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Overview

Major General Horatio Gates's fame was established on October 17, 1777, at Saratoga when he defeated "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne. The victory marked the turning point of the Revolutionary War and secured a place in history for Gates. Congress subsequently appointed Gates president of the Board of War. Two centuries later, historians still question whether the victory at Saratoga truly belonged to Gates or to General Philip Schuyler, or even to the impetuous Benedict Arnold.

Now researchers in history, political science, and military history can access the only complete primary resource material for studying Horatio Gates's career and the controversies surrounding him. The collection contains correspondence and military records of the 18th century, documenting life during the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the early years of the Republic. By examining personal correspondence, researchers can study Gates's victory at Saratoga and his role in the Conway "Cabal," which plotted to replace George Washington as Commander in Chief. Another issue that can be assessed is Gates's defeat at Camden, South Carolina in 1780. In that battle, Gates was accused of gross tactical errors and possible cowardice. The event caused Gates to lose his "hero" status forever.

Series I: Correspondence, 1726-1828 This series comprises the bulk of the collection and contains correspondence from major political and military personalities including:

  • John Adams
  • Benedict Arnold
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Marquis de Lafayette
  • Baron von Steuben
  • Artemas Ward
  • George Washington

Series II: Orderly Books, Returns, Military Lists, 1756-1783 The orderly books, many in Gates's own hand, offer essential information on the day-to-day mechanics of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War and include:

  • records of daily troop movements
  • actual orders and descriptions of orders
  • military intelligence reports
  • lists of the sick, wounded, and dead
  • lists of prisoners
  • accounts of military and civilian supplies

Series III: Financial Materials, 1747-1800 This series provides a daily picture of financing from the standpoint of one of the key generals in the field. Includes:

  • bills of order
  • receipts
  • accounts
  • medical and drug notes
  • Gates's personal business papers

The core part of this microfilm edition is filmed from holdings of the New York Historical Society. More than 70 other sources were drawn upon, including the Library of Congress, the National Archives, New York Public Library, the American Philosophical Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and The British Museum. The collection has been prepared under the direction of James Gregory, former Librarian of the New York Historical Society.

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