Major general horatio gates

An Icon in Military History

Defending oneself from any threat or intrusion is not an easy thing to do – how much more if one is defending an entire nation or region, not to mention conquering other territories and have it in possession?

This what construe the entire being of MAJOR GENERAL HORATIO GATES.  A fearless warrior; a genius in the battlefield.

Gates, known as defender of American liberties, was able to conquer many territories and had won many wars during his time.  His name has been embedded all throughout the American history due to his good sense and exemplary courage (Patterson, 1941, p.251).  He gained various recognitions from his colleagues in the military and was able to earn the respect of fellow soldiers.

What makes Gates a very interesting icon to be talked about is his sense of dedication in the military works, and his high energy to go to wars. It seemed that he never got tired of wars.  Such attitude of his was shown in the historical accounts wherein Gates always volunteered himself to go to wars.  Furthermore, what makes Gates very interesting person is the mere fact that despite his seemingly “rough” character (something that is expected from a military man), he was a “normal” person, after all, who got fall in love and lonely especially if his assignment was away from his comfort zone.

Who is this General?

            Gates was born in 1726 at England to a couple who served Peregrine Osborne, the second Duke of Leeds – Maldon, England (Biography Base, 2008).  Gates’ military life started in 1745 wherein he served in the British Army.  Accordingly, the support of nobles at that time in the society as well as his hardwork enabled him to earn a commission in the British Army, which eventually led him to become the regiment’s adjutant (American Revolution, 2006).

            Just like any other starter, Gates also faced a moment of frustration when he started in the army.  After the war in Germany, Gates was discharged due to the disbandment of the regiment.

            Gates military experience started in Europe; however, it was in America that he got the highlights of his military career.  It was George Washington, the US Commander-in-Chief then, who paved way for Gates career in the American military.  In 1775, Gates was appointed by the Continental Congress as both Brigadier General and Adjutant General.  Through hardwork and patience, Gates was able to hold and lead the command of the Canadian Department, which eventually led to assigning him in major tasks as well as other departments.

            In 1777, the first Battle of Saratoga took place.  Said event earned Gates the title “Hero of Saratoga” because the victory gained by the American military at this time was credited much to him.  It was in this victorious moment that Gates’ supporters increased – to the point of recommending him to be the President of the Board of War.  In 1778, Gates took the said position while maintaining his field command (American Revolution, 2008).

            As years passed, Gates continuously worked as one of the leaders in the American army.  He introduced some reforms and even institutionalized some units of command.  Gates military career, however, was not always at its heights.  Just like any other leader, Gates also had a bunch of critics and detractors who wanted him out from the high position.  The politicized military brought some frustrations to Gates as well, and even led him to retire in his Traveller’s Rest in Virginia (a property of his wherein he had also his own slaves).

            Gates’ family life had also dwindled as his military career heightened (a clear manifestation of social cost of successful people).  In 1780, Gates only son, Robert, died.  Also, his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth, was adversely affected as his wife did not get along well with some of his friends.  In 1783, Elizabeth died; but, Gates remarried to a wealthy Mary Vallance in 1786.  Gates and his new wife lived in New York where Gates served a one-year term in the New York State Legislature. He also became friends with former US president Thomas Jefferson.

            In 1806, Gates died and was buried in Wall Street.  Four years after, his wife also died.

            With all the abovementioned information about Horatio Gates, one can say that it takes a lot of guts and patience in order to get what a person truly wants.  Such attitude holds true among those people who do not rely on mere luck for their dreams to come into their way – people are able to get what they want not because of luck or mere chances, but because they wanted it so badly that they industriously worked their way towards that goal.

            Just like Gates, he never stopped believing that he will excel in military life.

            Meanwhile, this writer has also chosen Gates as the topic for this writing because aside from his inspiring story, Gates is also known as the first and most known U.S. Army Adjutant General in U.S. History – something that is very prestigious and truly a highlight of the American history.

            Gates might have his ups-and-downs in his life, he might made some bad decisions both in his career and personal lives – but what is very important is that he inspired millions of people to believe in themselves, and that nothing is impossible if one will just dedicate themselves to their chosen fields.  A little bit of hardwork, guts, pain, and humility is the complete ingredient for success.  Horatio Gates is, indeed, a remarkable icon in the history of the world.


Patterson, S. W. (1941). Horatio Gates: Defender of American Liberties. New York: Columbia University Press.

American Revolution Online. Horatio Gates. Retrieved August 9, 2008, from

Biography Base Online. Horatio Gates Biography. Retrieved August 9, 2008, from



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