British army officer Horatio Gates fought in the French and Indian War (1754–63), rising to the rank of major before peace ended his advancement. Frustrated, Gates resigned from the army and immi-grated to North America. In 1773, he purchased a 659-acre plantation in present-day West Virginia and enslaved laborers to work the land.
When the American Revolution broke out, Gates joined the Continental Army, advancing to the rank of major general in May 1776. He was awarded a congressional gold medal for his “brave and successful efforts” leading to the surrender of General John Burgoyne and his whole army at Saratoga in October 1777. But his reputation was ruined by his defeat at Camden in 1780. “Was there ever so precipitous
a flight?” jested Alexander Hamilton about Gates’s hasty retreat. “It does admirable credit to the activity of a man at his time of life.”