Official Military Blog Posts

Looking Back: Benedict Arnold’s Connecticut betrayal

By Eric D. Lehman
Special to the Times

Unfortunately for Connecticut, Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) is one of our own. Born in Norwich, he grew up the son of a drunken father and poverty-stricken mother, apprenticing down the street at the Lathrop apothecary.

He must have been a good apprentice, because they offered to make him their heir. But he refused, instead taking a loan for a new apothecary business in New Haven, upsetting Dr. Lathrop and his wife, Jerusha. But they were much more upset 20 years later when he betrayed and killed the people of Connecticut. Along with his New Haven store, he ran a merchant shipping business, joined the Freemasons and became captain of a militia group. In the late 1760s, he began to hate the British and their taxes and joined the Sons of Liberty, befriending patriots like Silas Deane, whose reputation and life would later be destroyed by that friendship, and Nathaniel Shaw, whose wife would die as a result of the burning of New London. As Arnold fought bravely at Ticonderoga, Quebec and Lake Champlain, he gained two more close friends, Richard Varick and John Lamb. They became his champions, defending him right up to the moment that they discovered he had betrayed them. And though he got little love from Congress, the commander-in-chief, George Washington, became like a surrogate father to him, talking him out of leaving the Army and encouraging his promotions.

After Arnold was wounded fighting at Saratoga, he was welcomed home by Gov. Jonathan Trumbull with a parade and celebration in New Haven. He had become Connecticut s biggest hero of the war, and they let him know how much they appreciated his service. The following spring, he rejoined Washington at Valley Forge and was given the military governorship of Philadelphia. Unfortunately his poor choices and bad temper alienated many, and resentful Pennsylvanians accused him of war profiteering. He also met a beautiful young Tory, Peggy Shippen. After they married in the spring of 1779, she connected him to Maj. John Andre in British-occupied New York. The two men began a correspondence through Peggy, bargaining for treason. Arnold asked for 20,000 and a generalship in the British Army; Andre asked for Keystone Fort of West Point. After intense lobbying, Arnold was given command in August 1780 by George Washington. A month later, while Washington met Rochambeau in Hartford, Arnold met with Andre and gave him the plans for West Point. The hope was to attack while Washington was there, capture him and destroy the Revolution in one fell stroke. But then Andre was captured while trying to reach British lines. The commander of the local patriot post foolishly sent word of the arrest to Arnold himself, while future Connecticut representative Benjamin Tallmadge astutely sent his suspicions of Arnold s treason to Washington.

On the morning of Monday, Sept. 25, 1780, the Marquis de Lafayette and Alexander Hamilton joined Arnold for breakfast on the east side of the Hudson River, across from West Point. Arnold flipped through the mail and opened the letter announcing the capture of Major Andre. He left the table, quickly told his wife and jumped out the back window, escaping to the nearest British warship. George Washington arrived a few minutes later, and after vainly searching for Arnold, sat down to breakfast and sorted through the mail. He read the letter from Benjamin Tallmadge and cried out Arnold has betrayed us! Whom can we trust now? Arnold s friends Lamb and Varick realized they probably would have been killed during the planned attack on West Point. Washington himself would surely have been hanged. News flashed across the continent and in Norwich, the people smashed Arnold s father s grave. Along with traitor, many called him parricide one who kills his countrymen a term similar to domestic terrorist. And though his first attempt at treason was unsuccessful, he earned the title parricide when he commanded British forces and attacked former comrades like Jefferson and Lafayette in Virginia. Lafayette expressed perfectly why Arnold s actions stung so badly: I would give anything in the world if Arnold had not shared our labors with us, and if this man, whom it still pains me to call a scoundrel, had not shed his blood for the American cause. Continued…[1]

Arnold was about to do worse. Less than two years earlier after a series of British attacks, his Connecticut friends petitioned he command the state s defenses, never dreaming he himself would lead the next assault. Worse, he chose the town of New London, a town full of close friends. In fact, Arnold had asked local leader Nathaniel Shaw for help barely a month before his treason was exposed. Now he set fire to his house.

On the morning of Sept. 6, 1781, Arnold landed on the west side of the Thames River and moved methodically through New London, burning as he went, not just the military targets at the docks, but the houses of civilians. On the other side of the Thames, patriots gathered at Fort Griswold to mount a defense against the British soldiers marching to burn Groton. They were commanded by William Ledyard, whose brothers had sailed with Arnold years earlier.

