This Day In History January 5, 1781: American Struggle For Independence And Self-Determination: Benedict Arnold captures and destroys Richmond, Virginia. Gen. Washington had warned the governor of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, of imminent invasion; nonetheless, Jefferson was ill-prepared and doubtful of initial reports that British ships were sailing into the Chesapeake Bay.
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” –George Washington
American traitor and British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold enjoys his greatest success as a British commander on this day in 1781. Arnold’s 1,600 largely Loyalist troops sailed up the James River at the beginning of January, eventually landing in Westover, Virginia. Leaving Westover on the afternoon of January 4, Arnold and his men arrived at the virtually undefended capital city of Richmond the next afternoon.
Virginia’s governor, Thomas Jefferson, had frantically attempted to prepare the city for attack by moving all arms & other Military Stores records from the city to a foundry five miles outside Richmond. As news of Arnold’s unexpectedly rapid approach reached him, Jefferson then tried to orchestrate their removal to Westham, seven miles further north. He was too late–Arnold’s men quickly reached and burned the foundry and then proceeded towards Westham, which Jefferson had asked the formidable Prussian military advisor Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben to guard. Finding von Steuben, Arnold chose to return to Richmond, burning much of the city the following morning.
Only 200 militiamen responded to Governor Jefferson’s call to defend the capital–most Virginians had already served and therefore thought they were under no further obligation to answer such calls. Despite this untenable military position, the author of the Declaration of Independence was criticized by some for fleeing Richmond during the crisis. Later, two months after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, he was cleared of any wrongdoing during his term as governor. Jefferson went on to become the leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, and his presidential victory over the Federalists is remembered as The Revolution of 1800. More
The Plan To Kidnap Benedict Arnold
“Treason is but trusted like the fox” – Shakespeare
The kidnapping was set for December 11. It was a bold plan, but simple, and for those reasons likely to succeed. More
The people, ideas and events that have forged America and made the Nation great.
We possess none of our history that we do not remember, keep alive and honor. We must remember and honor our history. It will bring direction, purpose and security to our future.
America remember and honor your history – it will give direction, purpose and security to your future.