Benedict Arnold: The Greatest Hero of the American Revolution

History Chick

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
3,336
Colorado Springs (PA at heart)
Once again, Arnold was unjustly prosecuted and passed over for promotion by obviously incompetent officers. After being shot 3 times for his country, they rewarded him with a politically-motivated court martial.

Who betrayed whom first?
That only supports what I was saying, that Arnold's switch was motivated by resentment and personal gain, not a moral conscious.

Arnold was arguably treated a bit unfairly, but I wouldn't call it a betrayal and it doesn't justify what he did. Obviously, Arnold felt it did, but I don't. You may disagree but your opinion seems to change with every post. First, you defend him by saying he was just following his moral conscious, now you're saying it was because he felt he was treated unfairly. I'm not sure it can be both at the same time (since doing something for revenge/personal gain is arguably not the most morally righteous choice) so which is it? Pick a defense and stick with it, otherwise your argument won't hold water and it looks like you're just grasping at straws.
 

Baltis

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,006
Texas
I was re-watching Turn: Washington's Spies the other day, which is noted for its fairly unbiased portrayal of Benedict Arnold, the best American General to fight in the 1775 War of American Treason.

Arnold served with distinction, leading several successful expeditions where others had failed. George Washington and Sir Henry Clinton believed Arnold to be the best rebel field commander.

If we actually tabulate Arnold's contribution to American Treason vs. his contribution to his rightful King, George III, more American should be thanking Arnold for America's existence:

Arnold as an American:

Single handedly, he won the Battle of Saratoga. Because the Americans won this battle, France entered the war. Without France, we (Britain and Loyalists) would have put down the illegal rebellion. George Washington himself credited Arnold for single-handedly defeating John Burgoyne's army. Arnold boldly led an attack, while Horatio Gates loitered aimlessly around his headquarters.

The Battle of Saratoga was the most important battle of the American Revolution, even more important than Yorktown (which would not have happened without the French). The United States would not have survived to have fought at Yorktown or Cowpens if Arnold had not won Saratoga (and thus French support).

Arnold is the man responsible for the American Revolution having even the slightest chance of succeeding.

Arnold as a British Officer:

Failed to give West Point to British Forces. Conducted a few successful tactical raids, and actually advised Cornwallis to not camp at Yorktown because he might get cut off by the sea (which is what happened).

Thus, Benedict Arnold was not only the best general of the American Revolution, but he saved the American Revolution. His victory at Saratoga outweighs any intelligence or military achievement he did while in British uniform.

While Washington was getting his butt kicked by middling British Generals, Arnold won a strategically critical victory. Horatio Gates, a man whose incompetence nearly doomed the American Revolution and fled like coward at Camden, got a U.S. Navy ship named after him.

Further, in the opinion of this writer (who would have sided with the Loyalists in 1775) Arnold was simply joining the morally-correct side of the American Revolution.
Greetings Frogsofwar. Don't believe I have had the pleasure in prior threads. But, if I have, please forgive the lack of memory. I see you hold some passionate opinions, many of which are probably polar opposite of what I see in the Arnold records. Toward that end, I brought up some old threads you might enjoy taking a look at.

I also see you are incredibly hard on Horatio Gates. I don't think some of the statements presented as fact in your arguments are accepted by everyone. Perhaps just to demonstrate one of those other opinions, I might also link to a couple of items I once wrote for another online publication.

https://allthingsliberty.com/2014/05/unlucky-or-inept-gates-at-camden/

https://allthingsliberty.com/2014/04/winner-or-runner-gates-at-camden/
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,517
He seems to have pegged the man's character accurately enough.



I don't really buy into the implicit premise of this thread that, even if you choose to overlook or forgive Arnold turning his coat, his record justifies calling him the number one hero of the American Revolution. Contrary to the previous claim, he most certainly did not win Saratoga singlehandedly. If you don't give 100% of the credit for Saratoga to Arnold, then his record, while very commendable, does not clearly outweigh in importance that of Washington, Nathaniel Greene, or Daniel Morgan.
Yes, I would agree and classify Arnold at the same level as those you mention, but not way the best patriot general. Actually, I would not rank Washington as one of the best generals. Washington was an OK general, but a great manager and leader.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,440
Caribbean
Good guy? Lol, no.
What's so funny? It is YOUR thread title that describes him as the "greatest hero."

