Major-General John Coalter Bates (1842 – 1919)

Major-General John C. Bates

Major-General John Coalter Bates as Department of the Missouri Commander, about 1903

Five years ago this month, while endeavoring to do my humble duty as a “war correspondent,” I went to Cuba on the “Matteawan.” General John Coalter Bates was on board, in command of an independent brigade composed of the 20th and part of the 3d infantries. The general reading public knows little of General Bates. The army does, and those who were in Cuba and the Philippines do. He has no ambition for newspaper praise, but his deeds in Cuba, in the Philippines, as the man who called upon the Sultan of Sulu and left him a pacified friend, and now in his present position as commander of the Department of the Missouri, tell what manner of a man he is. In this fifth anniversary month of our Cuban invasion it is fitting that some memories be recalled. Many are deserving, but none more so than Major-General John C. Bates. (from The Burr McIntosh monthly, 1903)

John Coalter Bates (August 26, 1842 – February 4, 1919) was Chief of Staff of the United States Army from January to April 1906. Along with Arthur MacArthur, Jr., Bates was one of the last American Civil War veterans still on active duty in the United States military at the time of his retirement.

Bates was born in St. Charles County, Missouri to congressman and future Attorney General Edward Bates and Julia Davenport Coalter. He was educated at Washington University in St. Louis. He was commissioned a first lieutenant with the 11th Infantry Regiment and later became an aide to General George G. Meade, reaching the brevet rank of lieutenant colonel for gallant and meritorious service in operations resulting in the capture of Richmond and surrender of Lee’s army in April 1865.

He later served on the Indian Frontier for many years (being promoted to major in 1882 and to lieutenant colonel in 1886), was made a colonel of the 2nd Infantry Regiment in 1892, and in May 1898 was promoted to Brigadier general of an Independent Brigade consisting of the 3rd Infantry Regiment and 20th Infantry Regiment in the Spanish–American War and commanded a division of volunteers in the Philippines in the early stages of the Philippine–American War. He was military governor of Cienfuegos in 1899, went that year to the Philippines, where he conducted the negotiations with the Sultan of Sulu. From 1900–1901, he commanded the 1st Division, Eighth Army Corps, conducted operations against insurgents in southern Luzon, and then commanded that department.

Bates commanded a provisional division in maneuvers at Fort Riley and commanded the Departments of the Missouri and the Lakes from 1901–1904 and later the Northern Division for a year before serving as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 15 January to 13 April 1906. During this time, he was promoted to Lieutenant general and retired from active service in April 1906 having reached the mandatory retirement age of 64. He was the last Army Chief of Staff to have served in the American Civil War.

He was a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and the Grand Army of the Republic.

General John Coalter Bates died in San Diego, California on 4 February 1919. (from Wikipedia)

 

 

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