by Arthur Lefkowitz
El Dorado Hills, Ca.: Savas Beatie, 2012. Pp. xvi, 296.
Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 1611211115
Arnold’s Quebec Expedition and the Shaping of the Early Republic
On September 21, 1775, Benedict Arnold set out with some 1,100 Patriot troops to follow the Kennebec River through the wilderness of Maine to Quebec, as part of a coordinated American strategy to capture the fortress-city. Only about 650 of the troops made it by November 9th, the rest having deserted, died, or fallen ill and been left behind. More men were lost in the extraordinary attempt to storm the city at Midnight on December 31st, among them Brig. Gen. Richard Montgomery, leader of the column that approached Quebec from upper New York via the St. Lawrence route. Still more died the winter siege of the city and the retreat that followed.
Lefkowitz, author of several works on the Revolutionary War, correctly dubs these men “a company of heroes.” He does an excellent job of discussing the organization, course, and failure of the expedition, one of the most ambitious of the Revolutionary War. But he doesn’t stop there. Lefkowitz follows Arnold and his men through the war, during which, Arnold, of course betrayed his cause, while others served it loyally, albeit some perhaps not well. Lefkowitz then follows some of these men into the early Republic, for good or ill. The names of some will be familiar to anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the Revolution and early Republic, Aaron Burr, Daniel Morgan, Henry Dearborn, but most will not. Nevertheless, a surprising number of them attained some distinction, and nearly a dozen rose to general’s rank, while other attained high judicial or political office.
This is a book worth reading not only for those interested in the military side of the Revolution, but also in American life and society during the formative years of the Republic.
Note: Benedict Arnold in the Company of Heroes is also available as an e-book, ISBN 978-1-61121-112-2