America wouldn't exist without him.
You tried that already and I rebutted it. You need to take on the rebuttal, as there is no such thing as making truth by repetition.

At first, I posted your argument needs more work. You should take the advice.
 
May 2018
935
Michigan
Arnold was arguably treated a bit unfairly, but I wouldn't call it a betrayal and it doesn't justify what he did.
To say he was treated "unfairly" is an understatement. Basically stabbed in the back after being wounded for his country. It certainly does justify his actions, particularly since they weren't fighting an opponent like the Confederacy, the Nazis, the Taliban or Slobodan Milosevic. Or even Saddam Hussein.

I never alleged Arnold was a true believer, or switched sides for political reasons. I would have sided with the Loyalists, and viewed Arnold's actions from that perspective, were I a contemporary of him.
 
May 2018
935
Michigan
What's so funny? It is YOUR thread title that describes him as the "greatest hero."

You tried that already and I rebutted it. You need to take on the rebuttal, as there is no such thing as making truth by repetition.

At first, I posted your argument needs more work. You should take the advice.
No, you haven't. Your self-declaration of success is pathetic, as are your massive assumptions from ignorance.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,440
Caribbean
No, you haven't. Your self-declaration of success is pathetic, as are your massive assumptions from ignorance.
I am trying to help YOU develop YOUR thesis, and you respond with boilerplate flame that doesn't even reference the subject matter.

Was I supposed to read that and have an epiphany? Oh yeah, Arnold the greatest hero. How did I not see it all these year.
 
Last edited:
Feb 2017
425
Minneapolis
An interesting point Philbrick makes in his book is that, regardless of how one judges Arnold, his betrayal helped galvanize the revolution which had fallen into deep doldrums. The victory at Saratoga and the French entry into the war had not turned out to be decisive. The Continental Congress was toothless and not getting much support from the states that also bickered with each other. Washington struggled to keep his army together. The British took Charleston and won at Camden. Popular support for the revolution was waning. But Arnold's defection caused such widespread outrage that it seemed to spur a turnaround. People started to get behind the rebellion again and Washington got the support he needed. Maybe Arnold was a hero after all.
 

Baltis

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,006
Texas
An interesting point Philbrick makes in his book is that, regardless of how one judges Arnold, his betrayal helped galvanize the revolution which had fallen into deep doldrums. The victory at Saratoga and the French entry into the war had not turned out to be decisive. The Continental Congress was toothless and not getting much support from the states that also bickered with each other. Washington struggled to keep his army together. The British took Charleston and won at Camden. Popular support for the revolution was waning. But Arnold's defection caused such widespread outrage that it seemed to spur a turnaround. People started to get behind the rebellion again and Washington got the support he needed. Maybe Arnold was a hero after all.
Perhaps a bit of an ironic truth in the assertion up north but the turnaround in the south actually occurred prior to the news of Arnold's treason. I am not certain that I have seen much about it prior to the Blackstock's Campaign. King's Mountain and the repulse of Cornwallis's attempt to invade North Carolina had already occurred when the news came south of Andre's execution. Spirits in the back country were already running fairly high before that news came south.

There is also a new book out by Stephen Brumley on Arnold. His assertion seems to be that Arnold was sincerely convinced of a need for the colonies to return to the crown. I haven't read that one yet, been doing some other research. Hope it is better than the Philbrick book, which I found a bit uninspiring, odd considering the source. I usually like his work better than that. Probably because I am not a fan of Arnold and much of the book seemed to fall into an overstatement of his accomplishments and standing in the army.
 
Last edited:
Feb 2017
425
Minneapolis
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There is also a new book out by Stephen Brumley on Arnold. His assertion seems to be that Arnold was sincerely convinced of a need for the colonies to return to the crown. ...
As far as I can remember, Philbrick doesn't spell that out but it does seem likely that Arnold's wife and other loyalists he was close with would have made just that case to him.