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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.


Do you feel betrayed by history.

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| 27 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Trading major American military forts to complete (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gzodik, kbman, mint julep, BachFan

    strangers just because your girlfriend asks you to, getting a job hauling cannon across Vermont, spinache eggs benedict, shrimp eggs benedict, statues of boots that you're just supposed to figure out, hidden stuff in history, modern utilitarian hide rates and loud steel reporting cannon proclaiming pure historical troll rates all go here.

  •  Someday I hope to learn... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NNadir, kbman, Wee Mama, BachFan

    ...what it is about lutefisk that intrigues you so.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 09:05:38 PM PDT

  •  odd character (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NNadir, Nowhere Man, Wee Mama

    Good artist - I saw one of his drawings of his wife - but his father was, I understand, addicted to the bottle.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 09:09:15 PM PDT

    •  and history does twist and shout (0+ / 0-)

      especially in the hands of David Barton and the Wingers' version of history.  At this point I am waiting for their next assault upon Wiki to try to change history, evidently not understanding there are dozens of encyclopedias and legions of books on any historical topic dating back centuries.  Can't wait for their next rewrite of Caesar's Gallic Wars

  •  I did a bike trip from NYC to Montreal... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, BachFan

    ...back in 1997.  I mostly followed the Hudson River, with forays into the Berkshires and VT.

    I was amazed to learn that there were naval battles on Lake Champlain during the war of 1812.

  •  nit pick: (4+ / 0-)
    The other was Benedict Arnold.    Nothing is named for him

    There's a hotel in Quebec named for him, oddly enough.

    I say "oddly" because Arnold's strident anti-Catholicism contributed to the ill fated Canadian campaign, a part of the American Revolution Americans would rather forget (and definitely not Arnold's finest hour), but which is remembered un fondly in Canada.

    I think I saw a Benedict Arnold Street somewhere in Canada as well, but I can't find evidence for my murky memory.

    I'm guessing a few things are named after Arnold in the British Commonwealth because of his defection, not because he attacked Canada before he defected...

  •  Ironies of history . . . (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Wee Mama, BachFan

    My favorite is the fact that the Pope turned Ireland over to the king of England. The Pope in question was English, but the king in question was French. Then there's the fact that secession in the US was supposed to defend slavery and wound up ending it. Someone talked about a law of unintended consequences.

  •  Thanks for the history lesson (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I grew up in one of the towns the Henry Knox traveled thru delivering the Ft. Ticonderoga guns to Gen. Washington in Boston.

    •  Someday I'll learn how to type (0+ / 0-)

      I grew up in one of the towns that Henry Knox traveled thru delivering the Ft. Ticonderoga guns to Gen. Washington in Boston.

    •  I would like to mention Daniel Morgan (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, esquimaux, BachFan, NNadir, RedPencil

      one of the Revolution's more or less forgotten generals who was a large profane brawling sort of fellow who enjoyed women drink and gambling.  Horsewhipped with 499 lashes for striking an officer as a teamster, he hated the British army intensely.  
      One of Washington's top generals, he retired due to ill health and disgust with army politics but was called from retirement in time to defeat the British at Cowpens and break their back in the Carolinas (leading to Cornwallis ill fated expedition to Yorktown)

      Most notable is that he  went to battle at Cowpens in a cart because his earlier life had exacted such a toll on his health. After the war, he also participated in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion, somewhat ironically given his youth.

      •  Morgan was as responsible for Saratoga (6+ / 0-)

        victory as was Arnold, of course. Earlier, he had gone to Quebec with Arnold in 1775 and been captured and held as a British prisoner for all of 1776.

        Arnold's and Morgan's skill at Saratoga also may have come close to losing the war, though. That's because they contributed to the undeserved reputation of Horatio Gates, who came close to replacing Washington but instead ended up with the southern command and nearly ruined it with his ineptness at Camden. (I believe the speed with which he personally fled from Camden to Charlotte overnight is still a record!) But Gates did one thing right: He persuaded Morgan to come back into the army in time to win Cowpens (under Nathaniel Greene as the new southern commander). Wheels within wheels, eh?

        Both Morgan and Arnold were rightly disgusted with the politics of the Contitnental Congress and the Army. But they chose different ways to express it.

      •  499? you sure about that? more than 20 can (0+ / 0-)

        kill a man.

        Je regretez tout. How's me French?

        by Mark B on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 08:00:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wasn't the English/Scots battle in 1758 not 1765? (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not really familiar with this one and was shocked by the number you stated as killed so I did some quick checking.  The "2000 Scots...being killed" sounds erroneous for several reasons:
    1.  A full regiment would typically be somewhere around 1,000 men.  The Black Watch (42nd) reported about 630 killed and wounded if I'm reading the information correctly.  But that smaller value is still a truly horrendous casualty rate for a regiment and in this case nearly half that count was killed.
    2.  Total British casualties were ~2,500 with only a fraction of those being killed.  It is a common misunderstanding to assume casualties mean killed, when it usually means killed, wounded, and missing.  (It may or may not include captured depending on context.)  

