Once Horatio Gates returned to America, he found that the post had already been filled and he now had lost his commission as a major. His friend Robert Monckton was now Royal Governor of New York and took Gates in as a political aide, but by 1763, Monckton returned to England and Gates was out of work. As a result a year after they had returned to New York, Gates and his family sailed back to England. On this stay, Gates experienced nothing but frustration. He had a falling out with Edward Cornwallis. Majors' commissions came available, but he now desired a colonelcy.
In 1769, Gates resigned from the army in hopes of joining his friend in India. Robert Monckton was now lobbying for command of the East India Company and promised Gates that he would be his deputy, but after four years Parliament selected another for the post. Even before this, Gates and Monckton had had a falling out. In August 1772, Gates and his family sailed for Virginia. Near Shepherdstown, in what is now West Virginia, Gates bought 659 acres on the Potomac River. He built a limestone house and called it Traveller's Rest. He became a slave owner, a local justice and a lieutenant colonel in the milita. Gates was in contact with patriots, including Charles Lee.
Revolutionary War: 1775-1777
On May 29, 1775, Horatio Gates heard of the skirmishing at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. By June 2, he was at Mount Vernon offering his services to George Washington. After Washington became Commander-in-Chief, he recommended that both Gates and Charles Lee be commissioned because of their military experience. On June 17, Horatio Gates was commissioned by the Continental Congress as a Brigadier General and Adjutant General.
On his way to Boston, General Gates stopped along the way to raise his profile in the political realm. On May 16, 1776, he was promoted to Major General. On June 17, he was selected to take command of the Canadian Department, replacing Brig. General John Sullivan. He never took command because Sullivan had been forced to withdraw from Canada and the Department was abandoned. Gates was instead placed under the command of Maj. General John Schuyler, who was Commander of the Northern Department. Gates almost immediately worked to supplant Schuyler.
In December 1776, Gates left the Northern Department and headed south leading New Jersey and Pennsylvania regiments that had been ordered to aid General Washington in his New Jersey campaign. He reached Peekskill, New York on December 6, 1776 and joined Washington at Trenton, New Jersey on December 20. However, he complained of illness and only days before Washington crossed the Delaware River in his famous attack on Trenton, he allowed Gates to go to Baltimore where the Continental Congress was in session.
On March 25, 1777, General Gates was named Commander of the Northern Army at Fort Ticonderoga, New York with separate authority from General Schuyler. He immediately lobbied his New England allies and others to become General Schuyler's replacement. However, in April, the Continental Congress restored Fort Ticonderoga to General Schuyler's command. Gates was instructed to either become Schuyler's second in command or resume his position as General Washington's Adjutant General. Gates reacted by going before Congress on June 18, 1777, but they passed the problem on to General Washington.
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