One of my many vices is the degree to which I love to visit historical sites.
(It happens that I live near one and yes, I visit it often.)
I have just checked out the website of Fort Ticonderoga where I found one of the most interesting entries I have seen on history.
For those who don't know about Fort Ticonderoga and the critical role it played in the history of this country, it is the site of the very first Independent American military victory.
The first fort in the area was a French fort, and was constructed in 1731. In 1765, English and Scots troops attacked and captured the fort, with more than 2000 Scots troops of the Black Watch, (out of 17,000 British troops) being killed in the event. (This may be evidence that playing bag pipes can be bad for you; I'm not sure about that.)
Later the British asked the Americans to pay taxes to pay for this adventure (and others around the eastern part of the North American continent) and the Americans - being of a certain sort - objected. Some of the Americans began to riot violently and in 1775, two groups of said rioters decided that it would be pretty easy to capture Fort Ticonderoga, which was poorly defended even though it was chock full of cannons, guns and gun powder.
The two groups of rioters were lead by two people who would go on to be quite famous.
One was Ethan Allen, who is remembered as a great American hero, and who was honored for his heroism in a distinctly American way: A chain of furniture stores was named for him.
The other was Benedict Arnold. Nothing is named for him: The breakfast dish involving eggs was probably something he never saw.
Although they squabbled over who would lead the effort, the two men put their differences aside and captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British. The huge cannon were removed from the Fort, and hauled in a remarkable enginneering feat for its time to Boston, where the guns were used to force the British to evacuate the city and leave it to the group of organized rioters who had deemed themselves "The Continental Army" and placed themselves under the command of a tall guy with red hair named Washington who had, ironically enough, started the war that lead the British to conquer Fort Ticonderoga from the French.
About the other guy, Benedict Arnold, the history pages on the Fort's website have this to say:
Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) was born in Norwich, Connecticut and was apprenticed to an apothecary at the age of 13. He served briefly in Connecticut and New York militias during the French & Indian War, but never took part in any military actions. After the war he successfully continued the apothecary profession and also worked as a book seller. He is also known to have been an active smuggler of sugar and rum.
At the beginning of the American Revolution Arnold served as a captain in the Connecticut militia. After the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Arnold proposed to the Massachusetts Committee of Safety a plan for the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. The Committee commissioned Arnold colonel and ordered him to enlist up to 400 men to carry out the expedition. Arnold quickly learned that another group headed by Ethan Allen had formed to capture the Fort and he quickly raced north to meet up with the unit. After some tense negotiations Arnold and Allen agreed to share command of the expedition and successfully captured the Fort on May 10, 1775.
In the fall of 1775 Arnold led the failed attempt to capture Montréal. The following summer he directed the construction of a fleet of small ships on Lake Champlain. Under Arnold’s command the fleet engaged the British fleet in Valcour Bay near the western shore of the lake in mid October. Although Arnold’s fleet was defeated, its presence on the lake stalled British plans to invade New York for another year.
General Benedict Arnold distinguished himself at the Battles of Saratoga in the fall of 1777 and was severely wounded in his left leg.
And that's it. There's nothing at all about the fact that Arnold offered to sell West Point to the British later in the war, or to the fact that he became a high ranking (and highly successful) British general trying to put down the rioters.
It's as if Arnold ends in 1777.
In fact, Benedict Arnold probably won the war for the army he betrayed. Ordered confined to his tent after a dispute with his commander, Horatio Gates, Arnold disobeyed orders, assumed command of his regiments and lead the attack at the Battle of Saratoga that caused the British army under Bourgoyne to collapse and ultimately surrender.
Arnold received a severe wound to his leg in the battle, and the exact spot where this happened is marked with a statue of a boot to which no name is attached.
If whoever it his who shot Arnold's leg had aimed higher, and blew out his brains in 1776, Arnold would be recorded as one the greatest American heros of the American Revolution/Riot. Towns, schools, universities and cities would be named for him.
The victory at Saratoga, largely Arnold's doing, lead to French recognition of the United States and a treaty of aid, without which the Americans would have surely lost their revolutionary war and the whole lot of them, Washington, Jefferson, even the elderly Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, all would have been hung as treasonous bastards.
How ironic then, that the traitors owe their transition to heros because of a traitor in their ranks.