British Brigadier and American traitor General Benedict Arnold relishes in his absolute success as a commander of the British on January 5th, 1781. Sailing up the James River, Arnold takes his 1,600 mostly Loyalist soldiers during the start of January and eventually arriving in Westover, Virginia. Once Arnold and his troops leave Westover during the afternoon of January 4th, they arrive the next afternoon at the capital city of Richmond; the city is almost undefended.
Thomas Jefferson, who was the governor of Virginia, was frantically trying to get the city ready for battle by transporting other Military Stores records and all arms away from the city to a foundry located five miles out of Richmond. When word of the unexpected quick approach of Arnold reached him, Jefferson then attempted to plan their departure to Westham which was located further north by seven miles.
Unfortunately, his plan would not succeed as Arnold’s troops immediately reached and torched the foundry and then continued towards Westham; Jefferson had requested the formidable Prussian military advisor Baron Friedrich Wihelm von Steuben to protect. Arnold made the decision to retreat to Richmond to avoid confronting von Steuben; by the following morning, he had torched the majority of the city.
Thinking that they were under no further duty to reply to such requests, only 200 militiamen reacted and came to honor the request from Governor Jefferson to protect the capital; the reason for this was that the majority of Virginians had already completed their service. Interestingly, regarding this untenable military position, the Declaration of Independence author faced some criticism for his retreating from Richmond as the crisis was playing out.
Eventually, he would not face any charges of committing any wrongdoing while serving his term as governor; this took place after Cornwallis had officially surrendered at Yorktown two months later. Jefferson would later achieve the leadership of the Democratic-Republican Party; he would move on to secure his presidential victory by defeating the Federalists and history remembers this as The Revolution of 1800.
Arnold had achieved success and stature from his victory at Richmond; however, he would find that this would fade after time. When the war had reached its conclusion, Benedict Arnold soon discovered the victories he acquired as a British general did not follow him and had difficulty adapting to civil life. His attempts to create and maintain businesses in London and Canada proved unsuccessful. Anyone who believes that karma is real would say that Benedict Arnold is a perfect example of this as when he passed away on June 14th, 1801, his last days of life was that of a pauper; he was buried at St. Mary’s Church in Middlesex, London wearing his uniform of the Continental Army. Presently, within the United States, Benedict Arnold’s name is still associated as a synonym for the word “traitor.”