serving as military governor of Philadelphia, Arnold entered into treasonous correspondence with the British. He received command of the fort at West Point and plotted to hand it over to the British, only to flee into the British lines when the capture of his contact John Andre led to the exposure of the plot. Arnold went on to serve under William Phillips, the commander of Burgoyne's right wing, in a 1781 expedition into Virginia. [89]

Although he left the direction of the battle to subordinates, General Gates received a great deal of credit as the commanding general for the greatest American victory of the war to date. He may have conspired with others to replace George Washington as the commander-in-chief. [90] Instead, he received the command of the main American army in the South. He led it to a disastrous defeat at the 1780 Battle of Camden, where he was at the forefront of a panicked retreat. [91] [92] Gates never commanded troops in the field thereafter.

In response to Burgoyne's surrender, Congress declared December 18, 1777, as a national day "for solemn Thanksgiving and praise" it was the nation's first official observance of a holiday with that name. [93] [94]

French aid Edit

Once news of Burgoyne's surrender reached France, King Louis XVI decided to enter into negotiations with the Americans that resulted in a formal Franco-American alliance and French entry into the war. [95] This moved the conflict onto a global stage. [96] As a consequence, Britain was forced to divert resources used to fight the war in North America to theaters in the West Indies and Europe, and rely on what turned out to be the chimera of Loyalist support in its North American operations. [97] Being defeated by the British in the French and Indian War more than a decade earlier, France found an opportunity to undercut British power and ultimately of revenge by aiding the colonists throughout the Revolutionary War. Prior to the Battle of Saratoga, France did not fully aid the colonists. However, after the Battles of Saratoga were conclusively won by the colonists, France realized that the Americans had the hope of winning the war, and began fully aiding the colonists by sending soldiers, donations, loans, military arms, and supplies. [98] [95]

The battlefield and the site of Burgoyne's surrender have been preserved, and are now administered by the National Park Service as the Saratoga National Historical Park, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The park preserves a number of the buildings in the area and contains a variety of monuments. [99] The Saratoga Monument obelisk has four niches, three of which hold statues of American commanders: Gates and Schuyler and of Colonel Daniel Morgan. The fourth niche, where Arnold's statue would go, is empty. [100] A more dramatic memorial to Arnold's heroism, that does not name him, is the Boot Monument. Donated by Civil War General John Watts de Peyster, it shows a boot with spurs and the stars of a major general. It stands at the spot where Arnold was shot on October 7 charging Breymann's redoubt and is dedicated to "the most brilliant soldier of the Continental Army". [101]


Contents

Shortly after the American Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, a small enterprising force led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured the key Fort Ticonderoga on May 10. Arnold followed up the capture with a raid on Fort Saint-Jean not far from Montreal, alarming the British leadership there. [7]

These actions stimulated both British and rebel leaders to consider the possibility of an invasion of the Province of Quebec by the rebellious forces of the Second Continental Congress, and Quebec's governor, General Guy Carleton, began mobilizing the provincial defenses. The British forces in Canada consisted of three regiments, with the 8th Regiment holding various forts around the Great Lakes and the 7th and 26th regiments guarding the St. Lawrence river valley. [8] Apart from these regiments, the only forces available to the Crown were about 15,000 men of the militia and the 8,500 or so warriors from the various Indian tribes in the northern district of the Department of Indian Affairs. [9] The largely Canadien militia and many of the Indian tribes were regarded as lukewarm in their loyalty to the Crown. [10]

Both the Americans and the British misunderstood the nature of Canadien (as French Canadians were then known) society. [11] The feudal nature of Canadien society with the seigneurs and the Catholic Church owning the land led the British to assume the habitants – as the tenant farmers who made up the vast majority of Quebec's population were known – would deferentially obey their social superiors while the Americans believed that the habitants would welcome them as liberators from their feudal society. In fact, the habitants, despite being tenant farmers, tended to display many of the same traits displayed by the farmers in the 13 colonies who mostly owned their land, being described variously as individualistic, stubborn, and spirited together with a tendency to be rude and disrespectful of authority figures if their actions were seen as unjust. [11] Most of the habitants wanted to be neutral in the struggle between Congress vs. the Crown, just wanting to live their lives in peace. [11] Carleton's romanticized view of Canadien society led him to exaggerate the willingness of the habitants to obey the seigneurs as he failed to understand that the habitants would only fight for a cause that they saw as being in their own interests. [12] A large number of the Canadiens still clung to the hope that one day Louis XVI would reclaim his kingdom's lost colony of New France, but until then, they wanted to be left alone. [13]

The memory of Pontiac's War in 1763 had made most of the Indians living in the Ohio River valley, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley distrustful of all whites, and most of the Indians in the region had no desire to fight for either Congress or the Crown. [14] Only the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, living in their homeland of Kaniekeh (modern upstate New York) were regarded as willing to fight for the Crown, and even then some of the Six Nations like the Oneida and the Tuscarora were already negotiating with the Americans. [10] The Catholic Haudenosaunee living outside of Montreal—the so-called Seven Nations of Canada—were traditionally allies of the French and their loyalty to the British Crown was felt to be very shallow. [10] Both Arnold and Allen argued to Congress that the British forces holding Canada were weak, that the Canadiens would welcome the Americans as liberators and an invasion would require only 2, 000 men. [15] Taking Canada would eliminate any possibility of the British using it as a base to invade New England and New York. [15]

