Gates, Horatio

Gates, Horatio,

c.1727–1806, American Revolutionary general, b. Maldon, Essex, England. Entering the British army at an early age, he fought in America in the French and Indian War and served in the expedition against Martinique. Later he resigned from the army, and returned to America (1772) to settle in what is now West Virginia. At the start of the American Revolution, he joined the colonial cause as a general and played a part in training American troops outside Boston. In 1776, Gates was given a command in the north under the supreme command of Philip J. Schuyler, whom he replaced as commander in the Saratoga campaignSaratoga campaign,
June–Oct., 1777, of the American Revolution. Lord George Germain and John Burgoyne were the chief authors of a plan to end the American Revolution by splitting the colonies along the Hudson River.
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 (1777). His army overwhelmingly defeated the British under General Burgoyne, and the Continental Congress appointed Gates president of the board of war. His great victory was aided by the superb leadership of his generals Benedict Arnold and Daniel Morgan. At the time Gates was considered a serious rival of General Washington, and the aim of the so-called Conway CabalConway Cabal,
1777, intrigue in the American Revolution to remove George Washington as commander in chief of the Continental Army. Washington had been defeated at Brandywine and Germantown, and Horatio Gates was flushed with success by his victory in the Saratoga campaign.
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 was to make Gates commander in chief. Gates's part in this unsuccessful plan has never been fully determined. In June, 1780, he was ordered south to command in the Carolinas. In the Carolina campaignCarolina campaign,
1780–81, of the American Revolution. After Sir Henry Clinton had captured Charleston, he returned to New York, leaving a British force under Cornwallis to subordinate the Carolinas to British control.
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 poorly organized supply, badly trained troops, and hasty planning paved the way for a disgraceful defeat at Camden (1780). He was plunged into deep disgrace and was superseded by Nathanael Greene. An official investigation of the affair was ordered but never took place, and Gates rejoined (1782) the army. He returned home the following year. Gates later freed his slaves and moved to New York, where he spent the rest of his life.
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Gates, Horatio

(c. 1728–1806) soldier; born in Maldon, England. He entered the British army as a boy and saw action in America during the French and Indian War. After ten years back in England, he settled in western Virginia in 1772. Appointed brigadier general in the Continental Army in June 1775, he proved himself a capable administrator and played a major role in the American victory at Saratoga in 1777. But he had a tendency to quarrel with his fellow officers—General Schuyler at Ticonderoga, Benedict Arnold after Saratoga—and in 1778 he permitted his name to be associated with the "Conway Cabal," a plot to have Gates supplant Washington as commander in chief; although not formally implicated, Gates never truly regained Washington's friendship or trust, and for two years he had little role in the action. Finally restored to command in the South on August 16, 1780, he commanded the militia at Camden, S.C., that was routed by the British; Congress demanded an investigation but no court of inquiry ever convened. He played little role in the final actions of the war and retired to his Virginia plantation in 1783. Ever the outsider, he freed his slaves in 1790 and passed his last years as a gentleman farmer on Manhattan Island, New York City.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.