Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor (TV Movie 2003) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • On the glorious battlefields of the American Revolution, two great generals distinguished themselves; George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Washington is remembered as America's founding father, Arnold as America's most notorious traitor. Benedict Arnold rose from humble origins to become the most respected and feared of America's generals. He won brilliant military victories against the English colonists and was Washington's favorite soldier. But two conflicting forces battled inside Arnold's heart; a deep concern for his country and his passionate love for an enchanting and manipulative Philadelphia woman, Peggy Shippen. Blinded by desire, Arnold defected to the English army, orchestrating an attempt to assassinate his own mentor, George Washington.

  • If the movie follows the plot summary above, it deviates significantly from the historical facts. Arnold's betrayal had nothing to do with any assassination plot on Gen'l. Washington. Arnold's plan was to deliver a vital fort, (West Point) on the Hudson River and it's garrison to the British. His plan did include a plot to have Washington captured however.

    - Written by Texas Reb
  • To correct or add to the above two commentaries with a historical perspective, Arnold was, as stated the most effective and brilliant general the Colonies had. However, a little more history is due here. Arnold and his father had fought in the French and Indian War since the mid 1700's, and at the time, when Benedict was a child, and saw the ruthlessness of the French Canadian Indians in action, spurred on by their Catholic French counterparts. He was also a protestant, and at the time they hated Catholics. When the Revolution broke out, Arnold was right there in the thick of the fight, first with the march to Quebec in 1775, then the campaign on down Lake Champlain, culminating in the first major Colonial victory, Saratoga. This is significant because the colonies and the Continental Congress were broke, morale was horrible and desertion among the ranks was more common than not. However, the Congress had been courting France's aid against England for a while, and France promised that aid once the colonies had a major victory. When this happened at Saratoga, through Arnold's initiative, France came to the aid of the colonies and the colonies virtually prostrated themselves at the French feet, giving generalship's to 20 year old spoiled French brats who knew nothing of war, to curry favor with the French. This disgusted Arnold, and he saw that the Congress was determined to prostitute itself and the colonies to Catholic France, and eventually come under the French dominion. In summary, Arnold believed then that the Colonies would be better off under protestant England than the Catholic French, and he decided to fight for that. History is always written by the victors, and our history is no exception. We hear always of B. Arnold "TRAITOR!!", but in reality, the brilliant military strategist followed his conscience to the end.

    - Written by Kenneth Roberts, "Rabble in Arms"


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