Continental General Horatio Gates
||Born: 1727; Maldon, Essex County, England
Died: April 10, 1806; New York City
Battles: Saratoga, Camden
Revolutionary War: 1777-1779
Before General George Washington made a decision concerning command of the Northern Department and Generals Gates and Schuyler, the British retook Fort Ticonderoga. With lobbying by Horatio Gates' supporters in Congress, the militia's refusal to serve under the arrogant Maj. General John Schuyler and Schuyler's pessimism regarding the status of the war led to the Continental Congress naming Gates his replacement as Commander of the Northern Department on August 4, 1777. Gates assumed command on August 19, 1777.
General Gates almost immediately began the Saratoga Campaign to counter Maj. General John Burgoyne's offensive into New York from Canada. He moved to block Burgoyne's attempted retreat back to Canada. Burgoyne, whose supplies were running low. The First Battle of Saratoga, also known as the Battle of Freeman's Farm, took place on September 19, 1777. What began as merely a harassing force led by Colonel Daniel Morgan's rifle company nearly broke through the British lines, but low ammunition and a rally by Hessian soldiers saved the day.
Following his near victory, General Gates was content to hold his position and virtually besiege General Burgoyne, who he knew was low on supplies. Burgoyne held out for several days awaiting word from Maj. General Henry Clinton concerning reinforcements, but by the first week of October, he could wait no longer. The Second Battle of Saratoga, also known as the Battle of Bemis Heights, took place on October 7, 1777, when Burgoyne sent out a 1,500 man force to test the American line. The British were driven back to their fortifications at Freeman's Farm. Under the cover of darkness he retreated to Saratoga, New York where his 6,000 troops were surrounded by nearly 20,000 American forces. On October 9, he formally surrendered to Gates, who became known as the 'Hero of Saratoga'. Although historians often credit the field command of Benedict Arnold and Daniel Morgan as much as Gates.
Gates' victory at Saratoga was a sharp contrast to General Washington's lack of success in New Jersey and Gates' supporters started some talk of him replacing Washington as Commander-in-Chief. In November 1777, Maj. General Horatio Gates was recommended to become President of the Board of War, which had been formed on October 17, 1777. Gates assumed his new role in January 1778, while maintaining his field command. He attempted to turn the Board into a field agency. But when his ally, Maj. General Thomas Conway, was forced to resign in what has become known as the Conway Cabal, Gates realized that he did not have the support of George Washington, nor could he replace him.
With his power play ending in failure, Gates resigned as President of the Board of War in May 1778 and returned to field command as the Commander of the Northern Department. He then again avoided confrontation with Indians. In March 1779, General Washington gave him choice between launching a campaign against the Iroquois Indians or taking the Command of the Eastern Department. Gates chose the Eastern Department and headed for Providence, Rhode Island. In November 1779, he was granted permission to winter at his home Traveller's Rest in Virginia.
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