A Question of Honor: Benedict Arnold According to the History Channel

A question of honor? How about a question of accuracy? As bad as the movie “The Patriot.” You’re lucky you didn’t sit next to me last night as I picked this one apart.

Just a few minor details:

  • Quebec citadel looked like a frontier fort, and a poor one at that. And why were most Brits dressed as Grenadiers throughout?
  • The fact that Arnold got wounded was a key to the loss of the Quebec battle, but what about the death of Gen. Montgomery?
  • Battle of Saratoga was weak. First of all, Saratoga was where the British surrendered; there was never a battle there.  And Arnold did not run by foot into the decisive battle … he rode and was shot on his horse. And Arnold throwing tomohawks? Plus, he always had an endless supply … like the old cowboy movies where a six-shooter had 30 rounds! Andthe “Betsy Ross” flag at Saratoga? Where was the scene of Arnold being relieved of command, then going to the front anyway and riding into the battle … the real story?
  • What’s with the brand new Continental Army uniforms on the troops at Saratoga and elsewhere? And the various colored cockades on the hats?
  • Arnold’s line “God bless America” … who’s he… Kate Smith? And his “I became a cripple in service to my country” line, stolen from George Washington’s speech to his officers at New Windsor, “I have nearly gone blind in service to my country.”
  • And what’s with Arnold’s aide, Maj. Franks, wearing a Star of David necklace and having it outside his uniform collar?
  • Much facial hair, even among American officers! Not the style, guys.
  • In the mutiny scene, the militia approached the deserters and presented their muskets, all of which, even in the close-ups, were not in the cocked position to fire! And in the execution scene, the command “take aim” was given … done elsewhere also. Read the Manual. The command is “Present!”
  • Did Andre attempt to kill Arnold in the scene on the river? Was this accurate? Was Arnold ever fired on (by a gunboat) while attempting to rendevous with British officers?
  • What’s with the British dragoons (patrol-size unit) riding about carrying the King’s Colours? And the American dragoons carrying the “Betsy Ross” flag? The producer idiots don’t think we can tell who is who by the uniforms (some of which, in the British case, were French & Indian War era!!!)?
  • Arnold challenging everyone to a dual with the same wording got a bit old!
  • Arnold’s wife Peggy did not seem to act too “mad” or “crazy” after Arnold fled. She was a bit more “stupid,” as was the poor reaction by Grammer!

One interesting point for further research — did Reed blackmail Washington by stating that if Arnold was not found guilty in a court-martial, the Pennsylvania militia would not respond to support the Army and perhaps Pennsylvania would leave the union? If so, a critical political aspect of the war which George Washington had to face regularly, I am sure.

Good portrayal of Arnold forsaking all for Peggy, and in response to his hatred of Congress and politics.

Author Bio

Donald L. Hafner is Drum Major of the Lincoln Minute Men. When he is not serving as a fifer in the ranks of the Minute Men, he is a Professor of Political Science at Boston College. His scholarly work has been principally in the fields of arms control and U.S. foreign policy.

Leave a Reply