Benedict Arnold is best known for his defection to the British army during the Revolutionary War, but before becoming the very symbol of treachery, Arnold was a celebrated military leader, and his service (if not his name) is remembered by New York’s Boot Monument.
Located in Saratoga National Park, the Boot Monument manages to acknowledge Arnold’s time as a soldier without ever honoring the man himself. Arnold’s fighting career actually ended at the Battle of Saratoga where his leg was severely wounded. While the leg healed, it was not long after that Arnold betrayed his fellows and joined the British. Its said that a captured American soldier told Arnold that the leg wounded while fighting for America would be honored while the rest of him would simply be hung. Whether or not this story is true, the Boot Monument seems to do just as the captured soldier predicted. The inscription on the stone reads:
“In memory of the “most brilliant soldier” of the Continental Army who was desperately wounded on this spot the sally port of BORGOYNES GREAT WESTERN REDOUBT 7th October, 1777 winning for his countrymen the decisive battle of the American Revolution and for himself the rank of Major General.”
Neither Arnold’s name nor visage adorn the rock but a simple frieze of a boot representing Arnold’s wound is etched into one side, giving the monument its name.
Arnold is further excised from another nearby monument that has an empty niche next to others that are filled with statues of revolution-era generals. While Benedict Arnold will forever be remembered as a traitor, Arnold’s once great, if unnamed, courage will forever be remembered at the Boot Monument.