    In warfare of this time up through the 1860's a typical wounded to killed ratio in civilized combat might range from 1:1 at the extreme up to 4:1.  Ferocity of the engagement played a part in determining the ratio, as did discipline.  A well disciplined unit making an unsuccessful frontal assault against a dug in foe would tend to suffer a higher ratio killed than was normal.

    If I'm reading the info on the battle right, it was a foolhardy frontal attack by the English command...not unlike Bunker Hill or New Orleans.   They had the best disciplined infantry in the world for a long time, but some really poor general officers at times.  

    Apparently, the fort was deserted the next year and captured by the British.

    If you ask "what color is the poster" when someone criticizes the President's policy or track record, you are probably a racist. If you assume white progressives don't like the President's policies because of his skin color, you are definitely a racist.

    by Celtic Pugilist on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 10:05:26 PM PDT

  •  I recently learned that Ethan Allen (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gzodik, Wee Mama, esquimaux, BachFan, NNadir

    in addition to being a future furniture store chain, was also a philosopher who (much like Thomas Paine) published a harsh critique of Christianity. Allen's was called Reason: The Oracle of Man.

    (Rumors that Larry Ellison has threatened to sue Allen have not been substantiated at press time.)

    Also, a biography of Benedict Arnold (yes, there was one) that one of my kids brought home from school some years ago suggests to this layperson that he was perhaps bipolar, or otherwise driven to recklessness beyond the point of typical thrill-seeking. For example, he once walked down the center roof beam of a barn that was burning down -- just for kicks. (This is from memory, and unverified; take it with a generous heaping of salt.)

    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

    by Nowhere Man on Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 10:10:13 PM PDT

    •  Chalk Arnold up to military politics (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, Nowhere Man, esquimaux

      and Washington's failures as a general.  While anathema today, an unbiased review of his military career would reveal a more or less average leader who was more effective as a political general and who was blessed with extraordinary subordinates and French support

      •  I'm sure I remember reading an account (0+ / 0-)

        from one of Washington's contemporaries, saying that Washington was very good at battle planning, but unable to make decisions in the heat of battle. That was a long time ago. My memory says it was Jefferson who wrote it, but how would he have known?

        Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

        by Nowhere Man on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 05:28:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wasington excelled at making teamwork work - (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NNadir, Nowhere Man

          all the more remarkable considering that he had a more extreme bunch of prima donnas to cajole than Eisenhower ever did.

          As for his battle leadership, pulling out a draw at Monmouth Court House speaks pretty well of it. He'd been going to let Gen. Charles Lee (no relation to you know who) run the battle, but Lee mucked it up and Washington had to come charging in and pick up the pieces. (It turned into a technical "victory" when the British snuck off in the dead of night, leaving the Continentals holding the field.)

          If it's
          Not your body
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          AND it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 08:26:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  the monument to Arnold's leg is one of the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Clem Yeobright, BachFan, NNadir

    lesser known ones of the war and Arnold was treated with contempt by the British after the war as a turncoat as it seems they would respect rebels or loyalists but not turncoats.  He ended his life miserably in exile, if we can believe the biographies

  •  End Story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, BachFan

    There's this nice plaque in London. Nice house too.

  •  I don't think that Arnold won Saratoga (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marcion, Wee Mama

    Burgoyne was pretty much boned by October 7th.  He had lost most of his Indian support.  Reinforcements were not coming.  He was outnumbered two to one.

    Arnold had been relieved of command by General Gates due to his loud disagreements with Gates.  He rushed into battle anyway full of piss and vinegar. (Some said he had been drinking) He led the troops to capture an important fortified position, leaving General Burgoyne even more screwed than before.  General Arnold's horse is shot out from under him and his leg is injured.  General Gates' messenger finally reaches Arnold and Arnold is ordered to return to the headquarters.

    I don't think that Arnold changed the course of history.  Burgoyne was in an untenable position.

    •  The plan was great on paper (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Burgoyne pushing south was supposed to be met by Howe coming north and St Leger down the Mohawk valley from the northwest. But Howe sailed off to capture Philadelphia instead (legend has it that his orders to join Burgoyne were left on some politician's desk rather than waste a day of the hunting season), and St Leger got his butt kicked at Ft Stanwix and turned back. Burgoyne found it heavier going than he expected, especially after an attempted supply raid on Bennington, VT turned into another butt-kicking. Saratoga just wrapped the whole campaign up and put a pretty red-white-and-blue bow on it.

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 08:58:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Organized rioters" is a misleading description (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    There were riots in the lead up to the war, but to call the leadership of the American Revolution or the Continental Army "organized rioters" is not just misleading, but betrays a fundamental lack of knowledge about the ideology of the revolution.

