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Horatio Lloyd Gates (July 26, 1727April 10, 1806) was a British-born American army officer who served as a general in the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and was established by a resolution of ...
during the early years of the
Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War(s) may refer to: * American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the armed conflict between Great Britain and 13 of its North American colonies, which had declared themselves the independent United States of America * French Revolution ...
. He took credit for the American victory in the
Battles of Saratoga The Battles of Saratoga (September 19 and October 7, 1777) marked the climax of the Saratoga campaign, giving a decisive victory to the Americans over the British in the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1 ...
(1777) – a matter of contemporary and historical controversy – and was blamed for the defeat at the
Battle of Camden The Battle of Camden (August 16, 1780), also known as the Battle of Camden Court House, was a major victory for the British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, Bri ...

Battle of Camden
in 1780. Gates has been described as "one of the Revolution's most controversial military figures" because of his role in the
Conway Cabal The Conway Cabal was a group of senior Continental Army The Continental Army was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the former Thirteen Colonies, thirteen British colonies tha ...
, which attempted to discredit and replace
General George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. ...

General George Washington
; the battle at Saratoga; and his actions during and after his defeat at Camden.Bilias, p. 80 Born in the town of
Maldon
Maldon
in Essex, Gates served in the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
during the
War of the Austrian Succession The War of the Austrian Succession () was the last Great Power conflict with the House of Bourbon, Bourbon-Habsburg Monarchy, Habsburg dynastic conflict at its heart. It occurred from 1740 to 1748 and marked the rise of Kingdom of Prussia, Prus ...
and the
French and Indian War The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was a theater of the Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Great Britain ...

French and Indian War
. Frustrated by his inability to advance in the army, Gates sold his commission and established a small
plantation A plantation is a large-scale estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops. The crops that are grown include cotton, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar cane, opium, sisal, oil seeds, oil pa ...

plantation
in
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...

Virginia
. On Washington's recommendation, the
Continental Congress The Continental Congress was a series of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
made Gates the
Adjutant General
Adjutant General
of the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and was established by a resolution of ...
in 1775. He was assigned command of
Fort Ticonderoga Fort Ticonderoga (), formerly , is a large 18th-century built by the at a narrows near the south end of , in northern , in the . It was constructed by Canadian-born French military engineer between October 1755 and 1757, during the action i ...

Fort Ticonderoga
in 1776 and command of the
Northern Department The Northern Department was a department of the government of the Kingdom of England from 1660 to 1707 and later the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1707 until 1782 when its functions were reorganised into the new Home Office and Foreign Office. His ...
in 1777. Shortly after Gates took charge of the Northern Department, the Continental Army defeated the British at the crucial Battles of Saratoga. After the battle, some members of Congress considered replacing Washington with Gates, but Washington ultimately retained his position as
commander-in-chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men' ...
of the Continental Army. Gates took command of the Southern Department in 1780, but was removed from command later that year after the disastrous Battle of Camden. Gates's military reputation was destroyed by the battle and he did not hold another command for the remainder of the war. Gates retired to his Virginia estate after the war, but eventually decided to
free Free may refer to: Concept * Freedom, having the ability to act or change without constraint * Emancipate, to procure political rights, as for a disenfranchised group * Free will, control exercised by rational agents over their actions and decis ...
his
slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved per ...
and move to New York. He was elected to a single term in the
New York State Legislature The New York State Legislature consists of the two houses that act as the state legislature A state legislature is a Legislature, legislative branch or body of a State (country subdivision), political subdivision in a Federalism, federal syste ...
and died in 1806.


Early life and education

Horatio Gates was born on July 26, 1727, in
Maldon
Maldon
, in the English county of
Essex Essex () is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Ro ...

