January 5, 1781: Benedict Arnold Takes Richmond

Benedict Arnold:  “What will the Americans do with me if they catch me?”

American Officer:  “They will cut off the leg which was wounded when you were fighting so gloriously for the cause of liberty, and bury it with the honors of war, and hang the rest of your body on a gibbet.”

Response of a captured American officer during Arnold’s Virginia campaign in January 1781 to a query by General Arnold





One of the more humiliating events in the American Revolution for the patriots was the seizure of Richmond, Virginia on January 5, 1781 by a largely Loyalist raiding party under American turncoat and traitor Benedict Arnold:

In pursuance of the orders which he had received, General Arnold sailed from Sandy Hook on the nineteenth of December, 1780[5], with the Eigtheenth or Edinburg regiment, under Lieutnant-colonel Dundas; the Queen’s Rangers, under Lieutenant-colonel Simcoe; a detachment from the New York Volunteers, under Captain Althause; and about two hundred men, whom the General had enlisted into his own corps, in New York, [6], the whole force embracing a force of sixteen hundred men.[7]. The troops were among the best in the service, and General Arnold might reasonably have felt proud of his command, had not the commander-in-chief, with commendable caution, manifested his distrust of the traitor, not only by the strictness of his orders, but by the appointment of “two officers of tried ability and experience, and possessing the entire confidence of their commander”–Colonel Dundas and Lieutenant Colonel Simcoe, –to accompany him, and to share, with him, the honors and responsibilities of the command. A violent gale, which occurred on the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh, separated the fleet, but the scattered vessels, except three transports, on board of which were four hundred men, and one armed vessel, rejoined it off the Capes of the Chesapeake, and entered Hampton Roads on the thirtieth.

On the thirty-first, without waiting for the arrival of the transports, which were still at sea, the troops–about twelve hundred in number–were transferred to small vessels and boats, adapted to the navigation and proceeded up the James River under convoy of the Hope and Swift, two small armed vessels. Late in the evening of the third of January, 1781, the expedition came near Hood’s Point, on which a small party of fifty men had been stationed with three eighteen-pounders, one twenty-four pounder, and one brass eight-inch howitzer. When the vessels approached the Point this little force gallantly opened a heavy fire on them; and, as it was quite dark, the enemy had no means of knowing the strength or position of his opponents, he cast anchor until the next morning. While it was still dark, General Arnold ordered Lieutenant- colonel Simcoe to land with one hundred and thirty of the Queen’s Rangers, the light-infantry, and the grenadiers of the Eightieth regiment, and to attack the battery. With the greatest possible secrecy a landing was effected at about a mile from the Point, and, by a circuitous route, the troops were led to the attack; but the little garrison having heard the movement had retired, and the Rangers and their commander found no laurels in their victory. After spiking the guns, Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe returned to the vessels, carrying with him the brass howizter, and the expedition moved up the river. On the next day (Jan. 4th) it anchored at Westover, about twenty- five miles below Richmond, where the troops were landed; and at two o’clock in the afternoon, the line of march to the latter place was taken up.

This descent of the enemy appears to have been entirely unexpected, and no provision had been made to guard against the contingency. When the fleet arrived, the State had no immediate means of defense, and the people appear to have been comparatively helpless. It is true that Governor Jefferson sent General Nelson to “the lower country” as soon as the presence of the fleet had become known, and had vested in him full “powers to call on the militia in that quarter, or act otherwise, as exigencies would require;” and it is no less true that General Steuben, supposing the stores at Petersburg were the objects of attack, employed about two hundred Continental troops, which he had under his command, to remove them beyond the reach of the invader. It is equally true, however,–and it was the source of evident mortification to the patriotic leaders in Virginia,–that the enemy moved into the heart of the country, accomplished his work, and retired with, comparatively no opposition, while every foot of his progress was susceptible of an obstinate and successful defence. The causes which have been assigned–the numerous impassable rivers which intersect “the lower country,” and the thinness of the population–in fact, furnish reasons against the surprise and disgrace with which she was then overtaken, and Virginia can never wholly excuse the apathy which was apparent throughout the entire extent of her central and lower counties.

The march of the enemy from Westover to Richmond was entirely unopposed,–the few militia who had responded to the orders which had been issued, being too weak to offer any effectual resistance, having fled as he approached,–and at one in the afternoon of the fifth of January, he entered the town.

About two hundred men had assembled, under Colonel John Nicholas, on the heights of Richmond Hill, near the venerable meeting-house of St. John’s Church; and Lieutenant-colonel Simcoe was ordered to dislodge them, but, without firing a shot, they fled in confusion when he reached the summit of the hill. A small body of cavalry, near the site of the capitol, on Shockoe Hill, who had been watching the movements of Colonel Dundas, also fled when they were approached.

