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Arnold's Raid in Virginia


ARNOLD'S RAID IN VIRGINIA, actions during the American Revolution. In December 1780 Commander in Chief Sir Henry Clinton of the British armies in North America determined to send an expedition into the Tidewater region of Virginia. Clinton entrusted command of the expedition to Benedict Arnold because he admired Arnold's intrepidity and believed he could induce more Americans to desert. Arriving at Hampton Roads on 30 December, Arnold seized the small boats on the James River and pushed upstream to Westover. Sending John Simcoe's rangers ahead, Arnold moved his own forces to Richmond, which he occupied following a skirmish on 5 January 1781. After destroying the iron foundry at Westham and the American stores at Richmond, Arnold reembarked for Portsmouth, which he fortified and used as a base for raids.

In April, Arnold, now under the command of Major General William Phillips, staged another river raid on the James, this time landing at City Point and proceeding overland to Petersburg. His marauding band sunk a small American fleet at Osborn's on the James, destroyed twelve hundred hogsheads of tobacco in Manchester, and burned flour magazines and mills in Warwick. In May the force fell down to Westover, thence to Brandon. Throughout these movements the British were harassed by the inferior forces of the Marquis de Lafayette and Anthony Wayne. Phillips died at Petersburg on 13 May 1781, and the chief command momentarily devolved on Arnold. Lord Cornwallis arrived with his superior forces and joined Arnold's detachment for the campaign of the summer of 1781.


Comtois, Pierre. "Virginia Under Threat." Military History 11, no. 4 (1994): 54–60.

Randall, William Sterne. Benedict Arnold. New York: Morrow, 1990.

Simcoe, John Graves. A Journal of the Operations of the Queen's Rangers. New York: New York Times, 1968.

Randolph G.Adams/a. r.

See alsoRevolution, American: Military History ; Virginia .

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