    The revolution had lots of problems, inconsistencies and incoherence, but they certainly weren't rioters.

    In fact most of their claims were that the were the law abiding British citizens and that Parliament had become lawless at least in its interactions with them.  

    Much of their writing tried to portray themselves as more English than the English, and more wedded to the "common law" than Parliament.

    Rioters rarely cloak their political violence in the ideology of restoring law and order.

    •  As usual, the leadership was one thing and the (0+ / 0-)

      bottom strata quite another. There was an active hooligan element in the cities, particularly Boston, and on the frontiers, and some of their activities were as unsavory as angry mobs usually are. You won't learn that in the usual school curriculum, of course - it's whitewashed over at every level.

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 08:43:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The term, slightly different, comes from... (0+ / 0-)

      ...Von Moltke, referring to the US Army, in the US Civil War.

      Now, I happen to disagree with Von Moltke on this point, but he is, for better or worse, considered an authority on military issues.

      Washington had everything to do to keep his "army" under control, as the incident at Newburgh demonstates to anyone who has even a token knowledge of American history, current company obivously excepted.

      It is unsurprising, to me at least, that you are as unfamiliar with scholarship on this issue as you are unfamiliar with every element of scholarship that it has been, to my distinct displeasure, to discuss with you.

      •  Oh, I forgot -- knowledge of chemistry (0+ / 0-)

        makes you more knowledgeable about nuclear issues than the nuclear engineers who post here, and knowledge of chemistry and visiting a few historical sites makes you more knowledgeable about history than people with ivy league graduate degrees in history.

        Neither the Continental Army, nor the leaders of the American revolution, nor the Union Army were rioters, no matter what metaphor a historian may once have used to describe the Grand Army of the Republic.

        Again, you are living in a crackpot counter-factual world.  Read any real historical work about the American Revolution, and you will learn that the leaders saw themselves as reimposing the rule of law, and in particular the common law (you probably don't even know what that is) after it as usurped by Parliament.

        A crackpot is a crackpot is a crackpot, whether spewing delusional counter factuals about nuclear accidents in Japan or about major episodes in American history.

        •  Well, thanks for sharing your opinion. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I am always amused when I hear from light weight flakes about their degrees.    

          This of course, says everything one needs to know.

          At best, they are misrepresenting themselves, at worst, they are making a comment on the decline of the American educational system.

          I have, in case you missed it, zero respect for any of the drivel you hand out on any subject and couldn't care less about your opinion of me, in case you missed my statements on this score the last time, the first time, the tenth time, or any of the nth times I've expressed it.

          Have a great day.

          •  Okey dokey (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'm so impressed by the high dudgeon and lack of respect for me and for higher education from the guy who has become DK's nuclear laughing stock.


            I'm sooooo hurt.

            •  We'll add "official spokesperson" for DKos (0+ / 0-)

              to your list of self declared qualifications.

              Someone might regard this as inflated and others - and I would certainly include myself here - would regard this as laughable, not that anyone could accuse you of having something called "wit."

              But here's a recommend anyway, you kind of need one.

              I have, by the way, three times as many followers here as you do.

              Have a great day in the spokesperson industry.

  •  Kenneth Roberts wrote both a history and an (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright, esquimaux, NNadir

    historical fiction of Arnold's taking of Ticonderoga and the lake battles afterward. I read the fiction a couple of times as a young teen and then later when older. Roberts painted a very sympathetic view of Arnold.

    He sold a lot of books.

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 04:51:21 AM PDT

  •  Whitehall, NY: birthplace of the US Navy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, BachFan

    I used to notice the sign every time I drove back and forth from Burlington to my parent's home in NJ and vice versa. There on Rt. 149 in Whitehall, NY was a tiny sign announcing that fact.

    In 1759 Whitehall was settled in a valley at the southern end of Lake Champlain. This colonial town was founded by British Army Captain Philip Skene, and was originally known as Skenesboro. Skenesboro became the first settlement on Lake Champlain and was a center of maritime trade. Captain Skene built saw mills, grist mills and an iron foundry, where trade can be documented from that time.

    The Revolutionary War caused the capture of Skene's trading schooner and the building of a fleet by Benedict Arnold at this place. Because of the Revolutionary War actions, the New York State Legislature, in 1960, declared the legacy that names Whitehall as the Birthplace of the United States Navy. The Whitehall harbor also produced ships used for service by the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812.

    Whitehall's themes of defense and transportation stress this communitys' part in history including the building of the first fleet for battle in 1776 and, since early historic times, the north-south transportation route from Canada to New York City.

  •  well done, NNadir, I didn't know half that about (0+ / 0-)

    Arnold. Although, to call the Continental Army rioters is incidental to their effect. No one remembers (except my father, who remembered) that the Abwehr had superb tailoring..............

    Je regretez tout. How's me French?

    by Mark B on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 08:09:01 AM PDT

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