Essex
. His parents (of record) were Robert and Dorothea Gates. Evidence suggests that Dorothea was the granddaughter of John Hubbock Sr. (died 1692) postmaster at Fulham, and the daughter of John Hubbock Jr., listed in 1687 sources as a vintner. She had a prior marriage, to Thomas Reeve, whose family was well situated in the royal Customs service. Dorothea Reeve was housekeeper for the second
Duke of Leeds Duke of Leeds was a title in the Peerage of England The Peerage of England comprises all peerages created in the Kingdom of England before the Act of Union 1707, Act of Union in 1707. In that year, the Peerages of England and Peerage of S ...
, Peregrine Osborne (died June 25, 1729), which in the social context of England at the time was a patronage plum. Marriage into the Reeve family opened the way for Robert Gates to get into and then up through the Customs service. So too, Dorothea Gates's appointment circa 1729 to housekeeper for the third
Duke of Bolton A duke (male) can either be a monarch ranked below the emperor, king, and grand duke ruling over a duchy or a member of Royal family, royalty or nobility, historically of highest rank, below princes of nobility and grand dukes. The title comes ...
provided Horatio Gates with otherwise off-bounds opportunities for education and social advancement. Through Dorothea Gates's associations and energetic networking, young
Horace Walpole Horatio Walpole (), 4th Earl of Orford (24 September 1717 – 2 March 1797), better known as Horace Walpole, was an English writer, art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whigs (British political party), Whig politician. He had Strawbe ...

Horace Walpole
was enlisted as Horatio's godfather and namesake. In 1745, Horatio Gates obtained a military commission with financial help from his parents, and political support from the Duke of Bolton. Gates served with the
20th Foot Th or TH may refer to: Language * Eth (ð), a letter used in Old English, Icelandic, Faroese and Elfdalian * Th (digraph), a digraph in the Roman alphabet ** Pronunciation of English th aspects of this digraph in English ** Voiced dental fricativ ...
in Germany during the
War of the Austrian Succession The War of the Austrian Succession () was the last Great Power conflict with the House of Bourbon, Bourbon-Habsburg Monarchy, Habsburg dynastic conflict at its heart. It occurred from 1740 to 1748 and marked the rise of Kingdom of Prussia, Prus ...
. He arrived in
Halifax, Nova Scotia Halifax (Miꞌkmaq The Miꞌkmaq (also ''Mi'gmaq'', ''Lnu'', ''Miꞌkmaw'' or ''Miꞌgmaw''; ; ) are a First Nations people of the Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands, Northeastern Woodlands, indigenous to the areas now known as C ...
under
Edward Cornwallis Edward Cornwallis ( – 14 January 1776) was a British career military officer and was a member of the aristocratic Cornwallis family, who reached the rank of Lieutenant General Lieutenant general or lieutenant-general (Lt Gen, LTG and ...

Edward Cornwallis
and later was promoted to captain in the 45th Foot, under the command of
Hugh WarburtonGeneral Hugh Warburton (1695 - 26 August 1771) was an officer of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular ...
, the following year. He participated in several engagements against the Mi'kmaq and
Acadians The Acadians (french: Acadiens, ''Acadiennes'' ) are the descendants of the French who settled in Acadia Acadia (french: link=no, Acadie) was a colony of New France in northeastern North America North America is a continent ...
, particularly the
Battle at Chignecto The Battle at Chignecto happened during Father Le Loutre's War and was fought by 700 troops made up of British regulars led by Charles Lawrence (British Army officer), Charles Lawrence, Horatio Gates, Rangers led by John Gorham (military officer), ...
. He married the daughter of
Erasmus James Philipps Erasmus James Philipps (23 April 1705 - 26 September 1760) was the second longest serving member on Nova Scotia Council (1730-1760) and the nephew of Nova Scotia Governor Richard Philipps. He was also a captain in the 40th Regiment of Foot. He wa ...
, Elizabeth, at
St. Paul's Church (Halifax) St. Paul's Church is an Evangelicalism, evangelical Anglicanism, Anglican church in Downtown Halifax, downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nova Scotia, within the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island of the Anglican Church of Canada ...
in 1754. Leaving Nova Scotia, he sold his commission in 1754 and purchased a captaincy in one of the New York Independent Companies. One of his mentors in his early years was
Edward Cornwallis Edward Cornwallis ( – 14 January 1776) was a British career military officer and was a member of the aristocratic Cornwallis family, who reached the rank of Lieutenant General Lieutenant general or lieutenant-general (Lt Gen, LTG and ...

Edward Cornwallis
, the uncle of
Charles Cornwallis Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, (31 December 1738 – 5 October 1805), styled Viscount Brome between 1753 and 1762 and known as the Earl Cornwallis between 1762 and 1792, was a British Army The British Army is the princip ...
, against whom the Americans would later fight. Gates served under Cornwallis when the latter was governor of
Nova Scotia ) , image_map = Nova Scotia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English (''de facto'') , RegionalLang = French, Scots Gaelic , capital ...

