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12 June 2008
[REVOLUTIONARY WAR]. GATES, Horatio. Letter signed ("Horatio Gates"), to Boston Town Meeting, Boston, 19 January 1779. 3 pages, 4to, matted and framed.
IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE CONWAY CABAL GATES CALLS HIMSELF A "CITIZEN AND A SOLDIER" PROUD OF "THE LITTLE REPUTATION I MAY HAVE ACQUIRED"
Pushed aside to the quiet Eastern Department following his embarrassing involvement in the Conway Cabal against Washington, Horatio Gates sends this response to an appeal from the Boston Town Meeting. Ostensibly about the poor of Boston, it's remarkable for how extensively it dwells on the pride and success of its author: "The Provision which has been made for the Relief of the Poor of Boston is a Testimony of that watchful Beneficence which has long characterized its inhabitants...But the present state of the Public Stores disables me from indulging the Pleasure, which the full gratification of their Request would afford me. I shall do everything in my power as soon as the expected Supplies arrive to evince the Sincerity of this Declaration. The Politeness with which in Town Meetings they have expressed their Satisfaction in seeing me at the Head of the Eastern Department, is to me an additional Motive for not being remiss in my Attention to prove myself on all Occassions, a Citizen as well as a Soldier. Providence having been pleased to favour that Part of the Army with the Command of which I was entrusted, against our Enemies, I never can forget how much I am indebted to the Intrepidity and Fortitude of the Officers and Soldiers of this State for the little Reputation I may have acquired. Gratitude and Humanity will urge me to neglect no opportunity for relieving their distressed Brethren, whenever it shall be compatible with the Good of the Service."
In 1778, following his stunning victory at Saratoga, Gates became embroiled with a faction of disgruntled members of the Continental Congress and generals, including Benjamin Rush (see next lot) and Thomas Mifflin, who were unhappy with Washington. Congress created a three-man Board of War, putting Gates at its head. The idea being to create a rival source of authority that might in time push Washington aside. But when Washington showed Congress correspondence that showed Gates scheming behind his back, the stock of the hero of Saratoga took a nosedive. He was transferred back to the Northern Department in 1778, and in 1779 transferred to Providence, and the headquarters of the Eastern Department. Yet his friction with Washington and Congress was not yet at an end (see below).
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