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The current time is: 12/12/2017 6:37:45 PM
 (???? - 1799 AD) Pre-19th Century Battles    
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John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 553

Gates, Arnold and the Politics of command
Posted on: 1/26/2017 4:15:12 PM

I've recently been reading a few books on the Saratoga Campaign and the commanders involved in it. They have brought popular negative perceptions of Gates into question and make me wonder if history's treatment of Arnold is kinder even factoring in his treason. I don't know if that's how I should word it its that I'm wondering if history has been more objective and forgiving of Arnold's treason than Gates short-commings as a commander and ambition? Especially considering the morass that was the politics swirling all around just about every level of command. Look I'm not looking to call Gates a great commander but just wondering if he isn't as bad as popular perception tends to paint him? Thoughts please
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


74 PA
Woodbridge, VA, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist
Posts: 68

Re: Gates, Arnold and the Politics of command
Posted on: 2/19/2017 3:17:40 PM
Gates was a staff officer with little experience actually commanding troops in the field. Although he was wounded during Braddock's campaign, I believe Gate's largest command that saw any action was a company of colonial militia. He was, however, an astute politician and was successful at ingratiating himself with successive British commanders and then the Continental Congress. His incapacity for command was aptly demonstrated at Camden.
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For so long as one hundred men remain alive, we shall never under any condition submit to the domination of the English. It is not for glory or riches or honours that we fight, but only for liberty, which no good man will consent to lose but with his life

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2957

Re: Gates, Arnold and the Politics of command
Posted on: 5/16/2017 1:55:47 PM
IMHO Arnolds infamy as a traitor trumps Gates short comings of command!?
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5694

Re: Gates, Arnold and the Politics of command
Posted on: 5/16/2017 3:09:01 PM
Benedict Arnold may have been the best field commander that Washington had.

Not the nicest man, when he returned to the British side, he left for Saint John, New Brunswick where he was despised by the people. Arnold like to sue anyone and everyone. He spent 6 rather unhappy years in Saint John and butted heads with a lot of people.

He was also what some called a conservative patriot, that is he still had friends among the governing elite and he was nice to both loyalists and rebels.

From what I have read, the real traitor may have been Joseph Reed, who conspired against Washington and brought Arnold up on spurious charges leading to court martial when Arnold was the governor of New York (?? I think)

Some of the charges were silly and included, "not being as kind to patriots as he was to loyalists".

Arnold was also broke and he needed to impress a Mr. Shippens in order to be able to marry his daughter Peggy.

So he took out loans in order to appear to be a suitable husband of means.

There was a class struggle in the US between the legitimate army and the militia and there was concern that the militiamen were not given their due.

Arnold was not seen as enough of a rebel by the regular folks, to be a true patriot.



Not that Arnold had not been a bit shady in his financial dealings but Reed was out to get him.

Joseph Reed felt that men like Washington and Arnold were not rebellious enough.

Anyway, Arnold realized that he was in trouble and even though he was the hero of Saratoga and had been wounded in an ill advised attack on Montreal, he looked for a way out.

BTW, Arnold and Gates had argued over tactics at First Battle of Saratoga and as it turns out, Arnold was correct. If Gates had listened, they would have won.

And Gates removed Arnold as his second in command.

He never forgot this slight.

Arnold had come to believe that the new Congress could not survive and that the revolution was about to fail.

So here he was in debt, married into a staunch loyalist family, pursued by prosecutor Reed, wounded and unhealthy and disillusioned with the conduct of the war.

So he conspired to give up the fort at West Point to the Brits. That failed and Benedict Arnold jumped back to the British side.

British officers did not want him back. He was a traitor in the first place and an officer in an army of traitors.

And yet he wanted to come back to the side that he had betrayed initially. He was viewed as dishonourable by the British too.

Benedict Arnold, United Empire Loyalist.


Cheers,

George

Dave G
Halifax, NS, Canada
top 50
E-4 Specialist


Posts: 92

Re: Gates, Arnold and the Politics of command
Posted on: 5/20/2017 6:13:19 PM
George, Thanks for a very interesting bio on Mr. Arnold.
Arnold does not get much attention after he took up with the Brits, but he did carry out a few raids for them that were probably as successful as could be expected, since the British were about to get whupped.

In the spring of 1781, Brigadier General Arnold was based at Portsmouth VA, pillaging and burning the properties of his countrymen along the James River. He and British General William Phillips, pushed the Virginia militia to Richmond, then occupied Petersburg where they joined forces with Cornwallis who had decided that his chances seemed rosier in Virginia rather than in the Carolinas against Nathanael Greene.

In September, Arnold had moved up north to Connecticut, where he defeated a few Americans at New London (aka Groton Heights). This battle included yet another massacre of surrendering Americans. This did not improve his reputation much
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Dave G

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5694

Re: Gates, Arnold and the Politics of command
Posted on: 5/20/2017 7:48:30 PM
Thanks Dave G. I knew almost nothing about Arnold's work as a British officer after he bolted, so many thanks for that.

I understand that the British gave him a commission and 20,000 pounds and yet he died penniless in London. Later the King gave him land in Canada.

When he lived in Saint John, New Brunswick he was considered to be a rather unscrupulous business man. In 1781, the war over, he went to England

The British wouldn't give him a military command so he came back to North America, to New Brunswick.

Once there he began to accumulate a lot of land and to trade with the West Indies. But he owed a lot of money to a lot of people. When they demanded that he pay, he would sue them for slander and that would delay things.

There are records of 19 law suits filed by Benedict Arnold from July 1798 to May 1791, against debtors or those who claimed he had not paid for services rendered. So he would sue for slander. Or he would sue those whom he felt owed him more money. Social status meant nothing. He would go after anyone.

Arnold had taken out insurance on one of his buildings and when it burned to the ground, one of the men who Arnold had sued, suggested that Arnold had committed arson.

So Arnold sued the man for slander and he won this case but there were suggestions that the procedure was rigged. Many of the witnesses for the man accusing Arnold of arson had their testimony rejected or weren't permitted to speak because they were not allowed to besmirch the character of Arnold.

His debtors and other citizens gathered around his house in Saint John and burned Arnold in effigy.

So after 6 years, it was back to England where he continued to trade with the West Indies and had an argument with a man in England, challenged him to a duel but they both missed.

Now there is a suggestion that he performed a service for the King by acting as a spy in Guadalupe. So the King granted Arnold land in Upper Canada, now my home province of Ontario.

I think that his illegitimate son lived on the land.

Cheers,

George




 (???? - 1799 AD) Pre-19th Century Battles    
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