Nova Scotia
, and also developed a friendship with the lieutenant governor,
Robert Monckton Robert Monckton (24 June 1726 – 21 May 1782) was an officer of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 re ...
.Bilias, p. 81


Career


Seven Years War

During the
French and Indian War The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was a theater of the Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Great Britain ...

French and Indian War
, Gates served General
Edward Braddock Major General Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparent c ...
in America. In 1755 he accompanied the ill-fated
Braddock Expedition The Braddock expedition, also called Braddock's campaign or (more commonly) Braddock's Defeat, was a failed British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Ov ...
in its attempt to control access to the
Ohio Valley The Ohio River is a long river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course wi ...

Ohio Valley
. This force included other future Revolutionary War leaders such as
Thomas Gage General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral ...

Thomas Gage
, ,
Daniel Morgan Daniel Morgan (1735/1736July 6, 1802) was an American pioneer, soldier, and politician from Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and South ...
, and
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing a state. Natio ...

George Washington
. Gates didn't see significant combat, since he was severely injured early in the action. His experience in the early years of the war was limited to commanding small companies, but he apparently became quite good at military administration. In 1759 he was made
brigade major A brigade major was the chief of staff of a brigade A brigade is a major tactical military unit, military formation that is typically composed of three to six battalions plus supporting elements. It is roughly equivalent to an enlarged or ...
to Brigadier General
John StanwixJohn Stanwix (born about 1690, England; died at sea, 29 October 1766) was a British soldier and politician. He was born John Roos, the son of Rev. John Roos, rector of Widmerpool, Nottinghamshire. In 1725 he succeeded to the estates of his uncle Tho ...
, a position he continued when General
Robert Monckton Robert Monckton (24 June 1726 – 21 May 1782) was an officer of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 re ...
took over Stanwix's command in 1760.Bilias, p. 82 Gates served under Monckton in the capture of Martinique in 1762, although he saw little combat. Monckton bestowed on him the honor of bringing news of the success to England, which brought him a promotion to major. The end of the war also brought an end to Gates' prospects for advancement, as the army was demobilized and he did not have the financial wherewithal to purchase commissions for higher ranks. In November 1755, Gates married Elizabeth Phillips and had a son, Robert, in 1758. Gates' military career stalled, as advancement in the British army required money or influence. Frustrated by the British class hierarchy, he sold his major's commission in 1769, and came to North America. In 1772 he reestablished contact with George Washington, and purchased a modest
plantation A plantation is a large-scale estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops. The crops that are grown include cotton, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar cane, opium, sisal, oil seeds, oil pa ...
in
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...
the following year.


American Revolutionary War

When the word reached Gates of the outbreak of war in late May 1775, he rushed to
Mount Vernon Mount Vernon is an American landmark and former plantation of George Washington, the first President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of Ame ...
and offered his services to Washington. In June, the
Continental Congress The Continental Congress was a series of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
began organizing the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and was established by a resolution of ...
. In accepting command, Washington urged the appointment of Gates as adjutant of the army. On June 17, 1775, Congress commissioned Gates as a
Brigadier General #REDIRECT Brigadier general #REDIRECT Brigadier general Brigadier general (Brig. Gen.) or brigade general is a military rank used in many countries. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of co ...

Brigadier General
and of the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and was established by a resolution of ...
. He is considered to be the first Adjutant General of the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
. Gates's previous wartime service in administrative posts was invaluable to the fledgling army, as he, Washington and were the only men with significant experience in the British regular army. As adjutant, Horatio Gates created the army's system of records and orders and helped standardize regiments from the various colonies. During the
siege of Boston The siege of Boston (April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776) was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was ...
, he was a voice of caution, speaking in war councils against what he saw as overly risky actions. Although his administrative skills were valuable, Gates longed for a field command. By June 1776, he had been promoted to
Major General Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparent confusion of a lie ...

Major General
and given command of the Canadian Department to replace John Sullivan. This unit of the army was then in disorganized retreat from Quebec, following the arrival of British reinforcements at
Quebec City Quebec City ( or ; french: Ville de Québec), officially Québec (), is the capital city of the Canadian province The provinces and territories of Canada () are sub-national divisions within the geographical areas of Canada under the juri ...