After first rejecting the idea of an attack on Quebec, the Congress authorized the Continental Army's commander of its Northern Department, Major General Philip Schuyler, to invade the province if he felt it necessary. On 27 June 1775 approval for an invasion of Canada was given to Schuyler. [15] As part of an American propaganda offensive, letters from Congress and the New York Provincial Assembly were circulated throughout the province, promising liberation from their oppressive government. [16] Benedict Arnold, passed over for command of the expedition, convinced General George Washington to authorize a second expedition through the wilderness of what is now the state of Maine directly to Quebec City, capital of the province. [17] The plan approved by Congress called for a two-pronged attack with 3,000 men under Schuyler going via Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River valley to take Montreal while 1,050 men under Arnold would march up the Kennebec River valley, over the Height of Land and then down the Chaudière River valley to take Quebec City. [18]

The Continental Army began moving into Quebec in September 1775. Richard Montgomery, heading the American vanguard took Ile-aux-Noix on 2 September 1775. [18] Its goal, as stated in a proclamation by General Schuyler, was to "drive away, if possible, the troops of Great Britain" that "under the orders of a despotic ministry . aim to subject their fellow-citizens and brethren to the yoke of a hard slavery." [19] On 16 September 1775, the sickly Schuyler handed over the command of his army to Montgomery. [18] Brigadier General Richard Montgomery led the force from Ticonderoga and Crown Point up Lake Champlain, successfully besieging Fort St. Jean, and capturing Montreal on November 13. Arnold led a force of 1,100 men from Cambridge, Massachusetts on the expedition through Maine towards Quebec shortly after Montgomery's departure from Ticonderoga. [20]

One significant expectation of the American advance into Quebec was that the large French Catholic Canadien population of the province and city would rise against British rule. Since the British took control of the province, during the French and Indian War in 1760, there had been difficulties and disagreements between the local French Catholics and the Protestant English-speaking British military and civilian administrations. However, these tensions had been eased by the passage of the Quebec Act of 1774, which restored land and many civil rights to the Canadiens (an act which had been condemned by the thirteen rebelling colonies). The English-speaking "Old Subjects" living in Montreal and Quebec City (in contrast to the French-speaking "New Subjects") came mostly from Scotland or the 13 colonies, and they tried to dominate the Quebec colony both politically and economically, clashing with the long-established Canadien elite. [21] James Murray, the first Governor of Quebec, had described the "Old Subject" businessmen who arrived in his colony as "adventurers of mean education. with their fortunes to make and little Sollicitous about the means". [11] Carleton for his part felt the complaints by the Canadiens about the "Old Subjects" as greedy and unscrupulous businessmen were largely merited. [11] As a member of Ireland's Protestant Ascendancy, Carleton found much to admire in Quebec which reminded him of his native Ireland, as both places were rural, deeply conservative Catholic societies. [22] The majority of Quebec's French inhabitants chose not to play an active role in the American campaign, in large part because, encouraged by their clergy, they had come to accept British rule with its backing of the Catholic Church and preservation of French culture. [23]

Many of the "Old Subjects" saw the Quebec Act as a betrayal by the Crown as it granted equality to the Canadiens, most notably by allowing Roman Catholic men to vote and hold office, which ended the hopes of the "Old Subjects" to dominate Quebec politically. [11] Ironically, many of the English-speaking and Protestant "Old Subjects" were the ones who served as "fifth column" for the Americans rather than the French-speaking Roman Catholic "New Subjects" as the many "Old Subject" businessmen had decided that an American victory was their best hope of establishing Anglo-Protestant supremacy in Quebec. [11] Prominent "Old Subject" businessmen such as Thomas Walker, James Price, William Heywood and Joseph Bindon in Montreal together with John McCord, Zachary Macaulay, Edward Antill, John Dyer Mercier and Udnay Hay in Quebec City all worked for an American victory by providing intelligence and later money for the Continental Army. [11] Much of the American assessment that Canada could be easily taken was based on letters from "Old Subject" businessmen asking for the Americans to liberate them from the rule of the Crown which given had the Canadiens equality, and somewhat contradictory also claiming that the Canadiens would rise up against the British if the American entered Quebec. [11]

Defense of the province Edit

General Carleton had begun preparing the province's defenses immediately on learning of Arnold's raid on St. Jean. On 9 June 1775 Carleton proclaimed martial law and called out the militia. [24] At Montreal, Carleton found that there were six hundred men of the 7th Foot Regiment fit for duty, but he complained that there were no warships on the St. Lawrence, the forts around Montreal in a state of disrepair and though the seigneury and the Catholic Church were loyal to the Crown, most of the habitants appeared indifferent. [24] Although Carleton concentrated most of his modest force at Fort St. Jean, he left small garrisons of British regular army troops at Montreal and Quebec. [25] To provide more manpower, Carleton raised the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment, whom he recruited from the Scottish Highland immigrants in Quebec. [26] The commander of the Royal Highland Emigrants, Allan Maclean, was a Highlander who had fought for the Jacobites in the rebellion of 1745, and turned out to be Carleton's most aggressive subordinate in the campaign of 1775–76. [27] On 26 July 1775, Carleton met Guy Johnson, the superintendent of the northern district of the Indian Department together with an Indian Department official, Daniel Claus, and a Mohawk war chief Joseph Brant. [28] Johnson, Claus and Brant had brought with them some 1, 600 warriors whom they proposed to lead into a raid into New England, arguing that this was the best way of keeping the Americans engaged and out of Canada. [28] Carleton declined the offer and ordered most of the Indians home, saying he did not want the Indians involved in this war, whom he regarded as savages who he believed would commit all sorts of atrocities against the white population of New England. [29] Despite his dislike of Indians, whom he considered to be undisciplined and prone to brutality, Carleton employed at least 50 Indians as scouts to monitor the American forces as no one else could operate in the wilderness as scouts as well as the Indians. [26]

