On this day in 1780, American General Horatio Gates takes command of the southern army from Major General Johann DeKalb at Coxe’s Mill, North Carolina. When Gates took command, the Patriots numbered about 1,200 regulars, who were severely debilitated by hunger and in need of equipment, as well as a large group of militia, whose exact number is unknown. DeKalb, a German-born soldier who had served in both the French and German armies before volunteering his services to the Patriots, remained with the force as part of Gates’ headquarters staff.
Congress hoped that Gates would be able to revitalize the southern department after its devastating loss of Charleston, South Carolina, to the British and the capture of Major General Benjamin Lincoln in May. Gates was well-respected within the Continental Army only he and Charles Lee had experie