Quebec City
. Furthermore, disease, especially
smallpox Smallpox was an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the infectious ...

smallpox
, had taken a significant toll on the ranks, which also suffered from poor morale and dissension over pay and conditions. The retreat from Quebec to
Fort Ticonderoga Fort Ticonderoga (), formerly , is a large 18th-century built by the at a narrows near the south end of , in northern , in the . It was constructed by Canadian-born French military engineer between October 1755 and 1757, during the action i ...

Fort Ticonderoga
also brought Gates into conflict with the authority of Major General
Philip Schuyler Philip John Schuyler (; November 18, 1804) was an American general in the Revolutionary War and a United States Senator The United States Senate is the Upper house, upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the United States Hous ...

Philip Schuyler
, commander of the army's Northern Department, which retained jurisdiction over Ticonderoga. During the summer of 1776, this struggle was resolved, with Schuyler given command of the department as a whole and Gates command of Ticonderoga and the defense of
Lake Champlain , native_name_lang = , image = Champlainmap.svg , caption = Lake Champlain-River Richelieu watershed , image_bathymetry = , caption_bathymetry = , location = New York (state), New York/Vermont in the United States; and Quebec in Canada , ...

Lake Champlain
. Gates spent the summer of 1776 overseeing the enlargement of the American fleet that would be needed to prevent the British from taking control of Lake Champlain. Much of this work eventually fell to
Benedict Arnold Benedict Arnold (Brandt (1994), p. 414 June 1801) was an United States, American military officer who served during the American Revolutionary War, Revolutionary War. He fought with distinction for the American Continental Army, rising to the r ...

Benedict Arnold
, who had been with the army during its retreat and was also an experienced seaman. Gates rewarded Arnold's initiative by giving him command of the fleet when it sailed to meet the British. The American fleet was defeated at the
Battle of Valcour Island The Battle of Valcour Island, also known as the Battle of Valcour Bay, was a naval engagement that took place on October 11, 1776, on Lake Champlain. The main action took place in Valcour Bay, a narrow strait between the Province of New York, New ...
in October 1776, although the defense of the lake was sufficient to delay a British advance against Ticonderoga until 1777.


Battle at Saratoga

When it was clear that the British were not going to make an attempt on Ticonderoga in 1776, Gates marched some of the army south to join Washington's army in
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
, where it had retreated after the fall of New York City. Though his troops were with Washington at the
Battle of Trenton The Battle of Trenton was a small but pivotal American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen A ...

Battle of Trenton
, Gates was not. Always an advocate of defensive action, Gates argued that Washington should retreat further rather than attack. When Washington dismissed this advice, Gates claimed illness as an excuse not to join the nighttime attack and instead traveled on to
Baltimore Baltimore ( , locally: ) is the most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city prop ...

Baltimore
, where the Continental Congress was meeting. Gates had always maintained that he, not Washington, should have commanded the Continental Army. This opinion was supported by several wealthy and prominent New England delegates to the Continental Congress. Although Gates actively lobbied Congress for the appointment, Washington's stunning successes at Trenton and
Princeton Princeton University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
subsequently left no doubt as to who should be commander-in-chief. Gates was then sent back north with orders to assist Schuyler in the Northern Department. But in 1777, Congress blamed Schuyler and
St. Clair Saint Clair (also spelled St. Clair, St Clair or even Sinclair, and sometimes also pronounced that way) may refer to: Saints * Clair of Nantes (3rd century), first bishop of Nantes, the Saint named Clair * Clare of Assisi (1194–1253), source nam ...

St. Clair
for the loss of Fort Ticonderoga, though Gates had exercised a lengthy command in the region. Congress finally gave Gates command of the Northern Department on August 4. Gates assumed command of the Northern Department on August 19 and led the army during the defeat of British General invasion in the
Battles of Saratoga The Battles of Saratoga (September 19 and October 7, 1777) marked the climax of the Saratoga campaign, giving a decisive victory to the Americans over the British in the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1 ...
. While Gates and his supporters took credit for the victory, military action was directed by a cohort of field commanders led by
Benedict Arnold Benedict Arnold (Brandt (1994), p. 414 June 1801) was an United States, American military officer who served during the American Revolutionary War, Revolutionary War. He fought with distinction for the American Continental Army, rising to the r ...