The British attacked three times and were beaten back. But on the fourth assault, they clambered over the walls and pushed through the gates. Ledyard attempted to surrender, but was stabbed with a sword. Instead of respecting the surrender, the British troops hacked and shot the Americans, massacring the fort s defenders. At last they stopped, but not before Arnold s attack on his neighbors had resulted in the deadliest battle of the Revolution. New London suffered the highest percentage of destruction of any American city and the Battle of Groton Heights had the highest percentage of casualties. The attack on New London was a tactical error, probably meant to draw off Washington s forces around New York. With 24 ships in Long Island Sound, the British could have helped fight the French fleet in the Chesapeake Bay. Instead, the French won that sea-battle, and Washington and Rochambeau surrounded Cornwallis at Yorktown, forcing his surrender a month and a half after New London burned. That fact and the sacrifice made by William Ledyard were enough for people of those times to say New London gave us Yorktown. And for over a hundred years, it was considered one of the most emotionally important battles of the Revolution. No one felt that truth more than Arnold s Connecticut neighbors. At one time a brave and trusted hero, he chose to betray the trust of the friends and families he knew, of those he fought alongside and bled with. He chose to turn his back on his home.

Eric D. Lehman teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Bridgeport and is the author of 11 books, including Homegrown Terror: Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London.

Unfortunately for Connecticut, Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) is one of our own. Born in Norwich, he grew up the son of a drunken father and poverty-stricken mother, apprenticing down the street at the Lathrop apothecary.

He must have been a good apprentice, because they offered to make him their heir. But he refused, instead taking a loan for a new apothecary business in New Haven, upsetting Dr. Lathrop and his wife, Jerusha. But they were much more upset 20 years later when he betrayed and killed the people of Connecticut. Along with his New Haven store, he ran a merchant shipping business, joined the Freemasons and became captain of a militia group. In the late 1760s, he began to hate the British and their taxes and joined the Sons of Liberty, befriending patriots like Silas Deane, whose reputation and life would later be destroyed by that friendship, and Nathaniel Shaw, whose wife would die as a result of the burning of New London. As Arnold fought bravely at Ticonderoga, Quebec and Lake Champlain, he gained two more close friends, Richard Varick and John Lamb. They became his champions, defending him right up to the moment that they discovered he had betrayed them. And though he got little love from Congress, the commander-in-chief, George Washington, became like a surrogate father to him, talking him out of leaving the Army and encouraging his promotions.

After Arnold was wounded fighting at Saratoga, he was welcomed home by Gov. Jonathan Trumbull with a parade and celebration in New Haven. He had become Connecticut s biggest hero of the war, and they let him know how much they appreciated his service. The following spring, he rejoined Washington at Valley Forge and was given the military governorship of Philadelphia. Unfortunately his poor choices and bad temper alienated many, and resentful Pennsylvanians accused him of war profiteering. He also met a beautiful young Tory, Peggy Shippen. After they married in the spring of 1779, she connected him to Maj. John Andre in British-occupied New York. The two men began a correspondence through Peggy, bargaining for treason. Arnold asked for 20,000 and a generalship in the British Army; Andre asked for Keystone Fort of West Point. After intense lobbying, Arnold was given command in August 1780 by George Washington. A month later, while Washington met Rochambeau in Hartford, Arnold met with Andre and gave him the plans for West Point. The hope was to attack while Washington was there, capture him and destroy the Revolution in one fell stroke. But then Andre was captured while trying to reach British lines. The commander of the local patriot post foolishly sent word of the arrest to Arnold himself, while future Connecticut representative Benjamin Tallmadge astutely sent his suspicions of Arnold s treason to Washington.

