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Topic: 15) Benedict Arnold

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15) Benedict Arnold

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Benedict Arnold

Quebec.jpg

The death of General Montgomery in the attack on Quebec by John Trumbull

Benedict Arnold the New Haven, Connecticut Merchant conveniently showed up right before the attack on Fort Ticonderoga demanding sole command (being buddies with the Commander in Chief) but the Green Mountain Boys, basically, told him to go jump in Lake Champlain (at least, that's what I would have told him, among other things). They probably would have taken his offer a little more seriously had he actually brought a real gun with him (instead of a little pop gun according to Randall which we will see again later), so he had to settle for joint command after Allen gave him a Blunderbuss (ibid). Feeling a little under appreciated, he would then go on to lose the entire Champlain Fleet but manage to walk away unscathed which was a pretty good trick for someone who, supposedly, wasn't a traitor yet.

His true colors, however, begin to shine through when you realize that he is the one who wanted to start a war with Canada (Fereling, pg. 39) which his buddy Washington was all excited about and which the country did not need at that time - its never a good idea to fight a war on two fronts if you don't have to. It was designed to drive the Canadians away from the Americans and into the hands of the British in order to ensure that we lost the war (same with the subsequent Iroquois Campaign after the Brits lost the Northern Arena). Congress originally opposed the idea (told ya) but it didn't take George long to read them the Riot Act and get them to Tow the Line. 12

So, off to Montreal, they went with Allen getting captured because all of his Native American Troops disappeared on him for some strange and unknown reason (I'm guessing it had something to do with Arnie's "mysterious man" with a Sterling Silver tongue - Fereling, pg., 229). Montgomery then went on to take Montreal and Arnie took an army through the New England Wilderness in the dead of winter to try and take Fortress Quebec. 13

The excuse for sending his men into that God Aweful Arctic Nightmare instead of the normal route, in which he lost about 1200 men, was because he wanted to keep the element of surprise in order to take the Fort so, what does he do when he finally gets to the Fort but start yelling and screaming and jumping up and down in full view of the Fort to the point where the Fort actually opened fire on the army (Axelrod, pg. 116) and then he demands that they surrender!

Pretty strange actions if you are trying to sneak up on the enemy isn't it?

But, if you are trying to tip them off to ensure they know they are about to be attacked (so as not to catch the guard sleeping again as they had at Fort Ticonderoga), then his actions make perfect sense as does decimating the army on the forced march north and using flares in the dead of night to 'coordinate' the attack (Fereling, pg. 97) because that would also warn the enemy and destroy what little element of surprise they might have retained.  A further 'benefit' was that the time it took them to slug through that detour from hell (instead of going by the road) allowed the Fortress to bring in more supplies and troops which pretty much assured our defeat.

Then he managed to shoot himself in the leg (the real reason for that tiny pop gun) so he had to sit out the attack and, instead, sent Dan Morgan and his militia into that carefully laid snare where most of them were killed or captured and Montgomery, the hero of Montreal, was also killed (I just bet he was) but Arnie watching from the safety of the woods, limps away, free and clear.

So far he's batting 100 and we will see him shoot himself in the leg again at Saratoga.



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