Benedict Arnold
,
Enoch Poor Enoch Poor (June 21, 1736 (Old Style and New Style dates, Old Style) – September 8, 1780) was a brigadier general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He was a ship builder and merchant from Exeter, New Hampshire. Biogr ...
,
Benjamin Lincoln Benjamin Lincoln (January 24, 1733 ( O.S. January 13, 1733) – May 9, 1810) was an American army officer. He served as a major general Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank used in many countries. It is deri ...

Benjamin Lincoln
, and
Daniel Morgan Daniel Morgan (1735/1736July 6, 1802) was an American pioneer, soldier, and politician from Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and South ...
. Arnold in particular took the field against Gates' orders and rallied the troops in a furious attack on the British lines, suffering serious injuries to his leg.
John Stark John Stark (August 28, 1728 – May 8, 1822) was a New Hampshire native who served as an officer in the British Army The British Army is the principal of the , a part of the . , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular full-time personn ...

John Stark
's defeat of a sizable British raiding force at the
Battle of Bennington The Battle of Bennington was a battle of the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colon ...
–Stark's forces killed or captured over 900 British soldiers–was also a substantial factor in the outcome at Saratoga. Gates stands front and center in
John Trumbull John Trumbull (; June 6, 1756November 10, 1843) was an American artist of the early independence period, notable for his historical paintings of the American Revolutionary War, of which he was a veteran. He has been called "The Painter of the R ...

John Trumbull
's painting of the ''
Surrender of General Burgoyne The ''Surrender of General Burgoyne'' is an oil painting by John Trumbull. The painting was completed in 1821, and hangs in the rotunda of the United States Capitol The United States Capitol, often called The Capitol or the Capitol Buildi ...

Surrender of General Burgoyne
'' at Saratoga, which hangs in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. By Congressional resolution, a gold medal was presented to Gates to commemorate his victories over the British in the Battles of Bennington,
Fort Stanwix Fort Stanwix was a colonial fortress A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized ...
and Saratoga. Gold and bronze replicas of that medal are still awarded by the 's Corps Regimental Association in recognition of outstanding service. Gates followed up the victory at Saratoga with a proposal to invade Quebec, but his suggestion was rejected by Washington.


Conway Cabal

Gates attempted to maximize his political return on the victory, particularly as George Washington was having no present successes with the main army. In fact, Gates insulted Washington by sending reports directly to Congress instead of to Washington, his commanding officer. At the behest of Gates's friends and the delegates from New England, Congress named Gates to President of the
Board of War The Board of War, also known as the Board of War and Ordnance, was created by the Second Continental Congress as a special standing committee to oversee the American Continental Army's administration and to make recommendations regarding the army ...
, a post he filled while retaining his field command —an unprecedented conflict of interest. The post technically made Gates Washington's civilian superior, conflicting with his lower military rank. At this time, some members of Congress briefly considered replacing Washington with Gates as commander-in-chief, supported by military officers also in disagreement with Washington's leadership. Washington learned of the campaign against him by Gates's adjutant,
James Wilkinson James Wilkinson (March 24, 1757 – December 28, 1825) was an American soldier and statesman, who was associated with several scandals and controversies. He served in the Continental Army The Continental Army was formed by the Second Con ...

James Wilkinson
. In a letter to Gates, Wilkinson forwarded remarks of General
Thomas Conway Thomas Conway (February 27, 1735 – c. 1800) served as a major general in the American Continental Army The Continental Army was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the former Th ...
critical of Washington to General William Alexander, who passed them on to Washington. Gates (then unaware of Wilkinson's involvement) accused persons unknown of copying his mail and forwarded Conway's letter to the president of Congress,
Henry Laurens in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Henry Laurens (December 8, 1792) was an Americans, American merchant, slave trader, and rice planter from South Carolina South Carolina () is a state in the Southeastern region of ...
. Washington's supporters in Congress and the army rallied to his side, ending the "
Conway Cabal The Conway Cabal was a group of senior Continental Army The Continental Army was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the former Thirteen Colonies, thirteen British colonies tha ...
". Gates then apologized to Washington for his role in the affair, resigned from the Board of War, and took an assignment as commander of the Eastern Department in November 1778.


