Benedict Arnold (January 14, 1740 - June 14, 1801), born in Norwich, Connecticut, was originally a rebel who became a general in the Continental Army. He was appointed a colonel in the Massachusetts militia in 1775. He and Ethan Allen captured Fort Ticonderoga, gaining needed supplies of cannon for the Americans in the siege of Boston during the American Revolutionary War. Later in 1775 Arnold also led an expeditionary force from Boston to Quebec and participated in an unsuccessful attack in the Battle of Quebec (1775). Arnold was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and in 1776 oversaw the construction of America's first gunships on Lake Champlain, in the town of Whitehall, NY. This earned Whitehall the nickname "Birthplace of the U.S. Navy" and under Arnold's leadership the new flotilla defeated a vastly superior British enemy fleet near Valcour Island, NY on October 11, 1776.
In 1777, Arnold was passed over by Congress for a promotion to a major generalship. Without a command of his own, he still played a role in defeating the British at the Battle of Saratoga. He lost his leg in the battle.
He was a very good strategist who was well liked by his men and a friend of George Washington. Arnold was a principled man who felt that the Revolutionary War should be a fight purely between Britain and her colonies. When General Washington and the Continental Congress made an alliance with France against Britain, he disagreed strongly and began to pass information to British forces.
In 1780, he negotiated with British General Henry Clinton to hand over the American fort at West Point, New York to the British for 20,000 sterling (about $1,000,000 today). His plans were discovered when his courier, British Major John André, was captured with incriminating documents. Learning of André's capture, Arnold escaped and joined the British forces. He was appointed Brigadier General and led several subsequent attacks on American forces. On January 5, 1781 Richmond, Virginia was burned by British naval forces led by Arnold.
Within the United States, the name of Benedict Arnold has entered the English language as a synonym for "betrayer" or "traitor". Outside the US, however, he is thought of in much more neutral terms. In nations such as Canada and the United Kingdom he is regarded as a traitor who became a patriot, while Americans consider him to have done the reverse. Arnold defended his treasonous actions in a letter to Washington, stating, "love to my country actuates my present conduct, however it may appear inconsistent to the world, who very seldom judge right of any man's actions."
Arnold is buried in the crypt of St. Mary's Battersea Church, London.