Carleton followed the American invasion's progress, occasionally receiving intercepted communications between Montgomery and Arnold. Lieutenant Governor Hector Cramahé, in charge of Quebec's defenses while Carleton was in Montreal, organized a militia force of several hundred to defend the town in September. He pessimistically thought they were "not much to be depended on", estimating that only half were reliable. [30] Cramahé also made numerous requests for military reinforcements to the military leadership in Boston, but each of these came to nought. Several troop ships were blown off course and ended up in New York, and Vice Admiral Samuel Graves, the commander of the fleet in Boston, refused to release ships to transport troops from there to Quebec because the approaching winter would close the Saint Lawrence River. [31] On 25 September 1775 an attempt by Ethan Allen to take Montreal in a surprise attack as the American sympathizer and prominent merchant Thomas Walker had promised he would open the city's gates was foiled. [32] A mixed force of 34 men from the 26th Foot regiment, 120 Canadien volunteers and 80 "Old Subject" volunteers, 20 Indian Department employees and six Indians under the command of Major John Campbell stopped Allen's force on the outskirts of Montreal, killing 5 of the Americans and capturing 36. [32] The victory caused 1, 200 Canadiens to finally respond to the militia summons, but Carleton, knowing only a large American force had entered Canada, chose to stay on the defensive under the grounds he was probably outnumbered. [33] On 5 October, Carleton ordered Walker arrested on charges of high treason, which led to a shoot-out that left two soldiers wounded, Walker's house burned down, and Walker captured. [33] On 15 October 1775, heavy guns arrived from Fort Ticonderoga, which finally allowed the American besiegers to start inflicting damage on Fort St. Jean and on 18 October, the fort at Chambly fell to the Americans. [33]

The attempts of the Americans to recruit Canadiens (French-Canadians) for their cause were generally unsuccessful with Jeremy Duggan, an "Old Subject" Quebec City barber who had joined the Americans only recruiting 40 Canadiens. [34] The Roman Catholic clergy preached loyalty to the Crown, but the unwillingness of Carleton to take the offensive persuaded many Canadiens that the British cause was a lost one. [34] Given the American numerical superiority, Carleton had decided to stay on the defensive, a decision which however justified under military grounds, proved to be politically damaging. [34] On 2 November 1775, Montgomery took Fort St. Jean, which the Americans had been besieging since September, causing Carleton to decide to pull back to Quebec City, which he knew that Arnold was also approaching. [35] On 11 November, the British pulled out of Montreal and on 13 November 1775, the Americans took Montreal. [36] Like Carleton, Montgomery was an Irishman, and both generals had a certain understanding and respect for Canadien society, which was in many ways similar to Irish society, going out of their way to be tactful and polite in their dealings with Canadiens. [37] Montgomery insisted that his men display "brotherly affection" for the Canadiens at all times. [37] However, the man that Montgomery placed in charge of Montreal, Brigadier General David Wooster, together with the newly freed Thomas Walker who served as Wooster's chief political adviser, displayed bigoted anti-Catholic and anti-French views, with Wooster shutting down all the "Mass houses" as he called Catholic churches just before Christmas Eve, a move that deeply offended the Canadiens. [38] The arbitrary and high-handed behavior of Wooster and Walker in Montreal together with their anti-Catholicism undercut their claims to be promoting "liberty" and did much to turn Canadien opinion against their self-proclaimed "liberators". [39]

When definitive word reached Quebec on November 3 that Arnold's march had succeeded and that he was approaching the city, Cramahé began tightening the guard and had all boats removed from the south shore of the Saint Lawrence. [40] Word of Arnold's approach resulted in further militia enlistments, increasing the ranks to 1,200 or more. [30] Two ships arrived on November 3, followed by a third the next day, carrying militia volunteers from St. John's Island and Newfoundland that added about 120 men to the defense. A small convoy under the command of the frigate HMS Lizard also arrived that day, from which a number of marines were added to the town's defenses. [41]

On November 10, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Maclean, who had been involved in an attempt to lift the siege at St. Jean, arrived with 200 men of his Royal Highland Emigrants. They had intercepted communications from Arnold to Montgomery near Trois-Rivières, and hurried to Quebec to help with its defense. The arrival of this experienced force boosted the morale of the town militia, and Maclean immediately took charge of the defenses. [42]

Carleton arrives at Quebec Edit

In the wake of the fall of Fort St. Jean, Carleton abandoned Montreal and returned to Quebec City by ship, narrowly escaping capture. [43] Upon his arrival on November 19, he immediately took command. Three days later, he issued a proclamation that any able-bodied man in the town who did not take up arms would be assumed to be a rebel or a spy, and would be treated as such. Men not taking up arms were given four days to leave. [44] As a result, about 500 inhabitants (including 200 British and 300 Canadians) joined the defense. [45]

Carleton addressed the weak points of the town's defensive fortifications: he had two log barricades and palisades erected along the Saint Lawrence shoreline, within the area covered by his cannons he assigned his forces to defensive positions along the walls and the inner defenses [46] and he made sure his inexperienced militia were under strong leadership. [47]

Order of battle of forces during the battalion and subsequent campaigns: [48] [49] [50] [51]

British Army Edit

British forces numbered 1,800, commanded by Guy Carleton, with 5 killed and 14 wounded.


Arnold's Attack - History

Burning Benedict Arnold in Effigy - New York Public Library Digital Collections, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

Benedict Arnold, despite the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices he made on behalf of American independence, is probably known best for being a traitor. In the middle of the Revolutionary War, he changed sides, abandoning the Americans’ fight for independence in return for the military rank and financial reward he received in the British army. Prior to his treason, however, Arnold compiled an impressive string of accomplishments on behalf of the colonial cause. His treason is so well known, in part, because of his bravery and meritorious service to the Continental army in the early years of the war.

