Timeline

January 14 1741: Benedict Arnold is born in Norwich, Connecticut to prosperous Benedict (IV) and his wife Hannah.

1761-1770: Arnold, now living in New Haven, opens a shop offering medicines, books and sundries. He also sails frequently to the West Indies and Canada, buying and selling trade goods.

March, 1770: While trading in the West Indies, Arnold is shocked and outraged by news of the Boston Massacre.

1771- 1774: Arnold emerges as a community leader in New Haven.

March, 1775: He becomes a captain in the Connecticut militia.

April, 1775: Upon hearing news of Lexington-Concord, Arnold demands that Norwich government authorities give him access to its supply of munitions.

May, 1775: Arnold proposes capture of Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain in New York, is issued a Massachusetts colonel’s commission, assists in the fort’s capture and then maintains order afterwards. The fort’s cannons are transported to Boston where their deployment forces the British to evacuate Boston harbor. He then sails 100 miles north, raids St. Jean in Quebec and boldly captures a 70-ton British sloop of war.

May-June, 1775: He improves defenses of Crown Point on Lake Champlain.

August-December, 1775: Now a colonel in the continental army, he proposes and leads an expedition to attack the British in Quebec via a 200-mile trek through Maine wilderness, using his own money to finance the effort. The expedition ultimately fails due to terrible weather and unforeseen hardships along the way. He is shot and wounded in the left leg.

Jan-March, 1776: Arnold directs the ongoing siege of Quebec City, is promoted to brigadier general by the Continental Congress, although his true seniority ranking is ignored.

April, 1776: Arnold is appointed military commander of Montreal.

May, 1776: He leads relief forces at The Cedars and presides over fighting north of, and ultimately a retreat from, St. John’s (St.-Jean), delaying thousands of reinforcing British soldiers.

June-July, 1776: He travels to Crown Point and manages the evacuation to Fort Ticonderoga.

July-September, 1776: Understanding that the British plan to control the Lake Champlain/Lake George/Hudson River waterway complex and split the colonies in two, he goes to Skenesboro to supervise construction of the Americans’ first navy, then travels to Crown Point.

September, 1776: As the colonies’ unofficial admiral, Arnold launches a partial fleet of small boats and ships onto Lake Champlain. The British are concerned and delay their plans for four weeks.

which finally proves to France that the colonies are strong enough to merit recognition as an independent nation and a formal alliance. This is generally considered the turning point of the war and the key to the revolution’s success.

October, 1777-April, 1778: Arnold rejects doctors’ advice to have his leg amputated. He recuperates for six months but his left leg is two inches shorter than his right, and he will be crippled for life. His military seniority is finally restored, unapologetically, and his trade business and finances are ruined by this time.

May, 1778: Still unable to walk or ride a horse, Arnold travels by carriage to Washington’s encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where he is welcomed by the applause of soldiers who had served under him.

June, 1778: Washington appoints him military governor of Philadelphia, in which capacity he serves for two years. He will clash with vindictive state and local officials and meet Peggy Shippen, a former friend of British Major John André. She will become Arnold’s wife in April, 1779.

May, 1779: Disillusioned with the rebellion, the French alliance and an autocratic Congress, Arnold writes to Washington, “Having made every sacrifice of fortune and blood, and become a cripple in the service of my country, I little expected to meet the ungrateful returns I have received of my countrymen….” Arnold sends feelers to the British, offering his services, a few days later.

April, 1780: Arnold is cleared of all but two minor “transgressions” brought by Joseph Reed, de facto governor of Pennsylvania. Later, Washington states that he considers Arnold’s conduct in the two convicted actions “imprudent and improper”—perhaps the final blow to the disheartened major general.

August, 1780: Arnold, now in command of the key fort at West Point, New York, comes to terms with the British. They include surrendering the fort.

September, 1780: British spy Major John André is unmasked and captured after a meeting with Arnold, who flees to the British warship HMS Vulture.

December, 1780: As a British brigadier general, Arnold captures Richmond, Virginia.

September, 1781: Arnold raids New London, Connecticut and captures its associated fortification, Fort Griswold.

December, 1781: Arnold and his family move to London, England.

1785-1791: Arnold moves to St. John, New Brunswick, speculates in land and trades with the West Indies.

December, 1791: Arnold moves back to London, where he continues trading with the West Indies.

June 14, 1801: Arnold passes away at the age of 60. On his deathbed, he is rumored to have said, "let me die in this old uniform in which I fought my battles. May God forgive me for ever having put on another." He is buried at St. Mary’s Church, Battersea in London.

October, 1776: His now-completed ragtag fleet engages the superior British fleet at Valcour Island in a delaying action, thirty miles from the Canadian border. Overnight he sneaks the remnants of his battered navy southward to Schuyler Island for a second delaying action at Split Rock. It’s now too late in the season for the British to continue southward, who must delay their planned attack on Fort Ticonderoga until next spring. The revolution thus gains precious time to regroup—at least eight months.

December, 1776: Arnold meets George Washington in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, who appoints him to attack or defend vs. the British in Newport, Rhode Island; no battle takes place, however.

February-March,1777: He travels to the Boston area to find recruits, then back to Providence, Rhode Island.

April, 1777: On his own accord, Arnold detours from a trip to Philadelphia to lead militia in the Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut, against a much larger British force. He’s wounded slightly after two horses are shot out from under him.

May, 1777: Based on his Ridgefield efforts, Congress promotes him to major general, although his seniority is still not restored. He meets with Washington at Morristown, New Jersey.

June, 1777: Congress sends him to Trenton, NJ, but Arnold soon rides to New Hope, Pennsylvania to help defend against a suspected British attack from New Brunswick, New Jersey.

July, 1777: Washington sends him north to assist in Fort Ticonderoga area defense after the fort falls to the British.

August, 1777: Arnold is assigned to stop a large British force threatening attack from western New York. He uses a ruse to get the British to abandon their siege of Fort Stanwix, 100 miles west of Albany, New York—and their plan to get troops into that city and Fort Ticonderoga’s rear.

September 19, 1777: The First Battle of Saratoga. Arnold’s aggressive actions disrupt the British battle plan at Freeman’s farm, and the latter suffer twice as many casualties as the rebels. Overall commander General Horatio Gates’ indecision and blunders prevent a possible total rebel victory. Gates’ prevaricating report of the battle to Congress includes no mention of Arnold.

October 7, 1777: The Second Battle of Saratoga. He defies Gates’ orders to stay in camp and takes charge of the fight. On horseback, he rides like a madman between a hail of fire from both sides, leads troops into a successful attack on two log huts linking the British defenses. He then coordinates with Colonel Daniel Morgan in a successful attack on the British right flank as the sun begins to set. His left thigh and horse are shot, and the animal falls on and crushes the leg. “Would that it had been my heart!” he cries out. The British retreat, suffering over 600 casualties to the Americans’ 130–a huge win for the rebels!

October 17, 1777: British General Burgoyne has no choice but to surrender after being surrounded by American troops. General Gates practically ignores Arnold in his report, grabs the glory for himself and somehow becomes the “hero of Saratoga” to Congress and the colonies despite remaining in his tent and doing nothing of real consequence. Burgoyne himself credits Arnold as the hero of the rebel victory,