Continental General Horatio Gates
||Born: 1727; Maldon, Essex County, England
Died: April 10, 1806; New York City
Battles: Saratoga, Camden
Early Life: 1727-1754
Horatio Gates was born of a servant couple in England. His mother worked as a housekeeper to the mistress of the Duke of Bolton and he was the godson of Horace Walpole. In 1745, Gates became a lieutenant in a new regiment raised by the Duke. The regiment was raised to fight the Highland Scots, who were rebelling again, but instead it was sent to Germany and the War of the Austrian Succession. Gates proved himself to be an able staff officer, when he became the regiment's adjutant.
Following the end of the war in Germany, the regiment was disbanded and Gates was discharged. He next went to Halifax, Nova Scotia in June 1749 and served as aide-de-camp to Colonel Edward Cornwallis, uncle of Charles Cornwallis. He then was appointed as the acting captain of the 45th regiment. However, he was unable to afford purchasing a permanant captaincy. In 1752, Colonel Cornwallis returned to England, but Gates served as aide-de-camp to two successors. During this time, he met Elizabeth Phillips, but in order to marry her, he had to improve his own prospects, so in January 1754, he returned to London. There, he found that his connections were no help in the present political climate. By June, he had given up and was about to return to Nova Scotia.
French and Indian War: 1754-1762
Then a position came available in a company stationed in Maryland. A captain was ill and wanted to sell his commission. Edward Cornwallis recommended Horatio Gates and Gates was able to purchase the commission on credit. In October 1754, Horatio Gates returned to Halifax and married Elizabeth Phillips. In March 1755, Gates joined his new company in Maryland. The company was part of an army that Maj. General Edward Braddock would lead into the wilderness against the French and Indians. Also in this army were George Washington, Charles Lee, Thomas Gage and Daniel Morgan, the latter of whom he probably did not meet. Gates' first battle was brief. He was shot in the chest, but Private Francis Penfold picked him up and carried him off. It is likely that had the private not done so, then Gates would have been abandoned in the panic and been scalped.
Following his recovery, Gates served in the British forts in the Mohawk Valley, while Elizabeth lived in New York City. In 1758, a son, Robert, was born. Soon after Edward Cornwallis secured him an appointment as a brigade major at Fort Pitt under Brigadier General John Stanwix. Not long after, Stanwix was succeeded by Brigadier General Robert Monckton, who was a good friend of Gates' from their days in Halifax. After the end of action in America, Brig. General Monckton was given command of an expedition to the West Indies. Gates served as a staff officer, gaining valuable administrative experience. Following the expedition's success, Gates was chosen by Monckton to bring the news to England, where by tradition as the messenger, he would receive a promotion.
After a month in England, in April 1762, Horatio Gates was appointed a major and given 1,000 pounds to help him purchase a lieutenant colonelcy. He sent for his wife and son. However, the new commission was a cut a pay and no lieutenant colonelcies were vacant. After his connections had resulted in letters from Secretary of War Charles Townshend and Commander in Chief of the Army Lord Ligonier to America calling for a post for a lieutenant colonel's rank, Gates and his family returned to New York in August 1762.
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