Portrait by Gilbert Stuart
|Born||July 26, 1727
Maldon, Essex, England
|Died||April 10, 1806
New York City, United States
|Place of burial||Trinity Church's graveyard (exact location unknown)|
|Allegiance|| Great Britain
|Service/branch|| British Army (1745–1769)
Continental Army (1775–1783)
|Rank||Major general (United States)
|Relations||Grandson, William E. Gates|
Horatio Lloyd Gates (July 26, 1727 – April 10, 1806) was a retired British soldier who served as an American general during the Revolutionary War. He took credit for the American victory in the Battles of Saratoga (1777) — a matter of contemporary and historical controversy — and was blamed for the defeat at the Battle of Camden (1780). Gates has been described as "one of the Revolution's most controversial military figures" because of his role in the Conway Cabal (which attempted to discredit and replace George Washington); the battle at Saratoga; and his actions during and after his defeat at Camden.
Horatio Gates was christened on April 30, 1728, in the Parish of St Nicholas, Deptford, Greenwich borough, Kent county. His parents of record were Robert and Dorothea Gates. Evidence suggests that Dorothea was the granddaughter of John Hubbock, Sr. (d. 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, Peregrine Osborne (d. 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 provided Horatio Gates with otherwise off-bounds opportunities for education and social advancement. Through Dorothea Gates's associations and energetic networking, young 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 in Germany during the War of the Austrian Succession, and later was promoted to captain in the 45th Foot in 1750. 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, the uncle of Charles Cornwallis, against whom the Americans would later fight. Gates served under Cornwallis when the latter was governor of Nova Scotia, and also developed a relationship[vague] with the lieutenant governor, Robert Monckton.
Seven Years War
During the French and Indian War, Gates served General Edward Braddock in America. In 1755 he accompanied the ill-fated Braddock Expedition in its attempt to control access to the Ohio Valley. This force included other future Revolutionary War leaders such as Thomas Gage, Charles Lee, Daniel Morgan, and George Washington. Gates did not 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 to Brigadier General John Stanwix, a position he continued when General Robert Monckton took over Stanwix's command in 1760. Gates served under Monckton in the capture of Martinique in 1762, although he saw little combat. Monckton bestowed on him the honour 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 demobilised 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 in Virginia the following year.
After the war
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). Gates served as vice president of the 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, but she refused. In 1786 he married Mary Valens, a wealthy woman from Liverpool who had come to the colonies in 1773 with her sister and Rev. Bartholomew Booth, to operate a boy's boarding school in Maryland. Booth had been the curate for the "Chapel in the Woods," later to become Saint John's Church at Hagerstown, Maryland. Gates sold Traveller's Rest in 1790 and freed his slaves at the urging of his friend John Adams. The aging couple retired to an estate on northern Manhattan Island. His later support for Jefferson's 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 in 1800. He died on April 10, 1806, and was buried in the Trinity Church graveyard on Wall Street, though the exact location of his grave is unknown.
References in popular culture
- In the classic comedy film, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, the land on which the Blandingses build their new house (and the site of the 18th century house they tear down) is said to have been "the place where General Gates stopped to water his horses" during the Revolutionary War, says Blandings (played by Cary Grant). "I don't care whether General Grant stopped there for a Scotch and soda," replies Mr. Blandings's friend and lawyer, Bill Cole (played by Melvyn Douglas). "It's still a swindle."
- In the films The Crossing and Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor Gates is portrayed as being very vain and opportunistic.
- In the film The Patriot, after Gates' army is beaten back in a skirmish, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) contemptuously remarks "Gates is a fool. This battle was lost even before it started."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Horatio Gates.|
- Bilias, p. 80
- Tuchman, Barbara W. The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution. New York: Ballantine Books, 1988. p.192
- Bilias, p. 81
- Bilias, p. 82
- Maurice Whitehead, "The Academies of the Reverend Bartholomew Booth in Georgian England and Revolutionary America," The Edward Mellen Press, 1996.
- Bilias, pp. 103–104
- Luzader, p. xxiii
- Moscow, Henry. The Street Book: An Encyclopedia of Manhattan's Street Names and Their Origins. New York: Hagstrom, 1978. ISBN 0823212750
- "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Note: This includes Pennsylvania Register of Historic Sites and Landmarks (July 1971). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Gen. Horatio Gates House and Golden Plough Tavern" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-18.
- The Internet Movie Database, website, 
- Bilias, George (1964). George Washington's Generals. New York: William Morrow.
- Luzader, John F. Saratoga: A Military History of the Decisive Campaign of the American Revolution. New York: Savas Beatie. ISBN 978-1-932714-44-9.
- Mintz, Max M (1990). The Generals of Saratoga: John Burgoyne and Horatio Gates. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-04778-9.
|New title||Adjutant General of the U. S. Army
June 17, 1775–June 5, 1776