Camden

In May 1780, news of the
fall Autumn, also known as fall in American English and Canadian English, is one of the four temperate seasons. Outside the tropics, autumn marks the transition from summer to winter, in September (Northern Hemisphere) or March (Southern Hemisphe ...
of
Charleston, South Carolina Charleston is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, South Carolina, Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charleston metropolitan area, South Carolina, Charleston–North Charle ...

Charleston, South Carolina
and the capture of General
Benjamin Lincoln Benjamin Lincoln (January 24, 1733 ( O.S. January 13, 1733) – May 9, 1810) was an American army officer. He served as a major general Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank used in many countries. It is deri ...

Benjamin Lincoln
's southern army reached Congress. It voted to place Gates in command of the Southern Department. He learned of his new command at his home near
Shepherdstown, Virginia Shepherdstown is a town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, Jefferson County, West Virginia, located in the lower Shenandoah Valley along the Potomac River. Home to Shepherd University, the town's population was 1,734 at the time of the 2010 United ...
(now
West Virginia West Virginia () is a U.S. state, state in the Appalachian region, Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States.The United States Census Bureau, Census Burea ...
), and headed south to assume command of the remaining Continental forces near the Deep River in
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...

North Carolina
on July 25, 1780. Gates led Continental forces and militia south and prepared to face the British forces of
Charles Cornwallis Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, (31 December 1738 – 5 October 1805), styled Viscount Brome between 1753 and 1762 and known as the Earl Cornwallis between 1762 and 1792, was a British Army The British Army is the princip ...
, who had advanced to
Camden, South Carolina Camden is a city in Kershaw County Kershaw County is a County (United States), county located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. As of the 2010 census, its population was 61,697. The county seat and largest city is Camden, South Carolina, Ca ...
. In the
Battle of Camden The Battle of Camden (August 16, 1780), also known as the Battle of Camden Court House, was a major victory for the British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, Bri ...

Battle of Camden
on August 16, Gates's army was routed, with nearly 1,000 men captured, along with the army's baggage train and artillery. Analysis of the debacle suggests that Gates greatly overestimated the capabilities of his inexperienced militia, an error magnified when he lined those forces against the British right, traditional position of the strongest troops. He also failed to make proper arrangements for an organized retreat. Gates's principal accomplishment in the unsuccessful campaign was to cover in three days on horseback, heading north in retreat. His disappointment was compounded by news of his son Robert's death in combat in October.
Nathanael Greene Nathanael Greene (June 19, 1786, sometimes misspelled Nathaniel) was a major general Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces ...
replaced Gates as commander on December 3, and Gates returned home to Virginia. Gates's devastating defeat at Camden not only ruined his new American army, but it also ruined his military reputation.


Board of Inquiry

Because of the debacle at Camden, Congress passed a resolution calling for a board of inquiry, the prelude to a
court-martial A court-martial or court martial (plural ''courts-martial'' or ''courts martial'', as "martial" is a postpositive adjective A postpositive adjective or postnominal adjective is an adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scien ...
, to look into Gates's conduct. Always one to support a court-martial of other officers, particularly those with whom he was in competition for advancement, such as Benedict Arnold, Gates vehemently opposed the inquiry into his own conduct. Although he never was again placed in field command, Gates's New England supporters in Congress came to his aid in 1782, repealing the call for an inquiry. Gates then rejoined Washington's staff at
Newburgh, New York Newburgh is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defined ...
. Rumors implicated some of his aides in the Newburgh Conspiracy of 1783. Gates may have agreed to involve himself, though this remains unclear.


Later life and death

Gates' wife Elizabeth died in the summer of 1783. He retired in 1784 and again returned to his estate, Traveller's Rest, in Virginia (near present-day Kearneysville,
Jefferson County, West Virginia Jefferson County is located in the Shenandoah Valley The Shenandoah Valley () is a geographic valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running f ...
). Gates served as vice president of the
Society of the Cincinnati The Society of the Cincinnati is a lineage society, fraternal, hereditary society with thirteen constituent societies in the United States and one in France, founded in 1783, to perpetuate "the remembrance of this vast event" (the achievement of ...

Society of the Cincinnati
, the organization of former Continental Army officers, and president of its Virginia chapter, and worked to rebuild his life. He proposed marriage to Janet Montgomery, the widow of General
Richard Montgomery Richard Montgomery (December 2, 1738 – December 31, 1775) was an Ireland, Irish soldier who first served in the British Army. He later became a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and he is most fa ...
, but she refused. In 1786, Gates married Mary Valens, a wealthy
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Liverpudlian
who had come to the colonies in 1773 with her sister and Rev. Bartholomew Booth, who ran a boys' boarding school in
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware ...