On the morning of Monday, Sept. 25, 1780, the Marquis de Lafayette and Alexander Hamilton joined Arnold for breakfast on the east side of the Hudson River, across from West Point. Arnold flipped through the mail and opened the letter announcing the capture of Major Andre. He left the table, quickly told his wife and jumped out the back window, escaping to the nearest British warship. George Washington arrived a few minutes later, and after vainly searching for Arnold, sat down to breakfast and sorted through the mail. He read the letter from Benjamin Tallmadge and cried out Arnold has betrayed us! Whom can we trust now? Arnold s friends Lamb and Varick realized they probably would have been killed during the planned attack on West Point. Washington himself would surely have been hanged. News flashed across the continent and in Norwich, the people smashed Arnold s father s grave. Along with traitor, many called him parricide one who kills his countrymen a term similar to domestic terrorist. And though his first attempt at treason was unsuccessful, he earned the title parricide when he commanded British forces and attacked former comrades like Jefferson and Lafayette in Virginia. Lafayette expressed perfectly why Arnold s actions stung so badly: I would give anything in the world if Arnold had not shared our labors with us, and if this man, whom it still pains me to call a scoundrel, had not shed his blood for the American cause.

Arnold was about to do worse. Less than two years earlier after a series of British attacks, his Connecticut friends petitioned he command the state s defenses, never dreaming he himself would lead the next assault. Worse, he chose the town of New London, a town full of close friends. In fact, Arnold had asked local leader Nathaniel Shaw for help barely a month before his treason was exposed. Now he set fire to his house. On the morning of Sept. 6, 1781, Arnold landed on the west side of the Thames River and moved methodically through New London, burning as he went, not just the military targets at the docks, but the houses of civilians. On the other side of the Thames, patriots gathered at Fort Griswold to mount a defense against the British soldiers marching to burn Groton. They were commanded by William Ledyard, whose brothers had sailed with Arnold years earlier. The British attacked three times and were beaten back. But on the fourth assault, they clambered over the walls and pushed through the gates. Ledyard attempted to surrender, but was stabbed with a sword. Instead of respecting the surrender, the British troops hacked and shot the Americans, massacring the fort s defenders. At last they stopped, but not before Arnold s attack on his neighbors had resulted in the deadliest battle of the Revolution. New London suffered the highest percentage of destruction of any American city and the Battle of Groton Heights had the highest percentage of casualties.

The attack on New London was a tactical error, probably meant to draw off Washington s forces around New York. With 24 ships in Long Island Sound, the British could have helped fight the French fleet in the Chesapeake Bay. Instead, the French won that sea-battle, and Washington and Rochambeau surrounded Cornwallis at Yorktown, forcing his surrender a month and a half after New London burned. That fact and the sacrifice made by William Ledyard were enough for people of those times to say New London gave us Yorktown. And for over a hundred years, it was considered one of the most emotionally important battles of the Revolution. No one felt that truth more than Arnold s Connecticut neighbors. At one time a brave and trusted hero, he chose to betray the trust of the friends and families he knew, of those he fought alongside and bled with. He chose to turn his back on his home. Eric D. Lehman teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Bridgeport and is the author of 11 books, including Homegrown Terror: Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London.

References

  1. ^ Continued… (www.shorelinetimes.com)

Major John Campbell – obituary

Major John Campbell, who has died aged 93, was awarded two Military Crosses while serving with Popski s Private Army (PPA) and subsequently worked in the Colonial Service and as a diplomat. In 1944, he joined No 1 Demolition Squadron in Italy. This irregular unit, better known as Popski s Private Army, was commanded by Major Vladimir Peniakoff, born in Belgium to Russian parents. PPA had become operational two years earlier in the Western Desert when it undertook raiding and reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines. It was equipped with heavily armed jeeps and was trained in parachuting, mountain warfare, demolition and intelligence gathering. Patrol members carried a tommy gun or a rifle, a semi-automatic pistol and a fighting knife.

Peniakoff had misgivings about recruiting Campbell and set him a test of finding his way across 60 miles of rough, mountainous country carrying 40 lbs of equipment and getting back in record time. Campbell passed the test and, having been made adjutant, impressed Popski with his ability to scrounge kit, equipment and stores from niggardly quartermasters.

Major John Campbell - Obituary

In September 1944, as the Eighth Army pushed up the Adriatic Coast to try to liberate Ravenna before the winter set in, Campbell took command of S Patrol. By winter, British and Canadian forces, much reduced in strength by losses suffered on their push northwards, were overstretched. Campbell s small force drove up and down the pine forests on the Adriatic coast leaving tracks in the hope that enemy spotter planes would report that there was a much larger formation there than was the case. One night in November it was Campbell s 23rd birthday he had only driven a few yards from the farmhouse where they were based when the wheel of his jeep was blown off by a mine. After an hour spent putting on a spare, he travelled only another 100 yards before the vehicle struck another mine. Campbell went back to the farmhouse on foot. The following day, when he returned to repair the damage, he saw his footprint just one inch away from a third anti-personnel mine.

