Commanders-in-Chief Biographies

Lieutenant General John Coalter Bates
Commander-in-Chief 1909 - 1911

by Robert G. Carroon, Past Commander-in-Chief
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States

John Coalter Bates was the 14th officer to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and the first from the Commandery of Missouri. Born in 1842, he was the son of Edward Bates, who was Attorney General in the Cabinet of President Abraham Lincoln. John C. Bates was a native of Charles County, Missouri, and, after graduating from public school, he entered Washington University at St. Louis. With the outbreak of the War of the Rebellion, he enlisted and, at age 19, was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the 11th United States Infantry on May 14, 1861, and with his regiment, joined the Army of the Potomac in October 1861. His regiment served with the Army of the Potomac throughout the entire war.

The 11th was in Major General George Sykes Division and Bates served with it until April 27, 1863, when he joined the staff of General Joseph Hooker. Lieutenant Bates was promoted Captain on 1 May 1863. On June 27, 1863, when Hooker was relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac, Captain Bates was appointed ADC to Major General George Meade with whom he served for the remainder of the war mustering out June 30, 1865. Captain Bates was breveted Major on August 1, 1864 and Lieutenant Colonel on April 9, 1865, the day of General Robert E. Lee's surrender to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox for gallant and meritorious services during the recent operations resulting in the fall of Richmond, VA. and the surrender of the insurgent army under General R.E.Lee.

During the Civil War, John C. Bates participated in the battles of Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor, the Siege of Petersburg, and the operations leading to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox. His distinguished career in the U.S. Army influenced his decision to continue in military service and he was assigned to the 20th U.S. Infantry as a Captain on September 21, 1866. For almost the next 30 years, John C. Bates served with the forces in the west fighting the Indians in the northwest and along the Mexican border. He was promoted Major and transferred to the 5th Infantry on May 6, 1882 and transferred back to the 20th Infantry on May 24, 1882. After three years service with the 20th, he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel of the 13th Infantry on October 19, 1886 and then returned to the 20th on December 10, 1890. With his promotion to Colonel on April 25, 1892, he transferred to the 2nd U.S. Infantry.

During the Spanish-American War, he was made a Brigadier General of Volunteers and later Major General of Volunteers serving in Cuba. He participated in the Battles of El Caney and Santiago. In 1899, General Bates was assigned to the Philippines and was made Brigadier General in the U.S. Army. He soon became commander of the 1st Division, succeeding General Henry W. Lawton who was killed in action. General Bates area of command was Southern Luzon.

While in command in Luzon, he negotiated a treaty with the Sultan of Sulu, known as the Bates Treaty, and also pacified Cavite' and Mindanao. General Bates was promoted to Major General in the Regular Army on January on July 15, 1902 and Lieutenant General on February 1, 1906. Upon the retirement of Lieutenant General Adna R. Chaffee, General Bates became Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army until his retirement April 14, 1906, when he was succeeded by Brigadier General J. Franklin Bell.

Major General John Coalter Bates and Staff
Fort Riley, Kansas 1904

John Coalter Bates was quite active in the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States in the Missouri Commandery. He was elected a Companion of the First Class in Missouri on October 8, 1887 and assigned Insignia Number 5704. He was Senior Vice Commander of the Missouri Commandery 1904-1905 and Commander 1905 - 1906. He was elected Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief of the Order on October 16, 1907 and was elected Commander-in-Chief on October 20, 1909 succeeding Major General Grenville Mellen Dodge. General Bates served a two-year term retiring in 1911. He was succeeded by Rear Admiral George W. Melville. After completing his term as Commander-in-Chief, General Bates moved to San Diego, California, where he died on February 14, 1919. General Bates never married.

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