The Traitor's Homecoming: Benedict Arnold’s Raid on New London, Connecticut, September 4-13, 1781

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Matthew E. Reardon
Pub Date:
Summer 2024
images, maps, 372 pp.

eBook coming soon!

About the book

Almost everyone is familiar with the name of at least one Revolutionary War battle. Some, like Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, and Yorktown are nearly household names. Others are less well known but readily recognized when mentioned. An engagement in Connecticut during the war’s sixth year, commanded by one of history’s most famous military names, is not among them. Matthew E. Reardon has set out to rectify that oversight with the publication of The Traitor’s Homecoming: Benedict Arnold’s Raid on New London, Connecticut, September 4-13, 1781.

By 1781, the war in North America had reached a stalemate. Throughout the summer the combined Franco-American armies of Generals George Washington and Jean-Baptiste comte de Rochambeau deceived British General Sir Henry Clinton into believing they were about to lay siege to New York City. When in fact, they were moving south toward Yorktown, Virginia, in a bid to trap Lord Cornwallis’ army against the sea. Clinton, falling for the deception, dispatched former American General Benedict Arnold to attack New London, hoping the move would derail militia reinforcements and supplies headed from Connecticut to the allied armies outside New York City, as well as destroy the privateers which operated out of its harbor.

Situated in southeastern Connecticut, New London was the center of the state’s wartime naval activities. State and continental naval vessels operated out of its harbor, which doubled as a haven for American privateers. Arnold landed on September 6 and, in a textbook operation, defeated local militia, took possession of the town, harbor, and forts, and set New London’s waterfront ablaze. But that is not how it is remembered. The Connecticut governor’s vicious propaganda campaign against the British and Arnold, who was already infamous for his treachery, created a narrative of partial truths and embellishments that persist to this day. As such, most of the attention still remains focused on the bloody fighting and supposed “massacre” at Fort Griswold, but there is much more to the story.

The Traitor’s Homecoming utilizes dozens of newly discovered British and American primary sources to weave together a balanced military study of an often forgotten and misunderstood campaign. Indeed, Reardon achieves a major reinterpretation of the battle while dismantling its myths. Thirteen original maps and numerous illustrations and modern photographs flesh out this groundbreaking study.


Matthew Reardon is a native of northeastern Connecticut. He earned his BA in history and an MA in education from Sacred Heart University. His research interests mainly focus on Connecticut during the American Revolution and the Civil War. He has published several articles for the Journal of the American Revolution and served as executive director of the New England Civil War Museum & Research Center for more than fifteen years. He currently works as a middle school teacher in Vernon, Connecticut. Matthew and his wife Melisa live in Enfield, Connecticut.