The Elijah Gates Camp & Namesake
By Mark Douglas
Early in the War between the States many citizen/farmers of Missouri formed companies to defend
Missouri. The War Powers Act of May 1861 gave Governor Clairborne Fox Jackson
the ability to institute a Missouri Army. This army known as the Missouri State
Guard and led by Major General Sterling Price fought entirely in Missouri
during the first year of the war. The many companies of the Missouri State
Guard were commanded by their own captains elected by the members of each
company. Usually it was the man that was the driving force behind forming the
company. In Buchanan County Missouri one of the companies was raised and
captained by Elijah Gates. Gates was a charismatic leader,
instilling great trust in his men and superiors.
In December of 1861 the Missouri State
Guard, then in winter quarters, were enlisted into the Provisional Army of
Confederate States. Gates was asked to form a battalion of Cavalry and he put
together ten mounted companies, this battalion was known as the First Missouri
Cavalry. Two of the ten companies were formed almost entirely of Callaway
County men and several other companies were made up of men from the surrounding
counties of Audrain, Boone and Montgomery.
The 1st Mo Cavalry served
with distinction in the western theater. During the Vicksburg Campaign, at the
Battle of Big Black River, The entire brigade was surrounded. Many swam the
river to evade capture, but the men who couldn't swim asked Col. Gates to stay
with them during their capture. Gates stayed and forever won the admiration of
his men. Gates managed to escape three days later and after the fall of
Vicksburg, was able to reconstitute the 1st Mo. Cav. with the original men and
the now paroled captured men.
Gates continued to lead the battalion
until the battle of Franklin, where he was wounded multiple times and lost his
arm due to these wounds. After the War, Gates served as Buchanan County Sheriff
then as State Treasurer and ended his career as a United States
It was only natural, at the turn of the Twentieth Century, when
the Sons of Confederate Veterans was formed that the camp in Fulton, Missouri,
was named after the man that had led the fathers of so many of its members in
the "Lost Cause." Being the five hundred and seventieth camp chartered, our
camps official title is The Elijah Gates Camp No. 570, Sons of Confederate
Col. Elijah Gates
St. Joseph Gazette, March 5, 1915
Following a long illness, Col. Elijah Gates, St. Joseph's
"grand old man," and a Confederate hero of the Civil War, died at 1:55 o'clock
yesterday afternoon at the family home, 701 south Ninth street. Col. Gates was
88 years old. For several years Col. Gates left his home seldom, but many of
his friends visited him there, and the friendships which he had fostered during
his long life were kept to the last. His mental faculties were unimpaired, and
his frequent visitors were always enriched as a result of their meetings with
the old warrior. Few men had a more interesting history than Col. Gates. He was said, by Gen. Sterling Prices to be the bravest man he knew, and he was in the thick of numerous battles. He was wounded on several occasions, was captured and escaped again, more than once, and in the battle of Franklin, one of the hottest of the smaller battles of the civil war, he was so badly wounded that amputation of his left arm was necessary.
Col. Gates served the public
in many capacities. He was state treasurer, held other state offices, and was
sheriff of Buchanan county. About seven years ago Col. Gates became a member of the First Christian Church and for a few years he was an elder of the church. Col. Elijah Gates was one of the foremost citizens of northwest Missouri. He had lived in St. Joseph and Buchanan counties many years, and was prominent not only in local affairs, but in the state in the days following the Civil war. He was one of the leaders of the Confederacy during the war. Col. Gates was a native of Kentucky, having been born in Gerrard county in 1827. He was the son of John Gates, owner of a large plantations in Kentucky. At the time of his father's death he was a year and a half old. The colonel received his education in common schools of his native county. He moved to Missouri when 20 years old and engaged in farming. Ten years later, in 1857, he came to Buchanan county, and lived as a farmer until the outbreak of the war. Gates enlisted in St. Joseph in 1861, and was soon elected captain of Company A of the Missouri State Guard, Morgan's Division. Three months later he was made a lieutenant colonel, and three months afterward was promoted to the rank of colonel. A regiment was
formed in Springfield, Mo., by Col. Gates and he served under Gen. Sterling
Price until the fall of 1861. In the spring of 1862, he crossed the Mississippi
river and joined the army under Beauregard at Corinth, and continued in service east of the Mississippi throughout the war. Three times Col. Gates was taken a prisoner. Following the battle of Franklin, where he lost his arm, he was captured, but made his escape to Mobile, where he took command of a brigade and took part in the battle of Mobile.
He was again captured at Big Black, Miss., but escaped a few days later, and he was captured at Blakeley, opposite Mobile, during the last battle of the war, was incarcerated at Ship Island three weeks, and then sent to Jackson, just as Gen. Taylor surrendered. He was in practically all of the engagements of the Missouri troops, and about half the time was in command of his brigade. He returned July 5, 1865, after four years of hard service.
Col. Gates resumed farming when he returned to
Buchanan county, and continued in that line until 1874. He was elected sheriff
then on the Democratic ticket, and served four years. Col. Gates was then
elected treasurer of the state of Missouri, and served four years, residing in
Jefferson City for a period of six years, during one year of which he was
interested in the commission business in St. Louis. From 1884 to 1886 he was
coal oil inspector. For a number of years he was in the transfer and bus
business as a member of the firm of Piner & Gates of St. Joseph, but of
late years had lived in retirement. A close friendship existed between Col.
Gates and former United States Senator Francis M. Cockrell of Missouri. The
senator paid a visit to St. Joseph about three years ago for the express
purpose of seeing his old friend, with whom he had been associated during the war. Col. Gates had many staunch friends throughout this part of the state. Col. Gates was married in Livingston county in 1852 to Maria Stamper, a native of Monroe county, who died on Dec. 24, 1898. The surviving children are: Mrs. Elmina Lyon of Kansas City; John L. Gates of Kansas City; Joel E. Gates, city clerk of St. Joseph; Mrs. Luella McCarty of St. Joseph; Elijah Gates of Kansas City; Charles G. Gates of St. Joseph, superintendent of the street repair department; Benjamin D. Gates of Chicago; Mrs. Maggie C. Richmond of Kansas City; and Mrs. Wood of St. Joseph.