Gates, Horatio (DNB01)
GATES, HORATIO (1728–1806), major-general in the service of the United State* of North America, born in 1728 at Maldon in Essex, was the son of a housekeeper of Peregrine Osborne, second duke of Leeds [q. v.], 'who, marrying a young husband when very old, had this son by him.' Horace Walpole was his godfather (Walpole, Journal of the Reign of George III, 1859, ii. 200; cf. Walpole, Letters, ed. Cunning- ham, 1891 , iii. 498, vii. 450). Gates entered the army -while a youth. He served in Germany under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, and in 1750 was stationed at Halifax in Nova Scotia, where he acted as aide-de-camp to Colonel Edward Cornwallis. Through Cornwallis's influence he obtained a lieutenancy in one of the four independent companies stationed in the province of New York, attaining the rank of captain on 13 Sept. 1754. In the following year he accompanied Major-general Edward Braddock [q. v.] in his expedition against Fort Duquesne, and at Monongahela was shot through the body and long lay disabled. In July 1760 he served as brigade major under Colonel Robert Monckton [q. v.] at Fort Pitt, and in 1762 acted as his aide-de-camp at the capture of Martinique, afterwards proceeding to England as bearer of the despatches announcing its fall. On 24 April 1762 he received a majority in the 45th foot, and on 27 Oct. 1764 he exchanged into the 60th foot, and was afterwards transferred to the 79th foot, then on half pay. On 24 Sept. 1768 he was appointed to the 45th foot, then stationed in Ireland ; but on 10 March 1769 he retired from the service and returned to America. There he married and bought the estate of 'Traveller's Rest' in Berkeley county, Virginia, where he remained quietly cultivating his land until the dissensions between the English government and the colonies terminated in war. He then offered his sword to congress, and received in June 1775 the appointment of adjutant-general with the rank of brigadier. In December 1775, at a council of war, he opposed the project of attempting Boston by assault. On 16 May 1776 he was made a major-general and in June was appointed to command the part of the northern army serving in Canada, superseding Brigadier-general John Sullivan in July. On reaching Albany he learned that the Canadian army had been driven from Canada into the state of New York, which was within the military jurisdiction of Major-general Philip John Schuyler, the commander-in-chief of the northern department. He then claimed that his command was independent of Schuyler. The matter was referred to congress, and Gates was instructed to consider himself subordinate. Gates found the Canadian army utterly disorganised and suffering severely from smallpox. In consequence he abandoned Crown Point and fell back on Ticonderoga, where he began the task of reorganisation. In August he permitted Benedict Arnold [q. v.] to resume an advance northwards, but on 11 and 12 Oct. Arnold was completely defeated in a naval engagement on Lake Champlain. In consequence Gates carefully fortified his position at Ticonderoga, where the English commander, Guy Carleton (afterwards first Baron Dorchester) [q. v.], considered him too strongly posted to be attacked. He thus checked the English advance for the year, and gained considerable prestige. In 1777, in the midst of the panic due to the advance of the English force from Canada under Major-general John Burgoyne [q. v.], Schuyler was superseded, and on 3 Aug. Gates was nominated his successor in command of the northern department. During Burgoyne's advance Schuyler had continued to retreat slowly before him, contenting himself with harassing the English force and keeping it in continual alarm. Gates, on joining the army, which numbered twenty thousand men, on 19 Aug. at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson, decided that the moment had come to make a stand. He took up a good position on Bemus Heights and strongly entrenched it, assisted by the advice of the famous Pole, Thaddeus Kosciusko, who was with the army. Burgoyne, whose communications had been cut by Arnold, felt himself compelled to attack on 19 Sept., although his force amounted only to five thousand men. The engagement of Freeman's Farm was indecisive ; but it produced bad feeling between the American commanders, Gates neglecting to mention Arnold in his despatches, although the latter claimed that he had borne the brunt of the battle. Burgoyne's failure to drive the Americans from their position rendered his position very critical, and on 7 Oct. he made a second attack, in which the issue was long doubtful, but which ended in the defeat of the English. On the next day he commenced a retreat, leaving his sick and wounded. Gates followed him closely, and surrounded him at Saratoga, where Burgoyne was forced to surrender on 17 Oct., stipulating that the act should be termed a treaty of convention, and not a capitulation. The terms of the treaty were not carried out by congress. After its conclusion Gates promptly marched to the Hudson river to stop the ravages of the English troops, who retired to New York on hearing of his approach. He did not, however, co-operate further with Washington. The surrender of Burgoyne is generally considered the most decisive event in the war of the American revolution. The relative claims of Gates, Arnold, and Schuyler to the credit of the achievement have been frequently and vehemently discussed. The services of Arnold and Schuyler were undoubtedly of great value; but it is difficult to deprive Gates of the credit of deciding to withstand Burgoyne at Bemus Heights, and of following up his victory with vigour. On receipt of the news congress passed a vote of thanks to Gates and his army, and presented him with a gold medal representing Burgoyne delivering up his sword.
