Placed me in the ridiculous light of presuming to give orders I had no right to do

img_6512-1“On September 1 Gates held a war council on Van Schaick Island in the midst of the delta where the Mohawk River empties into the Hudson.  Arnold and Gates agreed Burgoyne was heading for Albany. Gates ordered Arnold to Loudon’s Ferry on the south bank of the Mohawk River, five miles from where it joined the Hudson, to take command of the brigades of Generals Poor and Learned, and Morgan’s Virginia battalion of sharpshooters.  On September 9 he put the New York and Connecticut militia under Arnold’s command. Yet Gates was still brooding on Arnold’s unwillingness to dismiss Schuyler’s aides, and a day later in his general orders to the army Gates commanded the three New York militia regiment to report to General Glover’s brigade instead.  John Glover was a fine commander whose Marblehead seamen had performed yeoman service rescuing Washington’s army at Long Island and later conveying it across the ice-choked Delaware. But the coming battle was not a river crossing. When Arnold complained that the sudden change “placed me in the ridiculous light of presuming to give orders I had no right to do, and having them publickly contradicted,” Gates pretended it was a mistake, but failed to correct it. “

The excerpt is from The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold by Joyce Lee Malcom. The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold – An American Life is a timely re-examination of one of young America’s most complicated figures: a hero at Saratoga turned infamous traitor, Benedict Arnold.  Historian Joyce Lee Malcolm skillfully unravels the man behind the myth and gives a portrait of Arnold and his world. 

Many of Arnold’s exploits happen along the Hudson River – Lake George – Lake Champlain – Richelieu River which has Saratoga at the center.  This corridor was part of a vital struggle for control that was essential to the overall strategy for dominion of North America. It is also where Arnold’s brilliant wartime military exploits happen and his deception threaten the nation’s fragile democracy.  The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold sheds new light on a man―as well on the nuanced and complicated time in which he lived.

The Schuylerville Public Library and all the libraries in the region have a number of books on this historic area and the American War of Independence. One of the newer books is The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold by Joyce Lee Malcolm ISBN: 978-1-68177-737-5 which is part of the Schuylerville Public Library collection.  

When you are dealing with such rich historical series of events like the control of the Hudson Valley and the Battles of Saratoga, there may be some questions that pop up. As you learn more about this fascinating time in our nation’s history, may we suggest a visit the Saratoga National Historical Park in the towns of Saratoga and Stillwater. At the National Park you can learn more and ask your questions to Rangers and volunteers. The Park also has a timeline exhibit on the entire American War of Independence The park website is at

There are many books available to purchase at the Park’s visitors center. The Park’s museum store is operated by Eastern National with a portion of sale proceeds going to support the Park. The museum store carries many one of a kind items and we strongly encourage your patronage.

The Saratoga Campaign in 1777 was an attempt by the British to gain military control of the strategically important Hudson River valley during the American Revolutionary War. It ended in the surrender of a complete British army. In 1877, Governor Horatio Seymour said, “At the break of day one hundred years ago, in the judgment of the world, our fathers were rebels against established authority. When the echoes of the evening gun died away along this valley, they were patriots who had rescued their country from wrong and outrage. Until the surrender of the British army in this valley, no nation would recognize the agents of the Continental Congress. All intercourse with them was in stealthy ways. But they were met with open congratulations when the monarchs of Europe learned that the royal standards of Britain had been lowered to our flag. We had passed through the baptism of blood, and had gained a name among the nations of the earth.”

Saratoga is known for being the turning point of the American Revolution. The Americans’ determined resistance at Saratoga, coupled with British strategic blunders, resulted in a stunning defeat and surrender for a British army. This timely victory reversed American military fortunes, boosted patriot morale, and gained them international recognition and support, including military assistance. That is why studying the Battles of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the American freedoms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.