Maryland
. Booth had been the curate for the "Chapel in the Woods," later to become Saint John's Church at Hagerstown, Maryland. Many have suggested that Gates freed his slaves at the urging of his friend
John Adams John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of ...

John Adams
along with the sale of Traveller's Rest in 1790. This narrative was popularized in 1837 by the Anti-Slavery Record, an abolitionist publication. The paper produced an account of the event in which Gates supposedly, “summoned his numerous family and slaves about him, and amidst their tears of affection and gratitude, gave them their freedom.” In fact, the terms of the deed of sale for Traveller's Rest indicate that Gates sold his slaves for £800 together with the plantation. The deed did not immediately free any of Gates's slaves, rather it stipulated that five would be free after five years; the remaining eleven would have to wait until they reached the age of twenty-eight. Nevertheless, even this limited gesture toward emancipation surpassed the other major generals of the revolutionary era; for none but Gates made any efforts to emancipate their slaves during their lifetimes. The couple thereupon moved to an estate at Rose Hill in present-day
midtown Manhattan Midtown Manhattan is the central portion of the New York City borough New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With a ...

midtown Manhattan
, where the local authorities received him warmly. His later support for presidential candidacy ended his friendship with Adams. Gates and his wife remained active in New York City society, and he was elected to a single term in the
New York State Legislature The New York State Legislature consists of the two houses that act as the state legislature A state legislature is a Legislature, legislative branch or body of a State (country subdivision), political subdivision in a Federalism, federal syste ...
in 1800. He died in his Rose Hill home on April 10, 1806, and was buried in the Trinity Church graveyard on
Wall Street Wall Street is an eight-block-long street in the Financial District This is a list of financial districts in cities around the world. Background A financial district is usually a central area in a city where financial services firms suc ...

Wall Street
, though the exact location of his grave is unknown.


Legacy

* The town of
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in
Monroe County, New York Monroe County is a County (United States), county in the Finger Lakes region of New York (state), New York State. The county is along Lake Ontario's southern shore. As of 2020, Monroe County's population was 759,443, an increase since the 201 ...
is named in Gates' honor, as is Horatio Street in
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Manhattan
's
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Greenwich Village
, New York City, Gates Avenue, which runs from
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to around Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn,Brooklyn Revealed
/ref> Gates Avenue in
Jersey City Jersey City is the second-most populous city in the U.S. state of New Jersey, after Newark, New Jersey, Newark.
Jersey City
and Gates County,
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...

North Carolina
. * The Gen. Horatio Gates House was his home during the
Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British ...
at
York, Pennsylvania York (Pennsylvania German language, Pennsylvania German: ''Yarrick''), known as the White Rose City (after the White Rose of York, symbol of the House of York), is the county seat of York County, Pennsylvania, United States, located in the South ...

York, Pennsylvania
. ''Note:'' This includes


References


Sources

* Bilias, George (1964). ''George Washington's Generals''. New York: William Morrow. * Ferling, John. ''Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence''. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. . (pbk.) Originally published in hard cover in 2007. * * * Nelson, Paul David. ''General Horatio Gates: A Biography''. Louisiana State Univ Pr; First edition, 1976. . * Ward, Christopher. John Richard Alden, ed. ''The War of the Revolution''. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2011. . Originally published Old Saybrook, CT: Konecky & Konecky, 1952.


External links

*
The Horatio Gates papers, 1726-1828 at the New York Historical Society
{{DEFAULTSORT:Gates, Horatio 1726 births 1806 deaths Adjutants general of the United States Army American slave owners British Army personnel of the War of the Austrian Succession British Army personnel of the French and Indian War Congressional Gold Medal recipients Continental Army generals Continental Army officers from Virginia Continental Army staff officers British emigrants to the Thirteen Colonies Lancashire Fusiliers officers People from Shepherdstown, West Virginia People from Maldon, Essex People from Manhattan Members of the New York State Assembly Sherwood Foresters officers People of colonial New York People from Kearneysville, West Virginia People of Father Le Loutre's War Burials at Trinity Church Cemetery