The Arnold Family in Connecticut

Birthplace of Benedict Arnold, Norwich, ca. 1851 – Connecticut Historical Society

Arnold came from a proud background. His great-great grandfather was one of the founders of Rhode Island, and his great-grandfather Benedict won election as governor of Rhode Island five times. When his father Benedict Arnold III, a cooper, moved to Norwich, Connecticut, in 1730, he married Hannah Waterman King, the daughter of one of the town’s founders.

Benedict was born in Norwich on January 14, 1741—one of only two of his parents’ six children to survive childhood. He was a bold, fearless child who enjoyed physical activity. He received a good education in his early years, but left school at fourteen when his father began drinking heavily after the collapse of the family business. Arnold then apprenticed himself to a cousin who was an apothecary (an early word for a pharmacist or druggist) in Norwich, but soon ran away to fight in the French and Indian War. His mother died in 1758 followed by his father in 1761, at which point Arnold moved to New Haven and set up a store that sold books, drugs, and jewelry near Yale College.

Benedict Arnold’s shop sign from George Street, New Haven, ca. 1760 – New Haven Museum

Revolutionary War Hero

While in New Haven, Arnold met his first wife, Margaret Mansfield. They married on February 22, 1767, and had three children. Arnold became a shrewd and prosperous trader in New Haven while also joining the local militia in 1774 and being named its captain soon thereafter. In April of 1775, after learning about the conflicts at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, Arnold organized his men in preparation for a march to Cambridge to aid in the fight against the British.

After witnessing just how little firepower the colonials possessed in Cambridge, Arnold launched an attack to capture British artillery at Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775. The attack was a success, despite Arnold’s conflicts with Vermont folk hero Ethan Allen over command of the assault.

The following fall, Arnold led a grueling march through the Maine wilderness in an attempt to capture the Canadian city of Quebec. The attack, on the final day of the year, ultimately failed and Arnold received a debilitating wound to his left leg. After recuperating, he spent the remainder of 1776 withdrawing from Canada while preventing the British from advancing down the Hudson River.

On April 27, 1777, Arnold confronted British forces under former New York governor William Tryon in Ridgefield. Tryon’s forces, after burning the town of Danbury, headed back toward their ships in Long Island Sound when Arnold mounted an attack in which a witness later claimed Arnold “exhibited the greatest marks of bravery, coolness, and fortitude.” Arnold had a horse shot out from under him and repeatedly exposed himself to fire, but despite his bravery, proved unable to cut off the British withdrawal.

The Battle of Saratoga

Perhaps Benedict Arnold’s greatest military achievement came later that fall in two conflicts (on September 19 and October 7, 1777) referred to as the Battle of Saratoga. Once again Arnold’s propensity for action led him into the thick of the battle where he received a wound in the same leg injured in Quebec, but not before he helped rally troops in defeat of General John Burgoyne’s British forces as they attempted to sever New England from the rest of the colonies. The victories at Saratoga influenced the French decision to join the war against the British.

With his mobility significantly impaired by his shattered left leg —physicians at Saratoga wanted to amputate it, but Arnold refused and later suffered horrific infections and terrible pain—he requested an appointment as military commander of the city of Philadelphia in June of 1778. While there, colonists accused him of engaging in profiteering and socializing with Americans loyal to Great Britain. One of these “Tories” was Margaret (“Peggy”) Shippen, the woman who became Arnold’s second wife in April 1779.

Arnold Commits Treason

Years of dedication to the patriot cause led to little recognition or reward for Arnold. He never received appropriate credit for his actions at Ticonderoga or Saratoga, the Continental Congress repeatedly overlooked him for promotion, and his temper and confrontational style made him many enemies in the army. In addition to being brave and hotheaded, Arnold often succumbed to vanity and greed. All of these factors may have played a part in his decision to commit treason. Charged with corruption during his military command of Philadelphia and facing a court-martial, Arnold, through his wife, contacted the British command with an offer to turn the strategically valuable Hudson River defenses at West Point over to the British in return for money and designation as an officer in the British army.

A sketch of New London & Groton with the attacks made on Forts Trumbull & Griswold by the British troops under the command of Brigr. Genl. Arnold, Sept. 6th, 1781 – Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

Benedict Arnold requested and received command of West Point from Commander-in-Chief, George Washington. He arrived there on August 5, 1780, and proceeded to weaken the garrison while feeding vital logistical information to the British. Colonial authorities accidentally uncovered Arnold’s treasonous plan after capturing British Major John André, fresh from a meeting with Arnold and in possession of the plans for West Point. Before word of the treason reached George Washington (who was on his way to visit Arnold at West Point), Arnold managed to escape to the British warship Vulture and begin his new life as a brigadier general in the British army.

A British Commander and Citizen

After joining the British army, Arnold saw limited action, mostly leading raids along the Virginia and Connecticut coasts. Arnold led a raid on the town of New London on September 6, 1781, that destroyed a number of privateering ships and colonial stores, but the burning of the town and the killing of surrendering Continental soldiers further damaged Arnold’s reputation.

Arnold set sail for England with Peggy after British general Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, on October 19, 1781. He returned to North America in 1785, seeking to establish a business in New Brunswick. His wife and children joined him in 1787, but a fire the following year destroyed his business. The family returned to England in 1791. Arnold spent his remaining years living on a modest pension and repeatedly petitioning the British government for additional funds and military appointments. He died in relative obscurity in London on June 14, 1801.

Gregg Mangan is an author and historian who holds a PhD in public history from Arizona State University.


Arnold's Attack - History

By Edward Baker for Connecticut Explored

September 6, 1781 was a brutal and terrifying day for Connecticut citizens living on both sides of New London harbor, along the Thames River. On that day 1,700 British, Hessian, and Loyalist troops, under the command of General Benedict Arnold, achieved the last British victory of the Revolutionary War, committing acts of urban terrorism and slaughter that would define those communities for years to come. “Arnold’s Raid on New London,” as it was later called, had more to do with spite than strategy. But the raid, occurring almost exactly one year after the discovery of Arnold’s plot to turn George Washington’s army and headquarters over to the British and Arnold’s subsequent escape to the British, cemented Arnold’s reputation as America’s most notorious traitor.