Major John Campbell - Obituary

The patrol moved to another house but they were soon spotted. A German 88 mm gun opened fire and one of the shells came in through an upper window, flew down the stairs, burst through a door and smashed into Campbell s jeep at the back of the building. After being blown up three times within 24 hours and emerging unscathed, he acquired the nickname Bulldozer . A few days later, an order was given to attack and capture an enemy outpost in a farmhouse near Ravenna which was holding up the Allied advance. It was reported that there might be as many as 10 Germans in the house, but the operation had to take place without weapons being fired in order to conceal from the enemy the fact that they had lost an important strong-point.

Campbell s patrol crept into an empty house behind the outpost during the night and waited for daybreak. Then, as soon as they saw smoke rising from the chimney, which meant that the Germans were preparing their breakfast, they rushed the farmhouse.

Major John Campbell - Obituary

Four terrified Germans were on the bottom floor. They cried out, Don t shoot! Don t shoot! before being captured. Bill O Leary, Campbell s troop sergeant, led the onslaught up the stairs. He met a soldier with an automatic weapon in his hand, charged him and knocked it from his grasp. He then ran into a room in which there were four more Germans. Three were in bed, but the other reached for an automatic weapon. O Leary overcame him and the remainder surrendered. Early in December, Campbell was ordered to capture a German unit based in a fortified tower and customs house at the mouth of the Fiume Uniti, south of Ravenna. During a six-mile night reconnaissance, wading across a marsh, he stepped into a swamp and sank until he was up to his neck in water. The following night, he and six men set out along the canal in two rubber boats. Shortly after midnight, they disembarked and hid until a German patrol had passed. At three o clock in the morning, they set off again, treading in the footprints left by the patrol because the area was mined.

They crawled the last 100 yards until they reached a cowshed which was about 25 yards from the fort. They climbed in through a window but no sooner had they concealed themselves and were preparing their attack than all of them had a fit of coughing. Campbell said afterwards that he was terrified that the Germans would hear them and that, for him, it was probably the most frightening moment that he had experienced during the whole war. At dawn, a door in the fort opened and an Alsatian was let out. When it started to take an interest in the cowshed, Campbell threw out a tin of bully beef but its suspicions were not wholly allayed and it was a great relief when, 10 minutes later, its master whistled for it and it ran back inside. They watched for the smoke to appear from the chimney and then formed up outside the front door. They broke down the door, rushed in with tommy guns and, without a shot being fired, captured 11 enemy soldiers with all their equipment which included three machine guns. Campbell then evacuated his prisoners without attracting the attention of the enemy, who were in another strongpoint nearby.

On the way back to his base, he ambushed two parties which were bringing up reinforcements, killing six and capturing four others. After another of PPA s patrols took over the fort, a succession of German soldiers, numbering about 50, arrived to find out what had happened to their comrades. They, too, were taken prisoner. Campbell was awarded the first of his MCs. The citation stated that his feat of arms was one of the best examples of courage, leadership and self-control.

Major John Campbell - Obituary

John Davies Campbell, the son of Hastings Campbell and Eugenie Campbell, daughter of the 14th Baron Louth, was born at Monasterevin, County Kildare, on November 11 1921 and was educated at Cheltenham College. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was studying at St Andrews University but was called up in 1940. Commissioned into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders the following year, he was posted to the 7th Battalion. Arriving at the Allied front line, the Eighth Army s perimeter at El Alamein, in autumn 1942, he saw action as a platoon commander in the Western Desert. After the action in which he was awarded his first MC, Campbell s patrol pushed northwards. In April 1945, he learnt that about 40 Germans, equipped with machine guns and panzerfausts, were dug in at a farm at Massa Fiscaglia, north-east of Bologna. Fearing that a frontal attack with his whole patrol would result in many casualties, he decided to use only two jeeps. The two vehicles charged up the road, and the speed and ferocity of the assault overwhelmed the enemy who were taken completely by surprise. A few days afterwards, the same all-out tactic resulted in the capture of guns, crews, ammunition and three truck loads of petrol. Campbell was awarded an immediate Bar to his Military Cross.

