John Coalter Bates – Lieutenant General, United States Army

Born August 26, 1842 at St. Charles County, Missouri, John Coalter Bates the son of Edward Bates, President Abraham Lincoln's Attorney General. He attended Washington University for a time and in May 1861 joined the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War, receiving a First Lieutenant's commission in the 11th U.S. Infantry.

He served with the Army of the Potomac throughout the Civil War. He was promoted to Captain in 1863, was breveted Major in August 1864 and Lieutenant Colonel in April 1865, the latter for service as Aide-de-Camp to General George Gordon Meade for two years.

He remained in the Army after the war, spending the next 30-odd years at various posts in the West and advancing to Major in May 1882 and to Lieutenant Colonel in October 1886, and to Colonel of the 2nd Infantry, April 1892.

In May 1898, at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, was appointed Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers, and given command of what was known as Bates' Independent Brigade, nominally of the 3rd Division of General William Shafter's V Corps. In command of the base at Siboney, Cuba, for a short time after landing on June 25, and on July 1 joined General Henry W. Lawton's 2nd Division for the attack on El Caney. During the last days of the campaign against Santiago de Cuba in July, he was promoted to Major General of U.S. Volunteers and put in command of the 3rd Division.

In January-May 1899 he was again in Cuba as commander of the Department of Santa Clara. In April his Major General's commission expired and he was re-appointed Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers, and was then sent to the Philippines to command the 1st Division of General Elwell S. Otis's VIII Corps, responsible for the Jolo and Mindanao Districts. In August he negotiated a treaty with the Sultan of Sulu wherein the latter recognized U.S. sovereignty.

He was promoted to Major General of U.S. Volunteers once again in January 1900. He February 1901, be became a regular Brigadier General and in July 1902 a Major General. In January 1906 he was named Chief of Staff of the United States Army, with the rank of Lieutenant General.  He retired at his own request, April 14, 1906.

He died at San Diego, California, on February 4, 1919 and was buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery.


  • United States Army
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/04/1919
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 02/04/1919





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