But the events leading to the burning of New London were rooted in circumstances far deeper than simple spite. A confluence of geography, world trade, and wartime economics turned New London (and neighboring Groton) into hotspots of historic import.

A Bustling Port Turns to Privateering

The Thames River provides New London with an excellent harbor. It is wide and deep, the bottom has excellent mud for anchoring, it hardly ever freezes over, and its location at the eastern end of Long Island Sound allows ships easy access to the Atlantic Ocean. During the colonial period, New London’s wharfs bustled with activity stemming from the active “West Indies trade,” whereby the farm products of New England were exchanged for sugar, rum and molasses. Sugar cane was about the only crop grown on the islands of the Caribbean, so plantation owners were completely dependent on imports of livestock, food, and supplies from the English colonies to the north to feed themselves and their slave labor. Sugar, molasses, and rum happened to be the primary commodities that could be used in trade with England. Merchants in New England, in particular, profited by shipping supplies from the northern colonies to the Caribbean, sugar, molasses and rum to England, and English goods back to the colonies.

The Birthplace of Benedict Arnold, Norwich – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Goods coming into the colonies from foreign ports (such as rum, sugar, wine, and tea) were subject to duties–import taxes–to be paid to the British government. But it was difficult to enforce such regulations along New England’s long coastline. As these duties increased in the 1760s to pay for England’s wars with France, smuggling became big business. Bringing those commodities into port without paying duties to the King was so common as to be called part of the “constitution” of the Connecticut citizen. Many of these New England captains and merchants also fervently opposed further British taxation.

New London’s anti-tax and, by extension, anti-British sentiment made it a natural harbor for the Continental Congress’s first forays into naval resistance. As the only deep-water port between British-held Newport, Rhode Island, and British headquarters in New York, it was the perfect location from which to launch attacks on British shipping.

The Continental Congress established a navy early in the war. But limited funds required reliance on the states to supply ships, which were slow to materialize. Just as the Continental Congress looked to its citizen soldiers for its army, this revolutionary government also licensed privately owned armed vessels to serve as part of its navy. Commanders of such ships were known as privateers their motivation was to support the cause of liberty while also supporting themselves.

Attacking the mighty British navy head on with such a small navy would have been foolhardy. Instead, the Americans adopted the age-old strategy of commerce raiding, plundering enemy merchant ships for military supplies and other goods. The first naval force of the Continental Congress was fitted out in New London and returned there after a raid on Nassau to acquire military supplies. The warehouses of New London became storehouses for the revolutionary cause.

The difference between piracy and privateering, in essence, is one piece of paper, a commission, sometimes referred to as a letter of marque. These documents were printed forms with blanks to fill in the name and size of vessel to be registered as a privateer, the name of captain and owner, the number of guns, and the size of the crew. The owner was required to provide bonding: should his crew seize a vessel that was not an enemy ship, he would be liable for expenses. Privateers were also required to follow a series of published regulations or rules of engagement.

The number of guns and size of crew was important, as the usual practice was to sail upon a merchant vessel that was believed to be not well armed, determine that it was a British ship, threaten to blow the ship out of the water should its captain not surrender, assign a crew of one’s own men to take over the sailing of the enemy ship, and sail it into New London. There the ship and cargo would be sold at auction and the spoils distributed to the owners, captain, and crew. So it should be no surprise that privateers could get all the crew that they wanted, while commanders of militia units near ports found it hard to compete with the privateers to get the quota of soldiers they needed. Indeed, Colonial William Ledyard, commander of the forts protecting New London harbor, complained frequently that he had not enough cannon, not enough powder, and not enough men.

Fort Griswold, 1781- University of Connecticut Libraries’ Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC)

New London’s Strategic Role

Before the war, New London had a few cannon in the center of town overlooking the river at the end of “the parade,” the main market square. In 1778 a fort was erected on the New London side on a rocky outcropping south of the main part of the city and named Fort Trumbull, after Governor Jonathan Trumbull. On the Groton side, on a prominent hill very close to the river, another fort was erected and named Fort Griswold, after Deputy Governor Matthew Griswold.

Privateering generates a considerable amount of activity, including the adjudication of prize ships, exchange of prisoners, and acquisition of cannons and powder for the government. All this activity required supervision, so the Continental Congress appointed a naval agent for each state. Wealthy New London merchant, ship owner, and patriot Nathaniel Shaw, Jr. received the commission as naval agent for Connecticut in April 1776. When Washington came through New London after forcing the British evacuation of Boston in spring of 1776, there was a grand assemblage of army and navy. Ezek Hopkins, commander of the navy, had just returned to New London from Nassau. Washington, Hopkins, General Nathanael Greene, and other officers shared dinner at Nathaniel Shaw’s house, where Washington was given the master bedroom for the night. Shaw’s commission as naval agent was signed by John Hancock two weeks later.

Shaw profited from the war as owner of 10 privateers and part owner of 2 more. During the war, at least 4 of these privateers were captured. Another ran aground, and yet another was burned to prevent its falling into British hands. But his 12 ships captured 57 prizes. A schooner, the General Putnam, was the one burned in 1779, but it captured 14 prizes before it was lost. The American Revenue, a sloop, took 15 prizes and the Revenge, also a sloop, 19.

Shaw’s success attracted partners. Benedict Arnold, in fact, wrote to Shaw asking to be included as an eighth- or sixteenth- part owner of a Shaw privateer a later letter from Arnold asked to be released from the arrangement once he found that he could not afford the cost.

