Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery (2010)
Arnold was also well-received in Boston, and was invited to a party hosted by Washington's Commander of the Artillery, Henry Knox. But soon, Arnold heard less-than-stellar opinions of his recent military action. Some said that Arnold had behaved rashly, and only cared for personal glory . . . and some even said that Arnold was an "Evil Genius".
The selections for the major generals by Congress featured none of the men Washington wanted. Arnold had been passed over, which upset Washington, in that Arnold had more seniority/rank than those chosen. General Washington knew that Arnold would miss the politics of the decision, and take the result as a personal insult, and would most likely resign. Washington wrote Arnold, telling him that the selections were based on politics and sectionalism, not merit. But Arnold believed that the stories told by his enemies were the reason why he wasn't promoted. Arnold was at home, feeling besieged by bitter enemies, with idle time on his hands, and experiencing more periods of gout. But the Revolutionary War saved Arnold; on 25 April 1777, Benedict Arnold was awakened at 3 am by militiamen pounding on his door.
Arnold freed himself and took off on foot across a swamp, fired on repeatedly until he was able to reach the cover of the woods. At least two shots went through Arnold's hat . . . once again, the British were impressed. Congress, after hearing about Arnold's actions, promoted Arnold to Major General . . . but the original five major generals still outranked Arnold. Once again, Arnold felt slighted, believing again that the attacks on his character were the reason why he didn't receive the promotion he felt he deserved.
Arnold stayed in Philadelphia to lobby for the desired rank/seniority nonetheless; larger political issues meant nothing to Arnold . . . to him, everything was personal. After weeks of fruitless efforts, Arnold finally gave up, and on 10 July 1777, Arnold wrote his resignation, and delivered it to Congress the next day. Congress received another letter on 11 July 1777 from Washington, notifying them that the British had started their attack from Canada, and were threatening to take the Hudson River (to Washington and many others, if the "Line of the Hudson" was taken by the British, the war would be lost).
Washington wrote additional letters to Congress, inquiring about Arnold's status, and saying that he wanted Arnold to head north. Congress asked Arnold to set aside his resignation and hurry to Washington's headquarters . . . both parties were glad to be rid of each other.
In early-August 1777, General Schuyler called his top Northern Army officers to a council of war. The Northern Army had about 6000 men, but half were sick; Burgoyne was advancing with 8000+ men, but slowly. And, to make matters worse, Lt. Colonel Barry St. Leger (promoted to Brevet General for that campaign) was coming from the west with 750 Redcoats and over 1000 Mohawks. Most generals advised Schuyler to keep the army in one piece, and forget about defending Stanwix.
Arnold told Schuyler that he should divide his army, sending troops to reinforce (or to rescue) those at Fort Stanwix, and Schuyler agreed. Schuyler then asked who would lead the force to Stanwix, and nobody responded, not even Arnold. An angry Schuyler then stated he would lead the force, and asked who would be his #2 general . . . Arnold was the only general that offered to go with Schuyler to Fort Stanwix.
But Arnold had a trick up his sleeve; instead of shooting a suspected traitor named Hon Yost Schuyler (who was actually a Loyalist working for St. Leger), he ordered Yost Schuyler's coat to be shot-up. Then, beholden to Arnold for his life, Arnold had Yost Schuyler head to Fort Stanwix. Yost Schuyler was captured, and he told the Mohawks that he had barely escaped with his life eluding an American army that numbered over 2000. The Mohawks wanted to leave anyway, and they now had their excuse; as the Mohawks prepared to leave, they must have enjoyed scaring the devil out of the British - terrified Redcoats ran to the woods. St. Leger had no choice but to retreat to Lake Ontario, 70 miles away. On 24 August 1777, Arnold arrived at Fort Stanwix, solidifying American possession of the area. An aggressive-yet-tricky General Arnold had succeeded in keeping St. Leger's force from reaching the Hudson River from the west, which would be crucial in the Battle of Saratoga in September/October of 1777 (pictured above: the British overall strategic plan on taking the "Line of the Hudson" with 3 armies . . . St. Leger had only reached Fort Ticonderoga when Burgoyne surrendered his army near Saratoga on 17 October 1777).