Without halting at Richmond, after the dispersion of the militia, Lieutenant-colonel Simcoe, with his Rangers and the flank companies of the Eightieth regiment, pushed forward to Westham, six miles above, where were a fine foundry, laboratory, and workshops; while General Arnold and the main body remained at Richmond. As no resistance was offered, the expedition was perfectly successful, and, after destroying the greater part of the papers of the auditor’s office, and the books and papers of the council office–which had been removed thither for safety– together with five or six tons of gunpowder, the boring mill, workshops, public store, and foundry; knocking off the trunnions of some iron field pieces; and carrying off a few muskets, and some other articles, it returned to Richmond, where it arrived the same night.

In the mean time the main body, at Richmond had not been idle. With characteristic impudence the enemy had sent two citizens to Governor Jefferson, with an offer that he would not burn the city, provided the British vessels were allowed to come up the river and remove the tobacco from the warehouses without molestation. This proposition was instantly rejected; and, on the morning of the sixth, the public property and large quantities of private property, together with some buildings, both public and private, were destroyed.

The public loss was much less than has been generally supposed. Besides the destruction of the roof of the foundry, –the furnaces and chimneys of which remained uninjuried, — the magazine, boring-mill, four workshops, the public store, and quartermaster’s store, the public loss appears to have been confined to the books and papers of the council, the papers of the auditor’s office; five brass field pieces; one hundred and fifty stand of arms, from the loft of the capitol; the same number taken in a wagon; a small quantity of linen, cloth, &c.; some quartermasters’ stores, including one hundred and twenty sides of leather; the tools in the workshops; and three wagons. The loss to private individuals was much greater.

About noon, on the sixth of January, the enemy retired from the city, and the next day he reached Westover, without the loss of a man.


Chapter LXXX of Henry B. Dawson’s Battles of the United States, Volume I, New York, 1858, pp. 641-644.

Washington was so enraged by this event that he placed a 5,000 Guinea reward on the head of Arnold;  he ordered the Marquis de Lafayette, commanding American forces in Virginia, to immediately hang Arnold if he was captured; and  he had targets in the shape of Arnold distributed to the Continental troops on which to sharpen their marksmanship.



Defeat at Quebec



The year 1775 ended on a note of defeat for the Americans. Since December 6, 1776 the city had been under siege by the combined forces of General Richard Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold. Twelve hundred Americans confronted 1800 British regulars and French Canadian militia.  The Americans realized that the British would eventually strongly reinforce Quebec by sea, and that a prolonged siege in the teeth of a Canadian winter would probably do far more harm to the besiegers than the besieged.

Thus before dawn on December 31, 1775, in the midst of a blizzard, the Americans began a two pronged assault on the lower town of Quebec, the plan being that the forces led by Montgomery and Arnold would meet in the lower town, and then scale the walls of the upper town. Continue Reading


Through a Howling Wilderness

American traitor Benedict Arnold, a 34 year old Connecticut merchant at the beginning of the Revolution, had considerable military ability, as he first demonstrated in his epic march through the Maine wilderness in September-November 1775 on his way to join in a two-pronged attack on Quebec, Brigadier General Richard Montgomery leading the other prong up Lake Champlain.  Traveling over 350 wilderness miles, ill-supplied, Arnold’s force of 1100 was reduced to 600 starving men by the time they reached the Saint Lawrence River on November 9, 1775 across from Quebec.  It was a miracle that Arnold was able to complete the march with such a sizable force.  On November 8, Arnold sent off a report to Washington: Continue Reading


Stupak to Retire?

Hattip to Gateway Pundit.  NBC’s First Read is reporting that Stupak is considering retirement.

Stupak to call it quits? With just a few days to go before the end of this recess, House Democrats are cautiously optimistic that they could get through it without a single retirement announcement. That said, there is still a concern that some important incumbents in districts that they are uniquely suited could call it quits. At the top of the concern list this week: Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak. The Democrat best known this year as the Democrat who delivered the winning margin of votes for the president’s health-care reform bill is said to be simply exhausted. The criticism he received — first from the left, and then from the right — has worn him and his family out. And if he had to make the decision now, he’d probably NOT run. As of this writing, a bunch of senior Democrats (many of the same ones who twisted his arm on the health care vote) are trying to talk him into running. The filing deadline in Michigan is still a month away, but veterans of that state’s politics are skeptical anyone other than Stupak can hold that district in this political climate.

Continue Reading


What We Know Now

As it so happened, I was in Washington DC on that National Mall as congress was voting on the mess which is our “health care reform” bill. I hadn’t been to our capitol city before, and it was a simply beautiful afternoon — one on which it was hard to believe that our elected representatives were bringing us one large step closer to a major budgetary crisis point, and Representative Stupak was busy selling out the principles everyone had imagined to be as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar for a rather paltry executive order which may (or may not) come after the fact. (Call me a cynic, but I could well imagine the EO never coming. Though in a sense, why not issue it: It would have no effect and could be repealed at any time. Still, there would be a great deal of justice and truth in Obama using the old Microsoft line, “Your mistake was in trusting us.”)

