John Asa Gates
Co. C, 13th U.S. Infantry, 1st Battalion, Civil War
~researched & written by Carl Inwalson
Isaac Gates and Laura Fitzgerald were both born in New York, but they met in Michigan where they married on August 10, 1836. The following year in the town of Springport, their first child, John Asa Gates, was born on November 3rd. John was followed in 1839 by Mari and in 1841 by Orlen. Two other children, Mary in 1846 and Martha in 1848, were born in Wisconsin. Two years later the family moved to Iowa and settled in McGregor where the 1860 census showed John and his father working as farmers.
Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, and, with an existing army of only 16,000 men, the Union needed more troops and the 13th U.S. Infantry regiment was organized in Washington, D.C., and confirmed on July 19th with its headquarters at Benton Barracks in St. Louis. On October 29th at Dubuque, John enlisted as a private. Assigned to Company C of the 1st Battalion, he was described as being 5' 7" tall with brown hair, blue eyes and a light complexion. On March 15, 1862, he was promoted to the non-commissioned rank of Sergeant and three months later to Quartermaster Sergeant.
On August 15, 1862, Johns younger brother, twenty-one-year-old Orlen Gates, enlisted in the 21st Iowa Infantry and, on September 16th he started south with his regiment for initial service in Missouri.
During the next several months Johns battalion performed guard services in Kentucky before being transferred to Memphis in October. From there, on December 31, 1862, they embarked on the City of Alton and were transported up the Arkansas River to Arkansas Post where they arrived on January 10, 1863. The next day they participated in a successful assault on Fort Hindman and on the 11th boarded the Forest Queen and were taken to Youngs Point. While there they joined in efforts to build a canal, participated in an expedition up Deer Creek to assist Admiral Porter and on March 22d drove the enemy away from Union gunboats at Black Bayou before returning to Youngs Point.
On April 30, 1863, during the Vicksburg Campaign, Union infantry under General Grant began crossing the Mississippi from Disharoons Plantation in Louisiana to the Bruinsburg landing in Mississippi and started a march inland. On May 1st Orlen participated with his regiment in the one-day Battle of Port Gibson. The next day, Johns battalion left Youngs Point for Millikens Bend and from there left on the 6th join Grants army.
On May 16, 1863, Johns battalion participated in the Battle of Champion Hill while Orlens regiment, although present, was held out of action by General McClernand. On the 17th Orlen was with his regiment when they and the 23rd Iowa led a successful attack on Confederates at the Big Black River. They stayed at the Big Black to bury their dead and care for their wounded on the 18th, while Johns battalion moved to the rear of Vicksburg and John was recommended for promotion to 2nd Lieutenant, a commissioned position that would have to be approved by federal authorities.
On the 19th General Grant ordered an assault on Vicksburg and Johns regiment in a body planted and maintained its colors on the parapet with a loss of 43.3 per cent. The assault was unsuccessful but the 13th U.S. Infantry had earned the right to include the motto First at Vicksburg on its coat of arms.
On May 22nd both brothers were present when the union army made a second unsuccessful assault on the Confederates lines. The city surrendered on July 4th and Johns first battalion and Orlens 21st Infantry then participated in a pursuit of Confederate Joe Johnston to Jackson. Johns battalion stayed in Mississippi until September 27th when it left for Memphis where it arrived on October 3rd. From there they traveled by train to Collierville. Arriving about noon on the 11th, they engaged in a battle in which John was wounded. The ball passed through the biceps of his right arm, went through his chest and came out at the left nipple. The next day he was admitted to Officers Hospital in Memphis where he stayed until being discharged several weeks later. He returned to his battalion but on March 31, 1864, his recommended promotion was rejected by the Senate which had the effect of legally separating, or discharging him from the army. Orlen, after being transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corps, was discharged on November 25, 1865.
John returned to McGregor after his discharge and on December 19, 1866, married Anna Douglass. A few years later they moved to Anita, Iowa, where their only child, Mab Gates, was born on February 1, 1873. Two years later, on September 18, 1875, Orlen married Cora Douglass, Annas younger sister.
John joined the Mead Post, Post 50, of the G.A.R., in Anita and on August 15, 1884, applied for a pension. Working as a teacher and farmer, he said he was partially disabled by the wound received almost twenty-one years earlier. His military record was verified by the Adjutant Generals office that said, from May 18, 1863 to March 18, 1864 the Claimant was in fact and law a Second Lieutenant. After that and until his discharge he was in fact, but not in law, a 2nd Lieutenant.
On October 8th John was examined by a board of pension surgeons in Atlantic, Iowa. The entry wound on the arm does not amount to much, they said, but the others undoubtedly cause him more or less pain & stiffness of chest wall. On February 25, 1885, a certificate entitling John to $11.25 monthly was issued.
John moved to Eastonville, Colorado, in 1889 and in 1891 to Denver where Orlen was living. Orlen died in 1898 and the following year John moved to Corning, California. In December 1906 he moved again, this time to Fort Worth, Texas, where he applied for an age-based pension but, only a few months after applying, he wrote to the pension office to let them know he had moved back to Colorado and was living at 945 Ogden Street in Denver. On October 30, 1907, a certificate was issued increasing his pension to $12.00. Later that year, indicating he was now seventy-years old, he applied for an increase, an increase that was granted with a new rate of $15.00 that John was receiving when he died in Denver of Brights disease on November 21, 1908. Two days later he was buried in the citys Fairmount Cemetery.
After his death, Anna moved to Texas to live with her daughter. On December 4, 1908, giving her address as 605 Pennsylvania Avenue, Fort Worth, Anna applied for a widows pension. Supportive affidavits were signed by her brother (Reuben Douglass), Johns sister (Mary Gates Prior), Johns doctor (Lewis B. Brasher) and a comrade (Joseph C. Helm who had known John for forty-five years and had visited with him a number of times during his last illness). Annas application was approved and she was receiving a $12.00 monthly pension when she died on December 19, 1930. Anna was cremated and buried in Greenwood Memorial Park & Mausoleum, Fort Worth.
Mab married twice, once to Samuel Hudson and once to Isaac Stephens. She died on December 27, 1961, and is buried as Mab Gates Hudson in Greenwood Memorial Park & Mausoleum.
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