Benedict Arnold’s Long Journey Back to New London

In late July of 1781, the British merchant ship Hannah was seized and brought into New London by the Minerva, captained by Dudley Saltonstall. She was the largest prize taken during the entire war, with a cargo of West India goods and gunpowder whose value was estimated at 80,000 pounds sterling. The loss spurred the British to retaliate, to punish New London for its success at privateering. Who better to command this attack than Benedict Arnold, born and raised only 10 miles away, in Norwich, and anxious for a command and to demonstrate his newfound loyalty to King George III?

Benedict Arnold house, New Haven – Connecticut Historical Society and Connecticut History Illustrated

Arnold was 34, living in New Haven, and serving as captain of a militia company when the British attacked Lexington and Concord in 1775. He had served an apprenticeship to apothecary cousins in Norwich but ran off in 1758 to serve in the army in New York in the French and Indian War. He later traveled to the West Indies and to England, where he purchased supplies and made contacts to open his own apothecary shop in New Haven. He acquired some wealth, married, and began a family. When he heard of the British attacks in Massachusetts, he rushed off to assist in ridding Boston of the British.

It was Arnold who devised the idea of capturing Fort Ticonderoga to acquire its cannon, which were needed to force the British out of the city. Arnold was given a command and charged with taking Ticonderoga when he met up with Ethan Allen, another Connecticut-born revolutionary, who was commissioned by Connecticut to do the same thing. Neither one willing to serve under the other, they stood side by side as the Fort was taken. Arnold may have had the more legitimate right to be in charge, but Allen, who had the manpower to take the fort, ultimately got the credit for this first American victory.

Thus began a pattern that was repeated throughout the war: Arnold performing bold, even heroic deeds-at Quebec, on Lake Champlain, at Saratoga-but not being afforded the honor, the recognition, or the rank he thought he deserved. At Saratoga he led two charges of other officers’ companies, despite having been relieved of command by General Gates. While these attacks ensured the American victory, Arnold’s leg suffered a grievous wound. Again a hero without official recognition, Arnold went to Valley Forge to recover. George Washington later placed him in command of the city of Philadelphia in July 1778 after the British evacuated that city.

Serving as military commander for the political center of the Revolution was undoubtedly not the best role for the impetuous and risk-taking Arnold. Hobbled by a leg that he refused to have amputated, possessing a strong sense of his own importance, and determined to receive full measure of consideration from others, he bristled under the watch of Congress. Likewise determined to enjoy his status, he dove into the Philadelphia social scene, which only the previous winter had revolved around the British officer corps. Arnold, 38 at the time and recently widowed, pursued and won the affection of one of the premier young ladies of the city, 18-year-old Peggy Shippen, daughter of a judge, Edward Shippen.

Once married, the Arnolds maintained an extravagant household that was beyond the general’s means. Congress itself was almost bankrupt and parsimoniously refused to honor many of Arnold’s vouchers and accounts for his military campaigns Arnold was eventually court-martialed for taking advantage of his position for financial gain. Driven by lack of recognition, the accusations of wrong-doing, the want of money, and his wife’s loyalist stance, Arnold came to the conclusion that the Revolutionary cause was doomed. Using friends of his wife as intermediaries, Arnold began secret negotiations with British commander General Henry Clinton.

Those talks began in May 1779 and continued to August 1780. In the meantime, Arnold requested and was given command of West Point-Washington’s headquarters. Finally, the British proposed their deal: If Arnold delivered West Point, its artillery, stores, and 3,000 men, he would receive 20,000 pounds.

But Arnold’s plot was discovered. In September 1780, Major Andre, the courier between Arnold and Clinton, was captured near Tarrytown, New York, with maps and a pass through the lines from Arnold. Arnold escaped to the British ship Vulture, and Andre was hanged. Though he had not delivered West Point to the British, Arnold was given 6,000 pounds and the rank of provincial brigadier general. That winter he was sent to Virginia, where he sailed up the James River with a force of 800 men, set fire to the warehouses of Richmond, and then was placed briefly in command at Hampton Roads. By June 1781 he was back in New York.

Arnold Delivers a Devastating Blow to New London

Through the spring and early summer of 1781, three thousand French troops under Rochambeau marched from Newport, Rhode Island, across Connecticut to join with Washington’s forces on the Hudson River. Although it was Washington’s plan to attack New York with the joint force, by late August the leaders had agreed to shift their plan and instead attack General Cornwallis in Virginia, where the French navy had succeeded in cutting off British support by way of the sea. Through late August the French and American forces marched south through New Jersey, maintaining the illusion as long as possible that they were about to attack New York.

By September 2 it was clear, though, that Virginia was the target. At precisely this time, General Clinton agreed to a small diversionary tactic: a punitive raid on New London. On September 5, as French troops marched through Philadelphia on their way to the Chesapeake River to be transported south, British troops were on their way east on Long Island Sound.

A sketch of New London & Groton with the attacks made on Forts Trumbull & Griswold by the British troops under the command of Brigr. Genl. Arnold, Sept. 6th, 1781 – Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

Arnold landed half his force on the New London side of the Thames River under his own command, sending the other half, under the command of Colonel Edmund Eyre, to take Fort Griswold on the Groton side. Colonel William Ledyard, in charge of the forts, had about seven hours’ warning between the sighting of the ships and the landing of the troops. He decided to concentrate on a defense of Fort Griswold and did all in his power to gather recruits. Several of the privateers in town attempted to get underway to sail up river toward Norwich to avoid attack.

