As the militia fled the field at Camden, General de Kalb, who would be mortally wounded on the day, and his Continental regulars fought valiantly, but were eventually surrounded. Although it is unknown when Maj. General Horatio Gates himself gave up the field, he was not present when fighting ended. He retreated with the militia to Rugeley's Mill. He then rode the sixty miles to Charlotte, North Carolina on the same day of the battle. By August 19, 1780, Gates had covered another 120 miles to Hillsborough, North Carolina. Gates explained that he wanted to gather troops and resources from Virginia, although his opponents viewed it as extreme cowardice.
On December 3, 1780, Gates' replacement as Commander of the Southern Department, Maj. General Nathanael Greene arrived and on the next day, Gates turned command over to him. Five days later Gates set out for home. He waited at his home Traveller's Rest in Virginia for a formal inquiry by the Continental Congress into his actions at Camden. Gates' son, Robert, had died on October 4, 1780, so it was not a happy homecoming. His long friendship with Charles Lee soon ended when Gates' wife and Lee argued. In 1782, Congress repealed its resolution calling for the court of inquiry and Gates served under General George Washington at Army Headquarters in Newburgh, Virginia. His aides were part of the Newburgh Conspiracy in March 1783 that threatened revolt if the soldiers did not receive pay. It is unknown what role, if any, Gates had in the conspiracy.
After the Revolutionary War: 1783-1806
In the summer of 1783, Horatio Gates' wife Elizabeth died. He retied to his home in Vriginia and was made president of the Virginia society of the Cincinnati. In 1784, Janet Livingston Montgomery, widow of Maj. General Richard Montgomery, turned down his marriage offer. In July 1786, he married wealthy forty-six year old Mary Vallance. Gates was able to live the lifestyle he had longed for. In 1790, he sold Traveller's Rest, freed his slaves and moved to New York City.
Living on an estate in northern Manhattan, Gates and his wife enjoyed New York society, while spending or giving away her fortune to war veterans. He also served one term in the New York State Legislature from 1800 to 1801. Gates' support of Thomas Jefferson for the Presidency over his friend John Adams ended that friendship. On April 10, 1806, Gates died, buried in the Trinity Church Graveyard on Wall Street, in a lost grave. His wife died in 1810 with only one-fifth of her fortune remaining.