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John Coalter Bates
General John C. Bates, official portrait by Cedric Baldwin Egeli
Born(1842-08-26)August 26, 1842
St. Charles County, Missouri
DiedFebruary 4, 1919(1919-02-04) (aged 76)
San Diego County, California
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1861–1906
RankLieutenant General
Commands heldChief of Staff of the United States Army
1st Division, Eighth Army Corps
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War Indian Wars
Spanish–American War
Philippine–American War
RelationsEdward Bates (father)

John Coalter Bates (August 26, 1842 – February 4, 1919) was a United States Army officer who served as 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.

Early life and education

Bates was born in St. Charles County, Missouri to congressman and future Attorney General Edward Bates and Julia Davenport Coalter.[1] 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 General Robert E. Lee’s army in April 1865.

Military career

Bates 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 January 15 to April 13, 1906. During this time, he was promoted to Lieutenant general. He 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.

Later life and death

Bates was a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and the Grand Army of the Republic. He died in San Diego, California on February 4, 1919.[2]

Dates of rank

Insignia Rank Date Component
First lieutenant 1 May 1861 Regular Army
Captain 1 May 1863 Regular Army
Brevet major 1 August 1864 Regular Army
Brevet lieutenant colonel 9 April 1865 Regular Army
Major 6 May 1882 Regular Army
Lieutenant colonel 19 October 1886 Regular Army
Colonel 25 April 1892 Regular Army
Brigadier general 4 May 1898 Volunteers
Major general 8 July 1898 Volunteers
Brigadier general 2 February 1901 Regular Army
Major general 15 July 1902 Regular Army
Lieutenant general 1 January 1906 Regular Army

See also


  1. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. XIV. James T. White & Company. 1910. p. 34. Retrieved December 13, 2020 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Lieut. Gen. Bates Dies at San Diego". Washington Evening Star. February 5, 1919. p. 7. Retrieved December 13, 2020 – via
Military offices Preceded byAdna Chaffee Chief of Staff of the United States Army January – April 1906 Succeeded byJ. Franklin Bell