, Salem, MA


June 19, 2009

Letter: Some recognize Gen. Arnold as true hero of the Revolutionary War

To the editor:

On May 20, Tom Dalton wrote an article headlined, "A traitor remembered." Having a past historical interest in Benedict Arnold, I take strong exception to the slanted manner of his reporting and also to his ignorance of facts.

History books and news writers seem to have one thing in common: Whenever the name of Benedict Arnold is mentioned, the immediate headline of "traitor" is applied.

By law, yes, he was; but is our history so poorly authored that we forget to recognize the fact that he was mainly responsible for this country being called "The United States of America" instead of "The United Kingdom's Colony of America"? In justification of the above, let's briefly review his commanded campaigns.

The first was in early 1775 when Col. Arnold teamed up with Ethan Allen to capture Fort Ticonderoga and secure powder and ball for the defense of Boston. Successful! Not a soul lost on either side!

The second campaign for now Gen. Arnold, under the command of Gen. George Washington, was to take a piddling 900 men through the wilderness and invade Canada at the city of Quebec. These "Rabble in Arms" came so close to doing just that!

If Arnold had not been badly wounded while leading his troops, very possibly Quebec would have fallen. And if the invasion had succeeded, Canada might well have been part of the United States of America. That trek has been easily compared with Hannibal's march over the Alps in 218 BC.

The third campaign, in the fall of 1776, would have failed under anybody but Arnold. He was ordered by Washington to "stop Carlton," the British commander, from sailing his fleet down Lake Champlain and thus splitting the colonies in two. Arnold recruited the local farmers to assist his own small army to not only build 15 or more ships, but also to man them.

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