by THE LOYALS Dramaturg, Victoria Isotti
The Loyals by Allison Gregory tells the story of Benedict Arnold and Peggy Shippen Arnold, the “turncoat” couple that provided information to the British during the American Revolution. So exactly when did Benedict and Peggy meet? When did the Arnolds begin to spy for the British? And when did their plan begin to unravel? The following timeline answers these questions, representing the events of the American Revolution as they pertain to the story of Benedict and Peggy.
April 19, 1775: The American Revolution begins in Massachusetts with the Battle of Lexington and Concord
- This battle, occurring in Massachusetts, is the official start of the war. The continental army was led by George Washington, and the British Army by General William Howe.
May 10, 1775: Fort Ticonderoga is seized
- Led by Benedict Arnold and frontiersman Ethan Allen, the Continental Army took Fort Ticonderoga in New York.
December 31, 1775: Battle of Quebec
- Benedict Arnold led soldiers through Maine and into Canada in an attempt to capture Quebec and requested British surrender. When the Redcoats did not surrender, the Americans and British Army battled, and Benedict sustained injuries to his left leg.
September 19-October 7, 1777: Battle of Saratoga
- Benedict Arnold is injured during this battle, shot through the left thigh. His leg is saved, but he never fully recuperates, and he feels that his sacrifice is not fully appreciated by the Continental Army and by Congress.
September 26, 1777: The British Army takes Philadelphia
- The British troops marched into the city and occupied Philadelphia.
May 18, 1778: The Meschianza Ball
- Hosted by Major John Andre, this ball was held in honor of General William Howe, a British officer. The ball was named using the Italian word for “medley” given the festivities taking place, including a regatta of ships, a lavish dinner, a mock jousting tournament, and a grand ball. Peggy Shippen is widely believed to have attended this event, given her friendship with John Andre and her reputation as the “Princess of Philadelphia.”
June 18, 1778: British Army leaves Philadelphia
- The British Army is commanded to leave Philadelphia by British officer General Sir Henry Clinton in order to avoid France’s fleets, bringing John Andre with them. John Andre gives Peggy a lock of his hair as a goodbye gift.
1778: Benedict Arnold is appointed Military Governor of Philadelphia
- He was appointed to this position by Washington soon after the British left. He was disliked in this position, with the state’s governing body disapproving of his actions.
Summer of 1778: Benedict Arnold and Peggy Shippen meet
- It is unknown exactly when the two met, but they most likely met while out at a social gathering. Soon after their first encounter, Benedict began sending Peggy letters.
1779: Council of Pennsylvania files charges against Benedict Arnold
- Benedict is accused of using military personnel for personal profit, including privately making personal purchases despite his own order to close down all shops, and misusing government wagons.
April 1779: Benedict Arnold and Peggy Shippen get married
- Benedict and Peggy have a small wedding.
May 1779: Benedict Arnold and John Andre begin their secret correspondence
- Arnold gives the British Army information in return for money and a spot commanding the British army.
August 3, 1780: Benedict Arnold is appointed commander of West Point
- He is awarded this position by the Continental Army, which does not yet know about his treason. In his position as commander, he plans to turn West Point, a crucial American fort on the Hudson river, over to the British.
September 21, 1780: Benedict Arnold and John Andre meet to exchange information
- Arnold commits treason by handing Andre important documents related to West Point.
September 23, 1780: John Andre is arrested
- Andre is captured and deemed a spy.
September 25, 1780: Benedict Arnold Defects to the British
- Arnold leaves for New York. On this day, George Washington, Commander of the Continental Army, goes to the Arnold house, where he was supposed to have breakfast. Peggy goes into hysterics once she “discovers” Benedict’s treason (it is unknown whether she truly knew all along or if she actually found out about Benedict’s actions this day – it is widely believed that she masterminded Arnold’s treason). Benedict narrowly avoids being captured by the Continental Army, escaping to British territory in New York. He then begins fighting alongside the Redcoats for the rest of the war.
October 2, 1780: John Andre is executed
- Andre is hanged for being a spy, having been caught by the Continental Army.
September 28-October 19, 1781: Battle of Yorktown
- The British surrender, and the Continental Army wins the war.
December 1781: The Arnolds move to England
- Benedict and Peggy leave for Great Britain in 1781 and land in January of 1782. In England, they are received warmly, but never went on to lead fully successful lives.