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Biography of Horatio Gates

Gates, Horatio (1728-1806), an American general. He was born in England. He came to America in 1755 and served as a captain in Braddock's expedition. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War he was made adjutant-general. Gates was appointed to the command of a part of the American forces. He was sent north to oppose Burgoyne, and was in command at the time of Burgoyne's surrender. This success, coming as it did at a time when Washington met with reverses, gave Gates an exaggerated opinion of his own ability. Many patriotic men, including Samuel and John Adams, with their New England prejudices, thought Gates an abler man for the chief command than the Virginian Washington. Dr. Rush of Philadelphia sided with them. Through their influence, Congress created a board of war with Gates at its head, thus placing him in virtual command over Washington. Gates then entered into a conspiracy with other officers to displace Washington. This disgraceful coalition is known in history as the Conway Cabal, named from the officer who was most active as Gates' tool in the matter. The plans of the cabal became known, however. It was broken up. Gates was assigned to a subordinate position with orders to report directly to Washington. He was later placed in command of the southern army, but met with a severe defeat at Camden and was court-martialed. His entire career rests under a shadow.