Plaque sponsored by Bill & Peg Stanley
Located in the Colonial Cemetery
Once upon a time in Norwich, an 18 year old Benedict Arnold stood on this spot and watched as they lowered his long-suffering mother into her grave. Benedict himself was an apprentice, bound by indentured servitude to his mother’s cousins, the Lathrop Brothers. His father was suffering from alcohol-induced dementia, believed caused by sadness over losing four children: Absalom, Elizabeth, Mary, and an earlier son named Benedict, who died an infant in 1739. The children are all buried here.
Hannah Arnold died on August 15, 1759; her husband some years later. Young Benedict moved to New Haven with his sister, Hannah, and became extremely successful. He married Margaret Mansfield who died June 19, 1775. In New Haven, Arnold founded and commanded the 2nd Connecticut Foot Guard. During the American Revolution, he was a hero and became George Washington’s finest field general, winning many victories. Benedict Arnold built and commanded America’s first naval fleet of 16 vessels. The crew included 30 Marines that engaged the British in America’s first naval battle at Valcour Island on Lake Champlain, October 11, 1776.
After the Battle of Saratoga, October 7, 1777, British General John Burgoyne said of Arnold, “it was his victory.” Then a major general, Arnold was severely wounded and crippled for life. Assigned to Philadelphia, he married Margaret Shippen from a neutralist-loyalist family. She was later awarded a lifetime pension by Kind George III for “Her service to the Crown in the Colonies.” General Arnold, after the marriage, betrayed his young country and returned his loyalty to the Crown and planned to surrender West Point, which he later commanded, and General Washington to the British. To this day, he is America’s most famous traitor.
As British brigadier, he was ordered by Commanding General Henry Clinton to rout the privateers from the Port of New London. On September 6, 1781, troops under the command of Benedict Arnold burned the City of New London. Other British troops, under the command of Lt. Colonel Edmund Eyre, attacked Fort Griswold in Groton where many lives were lost in what was described as a massacre.
Local citizens, outraged at the treasonous act, descended as a mob on this cemetery and removed the gravestones of the father, Benedict, and the infant son, Benedict.
The only epitaph that remains is to Hannah King Arnold:
IN MEMORY OF
Hannah ye well beloved Wife of Capt. Benedict Arnold & Daughter of Mr. John & Elizabeth Waterman, (She was a Pattern of Piety Patience And Virtue) who died August 15, 1759 AEtatis Suae 52”