Though Gates had shown capacity, his prudence was mastered by his ambition. Having succeeded in superseding Schuyler, and in winning a great victory, he contemplated the daring project of displacing Washington from his position as commander-in-chief. He hardly deigned to communicate to him the news of the surrender of Burgoyne, only mentioning it in an incidental manner in a letter dated 2 Nov. On 27 Nov. he was made president of the newly constituted board of war and ordnance. He neglected to give Washington adequate support in the campaign of 1778, and showed an extreme jealousy for the independence of his own command. At the close of the campaign he retired to his estate in Virginia. In March 1779 Gates declined the offer of the command of an expedition against the Indians of the Six Nations; but he was roused from his retirement by the advance of Cornwallis from the south into the heart of the central states. On 13 June 1780 he was appointed to command the army in North Carolina. On 16 Aug. he was defeated at Camden, in South Carolina, and his army nearly annihilated. This disaster closed his military career. He was superseded in the command of the southern army by General Nathaniel Greene on 2 Dec. A court of inquiry was appointed to investigate his military conduct, but it was never convened. Greene, after careful investigation, came to the conclusion that Gates was not to blame for the disaster, and advised against holding the court. At the close of the war Gates retired to his estate in the Shenandoah valley, where he lived until 1790, when he removed to New York city. In 1800 he was elected to the state legislature, but for political reasons resigned soon after taking his seat. He died on 10 April 1806 at the Bloomingdale Pike, now the corner of Twenty-third Street and Second Avenue. He married Mary, only child of James Valence of Liverpool. She possessed a private fortune, and was a woman of resolute character. Major-general Charles Lee [q. v.], whose friendship with Gates she put an end to, said of Gates, 'He is not a free agent; that Medusa, his wife, governs him with a rod of scorpions.' On another occasion he described Mrs. Gates as 'a tragedy in private life, and a farce to all the world.' She survived her husband, but left no children.
Gates's portrait, painted by Gilbert Stuart, was in possession of John R. Stevens of New York in 1879 (Mason, Life and Works of Stuart, p. 183). It was engraved by Tiebout and published in 1798, and is given in steel by II. B. Hall in Jones's 'Campaign for the Conquest of Canada' (1882), p. 140. There is an engraved portrait of Gates in 'An Impartial History of the War in America' (London, 1780, p.494). Another, by J. Norman, appears in the Boston edition of 1781 (vol. ii.), while a third is mentioned by Chaloner Smith, which was engraved in London on 2 Jan. 1778 (British Mezzo-Tint Portraits). Engravings are also given in Murray's 'Impartial History of the Present War' ([Newcastle, 1780, vol. ii.), and in Du Simitiere's 'Thirteen Portraits,' 1873 (cf. Gay, Popular Hist. of the United States, iii. 586; Lossing, Pictorial Field Book, ii. 669). A view of Gates's house in the Shenandoah valley appears in 'Appleton's Journal '(19 July 1873), and of his headquarters at Saratoga in Lossing's 'Hudson liiver' (p. 94). The corner-stone of the Saratoga monument in commemoration of the surrender of Burgoyne was laid on 17 Oct. 1877 under the auspices of the Saratoga Monument Association, founded in 1859. It contains a statue of Gates.Gates's papers were bequeathed by him to Joel Barlow. In 1847 they were in the possession of the New York Historical Society in twenty-two volumes, besides a large mass unbound. Part of another portion of his papers, in the possession of Thomas Addis Emmet of New York, was published in the 'Magazine of American History,' October 1880. Copies of some of the papers are contained in the Sparks MSS. in the Harvard College Library, and there are occasional letters in the Trumbull MSS. in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Letters from Gates are to be found in the New York Historical Society's 'Collections' (1871-5), in the 'Proceedings' of the Massachusetts Historical Society, xiv. 281, and in the papers of Major-general John Thomas in private hands. Several letters to Washington are contained in Sparks's 'Correspondence of the Revolution.'