Gates, Horatio (1728?–1806), an American Revolutionary War army officer. Gates commanded the army that defeated the British under General John Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga in October, 1777, the turning point of the war. This victory, however, was due more to his subordinates—Philip Schuyler, Benedict Arnold, and Daniel Morgan—than to Gates himself. Gates was unpopular with his troops and quarreled with other officers throughout the war.
Gates was born in England and entered the British army at an early age. He came to America about 1749 and was a captain in the French and Indian War. In 1755 he was severely wounded during Braddock's ill-fated expedition against the French at Fort Duquesne. Gates lived in retirement in England, 1765–72. He bought a plantation in Berkeley County, Virginia (now West Virginia), in 1772 at the advice of his friend George Washington.
When war broke out in 1775, Gates joined the Continental Army in Boston as a brigadier general. In 1776 he was made a major general and given command of Fort Ticonderoga. He became commander of the army in the north in August, 1777.
After the Saratoga campaign a group of officers, known as the Conway Cabal, sought to replace Washington with Gates as commander in chief. Although he was not a member of the group, Gates knew of the plan and did not discourage it. His relationship with Washington cooled, and Gates saw little action in 1778 and 1779. In June, 1780, he was given command of the southern army, a tired, ragged force of some 4,000 men. Gates unwisely chose to fight the British under General Cornwallis on August 16, 1780, at Camden, South Carolina. His army was routed, and Congress replaced Gates with General Nathanael Greene.
After the war Gates retired to his plantation, but in 1790 he freed his slaves and moved to New York City. He served a term in the New York legislature, 1800–01.