|Christ Church, Philadelphia 2015|
a man and woman celebrated the rite of holy matrimony in Christ Church, Philadelphia. At thirty-eight, the groom was a distinguished Revolutionary war hero, promoted to Major General by his friend George Washington just two years before. The bride was the beautiful, 18-year-old socialite daughter of a Philadelphia judge who would later serve as chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Wounded in battle twice, at Quebec and later at the Battle of Saratoga, the man’s shattered leg prevented him from further commanding forces in battle so he was assigned by Washington as military governor of Philadelphia, where he met and courted his betrothed. In addition to his successful military career, he was a trained druggist and merchant trader whose private ships sailed to Canada and the Caribbean. On his wedding day, he was also a widower with three sons, ages 9-11. Of those sons, one would later serve as captain in the Royal Artillery and be mortally wounded in the West Indies.
This marriage would produce additional children who served their country as:
· - A lieutenant of the Sixth Bengal Cavalry and later paymaster at Muttra, India.
· -A lieutenant-general for corps of Royal Engineers in the Napoleonic wars in Egypt and West Indies; an aide-de-camp to William IV; later created a knight of the Hanoverian Guelphic order and a knight of the Crescent.
· -A lieutenant-colonel in the 2nd Bengal Cavalry
· -A captain in the Royal Lancers; his son a captain of the 4th Regiment of Foot, killed during the siege of Sevastopol, Crimean War
The one thing they all had in common: they all served in the English military.
So how did a celebrated American Revolutionary War Patriot end up raising a family who ultimately dedicated their lives and military service to “The British Enemy?” And how did that same American hero fall from grace as Patriot to Pariah …with his name forever linked to the word “traitor?”
The answer to these questions is a story in itself. And this marriage undoubtedly played a part.
As my third cousin-eight generations back, the groom and I share the same 1635 immigrant ancestor: William Arnold. William’s daughter Joanna was my 9th great grandmother. William’s eldest son succeeded Roger Williams as Governor of Rhode Island and became the wealthiest pioneer of the new colony. William’s eldest son’s name was passed down father-to-son for generations, including the subject of this wedding story: the groom who shared the name of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather: Benedict Arnold.
George Washington's Mount Vernon