Arnold’s force met some musket fire as they landed but found little resistance as they marched from the landing to town. There they split into two groups, planning to burn the city from both ends and meet in the center. Nathaniel Shaw’s house was one of the first set ablaze, but, as it was built of stone, neighbors were able to extinguish the flames before they consumed the structure. “Through the whole of Bank Street, where were some of the best mercantile stands and the most valuable dwelling houses in the town, the torch of vengeance made a clean sweep,” the Connecticut Gazette reported a month later. More than 140 buildings-homes, shops, warehouses-were destroyed, as were ships at the wharves. The Hannah was set on fire when the gunpowder in her hold exploded, it helped to spread the flames.

At Fort Griswold on the Groton heights, approximately 160 militiamen and civilians gathered to fight the 800 British and Hessian soldiers. Refusing to surrender when that option was offered, they fought furiously, killing 2 English officers and 43 others and wounding 193 more. After about 40 minutes, the British made it into the fort. Colonel Ledyard, realizing all was lost, commanded his men to put down their arms. At that point there were an estimated 6 American dead and 20 wounded. But after giving up his sword, Ledyard was immediately run through, and the British troops, after losing officers and so many of their comrades, refused to be held back. When the slaughter ended, 83 Americans were dead and 36 wounded. Several of the wounded died within a few days. Those who could walk were taken as prisoners back to New York.

One month later, as Lafayette led his troops at Yorktown, he challenged his men to “Remember New London.” Cornwallis surrendered in October, and by January many British officers were being sent back to England. Cornwallis and Arnold crossed on the same ship.

New London and Groton were almost entirely leveled. Shaw was able to exchange prisoners after the Yorktown surrender. In December 1781 he brought some to his own home, one of the few structures still standing. Caring for these sick men, his wife Lucretia became ill and died of fever.

Due to the death of so many of Groton’s citizens, the Fort Griswold site almost immediately took on shrine-like status. A monument was erected there in 1830 and enlarged in 1881. The site was turned over by the federal government to the state in 1931, at the 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle.

Arnold and his wife, Peggy, lived out their lives in England trying, with limited success, to keep up appearances. Arnold was frequently the butt of jokes and deprecating remarks once he felt he had to defend his honor in a duel (his shot misfired his opponent, Lord Lauderdale, refused to shoot). He attempted to get rich in the West Indies and Canada, but he died in 1801 in relative obscurity. Peggy died only a couple of years later, having received her own annual pension from the King for her service.

In New London, Arnold’s name is still invoked whenever the city is under siege. After the Hurricane of 1938, newspaper headlines read “Worst Destruction Since Arnold’s Raid.” When urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s leveled block after block, Arnold was jokingly called “the godfather of New London urban planning.” Even now, as New London struggles with issues of redevelopment and eminent domain, a local columnist recently linked the efforts of the redevelopment authority to those of Benedict Arnold.

Edward Baker is the Executive Director of the New London County Historical Society.

©Connecticut Explored. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Connecticut Explored (formerly Hog River Journal) Vol. 4/ No.4, Fall 2006.


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Lafayette and the Virginia Campaign 1781

Marquis de Lafayette

Artist: Charles Wilson Peale
Independence NHP

" This devil Cornwallis is much wiser than the other generals with whom I have dealt. He inspires me with a sincere fear, and his name has greatly troubled my sleep. This campaign is a good school for me. God grant that the public does not pay for my lessons." Marquis de Lafayette, July 9, 1781.

Marquis de Lafayette

On March 14, 1781, 23 year-old Major General Marquis de Lafayette arrived in Yorktown, Virginia, to start a campaign against the British that would culminate in their defeat six months later. Outnumbered and poorly supplied, Lafayette strove to improve the circumstances and numbers of his troops, often pledging his own funds to secure shoes and clothing for his soldiers. He also adopted a strategy similar to the one General George Washington had used thus far in the American Revolutionary War, that of limited engagement while preserving his forces.

Lafayette’s first objective was to capture the American traitor, Benedict Arnold. Arnold, now a Brigadier General in the British army, had been sent to Virginia in December 1780 to raid military supply bases, gather support from loyalists, and weaken Virginia’s ability to aid Major General Nathanael Greene’s patriot forces in the Carolinas. Washington, intent on bringing Arnold in, sent Lafayette south with 1,200 troops and support from a small French fleet. On March 16, a naval battle between the French and British occurred near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, with the French fleet returning to Rhode Island and the British fleet linking up with Arnold and gaining control of the Chesapeake Bay. Lafayette, whose land forces were still at Annapolis, Maryland, could not combat Arnold, who was soon reinforced with 2,000 troops commanded by Major General William Phillips. Phillips, placed in overall command of British forces in Virginia, proceeded to conduct another raid, taking Petersburg on April 25. Phillips then moved towards Richmond, but by then Lafayette had his troops there and thwarted the British attempts to take Virginia’s capital.

On May 13, Phillips died in Petersburg from fever, and Arnold was temporarily in command of the British army in Virginia. One week later, however, Major General Charles Lord Cornwallis arrived, bringing his army out of the Carolinas. With additional reinforcements from New York, Cornwallis was in command of over 7,000 troops. Arnold returned to New York. Lafayette, facing this new foe, wrote Washington on his ability to combat the British: “. A General defeat which with Such a proportion of Militia Must Be Expected would involve this State and our affairs into Ruin, Has Rendered me Extremely Cautious in My Movements. Indeed, I am more Embarassed to Move. Was I any ways equal to the Ennemy, I would Be extremely Happy in My present Command—But I am not Strong enough even to get Beaten.”

Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis

Artist: Thomas Gainesborough
National Portrait Gallery - London, England

Lafayette vs. Cornwallis

In late May 1781, Cornwallis moved to subdue Virginia. His forces raided as far west as Charlottesville and captured the main American supply depot at Point of Fork on the James River. Lafayette, reinforced with Pennsylvania Continental Line troops under Brigadier General “Mad” Anthony Wayne and Virginia militia under Major General Baron Friedrich Von Steuben, now had 4,000 troops. Though still outnumbered, Lafayette was able to shadow Cornwallis’ movements while working to equip his troops and protect military supplies. In mid-June Cornwallis halted his westward movement and turned towards the Virginia coast, reaching Williamsburg later in the month. Following a skirmish at Spencer’s Tavern west of Williamsburg on June 26, Cornwallis made plans to move his army across the James River at Jamestown and push on towards Portsmouth near the Hampton Roads Harbor with orders to establish a naval base. On July 6, Lafayette saw an opportunity to attack Cornwallis’ rear guard as he moved his army across the James River. It did not go as Lafayette had planned.

The Battle of Green Spring

While Cornwallis made preparations to move his army, he realized that as he ferried his troops across the river, those awaiting transport would be vulnerable to attack. Crossing only some of his cavalry and his baggage, Cornwallis gave the perception through information cleverly leaked to Lafayette, that only a small portion of his army was left near Jamestown. Lafayette, seizing the opportunity, sent Wayne and his corps of 800 men to reconnoiter the British position. Wayne moved cautiously, first stopping a couple of miles from Jamestown at Green Spring Plantation, where he tried to determine the true strength of Cornwallis’ forces. Lafayette joined Wayne at Green Spring, where they received further information that most of Cornwallis’ troops had crossed the river.

Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

Moving south of Green Spring, Wayne encountered British pickets. Lafayette, taken by the tenacity of the British, moved along the river to get a better view of the enemy positions. There he discovered Wayne’s forces were about to encounter most of Cornwallis’ troops. By the time he returned to Wayne, Wayne’s troops were already engaged, too late to safely withdraw in the face of the enemy. Lafayette called up additional reinforcements who arrived as the British began to move on the flanks of Wayne’s battle line. Wayne, feeling a retreat at this critical moment could be disastrous, ordered an assault. The ensuing move against the British line temporarily halted the British advance, giving Wayne’s forces the opportunity to withdraw. The retreat was less than orderly, but the troops were successful in returning to Green Spring. Later that night Lafayette moved his forces further from the area, while Cornwallis remained in possession of the battlefield. Estimated battle losses for the patriots were 28 killed, 99 wounded and 12 missing. Total casualties for the British were around 75.

In the aftermath of the largest infantry engagement to occur in Virginia during the American Revolutionary War, Lafayette issued general orders commending Wayne and his forces, noting: “The General is happy in acknowledging the spirit of the detachment commanded by General Wayne, in their engagement with the total of the British army, of which he happened to be an eye witness. He requests General Wayne, the officers and men under his command, to receive his best thanks.”

Following the Battle

In the aftermath of the Battle of Green Spring, Cornwallis moved on to Portsmouth. There the British army loaded onto transports. Lafayette wrote to Major General Nathanael Greene his perception of where Cornwallis’ forces were headed: “The British Army are in and about Portsmouth. An Embarkation is Certainly taking place and will Shortly Sail for Newyork.”

In early August, Lafayette was surprised when the British fleet with Cornwallis’ army arrived in Yorktown and began fortifying the town and Gloucester Point on the opposite shore of the York River. Lafayette addressed the potential for trapping Cornwallis at Yorktown in a letter to the French minister to the United States, Chevalier de La Luzerne: “If the French army could all of a sudden arrive in Virginia and be supported by a squadron, we would do some very good things.”

On August 21, Lafayette wrote Washington of the possibility of taking on Cornwallis: " In the present State of affairs, My dear General, I Hope You will come Yourself to Virginia, and that if the french Army Moves this way, I will Have at last the Satisfaction of Beholding You Myself at the Head of the Combined Armies. When a french fleet takes possession of the Bay and Rivers, and we form a land force Superior to His, that Army must Soon or late Be forced to Surrender as we may get what Reinforcements we please.” Unknown to Lafayette as he wrote his letter, Washington’s forces and a French army allied with him, had begun to move from New York to Yorktown, while a large French battle fleet was sailing for the Chesapeake Bay. Three weeks later, Washington reached Lafayette’s headquarters in Williamsburg and, at the end of September, marched on Yorktown with over 17,000 American and French soldiers. Lafayette commanded a division of American troops and was present at the siege and surrender of Cornwallis on October 19, 1781.

Lafayette wrote his wife about the culmination of his Virginia Campaign: “The end of this campaign is truly brilliant for the allied troops. There was a rare coordination in our movements, and I would be finicky indeed if I were not pleased with the end of my campaign in Virginia. You must have been informed of all the toil the superiority and talents of Lord Cornwallis gave me and of the advantage that we then gained in recovering lost ground, until at length we had Lord Cornwallis in the position we needed in order to capture him. It was then that everyone pounced on him.”

In November, Lafayette contacted the President of the Continental Congress for a leave of absence to return home, noting that “there is No Prospect of Active operations Before the time at which I May Be able to Return.” The following month, Lafayette returned to France and while he did make three trips back to the United States, the war had effectively ended with the Virginia Campaign at Yorktown. His military service to his adopted country had ended, while his lasting symbol of liberty had just begun.


Aftermath

The Battle of Quebec cost the Americans 60 dead and wounded as well as 426 captured. For the British, casualties were a light 6 killed and 19 wounded. Though the assault failed, American troops remained in the field around Quebec. Rallying the men, Arnold attempted to lay siege to the city. This proved increasingly ineffective as men began to desert following the expiration of their enlistments. Though he was reinforced, Arnold was forced to fall back following the arrival of 4,000 British troops under Major General John Burgoyne. After being defeated at Trois-Rivières on June 8, 1776, American forces were forced to retreat back into New York, ending the invasion of Canada.


Watch the video: Το έργο των Φιλελευθέρων 1910-1912 ιστορία (June 2022).


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