PPA was disbanded in September and Campbell was demobilised in 1946. In 1949, he emigrated to Kenya. He joined the Colonial Service and, in 1953, volunteered to serve as a District Officer during the Mau Mau emergency. Fluent in Kikuyu and Swahili, in 1956 he enlisted as a territorial officer in the Kenya Regiment and received a Mention in Despatches the following year. In 1961, he joined the Foreign Office (subsequently the Foreign & Commonwealth Office) as one of four candidates selected by open competition out of a large entry. Two postings to the delegation to the United Nations in New York were interspersed with a spell at the FO in London, during which time he lived on a Thames sailing barge . Campbell added Serbo-Croat to his languages while serving as First Secretary at the British Embassy, Belgrade, Yugoslavia. This was followed by a move to the British Embassy in Bonn, again as First Secretary, and, in 1972, he was seconded to the Olympic Games at Munich as the British adviser.

Major John Campbell - Obituary

He was Counsellor at the British High Commission, Ottawa, from 1972 to 1977 before returning to Italy, where he was British Consul-General at Naples. After the earthquake in Southern Italy in November 1980, he played a prominent part in the British government s relief operation. He was made a Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. After retiring from the FCO, he lived in Herefordshire and built up a business treating potentially dangerous surfaces on roads, airfields and the hard-standings in farmyards to prevent skidding. Settled at Leominster, he enjoyed travel, listening to music and going to the theatre. He was appointed MBE in 1957, CVO in 1980 and was advanced to CBE in 1981. John Campbell married, in 1959, Shirley Bouch who survives him with their son and two daughters.

Major John Campbell, born November 11 1921, died July 30 2015

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References

  1. ^ telegraph.co.uk (www.facebook.com)
  2. ^ Follow @telegraphnews (twitter.com)
  3. ^ How we moderate (my.telegraph.co.uk)

Fallen Stone soldier's photo found in Cornwall shop

Last May, we posted a request for information regarding the soldiers of Stone commemorated on memorials in the town.

Since then we ve heard from Dr David Walsh, who told us while he was on a camping holiday in Cornwall, he visited a bric-a- brac shop in Newlyn, where he purchased a framed photograph of a First World War soldier. While the frame is admittedly the worse for wear, David carried out some investigations, and has since discovered it s a picture of 2nd Lieutenant Nigel Fyfe Watson Bishop from Stone, who died in Loos.

Fallen Stone Soldier's Photo Found In Cornwall Shop

Fallen Stone Soldier's Photo Found In Cornwall Shop

Fallen Stone Soldier's Photo Found In Cornwall Shop

Fallen Stone Soldier's Photo Found In Cornwall Shop

David informed us the picture has been published elsewhere, and may well be known to Stone Historical Society. After browsing the web, David was able to identify the insignia on the uniform in the photo, and the evidence was confirmed when he found a reprint of the same photo in Memorial of Rugbeians who fell in the Great War Volume 2 . This is what it says

SECOND LIEUTENANT N.F.W. BISHOP

5TH BATTALION THE PRINCE OF WALES S

(NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT)

T.F.

School House

NIGEL FYFE WATSON BISHOP was the youngest son of James Watson and Adelaide Mary Bishop, of Oulton House, Stone, Staffordshire. He entered the school in 1906, and left in 1909. He learned farming for three years, and then entered the business of Bishop and Stonier, of Hanley. He had been just two years in business, working very hard, when war broke out, and he enlisted in the 5th Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment early in September 1914, and received his Commission in the following November.

He went to France in July 1915, and was moved up to the front at the end of August. The Battalion suffered a heavy bombardment on September 17th, after which his Colonel wrote home, saying Nigel Bishop did splendidly . He fell in the charge of the North Midland Division on the Hohen-zollern Redoubt, when the 5th North Staffords gallantly led the attack, on October 13th, 1915, aged 23.

His Captain wrote that he had the fullest confidence that anything he asked him to do would be faithfully carried out and his brother Officers affirmed that they could not have loved him more had he been their own brother .

David informed us Nigel s father was significant in the pottery industry. David has since had the frame reassembled, and it now hangs pride of place in his cottage.

The question that remains unanswered is how did the picture end up in deepest Cornwall? Can any readers enlighten David?