Kenneth Roberts in the Current News: Hodding Carter and Retracing Arnold’s March

Kenneth Roberts’ first novel, Arundel, is the tale of Benedict Arnold’s ill-fated march to Quebec through the wilderness of Maine. Readers experience the pain and toil of the soldiers as they traverse boggy land, carry heavy bateau across rapids, and fight cold and hunger on their way to capture Quebec. It was an epic march; despite the loss of men and supplies, a remnant of Arnold’s army was able to meet up with General Montgomery to attack Quebec (though they failed in capturing the city).

If you recall, Kenneth Roberts’, through the narrator of Arundel, blames Reuben Colburn for the failed expedition. Colburn had built the bateau used to traverse the waters, but they ended up being more of a burden than a help. Like many other historians, Roberts blames Colburn for using green wood to build the boats, as well as using the wrong kind of boat needed for the expedition.

For some, however, Colburn is not to blame. Mark York, in 2012, penned Patriot on the Kennebec as a defense of Colburn. More recently, (September 2017) Hodding Carter, along with a few others, retraced Arnold’s epic journey through the Maine wilderness in order to “rescue Reuben Colburn’s reputation” (at least, in part). According to Carter, “I’ll be eating much of the same type of food, wearing the same manner of clothing and traveling in the same kind of boat as Arnold and his men.” In doing so, he hopes to also discover why a general of great ability (i.e. Arnold) would turn against his own country. In Carter’s words, he hopes some answers lie along the trail through the Maine wilderness.

I encourage you to read Hodding’s 2017 (Aug 24) article describing his intentions, as well as his Kickstarter page. Carter has made similar journeys in the past, particularly his voyage in a Viking boat (see the video on his Kickstarter page). Finally, check out Carter’s account of his brave (yet foolhardy, as even he would acknowledge) voyage to Quebec. His piece is lengthy, but definitely worth the read; it’s interesting the parallels between Carter’s experience and that of Arnold and his men. Carter also has his own website: http://www.hoddingcarter.com.

It’s men like Carter who are vital to making history alive and helping the rest of us to understand what others in the past have experienced. It’s great to see a part of Kenneth Roberts’ work come alive!

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One Response

  1. Interesting. Thanks for posting and reference.

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