Still, though sun, green grass, and stone monuments are fresh in my mind, and the largest looming problems in my mind revolve around children wailing that they need a bathroom right now while traveling on the metro (let’s just say that didn’t end well) I don’t want to seem as if I’m discounting the importance of what we’ve just seen. And there seem to be some fairly clear conclusions we can draw:

1) Stupak had no desire to be to abortion what Joe Lieberman chose to be to foreign policy. Lieberman was hounded out of his party and continues to hold office only because of people who disagree with him on nearly every other issue admired his principled stands on Iraq, Israel, etc. If Stupak had brought down the Health Care Reform bill in defense of the unborn, he would have received similar treatment from his own party to what Lieberman has received, and he clearly didn’t want to be that person. Instead, having talking himself into a corner he really didn’t want to be in, he seized upon a fig leaf when it was offered and did what he’d clearly wanted to do all along:

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November 2009, Stupak Never Intended to Vote No on ObamaCare

Last November during a town hall meeting near the Upper Peninsula Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan, an alleged “pro-lifeDemocrat that recently voted for government funding of abortion, made it clear that he was never going to vote “No” on ObamaCare.

Biretta tip to Sydney Carton and Alicia Colon.


Stupak Deal with Obama, The End of the Pro Life Democrat?

    US Catholic Bishops: Executive Order Deal A Non-Starter:

    We’ve consulted with legal experts on the specific idea of resolving the abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order. We know Members have been looking into this in good faith, in the hope of limiting the damage done by abortion provisions in the bill. We believe, however, that it would not be fair to withhold what our conclusion was, as it may help members in assessing the options before them:

    “One proposal to address the serious problem in the Senate health care bill on abortion funding, specifically the direct appropriating of new funds that bypass the Hyde amendment, is to have the President issue an executive order against using these funds for abortion. Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation. According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding. That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year. The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.”

    Richard Doerflinger
    U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

  • In deal with Stupak, White House announces executive order on abortion (Washington Post):

    Resolving an impasse with anti-abortion Democrats over the health-care reform legislation, President Obama announced Sunday that he will be issuing an executive order after the bill is passed “that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion,” according to a statement from the White House.

    “I’m pleased to announce we have an agreement,” Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said at a news conference announcing the deal.

  • “I think we’re witnessing Bart Stupak write the obit for the concept of the “pro-life Democrat” – Kathryn Jean Lopez (National Review).

Further analysis of the text of the order: Continue Reading


But For Malta!

Douglas Kmiec, betrayer of the pro-life cause, has received his reward for his slavish support of President Obama.  He has been nominated to be ambassador of the proud, small and Catholic country of Malta.  Malta has a very strong and active pro-life movement, so this might get interesting!   Bon Voyage Doug!  We’ll stay in touch, and so, I am sure, will our colleagues in lovely Malta!

Other Kmiec related posts on American Catholic:

1.     Kmiec on Kozen…

2.     Archbishop Chaput Weighs in Again

3.     Douthat Puts Kmiec in His Place

4.     Ross Douthat:  Not Backing Down

5.     Dedicated to Douglas Kmiec

6.     To the “Traitor” Go The Spoils?  Kmiec & The Ambassadorship

7.     Another Day, Another Kmiec 180

8.     Shameless

9.     Bag of Silver

10.   More Commencement Controversy

11.   Heee’s Back!

12.   What’s Empathy Got To Do With It?

13.   Kmiec Lectures Fellow “Conservative” Catholics

14.   Is There A Common Ground on Life Issues?


Good Riddance


Pro-abort Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Arlen Specter is now pro-abort Democrat Senator Arlen Specter.  He does this of course because he realized that Pat Toomey would have creamed him in the Republican primary in 2010.  Instead, assuming that the Democrats are deluded enough to nominate him, Toomey will cream him in the general election.  This should be a prime race for all pro-lifers around the nation next year.

Update I: Hattip to Hot Air.  Here is Specter last month on the prospect of his switching parties:

I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there. The United States very desperately needs a two-party system. That’s the basis of politics in America. I’m afraid we are becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party with so little representation of the northeast or in the middle atlantic. I think as a governmental matter, it is very important to have a check and balance. That’s a very important principle in the operation of our government. In the constitution on Separation of powers.”

Normally, I’d berate someone like this as a self-serving turncoat.  However my reaction is simple joy to have this political hack finally out of the GOP.

Update II:  The ever perceptive reptilians at Big Lizards Blog have an intriguing look at the upcoming Toomey-Specter match up in their post A Specter Is Haunting the Democratic Party.

UpdateIII: The Cranky Conservative has some thoughts here on Specter, including the observation that after 30 years in Washington Specter is the poster child for term limits.